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Embattled Alvord proud of Norwalk DPW’s accomplishments

Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord
Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord speaks to the public at a recent Mayor’s Night Out.

NORWALK, Conn. – It comes as no surprise to Hal Alvord that many people in Norwalk don’t believe the things he says.

“I have a credibility problem with a lot of people,” said Alvord, the director of Norwalk’s Department of Public Works, Friday. “I look at 10 years that I have been here and I have had to make a case for how under-resourced the city’s infrastructure and this department have been for decades,” he continued, explaining why that is, in response to this reporter’s question.

Alvord is under fire, the target of barbs from council members over “no-bid contracts” and overridden by the Traffic Authority last week regarding bike lanes. There’s also a “no confidence” petition issued a month ago by DPW employees, accusing Alvord and DPW Operations Manager Lisa Burns of “abusive and heavy-handed tactics,” disrespect to front-line workers and creating a poisonous work environment. While then-Mayor Richard Moccia dismissed a similar letter in 2008, Mayor Harry Rilling promised to listen to the employees’ concerns. Rilling has offered no comment since.

Numerous Norwalk residents have told Nancy On Norwalk that Alvord is not to be trusted, and many have left comments on the site about his performance (only comments by those using their real names are listed in this sampling):

Common Council member Bruce Kimmel:

For the record, Alvord was not at the finance committee meeting where the item was introduced and barely passed because that month’s DPW committee meeting at been cancelled. I have no idea why he was not at the meeting, since the radios were so important an issue.

At the finance committee meeting, Lisa Burns from DPW explained how the existing radios were thirty years old, had been in dire need of repair for years, and were critically important to city workers. She admitted that the $132,000 item had “fallen through the cracks” during the capital budget process. That, of course, was unacceptable, but we approved the item by a one vote majority because the city truly needs the new system.

Without going into the capital budget process, which takes a long time and which can be easily modified along the way, what Burns said regarding so large an expense just can’t happen; unless, of course, we are dealing with a department that is in disarray.

Zoning Commission member Nora King:

Hal Alvord has been passing the buck for the past ten years. It is about time the city of Norwalk hires someone to run DPW that actually lives in the town they are paid to serve.

Former Zoning Commission member Mike Mushak:

When Hal Alvord said something that I knew wasn’t true, I used a “point of order” as a member of the public, which is my right, to correct the record for the committee. Chair Dave McCarthy found that out of line and asked me to leave the room, and so I guess we now have a policy that Hal Alvord can say anything he wants to the committee with impunity, no matter how untrue it may be. We should all be worried about this, including the steady flow on no-bid contracts steered towards favored vendors selected by Alvord alone that are of great concern to many. Taxpayers, beware.

Activist Diane CeCe:

Tree City USA? Ha! What a joke – first the deafening silence of the Tree Warden (Hal Alvord) as Oak Hills Park Authority planned to clear cut acres of trees, and now this. Another Hal Alvord boondoggle – how much more damage can we allow this man to inflict upon Norwalk? Crumbling, disgusting infrastructure, untimed lights, slalom course road lanes, lack of sidewalks, dangerous bike lanes (file under “be careful what we wish for”), stop signs and no parking restrictions that no one wants that create dangerous intersections & pollution and hinder businesses, clogged storm water drains that cause flooding and the list goes on and on.
Surely there is some reason why 3 administrations have allowed him to keep his job – what is it?

Alvord, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers colonel, said his credibility problem stems from the crumbling state of Norwalk’s infrastructure when he was hired by then-Mayor Alex Knopp in late 2003.

Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord
Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord, center, sits glumly through last week’s Traffic Authority meeting.

“People don’t want to hear you when you come into them and say, ‘Well you gave me $1 million last year, I need $10 million this year and here’s why,’ you know? They don’t like it,” Alvord said. “I’ve been around long enough, I don’t need people to like me and pat me on the back. I came to Norwalk because I saw two things. I saw what the state of the infrastructure was and I saw what the potential for this city could be. I can’t do a lot about the potential other than the contribution of the infrastructure piece of it and the surveys of it. And to be honest with you, I am fairly proud of what we have done. We are providing garbage and recycling services that are of a higher level than we’ve ever had before and we’re saving millions of dollars a year doing it.”

Norwalk outsourced its solid waste and recycling collection to City Carting more than a year ago amid much controversy. Director of Management and Budgets Bob Barron confirmed last month that the predicted savings have come through: Norwalk had spent $1.4 million less than it would have spent from the beginning of the contract through the end of the 2013-14 Fiscal Year, he said. However, complaint persist about the quality of service.

