Friday, November 13, 2009


So, this past Tuesday, at the request of one of the city employees, I went to the DPW barn at the beginning of their morning shift. I was there when they were assigning trucks for the crew and accepted the invitation to ride with one of the teams.

With Paul driving packer 6, and accompanied by Andre and Charlie, we set out to collect trash in the uptown district. First, I will remind you that Tuesday was a nice crisp day and is also the lighter of the four collection days for the garbage crew.

After a few stops, I put on a reflective vest and joined the guys throwing trash. Walking fast along the packer, grabbing the bags and cans along the curb didn't require allot of experience to do well, but it does require common sense to keep from hurting yourself. I must say, the temptation to pull from both sides of the street is strong. The streets are narrow enough that the collection from both sides seems the natural method. But that's against the contract.

With the new rules in place as of Nov 1st, the trucks no-longer leave the barn at 5:30 or whenever they left, now they're lucky if they get out around 7:15 after the mandatory safety checks. Which aren't initiated until 7am. Go figure.

Now we approach the uptown district and there are already cars parked for the business district and people walking all over the place. So much for getting through this area without delays. Oh, did I mention we only pull from one side?

Every street we passed through had to be revisited to collect from the opposite side. So, not only did we walk the route twice, but we also spent that much more diesel and offer that much more risk of accident in a more crowded neighborhood. And get this...the mandatory break, we had to trek back to the barn on O'Reilly St to take that break.

So, drive back out to the Stockade, we resume where we left off. You know...walking the route twice in heavy traffic. We got quite a bit done before lunch break. We went to UCRRA before taking lunch; knowing we would be closer to the barn when we were done. 4.5 tons on the truck. Not a bad scoop for the morning.

After lunch we treked back to uptown to finish the route. (you know, walking the streets twice in heavy traffic using double the fuel) Now we really hustled through the residential portion of the Tuesday run, collecting enough to warrant another journey to UCRRA before the 2:30 cut-off time. Another 4.5 tons.

Getting off the scales before the end of the shift, Andre went off with another crew while Charlie and I tackled the leaf bag collection in Ward Seven. Zipping up and down the Stephan/Derrenbacher neighborhood streets was interesting. Even while pulling from just one side of the street circling around twice. Did I say circling the streets twice again? I'm sorry.

Anyway, we set out to dump the leaves at our designated site for the end of the day; couldn't leave em in the packer because the morning crew needs it for the Wednesday run on Thursday. (holiday)

Earlier that morning, while we were circling the Pearl/Washington Ave area, I noticed the 12 man crew scooping leaf piles on upper Pearl. Using large excavation equipment, a whole lot of fuel and man hours to collect the loose piles. Doesn't seem right to me.

Considering the amount that Charlie and I collected ourselves in bag form, I'd say we have issues in regards to leaf collection. I recommend the council address this once again in the 2010 session as I did in 2008. The loose leaf piles on the street should be a distant memory.

Those same 12 employees could be throwing bags at a faster pace and the neighbors wouldn't have to put up with the unwanted debris and unwarranted street closure during the process. Imagine having the loose leaf crew collect cardboard, trash and recyclables. I know; over the top wishful thinking.

Anyway, with the good exercise on the back of a packer being similar to a day at the construction site, I was of course willing to do more, but I had to go clean up and prepare for the Council meeting scheduled that evening.

The issue of "Stint" should be a topic of discussion for us Councilmen as we head into 2010. The practice was successful for 30+ years and implemented for good reason. I'd like the opportunity to address it before leaving the Council.

The only other Alderman who has experienced the job of refuse collection was Al Teetsel, and for me, it had been 7 years since my first time. As I was leaving the DPW barn, the repeated question from the employees was whether we could see Bob Senor and Me on the back of a packer for a day, and see if Bob could keep up with me. I think I impressed the guys with my stamina. Even if it was the lightest run on the lightest day of the week.


bd said...

Well done, my friend,,

THIS is why i supported you even tho we are on different Party lines -

A true man FOR the People -

proud to know you, Mike,

Tough work, right ?? The Unions will be the death of us all - twice the fuel, twice the labor & why ?? contarctual rules ?? FEH !!

