New streets and sanitation boss delivers housekeeping news council members want to hear
Newly appointed Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Cole Stallard broke the news on Tuesday that City Council members wanted to hear: The shortage of refuse carts will finally be eliminated and an influx of crews will reduce the wait for a year to prune a tree.
The Stallard Streets and Sanitation Department can make or break a council member.
If the garbage isn’t picked up on time or the streets aren’t plowed quickly enough after a major snowstorm, the council member isn’t just blamed; he or she could be removed from office.
That’s why Stallard’s first performance at the board’s budget hearings was music to the members’ ears.
Stallard said the chronic shortage of 96-gallon garbage carts will be eliminated, thanks to the $918,000 provided by the Office of Budget and Management in response to his appeal.
“I looked back three years because I know, being a former duty superintendent, the importance of trolley delivery. I met aldermen. The No. 1 thing on everyone’s agenda was access to carts,” Stollard said.
Then he met with budget manager Susie Park and “when I explained that for the past three or four years we’ve taken from January to the following year to fill our fourth quarter – and that’s about the same number every year – I said, ‘Is there a way to find $918,000 to go mainstream?… And she gave us that $918,000 to go mainstream. So the carts are in road.
The good news for council members extended to tree trimming, another historically on-hold and short-term service with a one-year lag that is essential for Chicago residents.
“Again, that’s something I heard loud and clear from everyone when I arrived in July,” he said.
“We are getting workers at the end of this quarter and the beginning of next year. So we’re going to go from the 14 crews we release per day now to 25. And we’re in discussion to see if we can improve that a bit.
Aldus. Jason Ervin (28), chairman of the city council’s Black Caucus, was delighted with the news and Stallard’s assertion that 30 seasonal workers will be added between April 15 and November 1 to “help in areas that require it.” need”.
“We should have had you years ago, man. You cut trees. You get all of those things,” Ervin said.
Budget Committee Chairman Pat Dowell (3rd) interrupted Ervin – playfully.
“Don’t suck,” Dowell said with a laugh.
Aldus. Carrie Austin (34th) added: “It really was.” Then she made a party of her own buttering up the man who replaced retired Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully.
“Cole, this couldn’t have happened to a better person… We’re glad to see you there as commissioner,” Austin said.
Aldus. Chris Taliaferro (29th) said there were trees in his West Side neighborhood that had been waiting to be trimmed for two years as well as dead trees in danger of falling that needed to be removed.
“I can’t say it enough: forestry, forestry, forestry,” Taliaferro said.
The news was not so good for the parade of residents who used the public comment period leading up to Tuesday’s hearing to request $2 million in additional spending to treat and save the remaining 50,000 trees from the l emerald ash borer in Chicago.
Malcolm Whiteside, Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Forestry, all but denied the request.
On the one hand, Whiteside said the $2 million cost cited by residents was “misleading,” a low figure that’s “just for chemicals.”
“We are missing the $4 million that needs to be added for personnel, equipment and vehicles. In addition, you must take a pesticide and applicator license [exam] across the state of Illinois,” Whiteside said.
What advocates “need to understand is that the chemical was never intended to save trees,” Whiteside said.
“We started this in 2008. The enforcement was just to allow us to continue until we were prepared with the staff to be able to remove the remaining trees. When we started this there were 96,000 ash trees. Now we are down to 50,000,” he said.
“So we estimate in our business that there are enough chemicals in those trees to last another 10 years. And [then]we can start removing those trees.