Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Customer Service...What Customers? What Service?

Well, first of all...When your Chamber of Commerce is hosting a session about dealing with mentally ill people coming into businesses, I'd say that's an indicator that that's something that's happening fairly regularly. (PDN headline: "Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce panel discussion looks at approaching disruptive people in a business.") You probably wouldn't have a panel discussion like this to deal with a problem that's not a common problem, right?


Which makes it all the more amusing that the messages presented fell into two camps. Dr. Joshua Jones from Peninsula Behavioral Health obviously tried to tow the Party Line. From the article: During the question-and-answer session, Jones sought to dispel a commonly held suspicion that people are bused to Port Angeles to take advantage of the city's social and health services. "There is no data to suggest people are coming here in hordes..."

And yet...Another panelist, Julie Black, Olympic Medical Center safety manager, may not have offered up "data" on this, but she did offer a totally different view: The hospital has increased its security presence at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and facilities in Sequim, she said. An increasing number of "really angry individuals" is showing up at clinics and confronting receptionists, Black said.

For once, the Chamber actually had an informative and revealing presentation. Clearly this is a problem is Port Angeles - a problem compounded by the fact that the City allowed so many social services facilities to locate downtown, in what should be the commercial/economic core of the town. This puts unnecessary pressure on, and unpleasantness in, downtown, impeding the success of the very commercial enterprises that pay taxes to provide, yes, social services.

The "no data" dodge is just that - a dodge. Just because there's no data proving that it's happening doesn't mean that it's not happening. And the lack of housing for the mentally ill in Clallam County is a dodge, too. Other towns don't send people to Port Angeles so they can find housing. They send them there to get them the hell out of their towns. Duh, doc.

Finally, how appropriate is it that the article about this COC event was written by Paul Gottlieb? I mean, if there's one writer at the PDN who knows mental illness inside out, it's Paul.

30 comments:

  1. Customer service and "disruptive" customers is one thing, but let's talk about the elephant in the living room.

    Our courthouse has no security to speak of - none. Three floors, numerous entrances, and one guy guarding the (upstairs) courtrooms. That's not a security plan, that's a recipe for disaster.

    Let's face it, when mentally ill people go into a business and act up, it's most likely random. There's no targeting of that particular business, they just happened to be in the path of someone's psychotic break.

    But the courthouse is the focus of a lot of activity, and a lot of that activity - courts, land use, permits, etc. - revolves around subjects that people can get VERY worked up over. I don't think it's any secret that a lot of the highly-strung conservative types in the county carry guns. So it really is only a matter of time before one of them gets worked up enough to come into the courthouse shooting.

    In other words, in my opinion, the current county commissioners and Jim Jones absolutely have blood on their hands. They are out of step with almost every other courthouse in this state, most of which are more secure and have better security measures. They are overtaxing staff and putting them all at risk. And they are ignoring the recommendations of their own safety committee and the judges in the courts, who have advocated for YEARS for more security. But, gee, they can sure say how little money they've spent, how lean the budget is.

    But what price are they putting on the lives of the people who are using the courthouse, and working in the courthouse? Seems to me they don't value those lives very much at all.

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  2. Yes, but. If it wasn't for all those government/agency/social services located in Port Angeles, there wouldn't be a Port Angeles.

    Who would patronize the eateries at lunch time? The few log truck drivers that rumble through town? The employees of their own places?

    As we see every day, there is virtually NOBODY on the sidewalks downtown. Spring, summer, fall or winter. Sure, for an hour before the ferry leaves, there are a few people walking around, killing time.

    So, with all the locals driving to Walmart and Sequim to do their shopping, what's left downtown? Social services, other government operations, and their clients who HAVE to be down town if they are to receive services.

    BTW, ever notice how many cars are parked at the Port Angeles Walmart? More than you will see anywhere near downtown Port Angeles!

    As you point out, it is all about planning. Unfortunately, here it is more about cronyism.

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    1. Which is partly why downtown dries up and blows away after 5PM. The social service offices close, and there you have it, downtown is closed. No pedestrians, no movie theater, no customers, no reason at all to be down there.

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  3. I think you have to be crazy to start a business in Port Angeles. You see plenty of lunatic behavior from the other side of the counter, too.

    Edna anyone? She'll latch onto you like a leech and "help" you to the point of driving you right out of the store. Maybe she thinks what she does (and forces her staff to do) is "customer service," but it comes across more as desperation or strong arm tactics.

    How about Alan at the bookstore-I-no-longer-patronize? His people skills are close to zero, and his staffing choices are...interesting. Ever asked him to hang a poster for a community event in his window? He acts like you've just farted in his store and then asked to borrow money from him. Usually he just throws your poster away, but sometimes he'll put it up after cutting it down, folding it over, etc. It's very, very off-putting and weird behavior.