Anonymous said...

Now you want us to buy bags for leaves from the city ,pay the city taxes ,buy bags for trash from the city,why dont we just hand over our pay checks every Friday to the comtroller and you give us whats left?

debbie said...

All the more reason for the plan to leave the leaves on the ground/lawn, mulch with a lawnmower and then you are done. Not to mention the benefits for the lawn in soil composition. I have been doing this for years due to the excellent results I have in the Spring, but also to my laziness!!! It is a win/ win for all. People need to get over the feeling that leaves on the lawn is unattractive when it fact we are just interfering with nature.I am not a raging environmentalist but a realist when it comes to convenience and saving money for all. Not to mention how great my flowerbeds look in Spring and Summer.
Just for the record, I never once thought riding a garbage truck was an easy task. Hard work for low pay. Nobody is getting rich riding a garbage truck in the DPW. As to the rules for garbage pickup(not covering both sides of the street during collection)couldn't that be an OSHA regulation and not necessarily a contractural rule? I imagine it all goes to a safety issue. Having workers dart in and out of traffic on busy streets collecting garbage seems dangerous to me.

Rebecca Martin said...

All for a new plan to get the leaf piles off the street, now that there is an initiative to encourage citizens to first manage their own by mulching through the 'Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!' campaign. Would be great to see the council embrace and educate the public on the reasons why. If more of us made the simple effort to mulch or compost - there would be a lot less to bag and pick-up.

Here is a link for those who are interested in mowing/mulching. Give it a try:

Anonymous said...

mulching leaves is a good idea,but,can everyone afford a good mulching mower,i think bagging them should be enforced,there was a big stink about the paper bags being used now they are being used more and more,as far as trash pick up goes i saw you on main st. between green and washington,a one way street,no cars are going to pass on that st.(to narrow)so therefore both sides could have been picked up.

Anonymous said...

That was the sign of a true alderman. You are a man that does his home work. I am glad you don't shoot off the hip like our Mayor, you did your home work. Now you want to tell the new man that the 5,000 dollar raise is going back to the taxpayers!Thank alot Mike

Rebecca Martin said...

5:29 - Actually, I use my lawn mower and it's an electric one. It takes a few passes, but I have had no problems. I remove any large pieces of yard waste, of course, before doing so. I have friends in Kingston who live on an acre or more of land and the amount of leaves they have trumps my pile. Still, they have also been successful in mowing their leaves - just takes a bit more time (but less then blowing them to the street or bagging them). Check out the link I posted above. Hope it helps.

debbie said...

5:29. I have a somewhat cheap lawnmower and by putting the blades on the lower level, I was able to achieve a good mulching result. It is a lawnmower with a lower horse engine power. A cheap Briggs and Stratton I bought used at a garage sale. It has a collection bag on the back and when I mulch I empty that on my flower beds. Otherwise, I take the bag off and let the lawn benefit.

Anonymous said...

How often do leaves find their way onto the neighbors property when raked to the curb? Almost every time. How about the amount that finds it's way into the storm drains like the picture in the article? Plenty.
For those of us who get flooded out by the heavy rains each fall, do we have the option of suing the neighbor with the trees who raked the leaves to the curb? Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely great work Mike. I hope you pass on what you learned to the "learned people" in city government.
Not sure I agree with you though on one thing:there's always going to be leaves in the street, yes, extra leaves that folks either couldn't get to or didn't get to. You really have to put it in the category of compliance levels with recycling--sure we'd all like to see something better but it's probably not realistic. I'd try to find another solution than just putting it all back on the property owner. A few ideas have been floated already and some creativity can likely find more.
The real challenge however remains next year's budget, because beyond lamenting leaves, we are going to be lamenting snow and ice before long.

Rebecca Martin said...

7:46 - I hear you. But I've got to add here - I must have looked a bit odd to those in the neighborhood as I raked the neighbors leaves that were left on the street onto my lawn and mulched them. I figured I might as well - because certainly, they'd end up in front of my house sooner or later. There's more too - that I hope to get to after the rain.

