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(upbeat music) – Hi Patty – Hi Ray – Welcome to the show – Thanks for the invitation – Yeah, so for the viewers maybe we can get a little more knowledge about who and what you do at the city, you’re the city clerk right– – That’s correct – And how long have you been in the city? – I’ve been working for the city since 2008 in various departments, started originally with the police department as a community service officer, worked my way up, and to deputy city clerk and now I’m in the position of a city clerk – So what does a city clerk do? – A little bit of everything A lot of people think of the city clerk position more as a glorified secretary position That’s, to some degree we do handle the responsibilities of being a secretary for the local jurisdiction and for the city of Salinas in particular But there’s more to a city clerk than just being the secretary of responsibilities, we are the filing official for elections, so you’ll also hear the city clerk referred to as the elections official, so anyone that’s running for, whether it’s a city council seat or the mayoral seat they have to file all their paperwork, come in an inquire about the process with my office We also deal a lot with filing with the secretary of state, and the political practices commission, any mandated reporting that the local jurisdiction is responsible for with respect to conflict of interest, and also the campaign contribution statement, so any funds that the city council members received during their election cycle One of the most important responsibilities I think of our office is a customer relation piece of it, not only are we on the back end behind a desk answering phones but we also have a lot of responsibility when interacting with the public If a resident of a city of Salinas doesn’t know exactly where to go, they have a general question, the city clerk’s office administration is a main point of contact, so we are definitely an information referral center as well as all the other responsibilities that we have – So you receive a lot of quote customer request of all kinds Being where you’re positioned, and from your title and from your responsibilities, so can you kind of give us what the range of types of request we receive from the citizens? – Sure, again as the main point of contact for the city the city clerk’s office as you first walk in, that’s the first office that you come across, city managers and city clerk Complaints can range from something as simple as who do I call for a tree related issue, so when we get complaints like that we definitely are responsible for having the knowledge and the resources available to us to be able to refer the resident to the correct place, the last thing a resident wants is to be given the run-around from one office to the other Tree complaints, something as simple as I have some issues with my garbage, or how do I go about getting my senior discount application process for a reduced rate for garbage, to a light that’s out at an intersection, sidewalk related issues, sometimes it’s a simple appointment whether it’s with you Ray as a city manager, or a resident wants to speak to the mayor or council member, and we’re there to assist with filtering those requests and concerns throughout the entire city – So I can imagine not only your office but many departments, all the departments receive many different types of request, either involving their department or maybe sometimes involving another department, but the citizen may not know So there probably is a very high volume of requests that come in overall to the city – That’s correct, we can have within an hour

we can speak to at a minimum between five to 10 walk-in customers and that’s not including the telephone calls that come in It is a lot that comes into the office, and you’re entirely right, it’s not just our department, they’ll go to finance, they’ll go to the permit center or to the public works office, a lot of times people don’t know what each department is really responsible for, so your go-to location is always going to be administration or the city clerks, or the main number which is the city clerk’s number – So that’s quite a responsibility, and probably the expectation is very high by the community, citizens who want to know something that we’re doing or more about how they can solve a problem So I understand we’re now looking at a new system for how to handle all those citizen requests, right? Maybe you can start with how we, how did we originate that idea of looking at an overall system for the whole city, because we have a high volume, because of so many different requests, and the expectation probably is pretty high in terms of us responding in a very reasonable way, timely way, and with the right information – Correct, a lot of, let me backtrack here So we’re definitely with the need in being responsive to the citizens and the residents of our community, the city and with conversations with you and with the city council members, and just, the workload that comes into our office, it became really evident that there was a need to implement something, whether it was an innovative way of doing service and conducting business with the residents of the community, whether it be through technology or whatever exists out there to be able to facilitate that process Traditionally the way that requests come in are through walk-ins or an email, that can potentially get lost on a post, you write something on a Post-It down when the resident comes in, it can end up in your recycling without it even getting addressed, you have an email and with the outrageous amount of emails that come through on a regular basis to all employees, those emails can also get lost and the complaints can eventually become ignored, which then creates that disconnect between the community and the local jurisdiction