Thursday, February 15, 2007


Back in the black-and-white days, Duane Benton was director of revenue in Missouri. While reporting a story we called the revenue office's main number in Jefferson City. It was the noon hour.

Duane Benton answered the phone. People were out to lunch, he explained, so he was catching the phones. That's what public servants do.

In today's supposedly improved world of service, Benton's gesture can be viewed as charmingly antiquated. Still, we prefer to think that a person calling a state agency should get to speak with a human being, instead of navigating through an automated voice-mail forest.

Missouri Rep. Sam Page of Creve Coeur wants to make that so. Page had filed House Bill 882; it would require state agencies to provide you the option of "speaking to a living, breathing person," Page says.

"State government must be accessible to the people it serves," Page adds. "Getting someone on the phone at a state agency should be easier than solving a Rubik's cube."


Anonymous said...

Thank you Rep. Page! I hate going through those automated systems...

This is the second great piece of legislation that has been introduced by Rep. Page this week. The first is a bill that would require the new HPV vaccine and would help save thousands of lives.

Unfortunately some of the very right-wing crazies are going to oppose the vaccine and the saving of women's lives because it might lead to sex.

Anonymous said...

Republicans will kill this bill because their friends run the computer phone systems, and who needs people, anyway? Most of 'em are probably welfare recipients, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I will have to reserve opinion at the moment, because as written the bill would only require state agencies to "provide the caller with the option of speaking to a live operator." No requirement that the "live operator" actually BE an employee of said state agency.

After seeing Oz, I can just picture a phone farm being run out of Potosi.