When I speak about our City’s remarkable renaissance, I always mention our stronger and safer neighborhoods. Usually, I cite the enthusiasm of new residents and the recent waves of immigrants. Other times, I talk about savvy employers and retailers who have expanded their businesses in the City or moved businesses to City locations from other places.
There are, however, other important reasons for our new-found successes. While I was putting away some papers, I came across the notes I had made for a recent ceremony honoring some public employees whose service I considered praiseworthy.
Once a year, I give Mayor’s Service Awards to a handful of City employees and working groups whose extraordinary work has been brought to my attention by their bosses or co-workers.
A few weeks ago, I presented awards to a Human Services coordinator who had been noticed repeatedly helping her clients after work and on weekends; to a work crew that had promised their supervisor that they would repair within 48 hours any pothole reported on a city hotline — an improvement of days and weeks over earlier patterns; to a city attorney who out-lawyered some big firms to save City taxpayers millions of dollars in a pair of litigations; to a team from the Health Department whose work resulted in a major improvement in a public health crisis; and to several others.
In earlier years, I remember honoring a cool (or hot, depending on the season) maintenance employee who maintains the most temperamental HVAC machines still in City service; a dedicated forester who established the first accurate inventory of city trees; a resourceful foreman who prevented a major rush hour traffic jam by repairing a broken paving machine in the middle of the night; the team that devised the standard Power Point template now used by most City departments (you would be amazed at the benefits of being able to compare apples to apples); the assistant who answers one of the most important phones in City government; and more than a dozen other successful teams and individuals.
With the City’s budget as tight as it is due to skyrocketing health and pension costs, City employees are challenged to maintain and improve their service levels — even while resources shrink.
If you see an orange City truck this weekend, why not startle someone and wave?