Archive for Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sanitation leader retires before audit release

January 21, 2010

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The longtime leader of Lawrence’s city-run trash service has retired just two weeks before city commissioners are scheduled to receive a performance audit of his department.

City Manager David Corliss confirmed that Bob Yoos retired last week from his job as solid waste superintendent, but Corliss said the retirement was not related to any findings in a forthcoming performance audit of the city’s solid waste division.

“It was all very amicable,” Corliss said. “I did not want to lose him.”

Attempts to reach Yoos for comment were not successful.

Commissioners are scheduled to receive the solid waste audit at their meeting on Feb. 2. Corliss said the audit does contain suggestions for how the solid waste division could improve its operations and oversight.

In particular, the audit is expected to call for more oversight of an incentive program that allows members of the city’s trash crews to leave work prior to putting in eight hours as long as they have completed their assigned routes for the day.

“The auditor looked back at that information and found many are not working eight hours,” Corliss said. “We know that, but we need to more fully account for that time. We need to better keep track of what the gap is between the eight hours and their actual time.”

City Auditor Michael Eglinski declined to release the full audit Wednesday because he said he is waiting to receive a written response to the findings from Corliss — a standard procedure for city audits — before finalizing the document. Eglinski said the audit could be released by the end of this week in order to give the public time to review the document before it is presented to commissioners in February.

In addition to the worker pay issue, the audit is expected to review whether the city is accurately calculating its citywide recycling rate, and examine why the sanitation division has been operating at a deficit since 2005.

Comments

pace 5 years, 6 months ago

I hope that Corlis was just being polite. I found Yoos to be one of the poorest managers, no business sense and really no idea about mechanics. The city is well served losing him. bye. He had automatic overtime schedules built into the system and rewarded cronies with those shifts. He ignored city regulations and let some landlords, usually the same ones, have free pickups at expense to the rate payers that followed regulations.

pace 5 years, 6 months ago

Yoo's had no sense of design for any of the recycling programs. He flatly refused to follow commercial haulers suggestions to cut costs and ignored or combated suggestions by advisory boards. A real old time one of the boys.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

I would say take a hard look at how the city assumes the cost of move outs. There are plenty of those throughout any given month. That policy must have been made at the top meaning city commissioners. It's been going on for sometime. Landlords and tenants must love it. However it does promote waste.

The city population grew with huge multi family housing additions and grew in general. The policy was bound to begin eating away at the budget. The city sprawls add more cost to the service, requires more miles and more fuel. AND wayyyyyyy more trips to the dump.

This is why PAYT/Pay As You Throw becomes attractive. Bob Yoos was at the mercy of the city commissioners as are most department heads.

The workers schedule probably was a money saver and a incentive for willing to do a crummy job. They are worth every penny considering the many trash matters they are confronted with not to mention the weather.

The work schedule was likely approved by someone at the top. Department heads do not have free rein and are subject to micro mananging from commissioners.

The planning department is heavily micro managed by commissioners and the development industry.

Bring on Pay As You Throw in order to let the service pay for itself. AND set big time fines for dumping elsewhere.

Pay As You Throw and Curbside Recycling work together.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Audits probably should be done city wide for the sake of taxpayers.

justtired 5 years, 6 months ago

I would like everyone to think whether or not they would do the job that these workers do every day and especially during move outs. It would take more than an incentive for me to do this job. Does anyone understand that when it is really cold out that some workers have to report as early as 4am to make sure the trucks start, or that when doing move outs they have to put up with a lot of "crap" that none of us understand? Who do you think checks on the homeless that sleep in the alleys? or makes sure the handicapped person is able to get their trash cans emptied and then put away for them every week? Other cities charge for large items to be disposed of (couches, freezers, chairs, fridges), but the City of Lawrence does not. Let's see how many complain when they are charged for each big item as well as the trash service, and if you think it is such a bad thing for an incentive, walk behind a truck and throw trash in steel toed boots when it is -20 degrees or during move outs when it is over 100 degrees.

pace 5 years, 6 months ago

I think the workers might be blamed for administrations errors. I admire the front line people who work hard in hard conditions. I have seen many times the workers go beyond their duties to make Lawrence a better place.
I have found the workers on my route conscientious, polite and very hard workers.

