How Many PIOs Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?


Don't get Zach Behrens started on the city's public information officers. Those are the go-to officials who, in theory, provide troubled and confused citizens (and journalists) with instant access to information and statistics. Every major department has one -- that guy at the wildfire wearing a fireman's helmet with "PIO" stenciled on it is one. So is the person at the end of the phone line who tells you how to banish a skanky old couch that someone has delivered to your sidewalk in the dead of night.

What LAist.com editor Behrens recently encountered was a Brezhnevian wall of bureaucracy when he called the Department of Public Works to locate a downloadable form to banish such a sofa.

He first discovered that a phone operator in one department will take

reports on "debris" only, while another operator in a second department

is expressly tasked with "bulky items."

After spending some time

on the phone with a Public Works PIO simply trying to track down the

online form, Behrens began wondering about larger issues.

"[T]he

city's Public Works Department has a total of twelve employees in the

Public Affairs Office dedicated to increasing public awareness about

the department's doings," Behrens writes. "Raise your hand if you can

easily find out what every public works project is in your

neighborhood. We didn't think so."


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