    Several times I've been in stores downtown near their posted closing time and been asked to leave, even though I was planning to make a purchase. But no, closing time is closing time, and it sure seems like a lot of the downtown business owners aren't necessarily in business to make money.

    How about Bob Lumens? Is there anything that ISN'T crazy about him? Maybe he's still wearing that damned buzzsaw blade around his neck.

    Moving Country Aire into a huge, huge space that used to hold a whole department store? In this town, with these demographics? In this economy? That's crazy, too.

    Finally, having a business organization that would put Barb Frederick in charge of ANYTHING is a sure sign of insanity. Barb is so incompetent, other incompetent people point to her and say, "At least I'm not THAT bad."

    So, yeah, there ARE a lot of crazy people downtown, but they're found on both sides of the counter. No wonder so many people here shop out of town.

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    1. Everything you said, I agree with wholeheartedly.

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    2. NO KIDDING. I gave up on the bookstore years ago. I think going into a cavernous "Country Aire" is creepy. I am appalled at Barbie and her so-called services, she's beyond incompetent. I don't think there is a word for it in this language it's so far removed from any normal incompetence. If there were an award for it, she'd be a champion. Town is town...to be avoided, at best. But, you won't find me frequenting Walmart either. I'd rather do without.

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  4. Funny, any cop you talk to will say "yep, we get other (police) departments transporting people here are the time". Why? Because we have services to offer. You didn't THINK that all the state and federal grants given to these various "help the homeless" weren't going to be used by other counties, did you?

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  5. Considering the extremely depressed state of our local economy, I'd have to say that businesses would be fortunate to get any customers, including mentally ill ones.

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  6. Oh please. Joshua Jones must think we're some kind of stupid.
    While I don't want a "hate the homeless" campaign but I think the sheer numbers that are coming in are eventually going to strain this poor, small town to the breaking point. Government grants or no grants.
    Well, at least we'll have plenty of pot stores to make us forget all this.

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    1. As if other jurisdictions wouldn't send them here if we couldn't provide services for them...It's all about getting the problem people OUT, Joshua, not getting them services. Clallam County just winds up being the end of the line. They get sent here, and we're too remote for them to get anywhere else easily, so...They stick around. Services or no services.

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  7. Out of town visitors say "why are there so many weird people on the streets here?" Drive through town, with unbiased eyes. As if you don't live here. It's an optical assault. And it makes this town look like Skid Road. It isn't about "hate the homeless". It's about "stop supporting these local thrift shops that spend YOUR money to invite these derelicts to stay here". Not to mention the government funding they apply for, and receive, because our town has an extremely high population of homeless and mentally ill.

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    1. Yes, drive, because there's sure as hell no way I'm walking around here anymore. Been there, done that. Half the time, at least half the time, I can't walk down the street without someone begging for change or yelling at me for something. And that isn't including the Jehova's witnesses that drive around town and stop soon as they see someone walking. Seriously, I feel safer walking around the streets of Seattle.

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  8. Around six AM you can see the juiceheads lining up at the "convenience stores" at Lincoln and First and down at the other end of town, across from the Port offices, to buy their cans of Mad Dog and bottles of malt liquor.

    The bridge off of Marine Drive is a regular camping and partying area for various tramps and hoboes.

    The alley behind Safeway is a regular spot for meth heads and oddballs. You can always find a beaten up chair and empty cans and bottles next to the electrical box.

    As for the alley that runs between Front and First - that's not a good place to be after dark!

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  9. Planning, planning, planning.

    Every community has it's percentage of people with challenges of all kinds. A compassionate society cannot fault members who are born into this world with problems.

    Long ago, people decided that it was the right thing to do, to find ways to help people with problems. Evidence suggests that hundreds of years ago, the "helpers" would whack a hole in your head to "let the demons out"! At least we're not physically doing THAT anymore. ( Not so sure doping everybody who expresses troubles dealing with today's insane world with pharmaceuticals is the right path, either, but Big Pharma is making Big Money, so, it must be okay!)

    It isn't about blaming the poor souls that are so troubled. It is about the society that is affluent enough to spend $85 billion every month for years to bail out it's financial sector, while allowing it's citizens to have their houses, pensions, and jobs taken away.

    It is about a city that is controlled by a small group that is more concerned about getting their pockets filled, than planning for the future of the community.

    As is the case with the national level of public administration, so is it at the local level. Stuff your pockets when and where you can.

