Wednesday, June 14, 2006

TCs pandering to the ridiculous

I just had the most unbelievable telephone conversation with a senior town council officer. I spoke with a complainant last week who says there is always defecation on the sixth floor. I asked for more details - for example, whether anyone fed the cats, or whether he had seen any cat defecation around. He said he did not know. He did mention that he had seen a neighbour walking on his floor who was calling for her cats. Also he has never seen the cat in question.

Other residents went down and they looked into the matter. They found out that someone else living on the same floor had three cats and was in the habit of letting them out but these people had just moved out. We reported it to the complainant and asked them to let us know if there was any improvement.

He wrote back to say there was no improvement,so I called him for more information and followed up with an email which he never bothered to reply to.

He has now called the town council and said that he wants them to solve the problem without him giving any details. He said he did not like the way the situation was 'handled' as he had been interrogated by CWS. I told the town council officer that if he wanted to see transcripts of my telephone conversations with the resident, I would be happy to forward them. The officer said this is what residents expect - that the TC solves the problem without any details.

I asked him if this was not patently ridiculous - I said leaving aside the problem of the cats for a moment, if a resident called to say they had a problem with another resident but refused to give any details, what would the town council do? Not ask for details? How were they expected to solve the problem then?

He said the resident might not want to give details because has to live there with other neighbours, or he does not know. I told the officer that in every case, we have respected confidentiality and never revealed details if we were asked not to. In the latter situation, the man could have just said, I don't know! Then we move on and try and solve the problem in other ways.

This infuriates me - how are you supposed to solve a problem if the resident doesn't want to give any information. At the end of the day, the RESIDENT is the one living in the estate - and if they don't want to co-operate, they're the ones who are going to have to live with the consequences. In which case, either (1) the problem really isn't bothering them too much which is why they don't much care whether it's solved or (2) they're unreasonable. How is this problem to be solved? Through telepathy?

Now the officer of course wants to trap the cats downstairs even though it seems very likely that these are not the cats that come up. The cats only defecates between 11:30 pm and 6 am in the morning (facts which the town council officer did not have incidentally and was jotting down).

Of course the officer does not care. He says that the resident will feel something is being done and may be more co-operative because town council is 'doing something' - I said if the defecation continues, then he's not going to CARE if they have trapped the cats downstairs because it hasn't solved his problem. I said I've been to several areas where complainants say they have caught the cats and nothing has changed - they still wake up to a fresh pool of defecation in front of their door every morning.

I told him that since he has reflected that the problem has not been solved, the residents will go down and flyer the block.

The point of this lengthy rant is what exactly are the town council officers doing? For example, they see any easy way out - ie there is a problem, let me look as if I am DOING something by trapping the cats - rather than solving the problem. Don't tell me that if a resident called up and said that their neighbour is annoying them and not giving any details that the town council would knock on every door and ask which neighbour it is and find out what the problem is. No - they'd chuck it in the bin where it belongs.

Town councils often take the easy way out. They are not interested in solving problems but in being seen to do something. What it also does is that it encourages this bad behaviour - ponder this, is the resident who is being pandered to is going to be MORE or LESS likely to complain about something else in the future? And next time, it may not be so 'easy' to deal with as just calling pest control, paying money and killing a few cats which happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

11 Comments:

Blogger vegancat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14/6/06 11:11 AM  
Blogger vegancat said...

This exemplifies how some town council officers (are they considered civil servants?) cower to complaints. My niece, who used to teach in a school, told me how some of her colleagues literally pee-d in their pants when parents called up to meet them personally to complain! So should we, care-givers, use the same tactic of complaining to scare these officers into being more balanced in their disbursement of solutions?

14/6/06 11:49 AM  
Anonymous yskat said...

In this case, the tc officer clearly admits that he is more interested in APPEARING to solve the problem than actually solving it. What should a resident do in a case like this? I guess one can write to one's MP about this. However, the problem with this approach is that the tc officer will be made to look bad, but will remain in office, which may make it more difficult for CWS and volunteers to deal with him in the future. Any suggestions?

