This Stinks!! – QNS.com

This Stinks!!

In two words, Public Advocate Betsy summed up how the City Council, and many New Yorkers, feel about the mayors proposed cuts to sanitation pick-ups during a rally on the steps of City Hall this past Monday, May 19.
"It stinks," she said, to raucous applause.
Councilman Michael McMahon, chairman of the committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, organized the late-morning rally, and he was joined by a dozen of his colleagues and a number of sanitation workers, who recently lost their jobs under the Bloomberg administrations cost-cutting plans.
Those plans also call for a reduction in garbage pick-ups to one day a week in most parts of the city except Manhattan at the beginning of the new fiscal year, on July 1. During Mondays rally, several councilmembers promised to block the mayors proposals.
"Having reliable, timely garbage pick-ups is not a luxury, its a necessity," McMahon said. "We in the outer boroughs will not accept this cut."
He disputed the Bloomberg administrations claim that the reductions would save the cash-strapped city $11 million, arguing that fewer garbage pick-ups, when coupled with last weeks lay-off of more than 500 sanitation workers, would lead to soaring overtime costs as the Department of Sanitation pays its remaining workers more to pick up the slack.
Between now and the July service reduction, overtime costs could reach $5 million nearly half of the projected savings in the mayors plan, according to McMahon.
Once the reductions go ahead, overtime costs would remain high, since workers would still have to pick up the 11,000 tons of garbage created by New Yorkers each day during longer, less frequent shifts.
Pick-ups could remain at two days a week, McMahon and other councilmembers argue, if the Sanitation Department adjusts the $50 million set aside in next years budget for overtime expenses and rescinds the recent lay-offs.
If the cuts go ahead, they would place added strains on the workforce, said Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmens Association.
"Their morale is shot," he said, claiming that longer shifts will intensify already back-breaking labor. He also railed against the lay-offs.
A spokesperson for the Department of Sanitation could not be reached for comment on the City Council plan at press time.
After the rally, Middle Village resident Ed Donohue spoke of how losing his job with the Sanitation Department was threatening his familys financial stability.
"Everybodys pretty upset," said the 45-year-old, who has two young children. He left his job as a truck driver to join the sanitation workforce a year and half ago, tempted by the departments job security and benefits.
"I might go back to driving a truck," Donohue said, "but theres not much work out there. A lot of people are getting laid off."
Most of the councilmembers present at the rally focused on the threats to quality of life issues posed by the reduction in garbage pick-ups, a concern echoed throughout their respective constituencies.
"Our taxpayers, if they get nothing else, deserve safe, clean streets," Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said.
David Weprin, a Queens councilman and a member of the Sanitation Committee, pointed out that there are many high-density population areas in the borough, making frequent garbage pick-ups more urgent.
"Were not just a borough of single-family homes," he said. "We have co-ops and apartment buildings, and they dont have places to store their garbage.
"We have the same problems as Manhattan in Queens, and in some cases, theyre worse."
In an interview last week, Marilyn Bitterman of Community Board 7 noted the presence of a number of high-rise buildings in downtown Flushing, along Queens Boulevard and elsewhere, and she expressed fears that less frequent garbage pick-ups could encourage illegal dumping.
Growing mounds of exposed garbage will inevitably lead to a rodent problem, Councilman Lew Fidler of Brooklyn said during the rally.
"I smell a rat, and Im afraid that if this cut goes through, were going to smell a lot of rats."
During the Giuliani administration, the city launched an anti-rodent task force, and pest control complaints were cut nearly in half.
Many of the mechanisms for pest control are still in place, according to Andrew Tucker, a spokesman for the Department of Health, but, with cuts to sanitation looming, average New Yorkers can do more to prevent a new outbreak of rodents.
"It means keeping your garbage in a receptacle with a tight-fitting lid," he said. All complaints of rodent problems, he continued, should be directed to 311, the citys new information line.
In the meantime, those councilmembers present at Mondays rally hope to keep such a problem from rearing its ugly head in the first place.
"Were not going to let garbage pile up on our streets," Councilman Fidler said.

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