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Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Public opinion

City commissioners shouldn’t discount the concerns being voiced about a plan to alter trash collection service.

January 31, 2012

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City commissioners apparently don’t have any qualms about forcing a new trash removal and recycling plan down the throats of Lawrence residents. They seem to be committed to the plan proposed by the mayor and his task force regardless of the opposition voiced by many.

Perhaps if the opposition for the proposed plan came from some special neighborhood group in Lawrence or a group who thinks a building permit should be denied because a building casts a shadow on their coffee-drinking area commissioners would pay more attention and be more cautious in calling for a change in the city’s trash collection service.

Recycling and saving the environment is a hot, politically correct topic, but, at the same time, commissioners should be aware of the hardships and added expenses that would result from a trash collection change and apply some common sense to the issue.

It would be wrong to put every controversial issue that comes to the commission up to a public vote, but commissioners should be careful not to adopt a manner and attitude that they know best and members of the public really don’t understand or don’t have the intelligence to make the right judgment on major issues.

Comments

Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

If enacted; my proposal to the City of Lawrence and Douglas County would accomplish much of the goals these bodies have set out to achieve.

CPTF has developed the following climate mitigation goal for the city of Lawrence: An 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalence by 2050, using baseline data from 2005. The group has developed seven strategies to achieve this goal: 1. Provide dedicated staffing and adequate funding to support climate protection and sustainability initiatives. 2. Strengthen energy conservation policies and building standards. 3. Incorporate the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions into land use planning. 4. Develop transportation policies and programs to consume less energy and reduce emissions. 5. Establish outreach and education programs on emission reduction issues. 6. Expand source reduction and waste reduction programs and initiatives. 7. Exercise leadership by prioritizing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in municipal operations. Considering the current local and national economic conditions, we understand why residents may be reluctant to support additional city staffing for these initiatives. There are many departments within the city and outside agencies that are looking for additional funding, staffing and equipment resources to help provide critical services. Over the next few years, our city will be challenged to meet these demands without finding additional sources of revenue. We believe that using energy more efficiently will not only reduce carbon emissions; it will save money. Under the new 2009 stimulus infrastructure bill, Kansas could receive approximately $317 million for transportation and tens of millions for energy conservation and renewable energy. City staff is currently researching the program requirements for energy conservation block grants and identifying city projects that may be eligible for funding. Research, grant application and documentation take time, but the results of the research and the subsequent grant preparation may lead to critical funding that would help our city complete important energy-related projects and bring new dollars into our community. The dedicated staff position may pay for itself in energy-saving practices implemented in city operations, and is an integral part of coordinating environmental and sustainability efforts for Lawrence. This dedicated staff member could also help Lawrence apply for and win the federal and state grants that are available for communities like Lawrence, interested in energy conservation and emission reduction dollars. Lawrence can achieve successes too. Through the reduction of local GHG emissions, we can recognize local cost savings, attract environmentally friendly businesses to the area, and help Lawrence establish a leadership role in climate risk mitigation in Kansas.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

If enacted; my proposal to the City of Lawrence and Douglas County would accomplish much of the goals these bodies have set out to achieve.

