Sunday, April 27, 2008

Recycling Plans Set Back

In a surprise move, Mayor David Bower has dismissed the Raytown Recycling Task Force Committee. Members of the Committee, who recently completed successful negotiations to relocate Raytown’s recycling center, were shocked by the announcement. Time is Our Enemy . . . On September 12, 2007 Mayor Bower officially appointed the Recycling Task Force Committee with goals of finding a new home for the city’s recycling center and developing a comprehensive plan for recycling in Raytown. The Committee has accomplished the first goal and was prepared to move forward with discussions of the more complicated goal of developing a plan for curbside recycling. The first hurdle, or, as one member of the Board of Aldermen phrased, the first “baby step”, in reaching the goal of curbside recycling was next on the Committee’s agenda. The State of Missouri requires a two-year waiting period from the time it is officially announced that the city is considering recycling before any program can be put in place. The notification takes the form of a resolution* voted on and approved by the Board of Aldermen in public session to officially start the clock running on the two-year process. The resolution is non-binding. It merely means that the City may consider a curbside recycling program after a two-year wait. It does not mean the city will take the curbside route – only that it can legally do so after the two-year waiting period. Time is the enemy. Without the two-year waiting period any relevant discussion of curbside recycling is impossible. Mayor Bower has been made aware of that requirement. Members of the Committee have given their assurance that once the clock is started, that city staff will not be used in any discussions of recycling until he deems it necessary. Some committee members have suggested that the Committee take a sabbatical from the issue once the two-year clock has been started. The two-year waiting period does not require the question of recycling be addressed immediately in two years. But it is not possible to move forward until that requirement is reached. As Mayor, David Bower has the authority to appoint and (for lack of a better term) un-appoint committees as he sees fit. No one is contesting that. By pulling the plug on the goals he himself set – especially the one event (two year notification) required to continue worthwhile discussion on the matter – does not make sense. It is contrary to the goals set forth in the Mayor’s September 12th memo. The Recycling Committee is meeting Monday evening to see what course to take in the wake of the mayor’s announcement. The Mayor has an opportunity to right the course of the issue. It is hoped a compromise can be reached by which the resolution will be allowed to proceed followed by a waiting period before any further action is taken by the Committee. * The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) had provided the Recycling Committee with the Resolution language. The Committee forwarded the language to the City Attorney's office. CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS: SUNDAY, April 20, 2008: Bower sends a memo to Committee members Greg Walters and Pat Ertz informing them that it appears the Recycling Committee has completed its goals and objectives and that this might be the time to thank the committee members for their efforts. Bower continues that staff time was needed to focus on economic development and that the continued efforts in waste management could be restarted at a later date. MONDAY, April 21, 2008: The Chairman of the Committee, Alderman Greg Walters, shares the information in Bower’s memo with members of the Committee. He invites the Mayor to the Committee’s next meeting (scheduled for Monday, April 28th). He explains that the Committee’s plans are not set in concrete and that valuable city staff time will not be tapped for future plans. TUESDAY, April 22, 2008 (Earth Day): Bower releases a letter to Raytown Recycling Committee members thanking them for their service. He expresses hope that they will volunteer again.

33 comments:

Andy Whiteman said...

This announcement is completely mind boggling to me. The choice of location for the new recycling center was a poor choice, but at least there is a location for the recycling center.

I don't understand how the committee's work can be finished since Raytown has not started the steps to start curbside recycling (which I feel is not important but VERY IMPORTANT.

The goal of recycling should be that recycling is available to ALL people of Raytown! Now it is available only to those who are able to take the recyclable materials to the recycling center.

I would like to hear Mayor Bower's response to this.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I do not understand this either, unless the mayor interprets that since the new location for the recycling center has been choosen that it signifies the end of the recycling commitee's duties. Sorry, but the duties of the recycling committee are ongoing and do not stop with Earth Day. Yes, there are other things that need the attention of our cities leadership, but I have to ask someone the question 'Can't you do any multi tasking at city hall or must things always be on a single issue level because it is way too difficult to do more than one thing at one time?'

If this is indeed the case, then I really do see what is and has been wrong with how our local government and school board's both operate. Pitiful!

Mark Siettmann said...

As a member of the Recycling Committee I too hoped to move forward after our success with the community recycling center. We had much yet to do. Unlike Greg, I am optimistic we can still do it.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that we were already putting too much work on a staff that needs to focus on other projects right now. Even just the work needed to move forward on the two-year notice would have been problematic. I know Greg disagrees, but I trust our Mayor and staff to understand their limitations. I would rather them share those than get burdened down and burned out with too much on their plates.

