Returning calls isn’t really optional in City Hall.

Memo to employees of the City of Dayton: When a citizen, a taxpayer, a potential citizen or potential taxpayer calls it’s not optional to return the call.(btw- that should cover everyone).

Ignoring 5 messages left for you is inexcusable- and should be grounds for termination.

Unfortunately, John Gower, head of the department of planning doesn’t understand this. I’ve been calling him ever since I wrote the post:How many pounds of flesh to invest in Dayton

I saw John walking on E. Third street just East of the Cannery today and stopped to talk to him. I asked if he’d gotten my messages. He said he had, and he “didn’t feel like talking to me after my hateful and incorrect post.”

I pointed out to him that the beauty of this site is that you can correct and respond to the post. He doesn’t believe in that- or even reading blogs, but he had read this post. He said I was uniformed, had facts wrong, and didn’t listen.

So, I’d say we’re even.

He doesn’t seem to understand that his primary job is customer service, and by not returning calls- he’s not providing it. His second job is to keep the citizens informed of issues that affect them. Considering I’d been to two of the meetings on the issue and was still “uninformed” says that he wasn’t keeping people who were interested in the issue informed very well. And, as to not listening- well, not answering your phone or returning calls, that’s great listening technique as well.

I think John Gower is one of the most visionary thinkers in City Hall. It’s too bad he doesn’t understand how modern web technology can help make sure that issues are not only well documented and open to all, but the discussion is as well.

That’s what I do here, as best I can- and I’m not paid $80K plus a year to do it. You are John.

Returning phone calls isn’t optional. Sorry, to make an example out of you, but I think it’s time that City Hall had a lesson in customer service. If you lead a department by example, it’s no wonder people think developing projects in Dayton is painful.

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18 Responses

  1. Chad March 7, 2009 / 5:36 pm
    I agree that city hall seems to have forgotten that customer service is their first job… but it occurs to me that you’re probably not gaining any favors from John by calling for his termination on your blog. I think you’ve all but proven his point that your posts are hateful. If you really wanted your site to be an open discussion on the issues, wouldn’t it be better to begin the discussion by writing posts that are well informed and fair? Not by making things up and then expecting someone else to post on your website and correct you?

    You’re right that his job is to answer questions and help the public, but if you want people’s help and cooperation you’re going about it the wrong way. The problem begins with your posts and the incorrect information you disseminate… not with his reaction to your blog.

  2. David Esrati March 7, 2009 / 5:57 pm
    @chad.
    I didn’t call for just Mr. Gower’s termination- I called for any city employee’s termination that doesn’t return 5 phone calls.
    I’ve published this site for 4 years. Congratulations on finding and pointing out my faux pas on Jamie Simpson. Go to the head of the class.
    The reality is- Nick Keys had to go through a crazy sequence of meetings, taking over a year, to get a unanimous approval for a billboard.
    If you can’t handle public criticism and scrutiny, you probably don’t belong in public service- or in any job that requires customer service.
    To say that this is my problem- let me point out that the city of Dayton has lost over 100,000 residents, has been losing businesses, and is considered a failure.
    If you think this is because of my posts- instead of because of failed policies in City Hall, you are sadly mistaken.
  3. Roger March 8, 2009 / 8:33 am
    I agree, city government is fucked up, but you are disingenuous when you start crying because you’ve been ignored by a city official, as if you are average joe citizen. You make your bed here, but cry when you have trouble sleeping in it.
  4. Roger March 8, 2009 / 8:34 am
    As always, it’s really all about David Esrati.
  5. David Esrati March 8, 2009 / 8:55 am

    @Roger-
    Of course it’s all about me. I write this stuff and you read it- because you are all so fascinated with me. Ask around- there are lots of other people, who have said that the City of Dayton doesn’t understand basic customer service.
    Had they got it right over 22 years ago- I’d never have stepped foot in City Hall.
    They grow what they sow.
    Discontent stems from poor practices. 100,000 people leaving the city, would be a massive FAIL in most books.

