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Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Question of Focus…

The Alexandria City Management, including the Transportation and Environmental Services Department, has been really struggling as of late. Last year there were many problems with leaf collection, snow removal and garbage collection throughout the year. Most of these problems were communicated to the residents as equipment and truck failures, which were promised to be fixed by the 2005 collection season.

The season kicked off with a new collection schedule for trash and many new improvements in recycling mandates. The 2005 season looked like it would be much better than 2004 and even 2003 as the new organization was communicated to residents as ways to fix the broken system. The leadership must have heard the tax payers and were getting on the ball. This sure was a good sign that someone was listening.

Well, were we sold a pile of dirt (or leaves if you like.) This year has not only been shoddier in overall collection, but the current leaf collection situation is amazingly disorganized and filled with people pointing fingers at each other.

Okay, this situation may seem incredibly trivial, but when put into perspective with the massive increases in property taxes and major capital expenditures being undertaken by this city council, it makes you wonder if anyone is actually watching the shop. Simple things such as trash removal are breaking down, and this is a true sign of the infrastructure falling apart. If the city can’t pick up leaves should we be concerned that they can’t manage building a new High School, or even a new Police Station? I really have concerns about the focus of this city leadership and how the little things seem to miss their attention for the many opportunities to expand and spend.

One example is our leaf situation on our block in Beverly Hills. We have been sitting on a large pile of leaves for the past four weeks and they continue to get wetter, full of bugs, turning into mulch and I am sure they are becoming a hazard in the drivers on the road and probably are attracting rats. The whole neighborhood if full of 100’s of leaf piles in the middle of the street.

Let’s put this in perspective, if you were paying for this service of leaf collection from a private company you would be very frustrated and would be calling the owner of the company on a daily basis. If any company you were paying for their services treated you this way, you would fire them immediately. If you were paying for a service that told you they would do something and did not do it for over a month, while continuing to tell you why they couldn’t do it, you would fire them.

Well, we are paying for this service, a good amount I must add. We need to take a look at the Alexandria City and make sure someone is actually paying attention. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for bagging up my leaves or burning them, or just leaving them on the lawn. But the city has committed to removing them, while also committing to many other operations that go along with running a city.

I am not blaming anyone directly for this situation, as it is trivial. Don’t get hung up in the story of the leaves, it is an example I am using to point out something that might be a bigger issue. Who is minding the shop? Elections are coming up for City Council, Mayor, and School Board. I do think people are going to be very involved in the school board elections given the recent history, but in the meantime don’t lose focus of the City Council race. This is a time to make sure people are accountable for running the city in a way you would want the city run.

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