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  10. From the time we moved here in 2004 (a mistake), we have been commenting about all of the above. We went through stages too. 1.) Let's investigate and not be too critical just yet. 2.) Investigation complete. Do we have a plan of action? 3.) Plan of action. Go to city council meetings and try and be involved. 4.) Rebuffed for being "out-of-towners" and therefore we have no knowledge of the intricacies of local business/history and government. 5.) See and hear the Arts around here. Symphony...(joke). Being asked to play in said symphony (for free) another joke. (I have played in world class symphonies and have traveled extensively as a professional trumpet player with many people you have heard of but will not name). 6.) Watched the downtown businesses fail. Never open after 5pm, not on Sundays or when people are available to shop after work, and see the after 3:30 mass exodus of Nippon workers head east and west as fast as possible. Saw our house value and property go down over the years even after updated remodeling and such. Saw all utilities go up farther than state recs. It never ends. See cronyism at it's finest, "Come To PA".

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  11. So I see that the Port O Call has recently put a column by Diana Somerville up on their website. I think it was posted on the 14th. It's all about how important it is to really, really think about who to vote for on the county charter review commission.

    Uh, do you think someone should call Dale Wilson and/or Diana Somerville and tell them that the election is kind of over already?

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    1. OOPS, they set back their calendars instead of their clocks.... silly mistake.

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    2. The column is question was posted on the 14th of November alright. Just in time for the election to be all over. Way to go, Port O Call!

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  12. Actually, the Port O Call has reprinted a pretty good article about another town that is also struggling to find its identity after the logging boom had ended. THAT is what is really the root of our problems around here, trying to figure out what we want to be now that the extraction of FOREST and FISH no longer dominates our economy. Around half our electorate hangs on to hope for "the way it was " while half wants to move on to "something " else. There is no obvious answer to which something else is able to work! Tourism is nice, but just can't quite dominate, economically, being a retirement area was a false hope, lasting about one generation as all us Baby Boomers are noes dying off and not being replaced by open immigration. No one has a vision that can sway the other half, the electorate is confused, our economy that we do have will not support 72000 + people with only 21000 jobs available. A robust economy has around 40% of its total population working, it seems to me. We would be fine if we had about 7000 more jobs OR around 15000 less people...

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    1. Reprints and totally out of date articles do not a revolution make. POC is mainly the butt of jokes.

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    2. Look what has happened, in terms of holding the local leadership accountable, in the last year alone. I've been involved in the politics of this town for a long time, and I've never seen ANYTHING, or ANYBODY have as much impact on the cronies in Port Angeles as the POC.

      That is the reality. If you are out and about in town, you hear long time residents saying " Finally, somebody is telling it like it is".

      You may be laughing, but there are a lot of people who are not.

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    3. Yes, by all means, we are holding The Leadership accountable at long last, now that there is this blog, and the Port O Call! Yes, sir! They are telling it like it is, and the people in power are running in fear! That's why Good Old Boy Bill Peach is our new County Commissioner - because they're telling it like it is! That's why those four City Council races last time were unopposed - because now there's accountability!

      Yes, sir! It's a brand new day in Port Angeles and Clallam County! No continuing problems here! None at all! The economy is fine, there are plenty of jobs, we have 100% graduation rates from our excellent schools, and no one, no one at all, is doing drugs! Nope, we're all just high, high, high on how good and accountable things are here now!

      Praise Jesus!

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    4. Ha ha. So amusing.

      What else can you point to that has had as much impact, in such a short time? Seriously?

      Of course so much remains to be changed. The change has hardly begun. You may be too "right" in your views to be able to see and acknowledge what a small group of people have been able to do, so far. You may be too locked in your positions to see what the powers-that-be themselves see and are reacting to. But it is happening.

      It would be nice if those wanting Port Angeles not to be the sinkhole it is, at least didn't undermine those actually doing something to change things.

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  13. Is that crazy, looming old man (usually wears a plaid shirt with suspenders, glasses) still wandering around and making strange comments to workers. He seemed to be a fixture around, and the cops would just shrug and say "that's so-and-so" and insist he was harmless. We have several resident loonies that seem to get a pass. So, is this just about the ones who aren't from here?

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    1. I know who you're talking about and I haven't seen him for two years at least. I think he either was moved on to some other place or he died.

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  14. PHEW...good. Talk about a pest that the cops would do NOTHING about. I had him stand in the store for a whole afternoon and chase away all the other customers. Didn't help the lewd remarks. I thought PA just encouraged their own brand of loonies.

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  15. One loonie goes away and another takes their place.

    Now we have that dude with dreads who bustles up and down Frist Street muttering to himself. Occasionally he gets really irate and starts shouting "No white people, man!" to no one in particular.

    They're all "harmless" until the day they don't take their meds and something or someone triggers their particular psychosis and they violently explode, injuring or killing someone. Then it's "Oh, gosh, we had no idea!" from the mental health folks and a long list of complaints reluctantly released by the cops.

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    1. I guess you don't know that according to statistics, "normal" people are far more violent than those with mental illnesses. Sure, the media likes to highlight the crazies that flip out. Makes for good copy. Sells lots of papers.

      But, who cares about reality, anymore?

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