A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the decision by council to move from large dumpsters to individual garbage bins for the residents on my block. The dumpsters were often overloaded, particularly at the end of the month when apartment residents would move out and leave large piles of material in and around the dumpsters, and people from outside the city seemed to think that pulling up at a dumpster and filling it with their garbage was an acceptable alternative to taking it to the landfill themselves.
The change, as directed by council, was supposed to happen by May 15th, and the owners of the apartment buildings in the block were to be notified that they would have to start using a commercial garbage service, like most of the multiple unit buildings in the city.
May 15th came and went, with no change. So after the long weekend, I spoke with the city manager, wondering why nothing had happened. His excuse was that he has a lot of balls in the air. That's not acceptable to me - if something that council has decided will happen isn't going to happen, then the time to let us know that it isn't going to happen is before the deadline, not after.
Friday morning (May 22nd), Andrea and I were enjoying breakfast on the deck when a city truck went down the back alley, picking up the blue recycling bins. After Andrea expressed some regret that we had a bin of newspapers inside, waiting to be taken out, I wondered why they weren't picking up the other dumpsters, the ones for garbage. I also wondered why the city hadn't delivered any notification to residents, before starting the process. It was only a few minutes before I got my first phone call from a resident, wondering what was going on. Then another resident stopped by on his bike - he had been told that the city was just taking the recycling bins, but leaving the garbage bins, because the apartment buildings didn't have commercial bins.
Unfortunately, the problem wasn't with the recycling bin - it was with the garbage bins. And the direction in the motion passed by council had been quite clear - individual residences were to have their own roll-out blue bins and garbage bins, and the apartment buildings were to have commercial bins, by May 15th.
Later in the morning a notice was delivered, so I called the number in the notice to find out what was going on. Not only was that individual not around, apparently nobody else was aware of the situation. I was told that I could call back next week. Someone else that I talked to told me that the city didn't have any 300 gallon dumpsters - since that is what we have now, it was an indication of how poor the communication about this issue has been at City Hall.
The city's version of customer service had struck once again.
A short while later our blue bin was delivered. Since nobody in the Sanitation Department seemed to know what was going on, I left a message with the City Manager, outlining my disappointment in the lack of follow-through of a direction made by a motion of council.
When Andrea and I got back from our usual Friday morning routine of errands, a city vehicle was dropping off individual garbage bins. I talked with one of the workers, who was writing Apts. Only in marker on the remaining large dumpsters in the alley. This apparently is the stop-gap measure to be used until the apartment buildings get commercial bins - I'll be finding out next week when they got the notice, and how long they've been given.
So once again I've been annoyed by the lack of action from city hall staff, by the poor communication and coordination among staff, and by the uncoordinated approach of dealing with city residents. I have a feeling that if I hadn't raised the fact that the target date for bin replacement had passed, I, and the other residents of the block, would still be waiting for our bins. I don't think that it's part of my job to remind the people who are supposed to coordinate the work done by city staff of the direction that they have been given - that should be part of their work planning process.
We've made some difficult decisions over the last few years with regard to staff. At some point, I hope that both the new and old staff realize that our expectation is that it wasn't that we wanted different people doing the job the same way, but that we wanted the job done differently. So far, that hasn't happened.
"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu