Lots of people in my professional life talk about “civic engagement”. Everybody seems to want it. Fran Spielman reports in today’s Sun-Times that the City Clerk’s office had received over 3,100 damage claims due to potholes. That’s thousands of people engaging.
While we don’t always think of civic engagement as people filling out forms and claims, this is civic engagement at it’s core. Thousands of people going through a multi-step process to get reimbursed for a weaknesses of the civic infrastructure— and being paid back by the taxpayers— is about as engaged as one can be. Each year, the Chicago City Clerk‘s office processes thousands of claims for damaged vehicles.
According to city data, last spring there were 23,059 potholes reported from January to March. This year, that number has jumped to 60,866.
You can search all claims on the City Clerk website (search all claims back to 2010, right from the source) or Chicago Councilmatic for vehicle claims (they even have a nifty RSS feed so you never miss a claim!). See stats about and pics of potholes on Chicago Works for You.
When your vehicle is damaged by a pothole, you can fill out this form (PDF) describing what happened. You’ll also need two written estimates for the damage and a paid bill from the mechanic who fixed the vehicle. You then mail everything back to the Clerk’s office.
If it’s approved by the Clerk’s Office, they send the claim to the City Council’s finance committee. During the full city council meeting (like today), the chair of the finance committee will then propose an order (often titled “Payment of various small claims”) to pay all of the claims.
Civic engagement is fun!