So in effort to try to facilitate and mediate that process, what we wanted to do was implement and start looking at programs and ways to be more effective in the way we conduct our business with our residents so that we can also show to them that we are being responsive Your complaint was received but we also want you to know that there are some regulations and maybe a little bit of hurdles that we have to go through in order to be able to address those concerns It’s not as simple as me as a resident of Salinas as well, I know that I can’t just call a city and expect them to come and cut down a tree that same day because the branches are falling off, that takes time So what we wanted to do was build that relationship through technology The technology that we are looking at, what it creates, it allows the resident to be able to submit an issue that they have within our jurisdiction, and again whether it’s a tree issue, sidewalk, abandoned vehicle, litter or debris throughout the city, they can submit that whether it’s a phone call, they’re still able to do that, they can come and walk into our office as we traditionally have done, they can submit it through a mobile app or a website portal that will be directly accessible through our city website Once that is done the system that we are implementing will route it to the appropriate department, the responsible person to handle that issue, and in turn will automatically send a response to the constituent or the resident that submitted that request, acknowledging receipt of the complaint for the issue, and also provide a status update of where we are with respect to responding to that concern – That sounds fantastic actually So somebody comes in or calls in or emails, then that request is logged into the system, or registered into the system right? – That’s correct – And then routed to the right place or the right person – Correct

So as an example, if we have someone coming in to report an abandoned vehicle, we all realize that there’s different levels of abandoned vehicle, it could be an abandoned vehicle that’s out on the street, or it could be an abandoned vehicle or vehicle that’s on someone’s driveway, which is still can be considered abandoned if it’s missing major components of the vehicle Right now there’s difficulty in trying to determine what type and what department that goes to So what the system will do and what we have done on the back end of the system is implement those sequences and the distribution to the appropriate departments, so the resident will be able to go either to the website or us as city employees will be able to ask a series of questions and log that issue, and the system will automatically know exactly who to send it to, so if it’s an abandoned vehicle that’s out on the street then we know it’s gonna go directly to the police department to address through the abandoned vehicles division, if it’s on a private property then it’ll go to our code enforcement division to take care of So all that is implemented within the back end of the system and all you would have to do as the employee is take that constituent request, whether it’s on the phone, in person, or provide the resident with the resources to be able to download the app and access the reporting portal through the city website, and as the resident only three things that you will need to provide is who you are as a resident, what the issue is, and where the issue is located So all we really think about through the implementation process is who, what and where Unless there’s additional information that you feel or that the resident feels is important to provide, the system will also allow them to be able to provide any additional commentary that they feel they need to – It sounds like a simple process for the citizen And then once that information is into the system, you’re saying they will be notified, and then they will be updated on a regular basis until that issue is resolved or closed – That’s correct, so once the issue is routed to the appropriate staff to address, the system does automatically send a notification to the resident, whether it’s through an SMS message, so an automated message, it can be done through a text message or an email as well, letting you know that your complaint has been received If there is any activity on the city side, meaning the employee has gone out to assess the vehicle, or they went out and tagged the vehicle and acknowledged that it wasn’t an abandoned vehicle because there’s a window between or from the time that it’s marked to the time that it can be towed or removed or cited, the resident will also be notified if the staff puts in a status update on that specific issue – So internally, how does that work, say it’s about a tree, and one of our maintenance persons ends up being responsible for that particular request to cut down some branches in the right away So, if a response isn’t timely, and it’s not closed in a reasonable time, then is there some accountability internally to make sure the citizen’s request is taken care of – I’m glad you asked that, because there is definitely another component to the system as well, is that accountability factor, not just for the employee to ensure that the issues are getting addressed, but also for the city We’re public servants, and that’s what we are here to do, so the system does have the ability, and it has been set up to where if the complaint isn’t addressed, let’s say a tree If our standard timeline to go and assess the situation and conduct tree-trimming or whatever the case may be is three days If after those three days there has not been a status update or the staffer that the original issue was referred to has not addressed it, it will get escalated to their supervisor, or the next person in line If at that point during that escalation process if a supervisor still doesn’t address the, doesn’t refer it back to the employee that was responsible for addressing that issue, and if it’s not addressed within that time frame that is allotted for the supervisor to ensure that the issue is taken care of, it’ll get escalated to the next level, which could be, depending on the issue type,

