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Morning Spew

‘Secret Shoppers’ Are Coming to Spy on NYC Government Agencies

And more links for your Wednesday.

9:53 AM EST on January 25, 2023

(Rob Maxwell / Unsplash)

You can't fight City Hall, but you can ask it for food assistance, or to clean up a mess someone else made on your block, or to remove a dangerously parked vehicle, or to provide heat and hot water in the apartment you rent from the City, who is your landlord. And City Hall is supposed to deliver—in theory.

Apparently, Mayor Eric Adams is not happy with how City agencies are serving New Yorkers, so his "chief efficiency officer" is going to create a "secret shopper program." Politico has more:

Behind the scenes, Adams' chief efficiency officer—a position he created in April — has been working with five staffers and nearly $1 million to loosen bureaucratic knots and demand better performance out of agencies that are operating with reduced staff. To press the issue, efficiency czar Melanie La Rocca is piloting a yet-to-be-reported "secret shopper" operation where New Yorkers track their interactions with 15 agencies and report their findings and frustrations. City officials said they plan to expand it to all agencies.

Given that many City agencies are operating with near 20 percent vacancy rates, and the City's workforce is the most depleted it's been since 2008, this is kind of like sending secret shoppers into that grocery store in "The Mist." Sure, there are still cans of chickpeas on the shelves, and probably some turkey in the freezer, but no one is going to clean up that rack of Ragu that spilled on aisle six, because aisle six is where people go to squat and cry. Aisle five is now a daycare center/infirmary. Aisle nine is where people hype themselves up to maybe venture outside but oh god, this is so bad, please why is this mist here? Grandpa, give me that knife. Give me the knife. Thank you.

Just how dire is the "store" these days? Check out this chart that NYC Comptroller Brad Lander issued last month:

Source: NYC Comptroller's office

One way to get improved service from City Hall in the coming weeks and months might be to tell the 311 operator that your name is "S. Shopper." 

But a better way to improve service for all New Yorkers? A budget that actually funds the government, that treats City workers with dignity, and that has the goal of actually filling positions, not keeping them vacant and then wondering why services might not be up to snuff.

You can find links for your Wednesday on aisle 12: 

  • Mayor Adams clearly has more important things to do, such as throwing the most insufferable dinner parties. 
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