Ken Miller 5 years, 6 months ago

All I know is that every Wednesday at 7 a.m. the truck rolls by and the guys pick up my trash - ALL of my trash, and if I am out there they are friendly. I've lived in six other places around the country and the trash service in Lawrence is by far the best I've ever seen.

Kip Patzel 5 years, 6 months ago

front line workers? what about all other workers for the city. weather is weather 100 degree summers doing road repairs or fixing water main breaks in -1 degree cold... where are these workers incentives?

Why do the trash guys have to start at 4 am why not move it up to 8 am and work a full 8 hours.............hummmmmmmmmmm incentives ya that sounds better.

I agree pay extra for large items, and for apartment complexes that do the move out dump off.

Don't point to the weather as an excuse for the sanitation job, IT is a JOB I know several people in this town or across the state who have no job who would gladly get on the trucks and put in a full 8 hours for the pay of A job and the benifits the city offers ( paid holidays insurance).................glad to see Yoo's gone Good bye Yo YO If there wasn't a deficit, then maybe there wouldn't have been an audit and maybe yo yo would still be driving his dirt city truck around in circles.

good day!

Kip Patzel 5 years, 6 months ago

pogo do you know the starting pay for all other departments at the city?( the same, but have to work a full 8) Injuries, crummy equipment??? Is this Lawrence KS Pogo hello, crummy equipment, have you been by the cities garage lately they have the most and newest trucks out there, have you seen the crap defenbaugh has to use?

Pogo are you a trash man or a spouse to one? I know if I worked for the city and could have a second job and get paid for both my wife would be thrilled too. good day!

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

Don't get too lost in this LEAK of info by the city. It's a tried and true tactic by city hall to steer you away from something else. I won't quibble about a few labor hours lost on trash routes. It's difficult to estimate time and trash loads and if it's a matter of an hour or so I don't have a problem with that.

I want to know the profit / loss on the city's commmercial operations , and I want to know the annual cost of operating weekly grass pickups for 9 months out of the year. In a city where folks are touting eco / green /sustainability / recycling / organic / bla bla bla , how can you justify the labor , equipment cost , fuel , depreciation and maintenance of equipment , and the cost of running the rotting / composting operation for grass that should just be mowed and not caught.

Show me the cost / revenue of the special pickup program.

Show me what programs / operation practices have put the department in a negative financial position while rates have been increased every year that I can remember.

Ask Corliss why he is leaking information on an as yet unfinished audit !

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

If you make the assumption that these crews are off two hours early every day it would amount to approx 400,000 dollars over the course of a year in lost labor . The solid waste department went into the 2010 budget year forecasting a 1 million dollar shortfall or nearly 10% over revenue for the year. There are obviously other problems in this operation.

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

The trash guys in this town are pretty awesome , they'll pick up anything ! The management of this town however is just not awesome !

justtired 5 years, 6 months ago

The grass pick-up is a federally funded program. The city does not pay the labor costs for this. Also, the city wants the trucks out of downtown before 7am so this does not impede the traffic or have people from other cities travelling through see the trucks. How many of you were off on Jan 18th? The sanitation department worked so that the service was not interrupted. I am sure that if you want to work with them for a day, that could be arranged. Look at the injury rate in the department because of the wear and tear on the human body, and then say that it is just a job! I understand that many would like that job, but as friendly as Lawrence is to the homeless and unemployed, why would they ruin a good thing!!!!!!!!!!!

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

Just tired , how much funding does the city receive for this ?

anon1958 5 years, 6 months ago

First of all, the men picking up the refuse from our homes do a consistently excellent job and myself and many others appreciate their hard work at a task most of us would not do.

If management assigns to them a route and allows them to leave if they finish the job early by hustling then kudos to the management and the men doing the job because:

  1. If the men work faster that means that the garbage trucks are spending less time idling and consuming gas.

  2. If the men work faster that means that the garbage trucks are spending less time idling and causing wear and tear on the engines and transmission.