  6. Gary March 8, 2009 / 10:59 am
    I have had similar experiences. You get the silent treatment. If they don’t have an answer for you, they hope you will go away. I have been quoted as stating that “I would rather have a definite NO than a definite MAYBE” from city hall. Many businesses, in order to offer customer service, enforce a 24 hour reply policy. They have to reply within 24 hours as a follow up even if they DO NOT have an answer. Business practices need to be injected into city hall. Customer service is essential if you wish to grow your customer base.
  7. Gene March 8, 2009 / 1:37 pm
    He told you to your face to go fly a kite. He all but handed you the kite. Get a clue, get a grip.

    You often make it about you – and, no, you are not that special. But I do think you need to keep it up, that is what you do. Just remember people will ignore you from time to time bc who you are………. goes with the territory.

    Again, a nothing post.

  8. David Lauri March 8, 2009 / 4:53 pm
    Whatever else David Esrati is (candidate, business owner, crank, loon, whatever), he’s a citizen of Dayton. City employees don’t get to pick and choose to whom they’ll respond.

    Now city employees do get to choose how they’ll respond. If a city employee is getting repeated abusive phone calls from a particular citizen, then the employee should have the city’s legal counsel respond to the citizen. If Mr. Gower would care to allege that this were the case with David Esrati’s repeated voicemails, that’d be interesting.

  9. Gene March 8, 2009 / 6:39 pm
    It is well known that City and County employees avoid David Esrati and his phone calls………. it is an unwritten rule…………… a lot of employees just laugh him off. As they also do, in large part, in the advertising world of Dayton (tv, radio, etc.) Most people in those industries joke about who he is and what he stands for all the time. I like what he stands for, but to be honest most people find him too aggressive and too self important to deal with. I find this blog and his views to be unique and I like his spunky-ness. GO get em Dave.
  10. Larkin March 9, 2009 / 12:27 am
    Honest to God. As if anyone would care about the opinions of someone whose email address is [email protected] Just another wanker is our Roger.
  11. Shelia March 9, 2009 / 8:00 am
    It’s not just David Esrati that gets ignored.

    I called to pay my water bill and the water department call center never picked up their calls. It never went to voice mail. I called the waste department to see if there was something wrong with the phones and was told by a person who actually did pick up her line that the water department just never answers the phone. Granted this was last year, but it took me leaving a voice mail with the department head telling him that all I wanted to do was pay my freaking water bill that someone finally called me back.

    It’s not all about Esrati; it’s about people who have the jobs that they apparently don’t care about enough to do them the way they should be done.

  12. Gene March 9, 2009 / 9:17 am
    THEY ARE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! of course they don’t do their jobs.
  13. Teresa Lea March 9, 2009 / 2:32 pm
    Hey David – Gene seems to have a lot of spare time on his hands… I’m smelling a campaign manager…
  14. Phone Home March 9, 2009 / 7:43 pm
    To Shelia, it is a false assumption that an unanswered phone is due to employee neglect. Perhaps the phone system is out of order. Perhaps no one was scheduled for duty at that particular time. Perhaps there was an emergency and all hands were on deck. Why assume it was the employee’s fault instead of management?

    Speaking of management, why would one assume that department heads have time to personally return every phone call? That’s why they hire staff and create call centers. Management should be dealing with big issues, not listening to dozens of voicemails.

    In reference to the earlier post, I’m not sure that everyone understands the BZA. Two things to note: 1) it is an independent board of citizens who make their own decisions on behalf of the city and 2) they have every right to negotiate the terms of the variance. I would rather seem them negotiate on issues than just say yes or no to everyone. That’s good policy.

    So what exactly did you want to ask the city planners, Mr. Esrati? Unless I missed it, you never actually said what your question might be.

  15. Get A Grip March 13, 2009 / 3:09 am
    Call back the Village Idiot???
    Enough of my tax dollars are already being wasted.
    Way to keep showing your ass, Mr. Esrati…should work well for your campaign.
  16. Jeff Wellbaum April 1, 2009 / 3:25 pm
    Comment I posted on NanWhaley’s blog site:

    Commissioner Whaley,

    A major reason why we are in this financial crisis is because banks gave perspective homeowners who really did not have the ability to pay montly payments for houses, home loans. When they did this it helped cause banks to experience their current problems. What is your perspective on giving homeowners who do not have the ability to pay home loans?

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