Light Pole Danger: Resident calls Ruth to the Rescue

Detroit City Hall promises better response to residents' problems

Headline Goes Here

It was an ominous sight that greeted James Golson and his family every morning when they looked out the door of their home on Detroit's west side, in the Russell Woods neighborhood.

"I was afraid that someone would get injured out there. It would come down. So, I was very upset when people didn't come out fast enough," said Golson's daughter Ashanti, who's in 8th grade.

The Golson family believes a car smashed into the light pole back on Thanksgiving and worried it could fall over at any time. Plus, a live wire was sagging over their driveway.

"My biggest concern is that the wiring from that light pole is going to touch the house where the air conditioning is, and hence, someone will touch that and get electrocuted," said James Golson, a lifelong Detroit resident.

Calling for Help, Getting Nowhere

Golson says he made several calls looking for help: the Detroit police, fire department, DTE, Public Lighting Authority and Wayne County. However,he says no one could help, and he couldn't even get pointed in the right direction. So, for more than a month, he waited and worried that the pole and wire could fall and possible injure someone.

When he first spoke to Ruth to the Rescue he said, "I would tell the Mayor this. that the people that are working for Detroit need to get on the ball because this is a danger."

Ruth to the Rescue Gets Involved

While Golson admits he never called City Hall directly, his family finally contacted Ruth to the Rescue looking for help. The consumer unit contacted the Mayor's Office on Golson's behalf. Within an hour, city crews were dispatched to the Golson's neighborhood to take that pole down and remove the sagging wire.

City Hall arranged for Gary Brown, Group Executive in Charge of Operations, to speak with Ruth to the Rescue about the issue facing the Golsons.He said, "The information didn't get to the right person. Once we got the information to the right person, I think it was taken care of pretty quickly."

About an hour after the Ruth to the Rescue unit contacted city hall, the Golsons saw city crews responding to the problem, taking the pole down,and removing the dangling wire. Even more encouraging, the new administration of Mayor Mike Duggan says its creating a new work order management system to handle residents' needs.

"The Mayor is moving with all speed to get that in place, so he can provide that service to its citizens and we're asking you to be a little patient," said Gary Brown, Group Executive in Charge of Operations. "The system will not only receive them (complaints), issue a work order to the crew that gets it done, but also respond back to the person that's calling and making the complaint to tell them when it will be completed."

The Mayor has hopes of a more automated system that is web and app based, so residents can generate a work order from their cell phones or iPads.

"If a citizen is on a street corner and they see a tree down, they hit the app. They generate the complaint, it generates a work order and it makes sure the complaint gets to the right department," Brown told Ruth to the Rescue.

He didn't say when that system would be in place, but hopes it happens quickly. In the meantime, residents can call City Hall when they're having problems in their neighborhood, and they can call the Public Lighting Authority for issues with lights. (313-224-0500)

As for the Golsons, they're relieved the pole and the dangerous wire have been removed. "I feel a lot better and a lot safer for the family and myself", said James Golson.

And, Golson is hopeful the city will be more responsive in the future. "I think that this quick response shows things might be changing for the city for the better," he added.

If you have a problem you think Ruth to the Rescue should investigate, send an email to or call 313-298-WDIV.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.