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Dear Stacy, You're No Bureaucrat!Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 9:22 AM
There was an article in The Brazil Times reporting Stacy Gibbens, Brazil City Planning Administrator had the audacity to write nice, decent, even responsible letters to city business owners about the new sign ordinance. Apparently the way she handled the situation didn't cause anyone to try writing an angry response.
Obviously she does not know how it is done. Bureaucrats are supposed to be nasty, demanding, mean-spirited.
So, Stacy, this is how it's done:
The first notice you send should be a Demand Notice for Payment like those sent out by the Indiana Department of Revenue. The one I saw starts out: "YOU MUST RESPOND TO THIS NOTICE WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THIS NOTICE WAS ISSUED [it took five days to get here]. IF YOU FAIL TO RESPOND WITHIN THIS TEN (10) DAY PERIOD A TAX WARRANT (THIS IS NOT AN ARREST WARRANT) WILL BE ISSUED PURSUANT TO INDIANA CODE 6-18.104.22.168-2(b)." The letter went on to warn about collection procedures starting 20 days [not business days] from date of the letter and turning the matter over to the County Sheriff [who apparently has nothing better to do].
Now that's the way to write a truly bureaucratic letter -- although they might well have taken out the Arrest Warrant disclaimer.
Naturally, as designed, this letter invoked an appropriately angry, yet eternally futile reply. We responded, in part:
"This arrived without prior notification of any amount due, and without reasonable explanation. We certainly would have paid this amount had we simply been notified if and why due.
"This is the kind of Bureaucratic bull that infuriates people who are trying to honestly pay their taxes. The pathetic thing is that, knowing you're offending taxpayers, you will spend more tax money increasing security against angry taxpayers than you will spend implementing changes which deal respectfully with taxpayers."
I did not receive, nor did I expect, a reply. In fear of our lives and trepidations about our Sheriff not allowing him to continue staying in business, I advised my son to dutifully pay the $20.25.
Now that's how you run a Bureaucracy.
Stacy, if you keep writing stuff like what's reported in the paper business people are going to be glad they set up shop in Brazil, maybe even be more corporative with and understanding about the city's problems. Who knows, Stacy, if you keep doing this sort of thing, people might even go out of their way to shop locally!
Stacy Gibbens, I have known, fought and hated Bureaucrats since before your parents were born. Stacy, you are no Bureaucrat. You're one of those darn good guys.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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