As for me, I don't mind a little extra yard work -- and I will happily take that stuff and reuse it in my yard. Some years ago, the mandatory leaf bagging law came up initiated by Mike Madsen and ultimately, tabled by him too - as the constituents of Ward 9 wondered if there was a better way to go then having the city pick them up (We were actually stunned that the matter was tabled. We just wished for a little more time to research the proposal when suddenly, it went away all together with the problem of leaves clogging storm drains still a big issue). That was my personal introduction to composting and mulching. Today, I'm glad to see the 'leave it on the lawn, kingston' initiative. I think it's a great way to encourage less leaves in bags and on the streets ultimately. Having that in place - my mind is made that if one is to leave the rest out for pick-up then they should bag them. It's a good idea to make that mandatory as an alternative to mulching some or all ourselves. I'm happy to see the city embrace mulching first. Check out the front page of the city of Kingston's website. There is a link to the brochure.

I commend Mike for getting out on the truck run. The more intimately one gets to know any aspect of the city's infrastructure the better one can be in a governing position. As one of his constituents, I can tell you that he is very concerned about garbage AND parking meters. Thanks, Mike - for at least the garbage part.

Anonymous said...

Well Mike, glad to see you went out on a packer run, good for you Mike! My hats off to ya! Now you see why stint work the old way is better for taxpayer than this dumb idea of the mayor's removing stint! Hopefully you can be an advocate to bring back stint.

Rebecca Martin said...

By the way, enough of this anonymous bullshit. Switch to wordpress already. Aren't you tired of not knowing who is behind the posts? I sure am. On wordpress, a poster will have to stand behind their words. Come on Kingston Citizens. Courage people.

Anonymous said...

Great work Mike. The only reason your idea with the leaf bags wont work? The trucks are picking up garbage well into the afternoon and are not available. BRING BACK STINT. Its benefits the taxpayer more than the worker

Anonymous said...

The braintrusts behind this plan of no stint should get out and do it.

Ed Sweeney can drive the truck, Mike Schupp and Bob Senor can hop on the back. I bet they could not pick up the same run in 10 hours.

Anonymous said...


Shouldn't the guys still do safety checks on their trucks if stint work is in effect?

I wouldn't buy into the b.s from the workers. Make them stay the full 8 hours or contract it out to a company who's employees are happy to be employed.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you walking a mile in the workers shoes. More politicians should do that before criticizing the workforce. Same with the public. Ask Mike Schupp to drive you around following the garbage trucks to see if they are really slowing down.

Schupps been on the job less than 4 months and has done nothing but bring the moral down to an all time low.

Lets see during the budget hearings what services he plans to cut. Will the Mayor tell him to get on the back of a truck and do the work himself, like he just did Gilfeather. Kevin sticks up for his workers and all Schupp can do is criticize his.

Anonymous said...

hey mike

good to see you out there but when u picked the trash on pearl st when you seen the leaf crew u were like 3 stops infromt of the truck and there was only 6 guys working not 12 its not a 12 man crew all u had to do was ask someone not assume

Anonymous said...

8:20am Contract it out and pay double. Nobody can do it for cheaper or it would have been done years ago. Mike is right. Its been going on for ever and never was a problem.

It still takes the same amount of time only the men are taking break and lunch. They are also starting on time, not 30 minutes early.


Do a day on it 8:20 you'll be throwing up before 9am.

Anonymous said...

Mike, it takes alot of guts to get on the back of a truck in traffic all day and pick up aprox. 9 lbs. of trash. Mike Schupp does not have the guts like you to do it, he truly has done more harm than good the past couple of months. None of the men like or trust him. He is not respected because he doesnt give respect and clearly he is Sottile's boy, and that ain't good in the workers eyes. Schuppy the mayor's puppy, that is what the boys at DPW call thier, ahem... boss. LOL

Anonymous said...

Your mayor's comments in the Freeman today,(Sunday)were dispicable. His arrogance and disrespect toward Gilfeather and the Rec.Dept. was very disturbing.

I need to remind the mayor that there is not much left in this city. The Rec. Dept. is one of the very few things of any good.

