Council Trashes Mayor’s Garbage Pick-Up Plan
Five Queens city councilmembers were among 11 who denounced the Bloomberg administration’s proposal to reduce garbage pickups in every borough but Manhattan.
The dozen lawmakers, including Queens Councilmembers David Weprin, Peter Vallone Jr., John Liu, Melinda Katz and James Gennaro, said the service reduction would not be necessary if the administration adopted a plan the lawmakers had announced on the steps of City Hall
There was enough firepower among the councilmembers at the protest meeting to make their point stick in the ongoing negotiations with the mayor’s aides over the 2003–04 budget.
Weprin (Hollis) heads the Finance Committee, Vallone (Astoria) the Public Safety Committee, Gennaro (Jamaica Estates) the Environmental Conservation Committee, Liu (Flushing) the Transportation Committee and Katz (Forest Hills) the Land Use Committee. Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum also attended.
At a joint meeting on May 7 of Weprin’s panel and the Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Committee headed by Councilmember Michael McMahon (D–Staten Island), Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty announced the administration’s service cutback proposal.
Doherty said $11 million could be saved by reducing collections in almost every outer borough district from three to two times a week, or from twice to once a week.
Under the plan, Queens collections would be reduced from two to one a week if the mayor’s plan begins July 1, as scheduled.
Weprin immediately attacked Doherty’s plan, declaring: "The proposed one-day-a-week garbage pickup will have a terrible effect on the quality of life for all Queens residents. Apartment building and co-op residents have expressed their concerns to me because of the lack of storage facilities in their buildings.
"Homeowners are worried about potential rodent problems. Garbage will pile up and ultimately cause serious health concerns, especially during the upcoming summer months. This plan is not acceptable."
Weprin said at the time further negotiations would ensue between council members and the mayor’s office, but Monday’s protest rally indicates that the council made no headway against Doherty’s announced plan.
At Monday’s rally, McMahon and his colleagues offered a plan under which trash pickups would remain at their present levels throughout the city during the new fiscal year if the Sanitation Department adjusted the $50 million allocated for overtime expenses and rescinded the layoff of more than 500 sanitation workers.
McMahon stated: "Cutting garbage pickups and laying off sanitation workers is definitely going to harm the city’s quality of life, but I doubt it will do much to help balance the city’s budget. The amount of overtime that the city is going to have to pay to the remaining sanitation workers will eat a huge chunk out of the savings that Commissioner Doherty has promised and so will the massive productivity increases he’s calling for."
Weprin warned that if some boroughs get more frequent service than others, the boroughs could be pitted against each other and the city divided.
Brooklyn Councilmember Lew Fidler (D), talking to reporters, hinted that if the mayor’s plan was not changed it could cause a showdown over the budget, which must be passed by the council and signed by the mayor.
Fidler was quoted: "Rest assured, Mayor Bloomberg, this one doesn’t make sense. It’s not going to happen. We will not accept anything less than picking up garbage in Brooklyn and Queens twice a week."