In early June, seven weeks after Barbara Bolan moved to Madison (from California) and bought a home, her sewer backed up. Yuck. She called a contractor, who determined it was all the city's fault, for failing to reconnect her sewer after some repair work.
You see where this is going, right? Plodding bureaucrats, frustrated homeowner?
It sure looked that way. The city initially offered to pay just over $500 of Bolan's costs, which totaled $5,500, saying the contractor should have more readily diagnosed the problem. Bolan asked the city to talk to the contractor.
The city said this was not its problem, right?
Nope, the call was made, just as she asked. Even the contractor, though not pleased, was "very professional," says Bolan. There was a subsequent meeting between the contractor and city officials, which did not go well.
Time to panic, right? You'd think. But Bolan didn't. She kept her cool, hoping things would work out.
They did. In short order, the city and contractor reached an agreement; the city would pay about 75% of the cost, and the contractor would forgive the rest. The ordeal would not cost Bolan a thing.
"I was treated with respect and ultimately everybody stepped up to the plate and took responsibility," says Bolan. "I was never left hanging or mistreated. I came away with a positive impression of Madison and the people who work on its behalf."
Here's the funny thing: Isthmus heard about the story from a city employee who was unaware of the happy ending, and saw it as an example of how shabbily the city treats its citizens. No such luck.