Alvord frequently says his manpower and budget are out of line for a city the size of Norwalk, that he is understaffed and underfunded. Norwalk, with about 86,000 residents, has 102 DPW employees and an $18.3 million budget this year. There were 250 Norwalk DPW employees in 1985, he said.

A check of the next largest and next smallest cities in the state show both have more employees. Waterbury, with a population of 107,000, has a fulltime DPW staff of about 185 people, according to DPW Director Lou Spina. He said the current budget is about $18 million. Danbury, with about 80,000 people, has about 140 employees and a $25 million budget.

New Britain did not respond to a request for information, and the city of about 73,000 does not list its staff size online. However, according to budget documents, the DPW budget was $20.3 million this year, and is looking at a $5 million cut for 2015 as the city is $10 million in the red.

Norwalk has a “heck of a team,” Alvord said, referring to his engineering staff. They bust their butts, he said, working long hours to fix Norwalk, he said.

“We’re replacing the entire traffic signal system and it’s not costing the city a nickel, other than some time on the part of our engineering staff. Our bridges, in 2016 the city is going to be in a posture where it’s not going to have to touch another bridge in this city for 50 years. Haviland Deck and Yankee Doodle Garage would have been closed down for safety reasons if we hadn’t done the restoration of those facilities,” Alvord said.

Recently, it was revealed that work on the Yankee Doodle Bridge would not begin until 2016 or 2017, and the Walk Bridge replacement is further out than that, but those projects are largely dependent on federal money and contracts.

Norwalk has spent “$50 million of other people’s money” over the past 10 years to fix the city’s infrastructure, Alvord said, referring to federal grants. That saved local residents from the burden of the debt service, he said, while acknowledging that Norwalkers do carry some of the  burden through federal and state taxes.

“I am proud of what they have gotten done,” Alvord said, of his staff. “It’s amazing what they have gotten done.”

Knopp echoed that pride in a statement:

“My principal goal as mayor was to modernize the city’s government and bring it forward into the 21st century. I hired Hal Alvord because I was convinced he shared my desire to move around the heavy furniture in the DPW and make major reforms in the department. Observers may have lost track of how many significant governmental reforms we made, but it was a very productive period. Hal successfully implemented our creation of the Norwalk Parking Authority to take parking costs off the property tax system, the Norwalk Water Pollution Control Authority to implement better performance at the treatment plant and adopt the sewer user-fee system, the Norwalk Facilities Construction Commission to manage city building projects, and the Customer Service Center to give us better management information about resident feed-back. And here’s the proof of their value: all of these major new systems survived intact after I left office.

“To improve the city’s decayed infrastructure, we took advantage of the low interest rate environment and adopted the biggest capital budget in the city’s history.  Hal provided an experienced and creative management perspective to the many construction projects we launched. And he agreed to put many DPW services on line for better customer access and to utilize the new fiber optic systems we installed.

“It’s probably the case that Hal’s strong personality and impatience sometimes may have interfered with his ability to get things done without conflicts with other city employees and I certainly had my share of tussles with him over departmental priorities. But overall I believe Hal has made major contributions to improving public services in Norwalk and has more than fulfilled the original goals of reform, innovation and customer service we set during my administration for upgrading the DPW.”

Alvord, who in recommending last week against bike lanes on Belden Avenue said that he and his staff would be forced to testify against Norwalk should there be any liability-causing injuries, said his sharp commentary is intentional.

“There are people – who I don’t know if they don’t like you because you’re successful or productive or whatever, and there are times when I have been fairly pointed in the things I say in order to make my point because my experience in working in the political arena is if you downplay things, if you soften things, they don’t get done,” Alvord said. “So I intentionally am fairly pointed sometimes in the comments that I make, and I do that intentionally to get people’s attention because otherwise it will just disappear. If I hadn’t, we’d still be investing $1.5 million in our roads and they’d be a disaster. Now we’re doing $5 million a year.”

He continued, “I am proud of everything this department has done. There are people who want to make issues out of things, you know. They’re going to make issues out of things without really understanding what the heck they are talking about. There’s not much I can do about that and I am going to continue to try to do the best job for the city at the best value for the city.”

