Mayor defends employees’ response to outage

‘This means that someone getting time-and-a-half pay finally sat down their coffee and finished their doughnut and answered the phone.’ — resident Doug LeBlanc, on the delay in answering his wife’s call to the Department of Municipal Services after a power outage.

By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — City officials on Monday found themselves defending the Department of Municipal Services’ response time after a complaint sparked by a power outage.

Several areas in the city lost power for up to five hours after a strong storm the morning of July 11. Some residents found cause for complaint after calls to Municipal Services for information about the outage resulted in them being put on hold for several minutes.

Doug LeBlanc, a resident of 11th Street, directed his complaint toward the City Council during Monday’s meeting. He said his wife had called the telephone number for power outages given on Wyandotte Cable.

“The call was answered by the Fire Department, who knew nothing, and told us to call Municipal Services, which we did, along with hundreds of other residents with the same question,” LeBlanc said.

He added that eventually his wife’s call got through and was answered by an automated system before she was placed on hold. Her call was answered after being on hold for 18 minutes — not an acceptable amount of time, according to LeBlanc.

“This means that someone getting time-and-a-half pay for (July 11) finally sat down their coffee and finished their doughnut and answered the phone,” LeBlanc said. “I sincerely hope (the council) looks into this situation.

“I may be the only one to complain, but I know I am not the only one that has major problems with this automated system.”

Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby-Fricke said she didn’t believe the problem happened consistently, and that the complaint would be forwarded to police and fire dispatchers, as well as Municipal Services General Manager Melanie McCoy, to see if the phone situation could be improved.

Mayor Joseph Peterson said he wanted to get a few things straight about the power outage.

“On (July 11) at 7:30 in the morning, we had about an inch and a half of rain that came down quick and hard,” he said. “These employees, they were not on time and a half, and I kind of take exception to this.

“Our employees don’t just sit there and eat doughnuts and drink coffee.”

He added that he was going to stick up for the employees because he was out watching them work on the problem at 8 a.m. that day, and because his power also was out for five hours.

The transformer at Ninth and St. John was out, causing some of the outages.

“(Municipal Services) was already on the job working; the whole crew was,” Peterson said. “I understand the frustration of the call taking 15 minutes to 18 minutes, but the biggest priority to me is to get the power back on.

“I can honestly say that I watched those people work their tails off.”

He added that he spoke with McCoy about resolving the problem with the phone system.

Peterson also reminded residents that they can listen to the city’s emergency radio frequency, 1680 AM, for information about power outages, storms and other emergencies. The number to call in case of an outage can be found on residents’ electric bills.

“When we have a storm, we are very fortunate to have the employees that we have, and to get a quick response time that we are spoiled with compared to other cities,” he said.

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