Sunday, November 2, 2014

What didn't happen at Spring Town Meeting

Like the scene from Good Morning Vietnam, when Robbin Williams goes to read what the sensors have allowed him to read over the air waves... Nothing happened, when in fact the war rages on.

Last spring, Town Meeting was asked to approve a 2 million dollar building to house inventory. As a member of the Ways and Means committee, I asked what the inventory was and the department head told us the Town has around 500,000 in inventory scattered around town and to do an complete inventory a larger building is a must. It was clear, no one is keeping track of most of the inventory. One member asked the DPW head, will you not do an inventory unless you get the building and the answer was yes.

Shocked as I was as so were a few of the more aware committee members, we voted not to support the building until an accurate inventory was done. At TM I made a resolution at asking the DPW department to provide an inventory to TM in the Fall. The resolution passed overwhelmingly. The next day the DPW head was quoted as saying to Patch, "that's not going to happen" to the resolution calling for an inventory.

Fast forward to Fall TM. Article 1 came up for review. On the back table was a hand out from DPW, explaining their efforts to conduct an inventory. A consultant was hired to examine the cost and needs benefit of decentralized verses a centralized inventory system The memo went on to say that an inventory was in the works for 4 locations around town and that the value of said inventory is between 600,000 and 700,000 dollars. The DPW will report back in spring of 2015 with the recommendations from the consultant.

While this may appear to be the right path, it's clear to me, DPW has hired a company that will suggest a centralized inventory, thus, making the 2 million dollar inventory building a sure thing next year.

Another tidbit of useful information that you didn't read about was the Police Union contract at Fall TM. Being lucky enough to be on the Ways and Means, I get to see what the departments heads are rolling out to TM. While serving on Public Safety were questions weren't allowed by the Chair, it's been refreshing to be on a committee that encourages questions of the Department heads.

For the amount of time I've been on TM, I have questioned the amount of sick time and overtime in Public Safety budgets. Being a very blue union Town, those who question Public Safety are heathens, but when a force of 100 or so take 850 days are year off for sick time, it's time to speak out. While reading the Police Union contract, Art 36 indicates that Police officers will strive to adhere to the Towns Customer service policy but shall not be disciplined solely on the failure to adhere to the policy. The Union endorese the Town's Ethics policy. To me, as well as others, this language is at best ambiguous and in fact, leaves the impression that FPD does not have it's own Ethical Standards as do Waltham and Brookline PD's. Try as I do to make my time at TM productive and meaningful, my attempt to make a motion to have the FPD be held accountable to an Ethics Code... was not allowed by the moderator. Doing some digging on this, I ran into the Accreditation issue. And after speaking with the head of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, I felt it was important to ask how FPD was accredited while having a clause that does not hold FPD to any ethical standards. I will meet with Chief Ferguson next week for clarity.

My point about the local media's coverage of Framinghjam TM. While every talking point at TM cannot be written about in the paper, issues of accountability and ethical standards should make a line or two in the local media outlets.


At November 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

So the meeting with the Chief went very well. He did make available to me the Code Of Ethics that each police person must sign and swear to. Thank God

As for the Customer Service Policy and why the department cannot be held accountable for is still unclear. I've asked for the policy and the Chief will find out why that language is in the contract. It's unclear who wrote that in.

But I will admit, that talking with Chief Ferguson was a unique pleasure. He didn't make faces when asked a question. He didn't side step any issue. He was clear and open and very willing to listen. As much as I despise the actions of ALL law enforcements over zealous and illegal behavior, I walked away from the meeting pleased to know Ken Ferguson is at the helm.

At November 5, 2014 at 11:56 AM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

I'm impressed with the Core Values and Mission Statement. As residents, we need to know what the FPD is thinking in their every day duties.

The core values of the Framingham Police Department are intended to guide
the operation of the police department and the conduct of its members.
• Service to the community
• Commitment to the law and public safety
• Safeguarding the rights, differences and dignity of all people
• Conducting ourselves with high standards of behavior through integrity,
professionalism and accountability
• Quality policing through innovation, continuous improvement and the
pursuit of excellence
• Promoting inspirational leadership throughout the organization
• Commitment to our employees by creating a healthy work environment
and promoting mutual respect
The mission of the Framingham Police Department is to enhance public
safety and reduce crime through the delivery of exceptional police
services. We shall do this by enforcing the laws fairly and impartially,
with honor and integrity, and by establishing effective partnerships with
the community.

"As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the public,
safeguard lives and property, protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, the peaceful against violence and disorder and to respect the constitutional rights of all men and women to liberty, equality and justice. I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed on both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or what is confided in me in my official capacity will be kept private unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices,animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for
crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law
courageously and appropriately without fear, malice or ill will, never employing
unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police
service. I will constantly strive to achieve those objectives and ideals, dedicating myself to my chosen profession — law enforcement".

I, , so solemnly swear that I will abide by
the "Code of Ethics" of the Framingham Police Department.