Comments

33 responses to “Embattled Alvord proud of Norwalk DPW’s accomplishments”

  1. jlightfield

    two things:
    .
    Hal’s garbage contract eliminated daily pickup in the downtown areas. His “higher level” of service has created trash filled streets.
    .
    The creation/operation of the Parking Authority has been a disaster for SONO. It is the Mount Everest of BS to suggest that taxpayers were saved anything when SONO leads the state is devalued properties and underwater mortgages. The loss of businesses and stagnant grand list directly impact the rate of year mill rate increases which are borne primarily by residential tax payers.
    .
    As long as we keep bonding for things like textbooks instead of infrastructure maintenance we will continue down this path.

  2. EveT

    Exactly how is DPW “providing garbage and recycling services that are of a higher level than we’ve ever had before”? Yard waste pickups have been almost completely eliminated. Garbage and recycling used to be picked up early in the morning, usually before 8 AM, now it’s more like noon or 1 PM. Saving money is one thing, but don’t try to say that the service is higher quality.
    Oh, and the Tree Warden responsibility. If you have ever tried to call about a tree problem you know what a runaround you’re likely to get from this branch of the DPW.

  3. Scott

    Who’s idea was it when they wanted to move the transfer station to the meadow street site owned by city carting? What would have happened when the city became the new permittee for the sight and the DEP called for the site to be decontaminated? Would the city have footed the bill? Mr. Alvord has done some good things for Norwalk but I often question some of the motives

  4. piberman

    Just maybe had our elected officials over the decades been more careful when writing generous contracts with our City unions we’d would have had more funding and employees to improve our City’s infrastructure. Lets remember that our school teachers are the 5th highest paid in the state.

  5. One and Done

    Treating text books as a capital expense is a joke, but saying Sono is in decline is a bit delusional. Take a ride down there sometime.

  6. TLaw

    @jlightfield ” SONO leads the state is devalued properties and underwater mortgages.” where would one find this info??

  7. Bruce Kimmel

    Very interesting story; well done. Just a couple comments.
    .
    I was a member of the Common Council during the Knopp Administration and voted for all the initiatives our former Mayor mentioned above. But it is important to note that it’s been almost nine years since Knopp was in office, and a lot can happen in such a long period of time.
    .
    For instance, even though Alvord repeatedly notes that his primary goal was to rebuild our infrastructure — which was in very bad shape at the turn of the century — he seems to have lost his energy. Mayor Rilling and a fair number of Council members have made our sidewalks and footpaths a priority, and they are indeed part of our infrastructure. But our DPW director, in my opinion, has either dragged his feet or led us in the wrong direction on this issue, to put it mildly.
    .
    During the capital budget process, he argued for the acquisition of a very expensive camera-based system that would, he said, take detailed pictures of our sidewalk conditions. When we made inquiries on what this type of system could actually do, we decided that we were being fed the proverbial crock of… and jettisoned the request.
    .
    A few months later, in frustration the Council decided to table a routine road survey, also expensive, but definitely needed, and essentially ordered Alvord to negotiate a sidewalk survey as an amendment to the contract. Which he did, and it cost us $20,000, much much less than the previously mentioned camera system.
    .
    The issue here is that we had to order Alvord to do this — even though our sidewalks are a basic part of our infrastructure.

  8. peter parker

    Good article, but unfortunately Alvord still has a job and the City and its taxpayers continue to suffer because of his incompetence. The public outcry is clear on this issue. Alvord should be dismissed for incompetence and insubordination. i.e. crumbling light posts, no bid contracts, tree destruction, non-disclosure of state plans, crumbling sidewalks, selective services to taxpayers, selective record retention and release, the list goes on and on and on. Do the Mayor and Council need a house to fall on them before they do something about this man? If the Mayor and Council won’t act, maybe it’s time for the taxpayers to start a petition and demand that this administration retire Alvord. He is ineffective and detrimental to the City and the taxpayers.

  9. One and Done

    The reading teacher’s arguments over a licensed professional engineer would have more merit if he could speak to the cost of the camera system and its useful life.
    .
    Maybe we should hire a school teacher as the next DPW chief. We could have fabulous sidewalks and bike lanes. Also the local mechanics would make a mint repairing axels, suspensions, and tires from all the roads we would still never fix. As a bonus, lunar landscape like roads will slow down traffic which is part of the plan.

  10. potaxpayer

    lisa burns is just as bad or worse than Alvord. I wonder if the towns that were referenced in the article with more dpw employees than Norwalk had as many useless supervisors as Norwalk does. Norwalk has a director of operations and two superintendants. and hal the director.

