Sunday, December 7, 2008

Prime examples of the poor way in which the City of Lake Worth communicates with its citizens...

In stark contrast to the example provided by Punta Gorda, Florida, here are just two recent examples of poor, expensive and confusing messages/images put out by our City "organ."

First of all, here is a copy of our Fall 2008 City of Lake Worth Newsletter. Apparently the City Commission thinks it's only necessary to communicate formally four times a year with the residents. When they do this, they chose to send out this "City Times" printed on glossy, heavy stock paper. I assume that it was sent out, but since I didn't get one through my mailbox (this one I picked up at City Hall) I can't attest to that for sure.

The first page consists of a recreation department schedule and an announcement of the new director and assistant. We read that we can expect great things from this new team. Hmmm.

And on the second and third pages, we have barely comprehensible type that is printed over a patch of pumpkins. The Summer edition of "City Times" had hurricane and other information printed over dark gray palm trees fighting the wind. This version is only moderately more readable.For another example of this dark print on dark background phenomena, check out the City's "Mission Statement" at any of a number of customer service portals in the city. How unfortunately predictable it is that the City's "Mission Statement" is unreadable!

The third page has an article about the change in yard waste and larger household goods pick-up that was the subject of an elaborate, heavy stock calendar. More on that publication later in this post. But at least here, we have the benefit of having the only useful piece of information of that calendar - the map that showed what days pick-up would be done around the city.

And here we have the fourth page which is white space and has numbers you can call for city departments.How many of these were printed and at what cost? Is this really seen as an effective way to communicate with the citizenry?

About a month ago, two guys in a city truck went around with a yellow (for our area of town) slip that was stuck to our front doors. It announced a change in yard and household white goods pick-up to alternating weeks. The slip said that this change would be explained further in a calendar that will be available to everyone. A couple days pass and the same two guys in the truck came by and delivered this 16+ page, spiral bound, heavy and shiny stock calendar.

How are these publications abiding by the Mayor's Climate Control Task Force recommendations? By the way, the CRA sent out its annual report on post consumer recycled paper, printed with soy-based inks.

Here is the cover of the calendar:

Here is December and it is about as clear as mud when to put out your stuff if you only refer to this. This caused a lot of confusion in my neighborhood the day it was implemented - on a Friday. People put everything out - regular garbage, large pick-up items, recycling. I am happy to report that after about a month into it, people realize that our regular household pick-up didn't change from Monday and Thursday.

Buried in the calendar is this page which better explains what is happening with the 4 day pick-up schedule - but it is opposite June 2009! If we don't have it down by then, then we have real problems.

The most useful piece of this publication was the hard to find pull out map on the back page of the calendar. This is the one I mentioned above.

Again, what did this cost, how many were printed and why make it so confusing? Does anyone really care about environmental impacts or are we just "green washing?"

Still on the subject of communication, Chairman of the CRA Mark Rickards mentioned that he talked to the Mayor during board member comments at the end of one the CRA's recent meetings. The Mayor inquired about the CRA funding a public relations/public information officer along with the City in order to get the word out about City activities and policies on a consistent and reliable basis. I thought it was a great idea but was concerned about spending CRA for general city functions. It was left that someone would look into the details and get back to the board with some answers. Just last week, I hadn't heard anything about what was found out so I inquired. The answer came indirectly from a "highly placed" person in the City Manager's office who said that the Commission gave that contract out to "Politically Correct". Apparently the City's lobbyist will be doing the on-going public information from now on from the City. Has anyone detected a change?

I'll make a few more calls tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Arrived home yesterday to find a $25.00 fine for putting vegetation out on Monday at my lake Osborne residence. Included in this was a $15.00 fee for REMOVAL.
Problem is the City's web site says Mondays for vegetation, and nothing was REMOVED.