Monday, January 7, 2013

Road Warrior crosses a line

Employee of the Month Reserved Parking Sign
Employee of the Month Reserved Parking Sign (

Editor's note: Road Warrior John Cichowski of The Record loves to hate the Lodi Motor Vehicle Commission office, his inspiration for an endless series of columns about long lines and other problems encountered by motorists trying to renew their licenses or do other business. However, in his Sunday column, the reporter crossed a line by revealing the name and hometown of the state employee who runs the office. Here is an e-mail sent to management by a concerned reader:

The Road Warrior column crossed a new line into unethical behavior when it notified frustrated motorists that the Lodi Motor Vehicle office administrator lives in Fort Lee.  

Frustrated motorists could now harass her (I mean politely contact her at all hours of the day) at her home with their nuisance complaints.

Does The Record have a policy against publishing home locations of government employees?

Road Warrior exhibited "sympathy" and misled readers about a woman, who had unsubstantiated claims and no common sense to easily solve her problems at the MVC.

1)  Misleading statement - "Anybody who waited in vain on a long gas line this fall can appreciate the frustration of Elyse and her daughter, who whiled away two hours of their lives on a MVC line only to be told, "Sorry, you'll have to come back another time."

CORRECT FACTS - No one can appreciate her falsely concocted frustration since she did NOT have to wait in vain and did NOT have to while away two hours of her life on an MVC line, because she was specifically told, "Early on, the officer advised people on line that they might not get inside, so they might want to leave."
2)  Misleading false statement - "Anybody can sympathize with Elyse — to a point."

CORRECT FACTS - None of us should sympathize with Elyse because she and everyone else were politely informed multiple times that they might not get inside prior to closing due to the number of people ahead of them and to come back another time. 
3)  Misleading false statement - "What happened to her on a Friday afternoon recalls the long, long lines of summer 2011 when lines in Lodi and elsewhere grew to 200."

CORRECT FACTS - What happened to Elyse does NOT recall the long lines of 2011 since those were uncontrolled lines with endless waits without any explanation as to why or what to do if people did not make it inside the MVC office.  Elyse was in a much shorter line controlled by an officer, who clearly explained why and what to do.

4)  Misleading statement - "Why don't the people with the titles and the badges let poor, shivering motorists come in out of the cold?" 
"When journalists ask this question, we're told it's a fire code issue, meaning overcrowding could create a hazard if a smoky emergency caused a mad dash to exits. That's an effective answer because invoking safety usually shuts off further questioning."
CORRECT FACTS - The Road Warrior already knew it was NOT the correct answer before wasting reader's time with his fake answer. The Road Warrior subsequently provided the right answer, which Elyse and others were generally made aware of:

"Office managers determined they couldn't accommodate many more customers.  If more were allowed inside, they couldn't be served before the office closed."

5)  Misleading statement - "Actually, Elyse confirmed this account. She just thinks cops and managers could have handled things better."

CORRECT FACTS - After all of her misleading and false complaints about her problems, which she caused for herself, she finally confirmed the more accurate account reported by the Road Warrior that clearly shows she was treated very well and suitably informed that she should come back another time and not wait in the long line. 

Cops and managers DID handle things quite well. 
6)  Baseless complaint - "Shivering crowd was hardly soothed when the employee who locked the front door brusquely told them, 'I have to get home!'"

CORRECT FACTS -   Anyone in this "shivering crowd" simply had NO common sense since they could easily have been in their warm homes after they were previously told to leave. They also appeared to be selfish in thinking that an employee, who put in a full day's work and did NOT cause their problems, did not deserve to go home.

7)  Unneeded advice - "Employees should be well trained in truthfully explaining the rules of the line to customers."

BETTER ADVICE - NO need to publish this advice because, as reported, the MVC employees clearly explained the rules of the line to MVC customers.  Better advice would be for customers to heed clear, polite explanations of MVC employees.
8)  Misleading advice - "People who show up at an MVC office 3 days before deadline, 4 days before a holiday and 2 hours before closing time also need some training."

BETTER ADVICE - It was because she appeared at the end of the week and 4 days before the end of the month, when lines are at their longest, and NOT because it was 4 days before a holiday.  It did not help that the holiday was also at the end of the month. 

Only possible claim by Elyse was they did not provide her with office administrator name.  The Road Warrior NEVER reported if there was a reason why they did not.

If anyone needs training, it is the Road Warrior, who needs to avoid unethical situations and STOP publishing useless stories with baseless false claims.
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