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Monday, June 18, 2012

Portsmouth and the Wonderful World of Rotating Trash



Portsmouth, Ohio.
My hometown.

I got tired of playing the "wonder what day is trash pickup" game, so I decided to call the Portsmouth Service Department to find out how to know what day to set out my trash. Due to my apparent ignorance, I had been leaving my trash container on the curb over the last four weekends since I had determined my trash pickup day had changed from Thursday to Friday. I was through with letting it sit there until Monday, sweltering and stinking in the hot weekend sun. I hadn't received any notice from the Service Department about any changes at all.

After the phone calls I made (I relate them later.), I discovered the schedule online. First, let me share the online schedule and some changes I might make in the actual post. Then, I will relate my experience when contacting the Service Department.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 http://portsmouthoh.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=49

Rotating Trash Schedule

                                                                 (cap)          (omission - "is")   
Effective, Monday, January 2, 2012, the city of Portsmouth instituting a new rotating schedule for

                                                                     (unnecessary preposition)
garbage pick-up city-wide which will be in effect through the rest of the year. This change

 (passive voice verb)                                               (wordy)
will be implemented by the Service Department in an effort to maintain current weekly pick-up (as
                                                    
                                                 (parallel structure - infinitive)
per City charter) while, at the same time, bringing some relief to budgetary matters by eliminating

holiday/overtime pay opportunities.

City recognized holidays are as follows:

Jan 2 New Year's Day

                                  (comma omission)
Jan 16 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
May 28 Memorial Day

              (spelling)
July 4 Independance Day
September 3 Labor Day

                (no singular possessive)
November 12 Veteran's Day
November 22 Thanksgiving Day
December 25 Christmas Day

                                (comma omission)       ("pickup" moves, not "day")      (illogical possession)
After each city observed holiday your pickup day will move to one day later. For example: Monday's

        (passive voice verb)                 (no apostrophe?)
trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesdays trash will then be picked up on Wednesday, so on and

(wordy)
so on. This schedule will remain in effect until the next city observed holiday at which time your

pickup day will again be one day later. (No mention made about "No trash pickup on city holidays")

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I live at 2810 Brant Avenue. I think this is my pickup schedule for the rest of 2012.

May 28 - July 4                                Monday
July 4 - September 3                        Tuesday
September  3  - November 12         Wednesday
November 12 - November 22          Thursday
November 22 - December 25           Friday
December 25 - January 2 or 3 or ?   Monday

First of all, I don't see how this schedule satisfies the requirement of "weekly pick-up" (as per City charter). Eight days is longer than a week, and each time the schedule changes, the prior pickup occurs eight days earlier.

Secondly, I called the city service department twice and left messages for a return call (promised by the answering device). I did not get a return call. I am upset that a service agency refuses to return calls promptly. I feel I deserve this courtesy.

Days later, I made a third call to enquire about my trash pickup. The department spokesperson looked up my route and reported "your trash pickup is Monday, but the pickup will change July 4."

"Change again?" I asked incredulously.

She then told me the correct pickup information had been reported by the "Portsmouth Daily Times and by the 'radio.'" I told her I didn't subscribe to the paper and seldom listened to the radio. The person to whom I spoke told me there was "no way" to inform taxpayers of the scheduled changes except through these means.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. He answered and told me pretty much the same information. I asked him why the department couldn't include a pickup schedule, something that would reach all customers, in their earlier mailed billings. He assured me "everybody" knew about the new schedule." I replied that I and many of my neighbors did not know about it, and I asked him if he thought I was a liar. After the second time I asked, he retracted his statement and said, "Well, not everybody knows." I assume he was implying only "idiots" don't know of the changes.

I told him how disgusted I was that better lines of communication did not exist. I explained that I understood budget cuts and money problems but not a lack of responsible concern. Soon, I could sense my feelings were being filed under "troublemaker." Not once in the conversation did the department acknowledge a need to better serve and to be more receptive. I ended the conversation with a plea that all service agencies should be more communicative and more responsive in future endeavors.

Here is my bottom line:

(1) I want the employees of the Service Department to enjoy their hard-earned time off for holidays.

(2) I can adjust to the changing trash pickup schedule.

(3) I appreciate the Service Department's efforts to save money.

(4) BUT, I am sick as hell of asking pertinent questions of public servants and being ignored or treated as if my opinion doesn't count.

(5) AND, I am doubly sick by being uninformed of important matters and left to rely upon word of mouth or upon selective media to give me information.

(6) FINALLY, I am very disappointed that many of our city and county officials do not respond to my concerns with more open minds and receptive voices. I feel "you" work for "me," and that "work" includes learning how to listen and how to resolve problems.

"Another way to lose control is to ignore something when you should address it."  -Jim Evans

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