I also need to clarify a few things. The two-year notice is only needed if we introduce (or change) contractual relationships. The notice has nothing to do with recycling, specifically, but with any contract. In fact, we could mandate the concept that any vendors operating in Raytown add a recycling option in a simple ordinance tomorrow. Time is not as much of an enemy as Greg will have you think. That said, I am still for passing the notice as soon as possible and will urge my aldermen to come back to us when staff time is more free.

I also want to clarify that “recycling” is far from defined by the committee, the city or the Board. There are about ten different options we could pursue. There is considerable research to be done. Raytown has not a single ordinance on the books regulating solid waste in general, much less recycling. We could build the case for suggesting some. We could present the staff, Mayor and Board with options, when the time is right. All that will take months, which will give staff time to concentrate on development.

What Mayor Bower’s decision says to me is that we can not rely on city staff to do that legwork. We do, however, have the capability to do it ourselves. Ours would not be the first citizen committee to have a positive impact in Raytown. I hope that is the direction we choose.

Greg Walters said...

Mr. Mark Siettmann paints with a very broad brush when he shares his views on recycling. His intent of clarifying the issue only serves to muddy the waters.

Please allow me to explain.

He mentions that there are “about ten different options we cold pursue”, yet he only enumerates one. And that option, requiring trash haulers to offer recycling to operate in Raytown sounds like a solution. But in reality, the extra cost homeowners will pay for the service turns it into a loser. Since it would be a voluntary program, the cost of even more vehicles roaming our streets will only contribute to even more waste of fuel and manpower.

With gasoline inching its way up to the $4.00 per gallon mark, it is an issue

The Recycling Committee is on the right track in pursuing passage of a two year notification, as required by state law, before any viable program can be initiated.

The language of the resolution, which starts the clock running on the two year waiting period, was given to the Committee by Ms. Nadja Karpilow of the Mid America Regional Council (MARC). MARC coordinates and helps oversee solid waste programs in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

As Ms. Karpilow told the Committee (and I believe Mark was a this particular meeting), the notification process is a simple matter of passing a resolution. She referred to it as the first “baby step” in considering recycling.

The resolution is written. It does not require staff time or study. But it is necessary if we ever want to make the ultimate decision on whether or not we have effective curbside recycling.

The situation is best compared to a runner jumping hurdles. To participate in the race the runner must clear the first hurdle. The resolution is the first hurdle. We cannot run around it. We cannot ignore it. We must clear it.

I am optimistic for the future of recycling in Raytown. But we must also be realistic. The state law is very clear in this matter. Without passage of the resolution, the question of true curbside recycling cannot be legally addressed by the Board of Aldermen.

An attempt at a compromise has been laid on the table. The resolution can be considered and (hopefully) approved by the Board of Aldermen. By doing so, the two year clock will be started. Discussion and work on the issue itself can be set aside until the Mayor deems the time appropriate to do so.

We will have at least cleared the first hurdle.

Pat Casady said...

According to the Post an article written by Ben Felder, which stated the law
"Requires a city to give a two year notice to their current waste haulers if they
plan on discontinuing service. If Raytown wanted to participate in curbside recycling
then it would to hire one hauler for the entire city, instead of letting each resident hire
their own. If the city forces its residents to discontinue their independent trash
service it will mean a two year notice by the city that it is moving towards a single
contract."
Now, I'm all for recycling. Curbside recycling too but if it means we have to tell
our current haulers they are no longer welcome here I have a problem with
that. Or can we keep our service if we choose to?
Then there is the question of how much this will cost each property owner?
This isn't free and the city can't afford to absorb to cost. It has to be passed
on to us.
I guess what I'm saying or asking here why disband the recycling committee
when there are some unanswered questions?
I respect Mayor Bower and have great faith in him and I'm sure there is another
side to this.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those citizens that get so tired of hearing how overworked city employees are. In all the years that I have lived here they just keep repeating it. I just don't believe that they are so overworked that we can't multi-task a little. Our city is NOT growing so how can we have soooo much more work to do than say we did 20 years ago? And I'm sure we have more employees than we had 20 years ago. DON'T BUY THE EXCUSES. Let's keep the recycling committee and move this town forward.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to inform you Anon 8:33, but the City has way less employees now than they did 20 years ago. And of course 20 years ago the infrastructure was, well 20 years newer. Of course it was ignored then, and staff were cut in dire times, so now there is less people and older infrastructure. So DON'T BUY THE MISCONCEPTIONS, they work hard for us, and they should be treated as such.