  11. Don’t Panic

    Only Hal Alvord could boast of outsourcing city services and complain of being understaffed at the same time. Ditto, for complaining about being under-financed at the same time as he speaks about spending millions in state funds ON TOP of a budget that is roughly the same as similar cities in CT.
    .
    The overworked employees may in fact be spending too much of their time providing consultation to developers who are trimming up applications before they are submitted to zoning.
    .
    It may be that citizens, and elected and appointed citizen government, would be more willing to see things Hal’s way if he was more willing to see things our way. The constant “my way or the highway” discussions about sidewalks, bike paths, garbage pickup, traffic control, etc means a constant drain on resources as the citizenry and our elected and appointed officials field study after study, master plan after master plan, which then get ignored.
    .
    Constant attention to unscheduled “no-bid” items and drawn out public hearings over small painless items makes everyone wonder what our city would look like if Mr. Alvord’s department spent half as much time asking “How can I get this done?” instead of saying “here’s why I can’t do this.”

  12. peter parker

    @ Don’t Panic. Amen to that!

  13. LWitherspoon

    Does Alvord have an employment contract? If so, when does it expire?
    .
    There are probably legitimate complaints about Mr. Alvord. Many of the anti-Alvord comments above are from people for whom I have great respect. On the other hand, some portion of the complaints clearly come from self-interested Unions and their lackeys who are unhappy over outsourcing. It can be difficult to tell one from the other.
    .
    Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that Norwalk NAACP Vice President Andre Williams claimed to NoN that Candidate Rilling promised to fire three employee who were out of favor with municipal employee unions: City Personnel Director James Haselkamp, NFD Chief Denis McCarthy, and DPW director Hal Alvord. Rilling denied making any such promise. In the meantime Mr. Haselkamp is already gone, and a campaign to dismiss Mr. Alvord appears to be gaining steam.
    .
    If Mayor Rilling dismisses Alvord, he will no doubt wink and say that he can’t comment on the reasons why because it’s a personnel matter. Taxpayers will be left to wonder whether we lost the benefit of Mr. Alvord’s years of experience because Unions were unhappy over outsourcing, which has saved us millions.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @L Witherspoon

      Mr. Alvord serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Remember, the mayor, as a department head, sat in meetings with Mr. Alvord for several years, and came into office with a working knowledge of him, Mr. Haselkamp, Chief McCarthy, Mike Mocciae, Mike Greene, Tad Diesel and others.

  14. jlightfield

    @TLaw the article I most recently read was in the Stamford Advocate (print), and it referenced a Peter Dreir report recently released. 06854 came in at #19 or 24% in underwater residential mortgages. The property tax contributions by census tract give a clearer data view on the property valuations, but admittedly I haven’t looked at that in awhile.

  15. Scott

    I am a union employee and can promise you that the general membership was never promised Mr. Alvord’s dismissal. The only thing that was promised was to be treated fairly and not lied to. Jim Haselkamp was a used car salesman. He used every trick in the book. Being fair does not mean you have to be soft. No games is all any of us expect. Mr. Alvord has done some good things for the city but the ends do not justify the means. Clarity of government is of prime importance for everyone of us that are home and property owners in Norwalk

  16. potaxpayer

    @lwitherspoon, i am not a union employee but i know some of the union people who work at dpw. i would not want a job at dpw. they don’t get paid very much, the benefits are average, the management treats the workers bad, they work in outside in the worst weather, up all night plowing or cleaning up trees and debris after storms. hal doesn’t do the work the workers do. and they do a great job with all the harassment and bullying they put up with from mamagement. they are hiring right now. anyone that thinks they have it so good apply for a job and see how long you last and how rich you will get. don’t be a hater join them. the best part of the job is after lunch when you have to pick up a dead deer thats been dead a week in 90 degree heat by hand. norwalkct.org apply

  17. One and Done

    The inside joke at DPW used to be “what’s green and sleeps three?”. Hal has changed that culture and the rank and file don’t like it. Showing up late, leaving early, stealing gas and parts, disappearing after payroll was issued on Friday at lunch time, faking injuries, and calling in sick to enjoy longer vacations. These were all benefits that no longer exists. This is the source of the rancor. Harry can replace Hal, but unless they get their benefits back there will be the same campaign against the next person. Oh, and they are paid very well by the way with health and retirement packages that most people who work to pay their benefits will never see themselves.

