What is democracy? It is government of the people by their elected paid representatives.
What is demockery? It’s what you get when paid bureaucrats have too much influence over elected paid representatives.
The following is an example of demockery.
On 26 April 2011 I sent a complaint of some gravity to the Mayor.
A reply to me that same day from “A” stated
“Thank you for your email to the Mayor. We acknowledge receipt of this complaint and we are currently investigating. Thank you for taking the time to contact the Mayor.”
Two days later on 28 April 2011, the following events took place.
I rang “A” to ask what stage the investigation had reached. I pointed out my complaint had been addressed to Len Brown and marked URGENT.
I asked if Len Brown had received it yet. “A” said she was sending it off to the CEO “right now”. She said it took up to 10 working days to process complaints and I expressed concern about the time factor. She bemoaned the fact that she had been in the office by herself on Tuesday and had been doing the work of three people. She
undertook to email me an outline of the complaints process.
I asked to speak to Doug McKay and was told he and his PA were away on an extended Easter break. I spoke to “B” who told me she had forwarded my complaint to the CEO yesterday. I said that was strange as I had been told half an hour ago it was only just being forwarded then. It turned out it was another G.Osborne who had lodged a complaint.
Having not heard from “A”, I rang again but neither “A” nor Len Brown were available. I left a message on “C”’s answer phone asking him to ring me.
“D” informed me the Written Communications Team was handling my complaint. I asked who was in charge. I was told “E”. I asked to speak to “E” but was told she was on leave until Monday.
Still not having received the promised email from “A”, I rang again. “F” told me “A” was in a meeting but she would get her to ring me back.
I was told “B” was also unavailable. I said I would like to speak to the person in charge of my complaint. I was put on canned music for 7 minutes then told the matter was being handled by the Written Communications Team. I was then told “A” would be in a meeting from 12.30 pm and had left instructions not to take any calls. I pointed out this call had commenced at 12.20 pm.
Still no email. I rang and asked to speak to “F”. “G” informed me he was unavailable. Once again I was told the matter was being handled by the Communications Team. I wanted to know if Len Brown had read the letter. I was put on canned music for 6 minutes then told my email had been forwarded to the “Correspondence Team.”
I sent another email to the Mayor asking if he had read the one sent to him two days earlier.
I received a reply from “H” saying “Thank you for your email to the Mayor. Your email has been forwarded to Local Board Services who will investigate the matter and reply to you in due course. Thank you again for bringing this matter to the attention of the Mayor.”
I replied saying “You have not answered the question.”
Still no email from “A”.
I rang and spoke to “G” in the Call Centre. I asked to speak to “H”.
She said she could not put me through. When I asked why she said “I understand you have been told your email has been forwarded to the correspondence team.” I asked if she was acting under instructions as to what to say.
She said “I’m not prepared to continue this conversation.”
“I”. I said I wanted to ensure that the Mayor had read my email. She said “The Mayor is aware of your email.” I said that didn’t mean he had read it. I was told she would have to speak to her manager. I was put on canned music for 5 minutes then given similar comments to those before saying my email had been forwarded.
“J”. I asked for “C”. 5 minutes of canned music then I was told he was on voice mail. I then asked to speak to any person available. Further canned music. I was the told there was no-one I could be put through to. I asked speak to “K”. Further delays. I was then told “L” was working with “K” and he was not available to speak to me at the moment. I asked to speak to “L” and was told she would prefer not to speak to me. Nevertheless I insisted on speaking to her and she said she would get “K” to ring me.
“M”. I asked for “N” – unavailable. Similar comments about information being logged into the system. I asked who had given the instructions. I was referred to “O”—Team Leader. More canned music. I was then told “N” was on voice mail. I sent him an email asking him to ring me.
“P” rang and said “K” would not be able to respond to my call. I asked him if the Mayor had read my email. He said he did not know but would ring back.
“P” rang me and said the Mayor had not read my email. I asked who was in charge. He told me Phil Wilson. (Chief of Staff)
“Q”. Phil Wilson unavailable. I left a message on his answer phone.
“R”. Put me through to “S”. “Phil Wilson in a meeting”. I said I just wanted to make sure he responded to my call.
Phil Wilson rang me and accused me of being unpleasant to staff.
He was not prepared to say whether or not he had read the email.
He was not prepared to say whether or not he would pass it on to the Mayor.
6.42 pm I sent an email to Phil Wilson asking
1. Have you read the email yet?
2. Will you please undertake to see that he (Len Brown) reads it tomorrow?
On 29 April I sent an email to Doug McKay (CEO)
I also sent an email to “A” pointing out I had not yet received the email promised yesterday.
At 7.55 am I received an Out of Office Auto Reply from Doug McKay referring my query to “B”
At 8.30 am I spoke to “T” and asked to speak to either Doug McKay or “B”. I was told “B” would not be available until late afternoon.
At 10.15 am I spoke to “U” and asked to speak to the Mayor. I received a similar patter to that proffered previously. I said “Never mind, I’ll come in.”
At 11 am I hand delivered a sealed letter addressed to the Mayor and marked CONFIDENTIAL to the Auckland Council main office. I asked for a receipt.
At 4.10 pm, having received no emails or phone calls I spoke to “V” and asked to be put through to the Mayor’s office. Once again the call staff member regurgitated a scripted message to me in a parrot-like fashion.
At 4.27 pm I sent the following email to the Mayor.
I would appreciate the courtesy of your acknowledgement of receipt of the confidential letter addressed to yourself that I delivered at 11am this morning and an acknowledgement you have read it.
What action do you propose to take?
At 4.30 pm I spoke to “W” and asked to speak to Phil Wilson. I was told “I can’t put you through.” We then went through the rigmarole about my complaint being logged into the system. Eventually Phil Wilson came to the phone and said I had spoilt his whole evening last night and he didn’t want to go through the whole thing again. He told me he was drafting an email and I would have it soon.
At 4.54 pm I received an email from Phil Wilson saying “I can confirm I have appraised the Mayor of your concerns.” Further on he said “I will endeavour to have a response to you by close of business Tuesday 3 May.” His ultimate paragraph read “Finally, can I offer my commitment to try to keep our dialogue on a professional and courteous level. We seemed to get off on the wrong foot yesterday and I would like to think that we could put that behind us and move forward constructively.”
On 30 April I received a phone call at 11.20 am from a Research Company wanting to do a survey on Council Customer Complaints. I asked if the survey had been commissioned by Auckland Council and the young man confirmed it had. I agreed to take part in the survey on the grounds that I would later receive a full copy of questions and answers.
The censorship of mail addressed to the Mayor by a Written Communications Team is a point of concern to me.
Even at this stage I am uncertain whether personal delivery of a sealed letter marked CONFIDENTIAL and addressed to the Mayor is any guarantee that he has or will open it and read it.
The comments of Phil Wilson that “I have appraised the Mayor” certainly give no indication that any of my emails addressed to the Mayor have been received by the Mayor.
The problem with giving scripted comments to call staff dealing with incoming calls is that on occasions the answers given over the phone bear no resemblance to the questions being asked.
The difficulty of being able to contact relevant staff during normal business hours or getting relevant staff to return calls made during normal business hours is ridiculous.
If relevant staff are unavailable during normal business hours, it is vital that they return calls left on their answer phones.
It is pointless asking incoming callers to listen to several minutes of canned music before telling them their call is going through to voicemail. Why can that not be done straight away?
Unfortunately we have taken several bureaucracies and combined them into one super bureaucracy. The result is DEMOCKERY!