Like most Americans the past month I have wondered if government can ever work in a partisan environment. And it is unfair to label all of government by the actions, or inaction, of Congress. Thank God most public servants in government are nothing like what we see in Congress. In a small way my faith in competent government was once again restored last week when I needed a tax bill document that I had misplaced. When I called the Howard County Finance Office someone picked up on the second ring with a pleasant greeting of "how can I help you?" When I didn't have the plot number for the property I was told "no problem let me find it a different way." After finding it the person asked if I wanted it sent to the property address or my home address. When I asked if it could be scanned and emailed to me as I needed it today I was told "give me 10 minutes and you should have it in your email." Closing our conversation I was told to "have a nice day." Two minutes later I had it. From start to finish in less than 10 minutes. I only wish I had obtained the name of the person to whom I had talked so I could include it in this post. But maybe it is better this way because it could have been any of the folks in the Finance Office.
I know that some of you who have followed this blog know that I maybe a little biased in my opinion of County Employees after having been one for over a quarter of a century but I can honestly say they are some of the most competent, dedicated people you will ever meet. It is another big reason why living in Howard County is so good.
It must have been more than a coincidence but after writing today's blog I talked with a recent retiree who told me of the troubles they had been having with getting their Federal pension and Medicare Part B started. In both instances the bureaucracy of both Federal systems has led to a couple of months of frustration. Sadly the local Columbia Social Security Office doesn't seem to operate on the Howard County Government model. You have to go stand in line outside to office (on cold mornings this time of year) for the 9 am opening to get your name on the list to be called in for an appointment. Calling the office to set up an appointment? Forget it! After waiting for 90 minutes to talk with someone you find out you didn't bring in a paper that you didn't know you would need. Now you need to leave, take off more time from work and start the process again. After having the second visit the Medicare card that came in the mail had the wrong start date that someone in the local office had entered wrong. How do you get that corrected? Apparently only a manager can access the system to make the correction. The retiree asked to talk with the manager and was told they were not in the office. When would they be in? The answer they received was " I can't say." So now the retiree hopes they don't need to go to the doctor for the next few months because of the inaccurate card.