  18. Jlightfield

    The labor / management issue is so 1980s. And it symbolizes the larger issue that is fundamental problem with how to judge whether Norwalk is achieving the maximum results with its labor force and management team.
    .
    The state DOT has embraced new design build construction for bridge repair because they could leverage the infrastructure of investments in improving technology. Norwalk as a city can’t, chiefly because there is a mindset that antiquated computers with outdated software systems are good enough.
    .
    Even the example Kimmel cites gives me at least pause at the decision that an automated system that Hal proposed was unnecessary because it could be done for less by a consultant. I think it drives home the point that a consultant is not a leverage le asset and a system at least enables you to do other things with it. I’ll caveat my assumption here by pointing out I have no info on whatever system was proposed so it may infact be a bad choice. The decision process though, is articulated well enough by Kimmel. It’s a repeat of what often happens in these committees evaluating capital requests.
    .
    We can all point out various DPW projects that are problematic. But let’s also hold the elected officials who over the years, failed to fund projects, tools and personnel in addition to failing to address outdated design, build and bidding regulations. Too often people see the status quo as the safer decision. Expecting different results though, as Einstein once said is insanity.

  19. Sarah Mann

    I never post anything on this or other sites however, considering the many attacks on Hal Alvord I believe it’s time to step up. In my brief time on the council Hal and Lisa took time to explain the considerable responsibilities entrusted to the DPW and the limited resources with which they accomplish them. Norwalk is fortunate to have an engineer with his expertise. No matter where he lives.

    My personal experience with the Customer Service Center and the Parking Authority under Hal’s leadership has been professional and responsive.

    As far as the bike lanes on Strawberry Hill are concerned, I’ll admit they can use some tweaking but more to the point if drivers would obey the law and stop speeding and stop passing on the right perhaps traffic would calm a bit on Strawberry Hill.

    Hal has a huge responsibility and many masters to please. It’s very easy to be critical of the job someone else is doing especially when we put on our “smartest person in the room ” hat. Something tells me that not one of you folks writing here have even one half of the credentials that Hal does. Well, maybe Bruce. It’s kind of like the bat boy telling A Rod how to hit.

    Remember Super Storm Sandy. Well, Norwalk’s infrastructure was maintained. You could access some very basic services thanks to Hal and his team. Try to think about the positives here.

  20. Bruce Kimmel

    Jackie, what I remember is that the item was for “infrastructure mapping” with a cost estimate of $250,000. It involved what I believe is called a “crawl camera,” which is attached to a truck and gathers information that ultimately would end up in the city’s GIS system. It sounded great, and might have been funded if we had not gotten so much conflicting information about what the camera could actually do with regard to sidewalks. I’m still open to that large an expenditure if I had a better idea of what it does and does not do.

  21. Don’t Panic

    @lightfield,
    .
    Reasonable investments follow reasonable requests and reasonable results.
    .
    If after being denied funding for the state of the art camera based software to inventory assets like light poles and sidewalks DPW had embarked on a six year plan to inventory the city one section at a time, he could have the data and made the case for doing it better and maybe cheaper.
    .
    we are a city of 80,000. We should be focused on providing best in class basics and leave the fancy traffic cams and oversized transit buses to cities that need and can afford them.

  22. Paul

    Dpw has a director, a director of operations, 2 superintendents and 6 foremen. Can anyone explain the difference in job duties with the director of operations and the 2 superintendents?? How about between the supers and the foreman?? It’s my best guess you need a director, a super and 3 foreman. That’s about 750k in savings right off the top with pay and bennies and the workforce would not miss a beat.

  23. potaxpayer

    @ one and done, your right and your wrong. hal did not clean up dpw or change the culture like you put it.from what I hear is dpw used to be the dumping ground for rejects that were unemployable anywhere else, they were drunks, drug addicts,and just plain lazy. but they all had one thing in common they got hired because there father was rich and had pull or they were related to someone who was a politician. the federal drug testing kind of cleaned that mess up. and most of the union workers there now were not even in middleschool when that stuff was going on. they are really just looking to be treated with respect. also I saw my friends check he takes home around 600 a week. I can’t live on that. 2000 deductible on his insurance and a 401k I don’t see where they have it made so good.