I am sure that the comments of this mayor will guarantee the end for him. Please step aside and resign.

Anonymous said...

Since when does everone need to go back to the barn for a break and lunch?
They dont need to do that shit when they are all hanging in the market basket?
Thats a work slow down!!! Fire thier asses
Take your lunch and snack like everyone else in the world and eat when its time, where you sit!
Mike you didnt scream about this abuse of time?
Done give me the clean up time BS either, because thats only enforced when it benefits the workers
DPW is full of corruption and the workers do their best to do as little as possible, its been going on for years and it has to stop!
Dotn take this the wrong way, but if you could do the trash pick up and your stamina was ok, dont you think there is any unemployed people around here that could handle working a serious 8 hour day, being productive and not having to waste time driving to the barn to eat?
Fire all thier asses if they dont want to perform and tell the CSEA to kiss the public's ass
If thats they type of employees they are creating, we dont need them either
Have some pride DPW guys, you have the easiest BS job in the world, adn when you are asked to perform alittle better, you cry like bitches?
Go and find a real job and see who lets you go back to the bard to wash and eat, and lets you go home early because you did your job like you are supposed to
You will all end up unemployed for laziness and stupiditiy
Fire them all JIM, this is the only thing I have ever agreed with the mayor on!

Joe Bubel said...

Good job Mike! I just can't understand the anger people express, over stint work. As one of my last comments on the freeman, these guys doing 8 hours work in 6, pound for pound (or tons) is no skin off anyone's back, except those behind desks in city hall. I really believe, 99% of comments opposed to stint work, are comming from these desk jockies. Disclosure, I am a desk jocky, just not a public employee.

Anonymous said...

11:11 Put your boots and get your ass behind the truck like Mike. Then talk the talk. You sound like the Mayor. Can't run a city, can't do anything. Fire his ass. He's the problem. CSEA kicks his ass everyday and he can't do a damn thing about it.

Anonymous said...

11:11. As a woman, I take offense at your comment "cry like bitches" Could have used better language to get your point across. Us women can be quite resilient. In some cases more than men!

Anonymous said...

No offense meant I so apologize, its a term that I should have avoided.
Mike, post my last retort too

debbie said...

7:22 I would like to see that $5000 go to save somebody's job. As a taxpayer here in the city,I am opposed to massive layoffs. We will eventually feel the pinch of the layoffs even if we are not the laid off individuals. If the unemployed cannot pay their taxes or mortgages we all suffer from lack of revenue going into the city's coffers either by even higher taxes to cover the loss of revenue (taxbase)or thru social services expenses. The real culprit we need to address our anger at is the State of NY via the assembly or senate. They are the ones who have imposed mandates on us and have left the hands tied in municipalities across the state. It is so easy to go after your local representatives (the city council) and yes, they have made mistakes of which we are now paying for. We need to be vocal to our higher representatives. I think it would be great if all council members thru out NYS cities and muncipalities organize a march on Albany. I am sure they could get local citizens to participate. It is time for New York State to see the wrath and desperation of taxpayers. An example was the petition process of an upstate city clerk who opposed the fees for new license plates and the NYS government is backing down on it. We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Martin I do not agree with your fervent protestations concerning anonymous postings.
The Freeman railed against this and what happened? Comments dried up;both elected officials and peons alike crawled back into their little cubby holes;the small town mentalities of the small town egos took a vacation and dialogue stopped. If stopping dialogue is what you want, you will get it again by insisting on such a thing.
In fact, had we had such a thing, this Mayor would not have posted his rants on this board toward me, which have revealed some very interesting things about him to me--and perhaps to others. I think that says it all, because you see--in a small town, what goes on between people's ears is often more important than what's reported in the newspaper, and that's just a fact. Anonymous postings allow those with big egos to hide behind the allure of thinking themselves anonymous--just like our Mayor on here!!
Happy holidays to all!!

Anonymous said...

Why are they laying off laborers and not any supervisors, with less workers would'nt it make sense that you will not need as many supervisors This is one of the problems that are happening in the Fire Department.