CPTF has developed the following climate mitigation goal for the city of Lawrence: An 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalence by 2050, using baseline data from 2005. The group has developed seven strategies to achieve this goal: 1. Provide dedicated staffing and adequate funding to support climate protection and sustainability initiatives. 2. Strengthen energy conservation policies and building standards. 3. Incorporate the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions into land use planning. 4. Develop transportation policies and programs to consume less energy and reduce emissions. 5. Establish outreach and education programs on emission reduction issues. 6. Expand source reduction and waste reduction programs and initiatives. 7. Exercise leadership by prioritizing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in municipal operations. Considering the current local and national economic conditions, we understand why residents may be reluctant to support additional city staffing for these initiatives. There are many departments within the city and outside agencies that are looking for additional funding, staffing and equipment resources to help provide critical services. Over the next few years, our city will be challenged to meet these demands without finding additional sources of revenue. We believe that using energy more efficiently will not only reduce carbon emissions; it will save money. Under the new 2009 stimulus infrastructure bill, Kansas could receive approximately $317 million for transportation and tens of millions for energy conservation and renewable energy. City staff is currently researching the program requirements for energy conservation block grants and identifying city projects that may be eligible for funding. Research, grant application and documentation take time, but the results of the research and the subsequent grant preparation may lead to critical funding that would help our city complete important energy-related projects and bring new dollars into our community. The dedicated staff position may pay for itself in energy-saving practices implemented in city operations, and is an integral part of coordinating environmental and sustainability efforts for Lawrence. This dedicated staff member could also help Lawrence apply for and win the federal and state grants that are available for communities like Lawrence, interested in energy conservation and emission reduction dollars. Lawrence can achieve successes too. Through the reduction of local GHG emissions, we can recognize local cost savings, attract environmentally friendly businesses to the area, and help Lawrence establish a leadership role in climate risk mitigation in Kansas.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

Let's look back to 2006 and later. In March 2006, then Mayor Dennis “Boog” Highberger took an important step toward managing our impact on the environment and acknowledging our role in reducing our carbon footprint by signing the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on behalf of the city of Lawrence. Time and research have highlighted a significant connection to climate change and an impact on our community. A recent report by the Climate and Energy Project (developed in conjunction with Kansas University climatologist Johannes Feddema) indicates global warming will impact Kansas agriculture, water resources and our local ecosystem. These climate fluctuations may stunt economic growth, jeopardize tourism and manufacturing, and have adverse consequences for human health. Recognizing a need for action and in compliance with Highberger’s commitment, former Mayor Sue Hack coalesced CPTF in February 2008. The Task Force is chaired by the current mayor and comprised of diverse constituents from the Lawrence community, representing KU, Westar Energy, USD 497, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Haskell Indian Nations University and members of the real estate, building, engineering, environmental and corporate communities.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

Call it trash, call it garbage or call it whatever you want, but waste management will always be a very contentious issue for people to deal with as long as people see it in terms of it being a liability rather than an opportunity. My family was once in the bicycle business and had to regularly dispose of large corrugated boxes the new bikes came in. In those days the Lawrence Paper Company would pay a fee per pound for those boxes and they turned them into a product in the form of rolls of new paper. The fee wasn’t so much but the fact that we felt good about having a place to take those boxes helped us and we knew we were doing the right thing because we were recycling the resource with the help of the company. Lately I’ve worked to devise a means of converting ordinary household trash into a resource. I think the City of Lawrence could use the technology I’ve devised to convert the municipal waste streams into valuable products like heat, power, chemicals and liquid and gaseous biofuels by the process called thermochemical conversion. The City of Lawrence can continue to ignore my proposal, and continue to fight one another and continue to pay an increasingly high amount to manage trash or it can opt to start talking about how to turn this age old problem into a new enterprise. I now have over 5,000 documents that support my proposal to the City but they are not interested in solving the issues fairly. These are in the form of scientific papers, letters and news articles about all sorts of issues that could be solved if we had people running the city and county who had their heads on straight and time enough in their busy schedules to do the job they were elected to do in a more professional and proactive manner. I would be happy to forward more information to those who request it by email to LBlevins@sunflower.com.

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 2 months ago

OK, let's try to ignore two assumptions: 1) some developers should be allowed to ignore development codes; and 2) a majority of Lawrencians do not want curbside recycling.

Moderate has a good approach. Address the most pressing concerns first. The list below addresses current administrative concerns.

  1. Replace old equipment. - Rates should to be raised to purchase new equipment.
  2. Fair rates for volume of trash. Unsightly trash. - Require everyone to use the same size can. All trash should be in the cans. Charge by the can.
  3. Injuries. (I have not read any clarification of injuries)

Recycling is an entirely separate but important issue that should be addressed. Curbside recycling has been standard practice in other communities for years, but throwing the issue in with administrative concerns confuses the dialog.