  24. jlightfield

    @Bruce Kimmel I’m hoping that what was being asked for was a simple ground penetrating radar system like this one (http://www.geophysical.com/roadinspection.htm) that would enable the City to find utilities, measure asphalt and concrete depths etc.
    .
    As with anything, it tool-like it depends on who is operating it, but the need to actually map out what infrastructure we have is important.
    .
    The sidewalk issue in Norwalk is two fold, visual inspection issues, such as cracks, missing, height and obstruction, and then the stability of the sidewalk itself, (SONO’s crumbling sidewalks and curbs spring to mind) and what is underneath. Then of course is who owns the sidewalk and with 4 property owning taxing districts, the State and the City the answer is somewhat difficult to understand.
    .
    @Don’t Panic, there are two telling statements you have made there. One that a GIS system might be “state of the art.” In the 21st century a GIS system would be considered baseline. At one point, yes indeed that 8-track deck was state of the art. But we stream music these days, so the baseline is now cloud-based. Then there’s the city population which is actually nearer to 87k than 80k, but why quibble about that because at any size city of town, the issues brought up are resolvable because leveraging technology actually increases productivity, so that you can do more work with less man-hours. Labor is the highest cost of municipal government so it follows that investing capital dollars wisely yields more productivity.
    .
    Just like there are only 24 hours in a day, there are only x number of staff hours to devote to all projects and Hal has demonstrated he needs more staff, the City has not funded the positions. Just like the City has not funded road repair etc. etc.

  25. peter parker

    Alvord does not have a contract.

  26. Don’t Panic

    @lightfield,
    The baseline is what works. My point is that the council is always prsented with “best or nothing” which is a false choice. They should be presented with “best and what is less than best but what we are already doing”.
    .
    Capital investments do not always save money. Technology does not always reduce labor costs — sometimes it just shifts them to maintaining the technology.

  27. WOW just WOW

    One and Done
    That is an excellent post. Basically what the issue is with Hal is that the union hacks don’t like the idea that he makes them work. I as a taxpayer say we need more Hal’s in city management .
    Also Nora King states “It is about time the city of Norwalk hires someone to run DPW that actually lives in the town they are paid to serve.” My question to her is being our police and fire chiefs also live out of town as do 90 percent of the police Department will she also go on the record asking for them to be replaced .. I bet we never hear from her on this….WAIT

  28. Hobbes the Calvinist

    The joys of vilifying a well-paid bureaucrat (or blaming evil unions for any and all problems in the world) aside, can’t Mayor Rilling and the Common Council consider that public works needs a change in direction?
    Although asphalt companies might be upset with their lost revenues, maybe Norwalk would benefit from a public works director who understands that repairing and replacing gas lines should happen BEFORE a street is repaved and not AFTER.

  29. One and Done

    Hobbes the Unionist has a magical device that predicts the future and any and all gas leaks that might occur.

  30. Jlightfield

    @don’t panic, there will always be exceptions to the rule, however the the role of technology and it’s effect on worker productivity as measured by the wonks that measure such things, is an established “fact” that people gave up arguing against at some point in the 90s.
    .
    The City is run on a mindset that thinks having people fill out paper forms that then get entered (manually typed) into some archaic database or spreadsheet is efficient. Some might argue “state of the art.” 😉
    .
    I’d like to see the conversation shift at the policy level from the current 1-dimensional cost to a broader goal of identifying city needs and creating the positions or organizational changes to effect them.

  31. Oldtimer

    Hal already has a nice military pension and benefits. His job in Norwalk is a retirement job where he was hired more for his skills as a bureaucrat/manager than as an engineer. Rather than improving the performance of various sections of the DPW, he has outsourced a lot of what used to be DPW jobs. The DPW labor budget may have been contained, but the added cost of all the outside contractors has added to taxpayer expense. Taxpayers now fund not only the DPW, but a for-profit company that runs the sewer plant/system, another for-profit company that collects trash, another for-profit that handles paving, and the list goes on. Of course he has a smaller staff, he has given away a lot of City jobs with his claims that taxpayers will save money. These claims have not saved, but transferred deductible tax supported services to non-deductible fee supported costs for taxpayers. Anyone who witnessed his presentation to the council on signing a contract he negotiated with City Carting Company right away, would have doubts. Now he has convinced the council to buy new compactors for City Carting to use when that contract clearly make machinery their responsibility. Trash hauling companies all over the country haul truckloads of trash that has not been compacted, but it would save them labor expense if the trash was compacted. Who is he really working for ?

  32. Don’t Panic

    @lightfield,
    On that we do agree. Having a big picture plan and prioritizing needs would go a long way towards justifying the expenditures. Part of that includes listening to the public. Part of it also means using what you do have. We have master plans on top of master plans, and studies upon studies. Yet, we don’t use any of those things to inform a plan for setting those priorities.

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