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It begins with a citizen-homeowner-taxpayer's concern about traffic conditions in his neighborhood. I will try to be as objective about telling this story as I can, but I believe anyone with pretensions to sensitivity will note the difficulty of trying not to take sides.In May 2002 a homeowner wrote to a council member to ask for help in regard to a traffic problem in his neighborhood, pointing out that the official's predecessor on the City Council had taken some action but that the problem had continued and grown worse.The homeowner did not receive a response, so he wrote again in July, two months later, enclosing a copy of the May letter. No response was received to that correspondence, either.In February 2003 the council member's office sent the homeowner a form, requesting comments about the official's performance concerning any problems the homeowner might have. Here, at last, was an opportunity, the homeowner thought, to reach the council member.Two days after receipt of the official's letter, the homeowner wrote to remind the council member that the previous letters had never been answered.Almost a month later, in March 2003, the taxpayer received a letter from the official stating that he had never received the May and July letters of 2002 and asked that they be sent.The homeowner complied with the request the next day, sending copies of the previous correspondence. In a cover note, the taxpayer pointed out that his previous letters had not been returned to him, in spite of the council member's claim that he never received them.The homeowner did not hear from the official. In July 2003, four months later, he wrote again to the official, summarizing this record and asking for a proper response.The rest is silence.The council member was re-elected in November. For purposes of anonymity, the homeowner will not say if the official was one of seven Queens council members who had no opposition on Election Day. The official continues to draw a salary as a council member. The base pay is $90,000 a year. The taxpayer continues to pay his taxes, but the traffic problem has not been resolved. It has grown worse.There is one bright spot in all of this, perhaps: While the homeowner is not a champion of term limits (and, in fact, has written publicly against them), the ever-optimistic New York native hopes that perhaps the official's arrogance of power will be abated during his fixed number of years in office.Although the taxpayer is not a person who sees conspiracies under every bush Ñ far from it Ñ he has noted that he and the official are members of different political parties. Could that be the reason, he has wondered, that his problem has been ignored? But, he points out that the council member's predecessor was not a member of the homeowner's party, either, and had taken some action when the homeowner asked him to do so. The taxpayer voted in the November election but declined to say for whom, and this space respects the sanctity and privacy of the voting booth.The homeowner has recalled that he, too, was once a civil servant in the city government and always felt, when he collected his paycheck, that he was beholden to all those who paid his salary and tried to serve them promptly and efficiently. He concedes that such an attitude makes him, at best, an old fuddy-duddy, or words to that effect.For the present, the taxpayer is not holding his breath about the likelihood of the official's conversion to what the homeowner would consider a responsive public servant. Would you?(Update: The homeowner says that a five-car accident occurred during rush hour one weekday evening on this stretch of road in mid-July of this year, with four of the cars badly damaged. Fortunately, no one seemed badly injured, the taxpayer reports.)
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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