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone know of someone who works at City Hall whose husband is a lawyer for Deffenbaugh? Seems that OEW heard something about that. Of course, with One Eye the lip movement may not have been clear :)

Are disposal diapers and Depends able to be recycled? If so, then the plan may work since Lawrence is going to become a retirement community.

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cowboy 2 years, 2 months ago

Jafs , your point is as ridiculous as the city's policy. Why fix a rate on a variable item. You could not get away with this in business. Our bills go up. each year by 5-8%. the city has priced most people out of watering a lawn by design. Most of Lawrence looks like a desert in mid summer.

Its worth about half of what they are charging.

Average sewer rates nationally are about 25% of water rates. Lawrences is equal to and often higher depending on your sample rate.

Our auditor raised concerns about siphoned off water revenue , have heard nothing since , auditor got quiet .

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lunacydetector 2 years, 2 months ago

mayor solar panel should keep his environmental religion to himself if he wants to get re-elected.

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hipper_than_hip 2 years, 2 months ago

Since when did the Commissioners care about what the people want? The Planning Commission, City Commission, and County Commission are all in the pocket of the developers.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 2 months ago

"commissioners would pay more attention and be more cautious " Huh?? Who said that!!!!

Lawrence City Commissioners have a long track record of foolishness, stupidity, idgnorance and downright incompetance. They are elected by a miniscule politically agended group of people who bother to vote in city elections.

So who is to blame for the lousey city givernment? Go look in the mirror, did you vote in the last city election? These "commissioners" are completely non-representative of the population at large because they are elected "at large" in a city government form that lends itself to anarchy. Do not expect anything much that is reasonable,, competant or workable from this group of idiologues. (That is the basis of the word "idiot")

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seriouscat 2 years, 2 months ago

The LJW proves on a regular basis that it deserves the derogatory "urinal world" nickname. It is a kindness to call this piece of writing an editorial: sarcastic irrelevant barbs which minimize the legitimate concerns of the people who opposed the building at 9th and New Hampshire...(didn't your teacher teach you that this is bullying behavior?) , zero fact- based informative content, dripping with sanctimonious indignation. This piece would fit in much better in the comments section with the rest of us riff-raff.

Absolutely pathetic LJW.

and I agree with the message!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Dolph clearly doesn't like Cromwell very much. I doubt that he could really care less about what happens on the trash issue, though.

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nativeson 2 years, 2 months ago

The decision to invest heavily in automation is wise, but I am concerned that the solid waste department has an unproven track record of cost management. Prior to the internal audit several years ago that revealed it had been operating at a signficant deficit, the department ran without much review for a number of years. It has done an outstanding job of creating a service that people value, but it has done a poor job of managing the department in a cost-effective manner. Remember that operators work on average about 5-6 hours per day, and they did not even keep track of these hours prior to the audit.

The department has improved its budget deficit, but it has done so by deferring maintenance and capital investment. I do not believe they have changed the structure of the department to truly be self-sustaining.

Now that the model is changing dramatically, can it manage a much different delivery system and not create a significant annual deficit? It is disappointing that the commission did not consider alternatives such as a vendor provider that has already made the capital investment in equipment. This decision is a big risk to the taxpayers of Lawrence. Once the investment is made, it will be very difficult to change course due to the amount of spending that will be put into the department.

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cowboy 2 years, 2 months ago

The current track will only increase already ridiculous water / trash costs.My water bill is as much as my electric bill. How about the city enacts a cost reduction goal of 5% each year , absorb the recycling cost thru efficiencies in collection costs. This is not a one way street. If taking less to landfills there should be savings Any automation should be on a trial basis and have to pass efficiency tests. Why are we trying to take over what private vendors are already doing ? Set a fair dynamic sewer charge , this sampling method is punitive. Set a cap on sewer charges in spring summer period. Why should you pay a charge on lawn / garden water. Stop funneling off water revenue to admin departments !

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cheeseburger 2 years, 2 months ago

Well said, Are you listening, Mayor Cramwell?

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