14/6/06 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, I have been a reader of your blog for some time and I thought I would drop a line to say that I really take my hat off to the CWS, your volunteers and you personally, for all the time and effort that you give so selflessly to the care of community cats in Singapore.

Already the fruits of your efforts are apparent, from the reduced number of homeless strays to the reality that the lives of the strays that do still exist are made far happier by the network of caregivers that you have established across the island.

Through the CWS' adoption board the lives of countless strays have been saved and, on the flipside, many human lives have been enriched by the presence of their feline companions. I myself have adopted three cats from your fosters and have had no end of joy from my little angels.

So in a world of unreasonable complainants and ineffectual town councils, I think your work shines as a beacon of inspiration for all of us.

Keep up the great work.

3Cats

14/6/06 2:52 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yskat, I spoke to the caregiver in this case and she said that she thought the thing that scared the officers was talk of going to see the MP. She felt that it was rather unfair that they reacted to threats like that rather than to see the work that she puts in every day. This caregiver has gone down twice (even though she does not live there), has offered to put crushed mothballs, has talked to the neighbours but has not seen the cats nor the defecation. The poor caregiver is trying her best but she can't help solve the problem if the complainant remains mum.

Thanks 3Cat! That made my day :)

14/6/06 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to : ms dawn & all volunteers
thank u 4 helping our community cats 2 hv a better & safer lives. i think that tc officers, estate mangers etc etc should read yr blog so that they can hv a better understanding on cats & on how 2 solve some cat-problems that they might encounter in their estates.
once again i m v thankful 2 all of u 4 helping the cats
fr : me & my cat

14/6/06 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the complainant is so stubborn and refused to provide any details, then don't help him. He don't deserve to be helped. He is a selfish man and goes round dictating other people. Let him solve his own problems... since he is not co-operative. The TC officers need not entertain the complainant.

3 months ago, I was attacked by crows twice. The crows pulled my long hair and pecked my neck and shoulder. I have made three complaints to the TC officers but they didn't do anything for me. They are more interested to kill cats than crows...

14/6/06 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just goes and show, and prove, time over tme, we have many incompetent TC officers sitting behind their desks on their butts, at the end of the day waiting to be paid from the Govt...

One Donald Trump sweep and I would have fire them all...

I have many many incidents myself with the TC of other business, none cat biz, but these people can literally drive you up the wall, ceiling and back on the ground.

I have ZERO respect and ZERO patient for these people, seriously, and pardon and forgive my anger and frus here, but I think the cats deserve to live... but these guys, they wasted their lives, and others too.

Cheers

15/6/06 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 months ago, I was attacked by crows twice. The crows pulled my long hair and pecked my neck and shoulder. I have made three complaints to the TC officers but they didn't do anything for me. They are more interested to kill cats than crows...

I hope you will retract your complaint about the crows because crows that didn't attack you will also be shot and babies of shot mother-crows will die from starvation. Sometimes there is a reason why crows attack, one of which is that you could be close to nesting and crows attack out of defence, much like a hissing mother around her newborn kittens.

16/6/06 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crows attacked me because they saw me feeding cats. I suppose they must be unhappy that I only feed the cats and not them. Now I hv to hide when I feed my cats. It's also sad to know that crows are hungry, just like the cats.

Anyway the TC could not be bothered with my complaint and there is no point for me to complain again since they are doing nothing.

There is a nursery school nearby and there are little toddlers (aged 2 to 3) playing at the void deck and nearby playground. I was worried that the crows might attack these toddlers. Kids don't know how to defend and protect themselves and it was the thought of this that worried me. I just want to protect these toddlers from being harmed.

Well, since nobody appreciate my kindness, then let's pray that nothing happen to these kids.

20/6/06 1:04 PM  
Blogger vegancat said...

Might be a good idea to feed far away from a nursery. Some parents might just call up to complain about the risk of cats to their kids. I think I read somewhere in this blog about a parent calling the TC and threatening to "hammer" him or her if the cats around a childcare or nursery were not "cleared".

20/6/06 8:15 PM  

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