Dear Gripe Vine Readers:
I have sent more than 75 gripes to the mayor’s office because I was unable to receive many responses to your complaints, from the mayor’s Executive Assistant, Louis Esposito.
Mayor Nancy Rossi replied to my gripes as you will see in her answers in today’s Gripe Vine.
After you read the mayor’s answer to Gripe Vine, I will make an attempt to explain her directives
Dear Ms. Turkington,
Thank you for forwarding your “gripes” to my office. My staff has sorted the complaints by voting district and will distribute them to the City Councilors elected to each district. As I stated in my February 2018 letter, when I took office I eliminated the position of Complaints Officer. As you know West Haven is facing some serious financial and budget challenges. As a result, I am making difficult and sometimes painful cuts to remedy our budget problems. We cannot operate as we have in the past.
The City of West Haven will listen and address when appropriate, concerns raised by your readers. Your readers would be best served if their first course of action is to contact the department, e.g. public works, police, building, blight, etc., that is trained and authorized to manage their issues.
In addition, there are 13 city councilors, three who serve the city at-large and one each in the 10 voting districts. Your readers should familiarize themselves with who represents them on City Council. Each Councilperson lists their contact information on the city website at www.cityofwesthaven.com/183/City-Council
As a former City Councilor who represented District 7 for ten years, I managed many constituent complaints. On behalf of my constituents, I contacted department heads to get their issues resolved. These ranged from blight, to pot holes to snow plowing and everything in between!
Should a resident receive an unsatisfactory response or want additional clarification on an issue, they can call my office. If my staff cannot answer the question immediately, I have instructed them to forward the inquiry to the appropriate department for a response. The telephone number for the mayor’s office is 203-937-3510. My small staff manages a large number of calls, emails, walk-ins and written correspondence, some of which are “gripes.” They do a very good job of sorting through, prioritizing and resolving issues on their own.
From this point forward, please send your “gripes” to the City Council administrative assistant, Michael DiMassa, who will be sure that the proper City Council member receives them. Mr. DiMassa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-937-3672.
My office and the City Council office will ensure that we answer each inquiry and address every concern; however, we expect some understanding on your readers’ and your parts. Constituent service is a priority that is managed along with our other duties and responsibilities. Both offices run on a lean budget without the luxury of a large staff.
Readers, I am interpreting the mayor’s response as:
Contact the specific departments, police, Public Works, etc. with your complaint. Call Michael Dimassa, the City Council’s administrative assistant who will send your complaints to the City Council member.
If you don’t receive a satisfactory response or need more information, call the mayor’s office 203-937-3510.
If the mayor’s staff cannot answer your complaints immediately, the mayor’s staff will forward inquiries to the appropriate department for a response.
Gripe Vine Readers:
Now, here’s what I have to say about the mayor’s response:
First, many of your complaints need immediate attention. They could put pedestrians, children in harm’s way, i.e.; malfunctioning traffic lights, broken and cracked sidewalks, playground equipment in need of repair. These are just a few that come to mind.
Second. The time it will take to sort out your gripes in the mayor’s office, the very possible lack of swift attention to gripes from a department head or weather-related delays, will not be helpful to my readers.
Third: Think about it, you send a gripe to me, I forward it to DiMassa, he contacts your City Councilman, who in turn notifies the department head and if he is unable to solve your problem, it bounces back to the mayor’s office. In my estimate, not productive or helpful to the taxpayers in West Haven.
Fourth: City Council members may have full-time employment, leading them to little time to investigate complaints. They in turn will run into the same difficulties DiMassa will have.
From over 16 years of writing Gripe Vine for West Haven residents, you can be sure I have encountered many pitfalls and they were in addition to help from mayoral assistants. Not an easy job. My reason for remaining as a go between for residents and city staff, I CARE.
If you want to continue to send your gripes to me, I will follow my usual procedure. I will send them on to the mayor’s office. I feel confident your issues will be resolved.
For those of you waiting for replies, you will read responses here.
Coming up: Mayor Rossi’s response on Beach Street area and what the possibility is for uniform size and color trash cans similar to those used in Milford and other local cities and much more.
I will end my lengthy column today by closing with, Send your gripes, comments and suggestions to email@example.com Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number, kept in strict confidence with me. Or you can mail them to Gripe Vine c/o West Haven Voice, 666 Savin Ave. You can also submit them online by clicking here.