it could be to the director, or it could escalate as far as the city manager so that the city manager’s aware – Let’s hope not (laughing) – And you’re right, we want to reduce the number of complaints that come directly to the city manager or to the council member Primarily because that is a reflection of the city If we’re getting complaints at the city manager level and the council level, that’s an indicator that something is not flowing smoothly within our institution, whether it’s our timelines maybe are skewed a little bit, maybe we’re short staffed, whatever the case may be, the system will give us the ability to be able to identify what those issues are to be able to more effectively address resident complaints – So theoretically it sounds like you can make one contact if you’re a citizen, make the request, and if it’s who and where and what, then they’re essentially making one contact or one call to city hall, right? – Correct – Is that essentially their time of making sure that the issue is resolved from their point of view is on the staff and the system, and if it’s not taken care of like you say, a tree thing, in three days, then it escalates who is higher up in the organization, and must be responsible, so that’s the accountability part, so the staffer needs to have that responded to in that time, otherwise you’re right, it looks like, well how come it took so long, and that will help the customer and it will help our city employees be more responsive which is a good thing – Correct, and you’re totally right, it’s one call, one entry in the system, that’s all that the citizen is really gonna be responsible for At that point it becomes our responsibility to ensure that those issues and concerns from our community are being addressed Through the system we have the ability to be able to use that possibly in the future as a budgeting tool, to be able to identify what locations throughout the city have higher concentration of specific issues, whether it’s blight or tree related issues, or sidewalk related issues, we’ll be able to identify that Right now, all those systems are on paper, which makes it a little bit more difficult for the city to be able to track and identify – Right So it should be more effective for the customer and more efficient for the staff So you say it’s getting ready to be implemented, so can you let us know in terms of, how did you end up with a kind of system or innovation or technology that you search, that you inquire with other cities, what was the process for deciding this is the right system or we’re gonna implement that old address our customer request issues – One of the primary things that we were looking for was ease of use, for both the resident and also the staff that was gonna be utilizing the system We did look at multiple vendors, very robust list and qualified, very qualified firms that focus on what is called citizen relationship management systems Some of them have multiple suites and multiple specialties within them, the firm that we selected, the company that we selected definitely their main focus is citizen relationship management And they definitely came in above all the other firms in terms of the service level, the ease of use for the public and for staff, and you also want to take cost into consideration, and you know it’s always gonna be a factor when we’re talking about local dollars But part of what the reason why we moved in this direction is also, as a city we understand that there’s a couple of things that we need to look at when responding to constituents is, we’re gonna be addressing the quality of life for them through this system, they will no longer have to leave their house if they don’t want to come and submit a request,

they can do it electronically, which means that we’re cutting down from your travel time to city hall to be able to submit your request online or through an app or through a phone call to city hall, within one to two minutes time, which gives you more free time to sped with families, to enjoy the community or whatever it is that the residents enjoy about the city of Salinas In addition to that, one of the other things that we were really looking at when deciding what company to go with was the government efficiencies Is this system gonna cut back on the staff time that’s involved in going back to the office to check whether complaints or requests have come in, and then now I have to go back out on the field and make sure that’s taken care of Now everything is on a mobile device for the staff to be able to log in remotely and be able to track those request We don’t have to write it on paper and then transcribe it onto their computer desktop back in their office, it can be done in real time – Right so, doing away with the Post-Its – Doing away with the Post-Its – That’s good, saves paper, saves time – Exactly – So when will sort of the launch date be, Patty? – We’re anticipating a soft launch towards the end of February, right around the same time that our staff training will be occurring, and an official launch date by hopefully towards the middle of march to the first of April – And how will our citizens know, there’ll be some information out on the web, social media, how will they know this is launched, and how will they know how to use it? – That’s a very good question The residents, so we’ll go ahead and notify the residents of the app and all the features that come with it as we move forward with this process Shortly after the soft launch we’re also putting together a full-blown media campaign to alert to community and let them know