Mark Siettmann said...

Pat's comments reflect exactly what I was trying to say about the many options available to us. Mandatory or voluntary? Current haulers or new contracts? Single hauler or multiple zones? Yard waste? Hazardous materials? Who bills? Who manages it? None of these or many other options are set, they have not even been discussed in any detail. And I know there are serious objections on the Board and in the community to some of them. To sort it all out will take time and compromise.

As to Greg's comment that there is an ordinance written, that is true. I have read it. It was written for another city, of course, and has a significant amount of language that does not apply to us. It would need to be re-written. That would take staff time.

As to the staff time comment, as a committee we were using as much as 30-40 hours per week of city staff time. That is too much by almost any standard when there are critical development issues on the table. I don't see anything wrong with the Mayor and staff asking for a respite while they focus on that issue.

In the meantime, the committee can do some research on all the options laid out above. In fact the Mayor is encouraging us to do so.

Anonymous said...

Easiest solution is for everyone to take her or his cans, plastic bottles, newspapers and drop them off at the front door of City Hall. Now that would be curbside recycling that would get officials attention

Anonymous said...

Easiest solution is for everyone to take her or his cans, plastic bottles, newspapers and drop them off at the front door of City Hall. Now that would be curbside recycling that would get officials attention

Anonymous said...

Or better yet at the mayor and board of aldermen's homes. If the can't provide us with a solution then give it too them to recycle. Would that be curbside recycling or not?

Andy Whiteman said...

What Anonymous 10:08 and 10:18 are suggesting is technically littering or dumping and those doing so could be cited. I suspect that city hall has video surveilance so their will be a video of you and your vehicle as evidence in court.

I support recycling but until the city has curbside recycling, I will set mine out with the trash. I don't have the ability to haul it to the recycling center during day hours especially since I get 11 miles per gallon.

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

Several things if I may.
First, the city hourly employees are hard working people and are in
most cases understaffed certainly underpaid.
Second, It is ridiculous to even suggest dumping refuse at City Hall or
anywhere else. We still have trash service the city isn't stopping that.
Third, Priorities! Raytown needs our city leaders to turn this town around.
They have a large job to do. It isn't going to be easy considering
what they have already done to this town.
The next five to ten years is going to tell the tale if Raytown can survive the
tax give away's and the losing of so many businesses.

Anonymous said...

Pat and Andy It's called "civil disobedience."

Greg Walters said...

Mark,

30 to 40 hours of staff time a week! We haven't met to discuss curbside recycling yet.

The fine details that you and Pat are speaking of are those items to be thrashed out during the two year waiting period.

No one has a complaint about a respite. In fact, I suggested to you last week that perhaps the committee should take a sabbatical until things are calmed down.

The downside is that this time of rest or whatever you want to call it would be well used to simply run down the two year state required waiting period before serious curbside recycling can be started.

You know that -- so why are you trying to frame that all of this is supposed to be worked out before we even meet on the matter.

The resolution (not an ordinance) that was used in Raymore is a standard resolution form used by communities throughout Missouri.

It is non-binding.

It's sole purpose is to open the door to the same discusson that you and Pat are conducting on this page.

You are stating a lot of supposition as if it were fact -- not the case, and you know better.

Anonymous said...

Oh h e double hockey sticks.... there it goes!

Pat Casady said...

Greg,
A person would have to had been in a coma to not know how important
recycling is to you and many of us. I was merely trying to say that there are
other items on this towns agenda or that should be on this towns agenda that effect the very existence of this town.
I am not, nor have I ever been against recycling.
This town has a hard sell to get new businesses to come in after the
Wal-Mart deal and the unwritten codes and hard to please enforcers.
I'd like to know why so many businesses have closed or moved to
other towns. More importantly I'd like to know why our elected officials aren't asking the same questions or doing something about it.
Not to mention all the houses for sale.

This town is becoming a ghost town and I believe it started about twenty some years ago. Does anybody remember what came to town around then?
That's right Wal-Mart.
Recycling is a great idea. It is important to many as well as the environment.
But you have to have a town with enough population
and business to make it work.

I may be out of line with the ghost town thing but I'm not the only person that thinks this way. Something needs to be done in this direction as well.

