The speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has an unusual strategy for solving city problems. When she came upon a broken Walk-Don’t Walk sign, she didn’t call 311 to report it. Nor did she shoot an email to the Department of Transportation’s chief to convey the importance of fixing this particular safety device—perhaps more quickly than normal. Instead, Mark-Viverito tweeted about it.
Surprisingly, a staffer at DOT saw Mark-Viverito’s tweet. But this on-top-of-it staffer almost immediately responded in kind—via Twitter—and informed the speaker that the most effective way to get fast action was to call the 311 hotline.
Mark-Viverito responded in full huff: “whaaaat???” she tweeted. “This a joke? Or an auto response? Or maybe even an intern? Not a response for an elected.”
Unfortunately, Mark-Viverito made it all about her: you don’t know who I am? Is an “elected” a new protected class? Is her sense of self-importance so out of control?
If Mark-Viverito had called 311 or emailed the DOT commissioner and not gotten results, a tweet would certainly have been appropriate. But we’d like to suggest to Mark-Viverito that a public servant—yes, that is the more appropriate word for an “elected”—is here to serve, not to huff or berate. And that includes disparaging interns.