Backlog of complaints? Hit the delete button!

Forty years ago, Italian postal workers faced a backlog of 20 million pieces of mail following a series of strikes. Unlike London, which faced a similar problem and simply took a couple of weeks to eliminate the backlog, the Italians burned some of the letters, sold off others for pulp and dumped others into the river.

photo wwlp

photo wwlp

The city of Boston seems unwittingly to have cleared up its backlog of snow removal problems as the Romans did.

According to The Boston Globe, of 27,000 complaints about problems with snow removal, some 9,000 complaints were closed out, all within two hours on February 12, and complainants received notification that the problems had been resolved.  Yet, when they put on their boots, gloves and storm coats to venture outside, they discovered no action had been taken.  The reason? There was a new storm coming, and the old cases were just checked off as closed.   Oh, wow.

This is a real headache for Mayor Marty Walsh, who acknowledged it was a mistake and shouldn’t have happened. Even though the social media person in his communication department is responding to every tweet that comes in, whatever “system” was in place on February 12 provided a monumental screw-up. Now, 18,000 complaints did get resolved. And I’m sure that the metrics-driven mayor will in time report on the overall picture. By then, both he and we might hope the worst may be over.

The best that can be said about this unfortunate situation is that the Mayor didn’t try to sweep it under the rug, and that’s a good sign for someone committed to “transparency”  and authentic public engagement.

I welcome your comments in the section below.

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