  3. If the men work faster that means that the garbage trucks are spending less time idling and generating pollution.

  4. If the men work faster that means that the garbage trucks are spending less on the streets and reducing congestion.

  5. If the men work faster that means that the garbage trucks are spending less time on the street and finishing up before the late afternoon traffic surge.

6-100 I hope you get the picture.

Those of you complaining about the idea of the men hustling to finish early and those of you that think the so called lost hours of labor are an expense, frankly are a bunch of damn fools and idiots that cant see the bigger picture.

West_Sider 5 years, 6 months ago

justtired (Anonymous) says…

I would like everyone to think whether or not they would do the job that these workers do every day and especially during move outs. It would take more than an incentive for me to do this job. Does anyone understand that when it is really cold out that some workers have to report as early as 4am to make sure the trucks start, or that when doing move outs they have to put up with a lot of “crap” that none of us understand? Who do you think checks on the homeless that sleep in the alleys? or makes sure the handicapped person is able to get their trash cans emptied and then put away for them every week? Other cities charge for large items to be disposed of (couches, freezers, chairs, fridges), but the City of Lawrence does not. Let's see how many complain when they are charged for each big item as well as the trash service, and if you think it is such a bad thing for an incentive, walk behind a truck and throw trash in steel toed boots when it is -20 degrees or during move outs when it is over 100 degrees.

Who cares about how hot or cold it is on the job or how difficult move out days are? There are tons of private industry jobs that frankly suck (Have you ever watched the show Dirty Jobs?) but people are willing to do them, if the compensation is right. The question I have about city trash pickup and recycling is, "could Deffenbaugh or someone else do this job for less?"

Mike Myers 5 years, 6 months ago

Bob must have been doing something right. I've never had cause to complain about my trash removal. Never, not once in 20 years. Those guys are excellent, always on time and they even come and clean up the alley now and then. Good Work Bob. Thank you for many years of exemplary service to our community. I hope the sanitation workers and people of Lawrence are served equally well by your replacement. That person has a tough row to hoe. Happy Retirement!

Joe Hyde 5 years, 6 months ago

Audits exist for the purpose of reviewing ongoing practices, and they usually reveal areas within operations where improvement can be made. Audits are thus a very useful tool whether they are conducted on a private business or a government agency.

That said, I have nothing but admiration for the work done by the Lawrence Sanitation Dept. crews. What those guys do requires close coordination between driver and riders, careful attention to safety practices, physical strength and endurance, and mental toughness to deal with the sights and smells and adverse weather they encounter. Most people probably wouldn't think of trash haulers as being athletes, but that's how I see them.

werekoala 5 years, 6 months ago

Man do some people love to complain:

(On a beautiful clear day, 65 degrees) "Man, those lazy good for nothing city workers finished their routes early. They ain't working hard enough!!!"

(On a bitter cold snowing day with 0 degree windchill) "Man, it's already 4pm, where are the damn trashmen!"

Some people are only happy if they have something to complain about. A particularly small-minded example of this is the citizen who loves to cry and moan about how "his tax money" is getting wasted, then heads off to buy more plastic crap at Wally World.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

The question I have about city trash pickup and recycling is, “could Deffenbaugh or someone else do this job for less?”


Or do you mean are there people out there desperate enough for a job that Deffenbaugh could exploit them, save the city a small amount of money in exchange for sh*tty service, but make huge profits for the stockholders?

justtired 5 years, 6 months ago

cowboy--- I am sure that the bean counters could tell you the funding aspect for the grass collection. And West_Sider--I am sure the guys would hand you a pair of gloves and let you spend a day working with them. And for who cares about the workload during move outs----if the guys decided not to work those two weeks, then everyone would be in a fix.

Cindy Yulich 5 years, 6 months ago

Can't comment on all aspects of management but I do know that during the recent snow my son was stuck while trying to get out and get to work one morning at 6:30. Three city sanitation workers - and I believe Mr. Yoos was with them - assisted us and refused the tip I offered. They could not have been kinder or more supportive. "Attitude reflects leadership" so I'd say Mr. Yoos was doing something right.

