Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trash talk

Been a while since we posted here. Time to get back to work. Going to start off with excerpts from an email we received on the pilot program on automated trash collection.

First off, here are some key facts that are not widely known that our email writer thought were important.

1. The cans must be aligned precisely with the curb, or they will not be picked up.
2. The approach to the cans must not be blocked, or they will not be picked up.
3. you must use the cans provided by the trash company, no other cans will be picked up.
4. you will be charged a monthly "rental" of $12-15 for your can, in perpetuity, you will never pay it off, and the city keeps the profit from the fees, not the trash company. (this one really ***** me off)

Our writer goes on to say: " now in (my neighborhood) there is currently a pilot program with the automated system. The automated truck drives down the street, and picks up the cans. If there is a obstruction or the can is not aligned properly, a assistant hops out and fixes the issue, moves the can, etc.. Further, a regular trash truck FOLLOWS the automated truck, picking up odd-sized garbage, leaves, branches, etc, that does not get picked up by the automated truck. The kicker is that when the program is implemented, there will be NO ASSISTANT to the automated truck (IE there will be skipped cans) and obviously no truck following behind to pick up the leftover trash. this factor has not been announced to the general public, and the city plans to just spring it on everybody when the automated system is in place."

I think our writer is legitimately concerned. Two things stand out. First, even though this will likely save the  collection company and the city a considerable amount of money, there could be a net INCREASE in your trash collection bill for the "rental" of the special trash cans. As a consumer my total bill is what matters. It does me no good that my "trash collection" bill is lower if I have to pay more for a "rental fee." This is no good for me unless my ENTIRE bill is less.

The next point that stands out is that the pilot test, as the writer reports, is not currently being done the same way it would be implemented. I can understand them gradually shifting from the current system to the fully automated system. By now, they should have made all the pilot projects as close as possible to the way they will be if and when implemented. We need several weeks, at least, of collections where there are not extra hands or trucks following on. We, the citizens of San Angelo and the people who pay for this service, need to see in these pilot projects exactly what it will be like in the future. No smoke and mirrors. No additional fine print and "adjustments" after the deal is done. I'm not saying that Trashaway and the City Council won't do that but I've watched local politics long enough to know that we, the people, need to make sure it's done.


  1. I don't recall any "rental" of trash cans. The trash company saves money using them and supplies us with them. Also, they don't have to be precisely aligned with the curb. Anything close works. I've even seen the driver get out and align a trash can to make sure it gets picked it up.

  2. Paul, the comments on the trash cans were what the email writer said he was told by a Trashaway employee. Some other cities do charge a trash can rental. By the end of this process, the City Gov. needs to be very clear on all the costs related to the special trash cans including whether or not there will be a rental fee, what is the replacement costs and procedures, and what is the policy on additional cans.

    This is a major change to how the city does a necessary function. The whole process needs to be honest, open, transparent and trusted.

  3. "Honest, open, transparent, and trusted".

    Are you sure you've got the right city?

  4. Paul, I have in "down and out days" ridden the back of trash trucks through Labor Ready. At least I know, first hand, what I'm talking about.

    Now I would no more advise this as a "jobs" program than I would go before Council and request money to subsidize a buggywhip factory.

    If the company saves money, where do we, we the ratepayers, see the savings? We are not going to. In fact my collection and landfill bill just went up. As I read, and I do read the Agenda Packet, if we go to this, Republic will demand another increase to pay for the new trucks! Which in the long term will save them tons of money, but rather than recapture through amortization, Republic wants the money NOW! Because we are silly enough to give it to them.

    The "Pilot programs" have only worked because we cheated more than a little. If we give this to Republic, there will not be "follow up" trucks. If that 96 gallon can is not at curbside on the designated day; too bad. If the neighbors have parked too many cars along the curb and the truck can't get there; too bad.

    I guess we could ask our neighbors to park their cars on the lawn to stay out of the way, BUT, I forgot, that's illegal!

    Rather a conundrum don't you think? It would be different if this program were generating savings we the consumers would see. As it stands, we are shifting labor costs from the trash company to individual consumers who have to wheel these monsters about on the appropriate days. Handicapped, disabled, Hey your problem, maybe you got a helpful neighbor! Savings; Here's your trash fee increase.

    It had to take a PhD to come up with this. My Father always told me, don't be too impressed with titles. We all know what BS stands for. A PhD is the BS piled higher and deeper.