hey this is available for you now, go ahead and use it It’s gonna definitely range from a simple press release to advertisements on social media, we’ll try to see if we can do a short video for the maybe to put at a local movie theater to educate the public on how to download the app, or how to file a complaint, and that’s always an option, we’ve done that in the past for other campaigns, and I know other nonprofit organizations in other jurisdictions also do the same, but definitely it’ll be a full-blown media campaign to alert to public that it’s available out there for use – A soft launch maybe in March, and then maybe fully working by April or May of this current year? – I would say April, we’re targeting to launch the full launch by the end of March, maybe first week of April, our soft launch will definitely start at the last week in February, it’s going hand-in-hand with the staff training, so we’ll be able to go through our training with real issues – And every department will be able to have this feature and be able to use this system right? – Correct – So it’s not limited to non-public safety functions, or fire, the fire department will have use of this, and the police department will have use of this right? – That’s correct, it’s a centralized system that will definitely be used city-wide, across all departments and across all divisions And that was one of the key things that we were also looking at per your direction was, in the past we all have different types of systems to make our jobs easier, in terms of our efficiencies and the way we do business, however the city was in real need of a full-blown citizen relationship management system, a way to be able to address those concerns city-wide, not just individually by department We do that traditionally through, whether it’s an Excel sheet or again like we mentioned the Post-Its, but we now understand that it’s not just about the work that city clerk does, or it’s not just about public works, we have a variety of concerns that the city is responsible for and having something that will assist us, for everybody to be able to go in and assess

and look at those issues that are coming in through a centralized system is a way to be a little bit more effective – One of the big things in apps is, what’s the app’s name gonna be? What are gonna call this new system or service? – Well I’m glad you asked that, I’m glad you asked that – Or have you decided that? – Well, like I’ve mentioned, we’re in the early stages but we did have a preliminary meeting and I think we’ve landed on a name for the app, Salinas Connect And part of the reason we went with Salinas Connect was because it’s a way for the residents to connect with local government, and the staff to connect with the community It’s improving that communication and the relationship both ways – Two ways, I like that Salinas Connect, so we have to watch out for that in the very near future – Correct, definitely, Salinas Connect, and it’s gonna be available in both Android and iOS – So, soft launch in March, full launch sometime in April? And then reporting throughout the rest of the year – Throughout the rest of the year, throughout the life of the system, so (laughter) Yes, so anticipate the soft launch the last week of February, February between the 21st and the end of that week, and the full launch with the app available on both the iOS and Android, the last week of March, first week of April – So basically if you have a phone, a cell phone you should be able to handle it as a citizen pretty easily – Yes – You don’t have to have a desktop computer, you don’t have to have a laptop, you don’t have to have an iPad, if you have a phone or access to a phone, this can work – Yes, definitely – So bottom line for the citizen, it sounds like it’s a fairly easy and simple system using basic technology – Yes, definitely And again, the website is always available which we all can access through our phone as well, if the resident finds that they don’t like the app, there’s always a website portal to be able to submit that complaint, which is also linked to Q Alert which is the vendor that we’ve selected, Qsen Technologies, the system itself is Q Alert It’s all available on the website for us to be able to log those complaints as well – Well this sounds very exciting Patty, it’s a change but it sounds like a significant change for our community in that they’ll be able to respond, get responses from city hall much quicker, and hopefully avoid the duplicity, the extra call, the extra reminders that some people will do, either by email or phone they’ll just call once, or they’ll email once, and it will be taken care of – That’s correct, that’s the goal So we’re very excited about launching the product, and again it’s ease of use and definitely having those resources available for the public to be able to connect with the city So, Salinas Connect – Well it’s a great way to improve customer service I think, so we’ll see how that all turns out, but it certainly has the makings of a really change, a seat change as they say sometimes, and how the customer is taken care of, the citizen in this case, and the issues or concerns, or even just basic information – That’s correct – Is there anything else you want to say about the system, or? – No, I think, we’re really excited as our core team, and definitely the entire city of Salinas is excited for the launch of this app, so again just be on the lookout for a soft launch come the last week of February and full launch in April, so if you have an opportunity ray in the community definitely download the application or visit the website, we’ll start pushing information out to the general public within the next couple weeks – That’s great, thank you so much Patty for being on the show today – Thank you Ray, my pleasure (upbeat music)

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