Tips, Snitches or Ombuds?

Due to a previously scheduled commitment, I was not able to attend Monday’s Council meeting.  Chris from the Merc asked the next day how I would have voted on the subject of a city hall “tip line” for residents or staff to anonymously submit comments.  Here was my response ….

I see both sides, so my vote would have reflected the discussion on the floor.  For me, the issue is about how it is framed — is it a “tip line” or is it a “customer service” response line or is it an “ombudsperson”.? 

A “snitch line” so that residents can call and tell us they saw a city truck in the Tim’s drive-through is a waste of money.   A “tip line” where residents can write or call with suggestions, innovative ideas, constructive criticism, experiences, etc. has merit.   Some of the best ideas for improvements and potential efficiencies come through citizen feedback.  But do we need to spend thousands of dollars setting up, staffing and administrating a line so that we can duplicate what we already have?    I would like to think that any resident of Guelph can already do this, safely and securely, and with our enhanced IT strategy, there will be more opportunity for resident outreach and feedback.    There are already anonymous ways to contact city to provide feedback — email and blogs.

Now, an Ombudsperson is something I can support wholeheartedly.   Having an independent adjudicator role in place when a customer needs assistance navigating a policy, has a disagreement on how a policy is interpreted or implemented, or has a concern with city staff or level or service  — this position would be a valuable addition to our level of accountability.   If it gets through the Governance committee in this form, I think it has a much better chance of making it through to Council.

My two cents….


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