In the second poll of the summer, we took a different tack. We asked residents how they feel about various parts of the Maple Heights city government. We found that our hard-working police force is held in high esteem and that residents question whether city officials are acting in their best interests.
Residents on the Maple Heights Police
The Maple Heights police force is very busy. Staffing levels have dropped dramatically in that past year due to retirements and budget constraints. However, the work demands do not lessen. The police have stepped up to accomplish more with less.
We asked residents what they thought. Roughly 87 percent of respondents agreed that the police are doing a good job. Four out of five residents believed that the police really care about them as they do their work throughout the city. Amid all that is going on in the nation, I am glad to see that many of our residents trust and value our police forces.
City Officials Are Losing Trust
The picture is a little different when it comes to residents’ opinions of Maple Heights city officials. Only 58 percent of residents believe that city officials are “honest,” while just 53 percent believe officials act in the best interest of residents. This corroborates what was found in the June survey which showed that roughly half of residents are “dissatisfied” with city officials. Overall, the performance of city officials is under suspicion:
- 53% of respondents believe property maintenance is unsatisfactory
- 57% of respondents think city streets and parks are not properly maintained
- At least half of voters are unsatisfied with city government
But it gets worse when we start talking about the city’s finances.
This survey found that more than half of voters believe their taxes are spent unwisely (52 percent said the same back in June). Also, about 60 percent believe that city officials are being dishonest about Maple Heights’ finances. This is hardly surprising considering the financial mess that our city is in. The accompanying silence of city officials, speaks volumes – either they do not know what is going on or do not want to say.
What it all means
Honestly, I am surprised that Maple Heights city officials’ approval ratings even approach the lackluster level of 50 percent. I am glad to see that the police still carry significant support among the establish residents (two-thirds of survey respondents have lived here more than 20 years). The obvious problems are the struggling finances and loss of public trust.
The overwhelming support of respondents for a web-based program that “shows residents how the money is spent” tells me that people want more transparency and availability of information. In 2015, any questions of transparency and access to information can be easily solved by technology. There is no excuse to not remedy this situation.
At the end of the day, residents still want to believe in their city. They appreciate their police forces. They believe there are solutions to our problems. What they do not believe in is their leadership.
Maple Heights has significant problems. One problem we can do without – and easily remedy – is trust. If we begin there, residents will start believing in their leadership again. Then we can work together on addressing the rest of the challenges we face…as a team.
The above information was based on a telephone survey conducted on August 15, 2015. We called about 3,000 registered voters and received about 200 responses. As expected, the respondents overwhelmingly consisted of well established residents. Ninety-two percent of respondents owned their home and 8 percent rented. Over 60 percent of respondents have lived in the city more than 20 years.