Dial-The-Mayor a Ringing Success

From Lane Co Oregon

[edit] Springfield News, Date Unknown

Calls from San Diego, Chicago

Dial-The Mayor a 'Ringing' Success

By Don Wilt

Springfield's "Dial-the-Mayor" program began its second week of operation Monday morning and it's no wonder that City Manager N.L. "Pat" Teague is wearing a smile.

After all, it was Teague's idea to have a special number at city hall reserved for the public to phone in gripes, comments or accolade. And the first week of the program's existence has proven it to be an ostentatious success.

More than a score of callers dialed 74-MAYOR during the week to register comments with Springfield Mayor John McCulley via a recording device, "And," admitted Teague Monday morning, "we had the usual number of nuts and profanity" but an impressive majority of calls were legitimate.

And of those that were not exactly what the good mayor and city manager had hoped would come in over the "hot line," the majority were at least amusing.

For example, one radio station in San Diego got hold of the "Dial-a-Gripe" number via associated press releases. The following message, parody of the short spiel presented at the beginning of each "Mission: Impossible" program on television came from a disc jockey at that station.

"Good Morning Mr. Mayor. The picture you see before you is the would-be dictator of KDEO Radio in San Diego, Perry Allen. My grip is "Why is Dial-a-Gripe unlisted?" Please call me on Monday morning at 7:40 to discuss this matter. My number is 583-5300, the area code is 714... This message will self-destruct in five seconds."

Mayor McCulley returned the caller's call.

Another radio station-- this one in Chicago-- said, "We are calling from Chicago and we didn't believe it. I guess about all we can say to the Mayor out in Oregon is that Radio 78 Chicago called. Sounds like a good idea for some city to be doing and it is for real. There you go."

Still another message said, "This is Jeff Edwards in Los Angeles, Cal., and my number is 469-531, and we are testing you on the radio right now. We are interested in your service and want to know if you really listen to these things. So if you do, would you call me at anytime and leave a message when I can contact you? I will put you on the radio in Los Angeles and interview you, Mayor McCulley. And thank you very much. You certainly have a nice recording there."

For the most part, however, comments on the recording which is transcribed each morning, ran along more orthodox lines.

"For the most part," commented Teague," the calls have been quite realistic."

Subjects touched upon by callers included lighting, paving, the installation of sidewalks, stop signs, traffic signals, Springfield Community Action Council, air pollution and racing cars among the daily traffic flow.

But even the "normal" calls represented some unique problems.

For example, the mayor received the following message last Tuesday:

"Hello Mr. Mayor, I don't believe you can help us but maybe you can tell us who can. My friends and my husband, myself and many acquaintances have summer-time gripe. We like to get away for the weekend, as you know many other people do at different times, and we like to go fishing. Now, there are others who have interests such as flying, car racing, boating and water skiing and many more... just fine. But tell me how you can fish when water skiers are all over the place. As I said, it is fine what you want to do but you can't mix these two sports. I would just like to know can there be something done where we can both enjoy doing or own thing?"

McCulley answered the caller in a letter by noting that there are several lakes in the area which are inappropriate for water skiing, and others on which skiing is not allowed. He suggested that the caller talk to the game commission about the problem.

Another caller said: "Hello. I just wanted to say that I believe that America is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Yeah, America is wonderful. I just want to thank all my city government and my county government, my state government, my local government and my... all the governments that charge me taxes and make me pay bills and tickets and... throw me in jail."

Some of the more common calls went like this:

"I feel that the removal of the stop sign on 14th Street at 'E' was a mistake. Yesterday, there were ten cars piled up trying to get across and I seen several cars almost get hit, inadvertently forgetting about the stop sign being removed on 14th and pulling out after they had stopped on 'E'. I think perhaps you should reconsider the removal of that sign."

And another, "Last year, there were three of my children walking to the Thurston Junior and Senior High schools and they complained for some time that this was quite an experience and I ought to try it. So I did one morning, and I came to the conclusion that if the city would be able to put in walkways, for these children to be able to walk to school where they would get off the roadway it would sure be an advantage. Traffic at this time of the morning is real heavy and these kids walking along the road present a hazard both to themselves and to the drivers of these vehicles."

Another caller suggested that calls concerning improvements in the city be printed in the Springfield News so that others who are interested in the same problems or who can offer advise on the subject could follow up on the call. The News will begin that service in the near future. It will run as a regular feature of this paper called "The Mayor's Action Line."

Springfield apparently is the only city in the country using the "Dial-the-Mayor" program to effectively improve communication between the public and the city.

Exemplative of the lack of communication to this point was one caller who said, "I have been going to come down and talk to someone but I never knew who to talk to."

[Photograph with statement below: PREPARING A LIST OF COMMENTS called in over the new "Dial-the-Mayor" telephone service for Mayor John McCulley (right) is city secretary Mrs. Marie Powell. The service was established last week s a means of improving lines of communication between local residents and city government So far, the service has resulted in calls from as far away as Southern California and Chicago. (News photo by John Craig)]

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