Hop2It 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, there are a lot of nasty jobs...but I think this one is right up there. I have NEVER had trouble with my service AND the workers are friendly.
I don't think the audit states the early release policy is inappropriate, just that it needs to be better documented. It might turn out that some workers get very little "extra" time off (or not.)

Kip Patzel 5 years, 6 months ago

Hop2it "it might turn out some workers get very little extra time off" where are you to figure this , simply go by the sanitation dept at 11th and Haskell that front lot that is usually full in the am is EMPTY and ALL the route trucks are parked. why is there such wide spread exceptance of being paid to leave early, just becuase the nice hard working employees pick up the trash and are friendly. Yes this is good but they signed up and took a job that required them to collect the trash. Why then don't we just allow all the city employees to leave when they get their work done.....oh ya it isn't smelly work or not cold enough or there not friendly or is it becuase yo yo isn't their boss...........

come on folks......

I say sell all the trucks and go private... contract hauling is the answer then who cares what hours are worked, the trash is collected and hauled away at a set fee per household........

Mike Wagner 5 years, 6 months ago

I wonder how many city dept are as messed up as this one? Throwing trash is NOT a skilled job. they get paid way too dam much money/benifits to not even have to work the full day that they get paid to work! The bottom line is that our City, County, State and Federal Governments are raping us and we all just keep forking it over! When will it end? Where do we draw the line? How much of the money WE earn are we willing to hand over to people that can't and don't manage it properly?

justtired 5 years, 6 months ago

bigmike--spellcheck is awesome!! If you think the small amount you pay is bad--then look at how many people it takes to run the city. Especially since Corliss declined the city car, but yet still gets the money for mileage.

Tom McCune 5 years, 6 months ago

Trash crews in most cities get paid like your mechanic at the repair garage, on "book rates." If the route is an 8 hour route "per the book", but they complete it in 5 hours, they get paid for 8 hours. This is the way it works in every city where I have lived. It is actually in everybody's interest if they get the work done fast and are off the streets by 8 or 9am. I would much rather have that than for them to loaf around to stretch it out to 8 hours to get paid for 8 hours.

No. it's not high-skilled work. However, sanitation workers have some of the highest occupational injury rates of any job. You try lifting those bins all day and see how long your back holds out.

tufoak 5 years, 6 months ago

i'm pretty sure no one wants to pay $25 a month to have their trash picked up. that's for 2 cans or one poly cart ONLY, dallor a bag after that. cause that's what Deffenbaugh charges in kc. i hear enough people complain about the 12 bucks and some change. the fact is we put out our trush and it's picked up early in most parts of town and most times before noon. no matter how big or little it's gone.

tufoak 5 years, 6 months ago

i'm also pretty sure other departments in the city have the get off early program but we aren't complaining about that cause no one see's them at there house once a week.

vermont 5 years, 6 months ago

Great Job Sanitation workers, never had a problem here, you guys really do an amazing job! Out of everywhere I've lived, Lawrence's sanitation workers are by far the best!

Loretta Ybarra 5 years, 6 months ago

Working in Kansas City, I see the trash fly out of the back of Deffenbaugh trucks over the highways daily. Friends repeatedly talk about failed pick-ups and have to schedule special pick-ups for anything outside of their regular bags or bins. Then, the neighborhood association receives complaints about the trash sitting by the street when the special pick-up is never done. Appreciate what you have Lawrence and thank Bob for many years of wonderful service, and for putting up with the job.

donethatalready 5 years, 6 months ago

Partybarge I find it disturbing that you being a city employee in the same department bad mouthing fellow employees and on city time. Those guys do a bang up job one of which you wouldn't do.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 6 months ago

I think the sanitation department does a great job, I can't think of a time they missed my trash pick-up, and they have taken some things I crossed my fingers that they would take.

Can they make minor changes, like not replace some people leaving to add more time to the work day, sure. Let's not make a big deal about it, or A) union, and 2) private companies, that sound great, but with all the students, we might gag when we get those bids.

guavablues 5 years, 6 months ago

I have had nothing but positive experiences dealing with Bob and his staff. Thanks Bob!

Loretta James 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey cowboy

They work 4 or 5 hours a day so double that 400,000 thats a lot of waste

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