Mayor's Action Center celebrates 20 years with memories

An operator takes a call at the Mayor's Action Center.
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Who do you call to report a beer-drinking raccoon or to complain you've been "wrongly bitten" by the sheriff's dog?

Apparently, you call the Mayor's Action Center - or MAC.

Monday morning, the people who take those calls on a daily basis paused to mark the MAC's 20th anniversary. They were joined by Mayor Greg Ballard and former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who started the MAC in 1992.

Goldsmith said at the time, there was no central place to call. Instead, citizens with complaints or questions would call the individual city agency.

Since then, it's estimated the MAC has taken roughly three million calls. At the top of the list are potholes, stray animals, and high weeds, but sprinkled in, there a lot of unusual requests and comments.

As people celebrated 20 years with cake and punch, they chuckled over some of the past calls, posted on the wall.

One read, "A man called and stated his girlfriend was arrested last night and car and dog were impounded. He wanted to know where the dog was..."

Another, dated 2/11/94, said, "Citizen wanted to know what size David Letterman's mother wore."

And how about this from 9/2/97?

"If the city needs money, one way to get revenue is to fine people who leave public restrooms without washing their hands," the post read.

Pat Tutsie, who was the first director of the MAC, came back for the celebration, taking a tour with four of her then-colleagues.

Walking by the cubicles on the 21st floor of the City-County Building, Tutsie remarked, "It's like night and day. There's no comparison."

When the MAC first opened, it was located on the first floor of the CCB so they saw a lot of walk-in traffic.

"We started with hand-written notes that had to be transcribed into the system. It was amazing. We took 185 calls that year and now they do (more than) 200,000," Tutsie said.

Asked about memorable stories, she tells of "a sweet little old lady whose cat died and there was no trash pick-up for several days so we recommended she bag the cat and freeze it until the trash came, which she did."

Pauline Talbot recalls a woman demanding to talk to the mayor.

"I said the protocol is to write a letter and she said, 'Well, I'm a personal friend of Mayor Goldensmith' and I said, 'Well, if that's the case, you should get his name right'," Talbot said.

Other past calls that got people laughing included one from a woman wanting to know if was legal to wear clothes made from hemp and one from a man who recently moved from California asking if it was against the law to eat garlic while driving.

But one even got a rise from Goldsmith. It was from a self-described "registered Republican who voted for Goldsmith and heard rumors he wore lipstick. He wanted to know what shade."

Asked about it, Goldsmith smiled.

"There were a number of strange calls to the MAC. I don't know about that one, but ten years later, I can tell him I don't wear lipstick, so I don't have a favorite shade," the former mayor said.

Asked what it takes to work in the MAC, Tutsie said, "you have to have a lot of patience and care about helping people and be determined in getting a resolution," even when some of the questions are - shall we say - a bit tough to answer.