To the editor:
I just wanted to encourage you to continue to cover the gross ineptitude of the Bureau of Buildings permit office. I am a self-employed professional expediter in Atlanta since 1995. I am often the one called on to sort out the mess created by this truly bizarre procedure of obtaining permits and alcohol licenses.
After processing hundreds of permits over the years, I realize the city has no intention of fixing the problems. This would mean admitting there is a larger problem within city government relating to the work ethic and accountability of its employees. I have to laugh when I see stories about how they have streamlined the process and reduced permit processing times. They simply manipulate the data to serve their needs and alter plan log-in dates and other information to paint a nicer picture.
I believe the only answer to these problems is for the city to privatize these functions. The staffers love to use the excuse that they are understaffed and overworked. In my estimation more than half the positions at the permit offices are unnecessary, and many of the employees do not perform the functions they were hired for (i.e. dead weight). Newly hired staff members are quickly indoctrinated into the do-as-little-as-possible culture and soon learn they can work at their own pace without any ramifications.
What really bothers me are the attitudes of these city workers and their rude behavior and complete lack of common courtesy when dealing with frustrated applicants. There is a complete lack of empathy and a pattern of trying to trip up the applicants rather than trying to help them accomplish their goals. They see the applicant as the enemy and are ready for war as soon as you arrive instead of trying to help you. The emphasis seems to be on how they can turn this person away rather than how they can make this happen in every case.
The amount of tax revenue lost while these business owners deal with navigating through this process should be calculated and published. Until the taxpayers are fully aware of the problems and start voicing their discontent, nothing will be done. Keep up the good work!