Anonymous said...

Pat, As usual you are right on. According to the state of Missouri we are one of the few, if not the only city of our size, in the metropolitan area that is loosing population. People are moving out at an alarming rate. Why?? Because we are seeing our taxes being raised, but we are not getting the better city and school district services for our money. It goes back to the incompetent elected officials that we have in both of these governing boards.

Andy Whiteman said...

Bob Of the Post , in his editorial, that 5% of the homes in Raytown are FOR SALE. My Realtor told me a few years ago that the average home in Raytown took 6 months to sell. I have seen many on the market longer than that recently. Does anyone wonder why? Yes there is the subprime mortgage problem, but I have noticed this started before it bacame a scandal. I suspect it is something about Raytown that is causing people to move away or not move here.

If Raytown attracted more businesses, maybe homes would sell because people want to live near work. (At least I do.)

As I previously stated (I don't remember if it was here or at the BOA) Raytown needs to get its priorities in order and FOCUS. What is most important? The survival of Raytown or several minor projects? I am not saying that recycling is not important, but maybe the focus needs to be on other issues such as the 350 project, attracting business, etc. Actually maybe the ordinances need to be rewritten to make Raytown more friendly to new businesses and existing businesses.

I agree with Greg that the letter of intent should get underway ASAP so that Raytown can focus on curbside recycling when resources are available. I am being led to believe that Nancy doesn't have time to divert from other issues to handle the letter of intent. Does anyone know what is involved? Does the State of Misery have a prepared form that can be used rather than Nancy having to draft a document?

I would like to see curbside recycling, but at this time, it is not the most important issue facing Raytown.


Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To those who believe government employees (any governmental level) are over worked and under paid I would say who isn't? I would take over worked and under paid any day over unemployed.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 4:19,
You are right in stating "who isn't over worked and underpaid" and
true enough people should be happy they have a job to be overworked
at. I was merely responding to Anonymous 8:33, could have been you
I don't know.
However I have known several of Raytown's city hourly employees and believe
me administrators and managers receive raises, in some cases large raises,
while hourly people, the people that actually are out working in the streets and
on the equipment receive a small percent of a raise.
Not much of a incentive to push themselves to do the job, but they do. Day in and day out.

Andy Whiteman said...

I totally agree with Pat. The real workers need a living wage. Recently I saw a help wanted ad by the City of Raytown listing pay of $8/hour for a job requiring physical labor. That is not a living wage! Whay anyone would apply for that job is beyond me.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Pat, have to disagree with you on that one. I have been an employee for about 10 years and that is just not accurate. Now maybe the hourly people you know didn't rate so well and recieved a smaller merit raise then their supervisor that may have recieved a better review and a higher percent merit raise. But I have never seen where management got raises and hourly employees didn't. And if you will check the records, I beleive your personal anti-christ (Wenson) went several years refusing a raise from the counsel even though they wanted to give him one.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 10:30 PM,
I know you are right about Wenson, he did turn down a couple of increases.
However I know some of you think I hate Curt Wenson .i.e. "my personal
anti-Christ," but that assumption would be wrong. As a person Curt was OK and we got along pretty well.
My problem with him was as City Administrator. I think he wanted to make his vision work but he went about it in the wrong way. He told us things that
weren't true and the behind closed door dealings along with him telling the
council not to talk to the downtown business owners turned me and others
against him. Was I sorry to see him go? Hell no!

Having said that, when he did get an increase, and I haven't looked this up,
I believe it was an increase of over twenty thousand a year probably more,
and by the time he left he was making over ninety thousand a year, for what? He cost Raytown taxpayers a small fortune.

I know for a fact that there have been times hourly city employees only received
a small raise. Never anything even close to a thirty percent increase like he or some top city managers. Even the city lawyer received a fifteen thousand
dollar a year raise, and before you tell me it was in her contract, I knew this.
I'm not against anybody making good money........if they deserve it.
But again hourly employees never see this kind of percentage increase.
I know sometimes life isn't fair and if people don't like what they make they
are free to try new things.
My personal feelings are that most hourly employees do and have done more for the people of Raytown than most high paid administrators, managers and
certainly elected officials and they deserve better for doing so.
That's all. It's just my opinion which as you know doesn't mean all that much.

Andy Whiteman said...

