City must address drainage concerns

City work that was performed to alleviate drainage problems at the homes of City Councilmen Bill Pitts and Jim Doody may have been handled in an entirely normal fashion, as City Manager Laurie Kadrich said.

But to the average resident of Grand Junction, it may appear that the quickest way to have a problem rectified by the city is to join the City Council.

That is unfortunate, especially at a time when so many Americans distrust government at all levels.

As The Daily Sentinel’s Amy Hamilton highlighted in an article Monday, both Pitts and Doody had complained about drainage problems at their homes before they were elected to the City Council in the past two years.

And both problems were worked on by city crews after the men were elected and after they personally discussed the problems with Kadrich.

Kadrich said she checked with staff members and learned both projects were already on lists of drainage work to be undertaken by city crews. We have no reason to doubt that the projects had been previously scheduled, as Kadrich said.

But clearly, council members are able to bend the ear of the city manager — no matter who the city manager is — more readily than the average citizen.

In fact, Doody told the Sentinel he didn’t even receive a response from city officials about his drainage complaint when he was just Jim Q. Citizen.

It was only after he was elected to the council and had made his concerns known to Kadrich that he received a response telling him his property was on the list of drainage projects scheduled to be completed this past summer.

That’s poor customer service. Any resident of the city at least deserves to know city officials received his or her complaint and what, if anything, they plan to do about it.

Another problem seems to be that the city responds to drainage problems through a complaint-driven process: Citizens complain and city officials determine which projects are the most pressing priorities.

In the midst of heavy summer rains, when one property owner or neighborhood is suffering heavy runoff damage, it makes sense for city work crews to respond to those pressing complaints immediately.

But, the rest of the time, the policy seems to promote a philosophy of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” And, it’s rather obvious that elected City Council members have to be squeaky wheels just to get elected.

What’s needed is a more well-defined schedule of improvements based on what staff believes are the highest priorities. It should be highly transparent and easily viewed by citizens, either online, in the newspaper or at City Hall, so that they know if projects in their areas are scheduled to be performed, regardless of whether they are members of the City Council.


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