A very significant number that Winnipeg 311 is still not aware of
Yesterday I wrote a post about a couple of witnesses that apparently have come forward (according to media reports), to police with information about possible corruption at City Hall, the Civic Service or both.
That post prompted one of my readers to send me an email about an incident involving the City that he felt was inappropriate in terms of the bidding process. In his mind it was at the very least wasteful. This prompted him to ask the question:
“Who do I tell ???? Not like there is anyone willing to listen.”
That brought to mind a previous post I wrote about the City of Winnipeg Fraud and Waste Hotline.
Thinking that the Fraud and Waste Hotline might be a good point of contact for my reader I called Winnipeg 311 and asked for the phone number for the City of Winnipeg Fraud and Waste Hotline. The long and the short of this inquiry was that the result I got was the same as that obtained by the Free Press when they made the same inquiry in September of this year. 311 was not aware of the existence of such a hotline and as a consequence did not have the phone number.
What should one conclude from the fact that even after the Free Press made the same inquiry some 3 months ago and exposed the fact that 311 did not have available vital information that the public is entitled to and that after the passage of three months no steps have been taken to address that issue? I suppose there are a number of inferences that could be drawn. The first is that 311 supervisors and managerial staff are either incompetent or don’t care. Surely if they were competent or cared they would have taken some action after the embarrassment caused by the aforementioned Free Press article. The second inference is that 311 staff and management do care and want to do the right thing (which is the sense I got when I called them today) but are being stifled or muzzled by the administration in terms of the information they have available to them and that they are allowed to give out to the public. This second scenario, were it the case, would be of greater concern than the first.
No wonder the uptake by civic employees and members of the public has been so low in terms of calls to the hotline. Most don’t know about its existence and those that do are not familiar with the contact information.
People cannot call a hotline when the very existence of such a hotline is suppressed and the contact information is not available to civic employees or the public.
I urge everyone to contact our new mayor and their respective members of council and ask them to do the right thing. If we are serious about fraud and waste at City Hall there needs to be both an internal and external education program in terms of what constitutes fraud and waste. As well, the process to bring such information forward must be clearly outlined and the contact information must be readily available.
So let’s start down that road. The City of Winnipeg has entered into an agreement with a company call Clearview Connects, a third party confidential reporting service that will receive and document information about possible fraud or waste as it relates to the City of Winnipeg. Reports can be made both through the internet at Clearview Connects or via telephone. The telephone numbers are:
Civic Employees 1 877-319-5186
Members of the Public 1 866-840-5837
Former Mayor Katz and council dropped this 311 turkey on an unsuspecting public and in my opinion it is nothing but a shield to keep the public and department managers apart. After years of using this ‘system’ I find it virtually useless and a spit in the face of all Winnipeggers.
e.g After our garbage pick up was missed 5, 10, 15 and now up to 20 times 311 has the same routine:
–send an email to the department responsible, give a reference number and that’s it.
–when the department doesn’t respond, 311 sends another email
–when I complain their system isn’t working they play dumb and repeat the above and call it ‘expediting.’
Both supervisors and agents follow a script and nothing you say will ever persuade them to alter a process that doesn’t work and is inefficient.
Pre-311 you could actually talk to managers and you never needed a reference number.
Regarding new mayor Bowman, it seems he has his own agenda and administration will just play him like a cheap violin and carry on as usual.
Anyways, thanks for your concern pointing out a giant flaw in the system and hopefully someone will do an audit on 311 to expose their obviously slow and stupid way of doing things.
Thank you for your comment. The argument could be made that by putting a buffer between the public and members of the administration 311 tends to discourage direct communication rather than provide direct access and provide an improved level of service for citizens.
In terms of the new mayor, there is no doubt that the administration will attempt to “play him” as you say. It will be interesting to see if he will allow himself to be played.
I ran for council I was so disgusted by that contract. Public doesn’t get it, doesn’t want to hear it. I publicly told people this was happening, For a contractor that is dangerous.
We contractors are in the front line. We see this all to often. We have zero protection. We have zero recognition. Just recently I was able to save the city 300K just by utilizing my expertise. Our system doesn’t reward those that work diligently on behalf of the City. I am a “city” employee with no benefits. I live and work beneath the radar. I have “worked” for the City for over 20 years. People know me by my first name . I’ve made a good living and provided a good service. Now – with this bunch of ill equipped , ill trained , administrators – who should I call again.
We have a dysfunctional purchasing department. We have a large number of employees who just want out. In this day and age – this should never happen. We’ve been at it way to long to have suddenly shelved the open bidding system and for some reason are surprised by it.
I can’t even bid on projects because its easier to pay the general contractor 10 to 15 % more to administer the project. This means – the bidding process stops at the general – his favorite trades get the work . I can beat them on price and performance – yet I can’t bid.
So again – who’s handling this ?
Great to read your blog. I want to put in a good word for 311. We have used this method of communicating with the city very successfully in dealing with by law violations, bad landlords, garbage pick up and general communications. We use the email link and get exceptionally good service. I suspect that your second analysis, that 311 management is concerned but have not been provided withy the ability to respond, is the correct one..