The Town's customer service policy shall be implemented upon the execution
of this agreement. The Union endorses the philosophy of the policy and will strive to
adhere to it in the course of there duties. The Town agrees that employees shall not
be disciplined solely on the failure to adhere to the policy.
The Union endorses the Town's Ethics Policy.

This is the part that is confusing. Why would any Town Department be exempt from the policy?

At November 5, 2014 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never thought I would hear you say good things about a cop. Tells me Ferguson might just be the right man for the job. Willing to meet with TM members is a big step if you ask me.

At November 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

It sure is Anon

Time will tell for sure... but I believe he's on the right track.

Never thought I would ever write that either.

At November 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

Policy on Customer Service
Issue date: May 1, 2000

Effective date: May 1, 2000

Policy Statement
The Town of Framingham is committed to operating in an efficient customer service orientated manner throughout its entire operation. Excellent customer service results in an organization meeting the needs of its customers in a consistent and professional manner.

Policy Description
I. Employee Responsibility
All employees of the Town of Framingham are to be made aware of the importance of customer
service within the Town's operation. Employees should be clearly aware that customer service abilities in all levels of their work will greatly impact employment evaluations and promotional opportunities. The Town of Framingham will recognize employees for excellence in customer service through the Employee Recognition Program.
A. Supervisors and Management Personnel
Leadership by example is a key component to excellence in customer service. Town
management must continually promote in their actions, words, and writing the paramount importance of customer service standards. Performance evaluations of management personnel will be substantially impacted by the ability of a manager to provide high levels of customer service and the ability to train and supervise employees
to do the same.
II. Standards of Performance
The Town recognizes that for a successful interaction with a customer not only must the end
result be satisfactory, the entire experience must be reflective of a quality organization. There are many aspects of our operations that must clearly be based in the ideal of excellent customer
A. Processes
There are many processes within Town government that require formal procedures be followed. Departments must strive to make these processes as simple as possible to access and complete. Simplification of forms, easy to understand directions and short
time lines are key examples of efforts that should be put forth to assure customer service orientated processes are in place.
B. Marketing and Communication
The Town provides information and services to residents on an ongoing basis. Communication with the public be it oral or written, must be clear, concise, consistent
and easy to access. Departments should strive to utilize all communication possibilities as efficiently as possible to assure that the residents remain informed and aware on a regular basis.
C. Printed Material
All printed material issued by the Town of Framingham should be professional in appearance.
D. Phone and Written Inquiries
All inquiries by either phone or writing will be responded to by the proper person in an expedient manner. Phone calls placed to a specific person are to be taken whenever possible. Initial
phone messages must be returned within a 24-hour period. Employees at all levels must adhere to this timeline. If an employee is not available, the caller should be given that information and informed when the person will be available. Alternative help should of course be offered in the interim.
All written inquiries, be they complaints, compliments or suggestions should be acknowledged in an appropriate manner. The initial response should be within no more than three days of receipt of a letter.
The value of automated phone answering systems should not be discounted solely in the pursuit of excellence in customer service. Any department that has such a device must assure that it can be easily bypassed to achieve direct contact with the office.

At November 5, 2014 at 6:04 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

E. Information and Referral
Many times residents will inquire at Town Hall for issues that are not within our domain. Every effort should be made to refer them to the governmental agency or
community service agency that is best able to handle their concern. All referrals should include a phone number or location of the suggested agency if at all possible.
Internal referrals should be handled in a similar manner. If a person on the phone is being referred to a different department the caller should be given the direct dial number for future reference and then automatically transferred through the Centrex system. Customers should not be made to call back at that time. If a referral is made to another Town department, there must be certainty that the
referral is correct. If there is some doubt as to the proper referral, the referring
department should ascertain the appropriate contact before connecting or directing the
customer. If this information is not obtainable the customer should be directed to a
supervisor in the initiating department.
III. Internal Service Departments
Several Town departments are in the existence to serve other Town departments directly and
not the general public. The Town's customer service standards are fully applicable to our
internal service departments. The ability of the Town to meet its own needs in a professional,
efficient and customer service orientated manner is a key ingredient to offering such a service to the public.
IV. Measurement
The Town of Framingham is committed to continual improvement of its operations based on the philosophy of excellence in customer service. Proper measurement of customer service initiatives is vital to this goal.
A. Complaints
Each department must have a complaint log. Whether a complaint is formal or
informal, written or verbal it must be entered into the complaint log. The substance of
the log is up to individual departments, but must include at minimum the name of the
complainant if available, the time and date of the complaint, the nature of the
complaint, the employee handling the situation and the disposition of the situation.
B. Monitors
From time to time the Town will utilize monitors for the express purpose of evaluating customer service responses from various Town agencies. The monitors
will file a complete report of their experience, describing any perceived strengths and
weakness in detail, with the Town Manager and the involved agencies. The purpose
of this program is to be instructive in nature and not punitive.
C. Customer Service Evaluation Card
Every department will have available at each customer service point a return mailer
card, which allows input on our performance. These cards should be prominently displayed with easy customer access.

At November 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jim what is the deal with the Memorial Buidling? Will TM get to vote on whether we sell that to Mass Bay or is that a done deal?


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