Watching late night TV (I believe it was NightLine), said in the past CEOs were paid 40 times that of an ordinary worker. Now their pay is 400 times of a worker. These management people don't deserve that much! I remember when AT&T fired a CEO and he got a big severence package. When they fired me for disability, I got not benefits at all.

The pay of city management needs to come into line with that of the workers. The city cannot afford excessive salaries of CAs and Department Heads, etc. Tie-wearing chair warmers are not worth what they are being paid for warming chairs. I am in favor of bring the working peoples wages up to at least a LIVING WAGE. They are the real ones doing the work.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

Andy,
This is going to sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth but here goes.
A good city administrator, economic director, community development director and finance director would be worth their weight in pay.
IF they did their jobs and the city grew. Instead the opposite has happened and the Raytown taxpayers have paid through the nose for incompetence.
Both by spending mistakes, giveaways and by paying high salaries with bad results.
The sad thing is our elected officials, the people chosen to represent the citizens and watch how taxpayer dollars are spent, haven't done much better.
Their number one priority should have been the people of Raytown.
Not Wal-Mart, and certainly not developers and should watch out for taxpayer dollars and how they are spent.
I have never understood why the ward representatives have never come around to ask how people felt about something that was going to effect their very well
being. Or get the people's view on something. They choose to think they know what's better for us than we do. They forget they were one of us before they
won a popularity contest and became all knowing and better than the rest of us.
That last part was a shot at humor. They didn't become smarter, they simply have an important elected position and in most cases that's as far as they
know how to take it.
This is why a good, honest, city administrator is so important. As we have seen in the past most of our elected officials are followers and will OK just
about anything an administrator suggests because it's easier than thinking for themselves or asking questions like why?

Anonymous said...

Let's put this recycling GARBAGE on the back burner where it belongs and start dealing with the REAL problems we face as a city. Way too much time and energy is going towards this "feel good”, “fuzzy feelings" farce. Believe it or not most people really don't give a fat rat’s rear end about recycling. Look at the percentage of the population that has been using your recycling center, it’s really, really small. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Andy Whiteman said...

Aono 10:39 AM has a good point. I personally feel recycling is important but I think the average person doesn't give a damn. How many people turned out for the public comment? I think that speaks for the general interest.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Some of you don't understand the importance of recycling. It WILL be a requirement someday as it already is in a lot of cities. Raytown needs to be a leader in something and this would be a great place to start. Sounds like the mayor and some board members are really out of touch on this issue. We can't continue to be a "throw away" society. What happens when the landfills are all filled up? I have seen trash going to the landfill cut by more than half, when a family starts recycling.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anon 12:41PM is entirely correct about recycling. I, too, have lived in areas where recycling was required. The trash my wife and I put out went from 2 - 33 gallon trach bags per week down to less than one bag. Frankly, I am surprised that there is not a Federal requirement!

It is unfortunate that our city leaders have better use for city resources. (Just look at the BOA agenda and see how they want to waste $50,000 of our tax money!)

I think making Raytown a leader in recycling could very well attract business as well as new residents easpecially if the fact that Raytown is recycling is widely advertised.

I even recycle my newspapres to friends who are non-subscribers. I deliver my newspapers to them. When they are done, they recycle them. It might be a good idea to share the paper with a neighbor.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

People need to wake up because recycling is inevitable. It is going to happen. People like anonymous may 2 10:39 am are the reason so many are out of touch with reality. They probably still throw their fast food trash out the window of their gas guzzler, and when no one will pick up their old computers, monitors, TV sets, and appliances from in front of their houses that sit there for weeks, they load them up and drive to Swope Park or by the Stadium and illegaly dump them. These people, as well as our elected officials, need to take more responsibility for our city and planet. How much extra time out of their golf game will it take to put them on the two year notice? Nada! Just do it then move on to some of the other important issues that affect all of us, not potbellied pigs!

Andy Whiteman said...

The State of Misery already has a law not allowing dumping of yard waste into land fills. I fail to understand why because it is biordegradeable unlike the recycle items we are addressing here.

I am surprised that the State of Misery or the Federal Government doesn't require recycling. If it was a State law, no action would be required by the Fascist Fief of Raytown.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Andy, what else can your federal government mandate for you? Perhaps naps? Maybe brushing of teeth twice a day? Should they mandate cleaning up after your pet? Or how about mandating the color of your house? I mean, the federal government is tasked with all these tings in the constitution, aren't they? I think it is right there in Amendment.....er...maybe Article...uhm....can you help out here, Andy?