-By Bay City News Service
Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington Tuesday criticized city leaders for what he said was their poor response to problems with the city's voicemail system the past 13 days.
Worthington said the problem has meant that Berkeley residents haven't been able to leave messages with council members during much of that 13-day period, unless someone was in the office to take calls and messages.
He said the problem began the morning of Oct. 18 and there were intermittent issues until last Thursday, when the system crashed completely until it apparently was fixed early this afternoon.
"It was consistently off for six days," Worthington said. He said, "It's amazing that we're having this problem in the technological center of the world, with the most tech-savvy people."
Worthington said, "The city should not have hundreds of unanswered phones."
He said the city should have provided council members with tips for dealing with the situation, such as setting up a call-forwarding system or emailing constituents with an alternate phone number to use while their voicemail system was down.
"I think the public deserves better," Worthington said.
He said he sent an email with an alternate phone number to about 15,000 people in his district but he doesn't think other council members did anything like that.
City of Berkeley spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said, "The intermittent outages were caused by a faulty piece of equipment and because our telephone system is about 20 years old it took a few days to locate a replacement part."
She said, "The city is in the process of moving to a new voice over Internet protocol phone system for all 42 service locations" which was authorized by the City Council on July 17.
Clunies-Ross said, "We are sorry for the inconvenience this caused our residents and our staff and appreciate everyone's patience."