    I have actually read our contract with Republic. Have you?

  5. Come now. Ignore the nay sayers. San Angelo is one of the last Texas communities to convert to the automated trash pick up system.

    San Angelo is a small player on Republic’s books. The trash trucks presently in use in San Angelo are old an worn out. If a truck breaks down the local company people do not have a replacement truck to put into service.

    In San Angelo we need to move forward and ignore the same old nay sayers who always object to change.

  6. Buffalo, I am not opposed to progress. Usually progress makes for a better less expensive life for people; Mr. Edison's new-fangled bulb,(once Tesla came up with AC current) saved more whales and their oil than Greenpeace ever dreamed of long before there was a Greenpeace. Yep, your great maybe great-great grandpappy more than likely bought whale oil for the lanterns. It stunk less than kerosene, which the really po' folk used. Really.

    My problem here is the way the cost is being distributed, and we the shorn sheep are about to be shorn again, with Winter coming on!

    I still think the inconvenience factor is not to be ignored. That said, Trashaway saves money, the City saves money; When do we we the ratepayers save maybe a dime or two? Not in the immediate future of this contract as proposed. Yes, being a private Blog I can use the language, I am PISSED!

    I have info from folk I promised not to name, but we are being shucked and jived into an agreement that makes everybody happy except us, the ratepayers!

    Oh and welcome to the snakepit Manager Valenzuala. Boy howdy did you step into one. Wait until you meet say Animal Uncontroll Board or the Downtown Hysteric Committee. Look forward to meeting you personally. I give you this; I recall a campaign stop at JW Lown's second term. He opened his remarks with, "I've learned one thing; DON'T mess with San Angeloans trash cans". Take it for what it's worth.

  7. Barkeep I was not singling out anyone. I believe is time for us to embrace the new trash system. I have heard all of the objections before. Everything city council does costs tax payers more than it should. You and Mr. Turner have banged your heads against that wall for a long time.

    I am tired of replacing busted trash cans. Many times the cans are not completely emptied. The truck compacts the trash in the alley behind my house leaving garbage in the alleyway.

    Yea, I would not mind getting together for a beer. You have my email address.

    I have worked out of labor Ready several times during the past few months when business has been slow. Quit Rodeway Inn on July 4. Got to know Banskter quite well. He is not someone you want to support for city council.

  8. The question is if you two gentlemen are willing to join the rest of the San Angelo online community and accept our opinions on your web site and support our web sites. Some of us have decided to attend San Angelo City Council meetings and express our views. Our first attempts come across as armaturistic and crude but we will learn and become more effective.

  9. Comments are always fine and allowed if they stick to the rules. No personal attack. Try to be close to on topic. No name calling. Try to be honest, truthful, transparent and have some support for what you say. This blog is a private soap box after all.

    We support information and ideas. To the extent that other websites do that, we support them. We also support the right of free expression. That is not a blank check. We don't support a website just because it is local. We support informative, honest and civil websites. We support and applaud citizen involvement. We don't support name calling and unfounded innuendo. Facts and ideas, even those we don't like, are always welcome. Name calling and character assassination we have no use for.

    Hope that make things clear.

    1. I take that as you don't understand freedom of speech and association. I support websites that address issues and provide opinions and information without childish personal attacks. I support efforts to get involved and make the community better without stooping to name calling. I cherish the right to not associate my self or my online presences with whomever I chose.

      As I said before, being in or from San Angelo doesn't give anyone a blank check on my support or agreement. I even support people from New York City when they're right or at least civilized.

      I support whatever you do that furthers constructive dialog and local growth and improvement. I've told you that in person as well as electronically. I do not support bad behavior. Most of the San Angelo online community has my full and at times enthusiastic support. The part that behaves badly does not and never will. So my answer is YES, except for those that don't know how to behave.

  10. OK there is now a petition circulating in San Angelo requesting that city government ban plastic bags within the San Angelo city limits. All I have seen is an online petition. How can this petition be legitimate under current city charter and policies which require the person/persons presenting the petition be present and witness the petition being signed by legally registered voters?

    1. An online petition (or any petition that doesn't follow charter requirements) can't get an issue on the ballot or force the city council to pay attention. It would carry no legal weight. The danger is that 4 city council members might think that's a great idea and pass a plastic bag ban and use the bogus petition as political cover. We need to pay attention and hold their feet to the fire and their actions to the letter and spirit of the law.