WBEZ | Streets and Sanitation http://www.wbez.org/tags/streets-and-sanitation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Street sweeping: Essential service or revenue scam? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/street-sweeping-essential-service-or-revenue-scam-109221 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We&#39;ve updated this story with answers to <a href="#questions">follow-up questions you submitted. </a>Sincere thanks for those. Please keep them coming!</em></p><p>Street-sweepers. It turns out those zamboni-looking vehicles are some of the most complicated machines in Chicago&rsquo;s Streets and Sanitation Department. And coincidentally, they seem to be causing lots of complications for drivers (and boyfriends of drivers) across the city.</p><p>One of those boyfriends in particular is Dan Costalis, a web developer who lives in Chicago&rsquo;s West Lakeview neighborhood. Dan hasn&rsquo;t owned a car in about five years or so, but his girlfriend does, and according to Dan, knowing when and where to move her car to avoid tickets during street-cleaning season totally stresses her out. &nbsp;</p><p>So he turned to Curious City and asked:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s the deal with street cleaning? Does it actually do anything?</em></p><p>Dan feels like this whole street-sweeping thing might sorta be a scam; perhaps the work is less about leaves, and more about raking in the dough.</p><p>&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;ve seen, you know, the before and after doesn&rsquo;t look much different,&rdquo; Dan said. &ldquo;And if they&rsquo;re giving out tickets and putting up parking restrictions and these aren&rsquo;t doing anything, you know, what&rsquo;s the point?&rdquo;</p><p>Now, we here at Curious City can&rsquo;t change any minds about whether to feel scammed (or not scammed) by the street sweeping service or the related tickets. But we can certainly lay out the facts (there are a lot of them), how the service works, and what, if anything, it does to keep Chicago running well.</p><p><strong>The how and why of street sweeping</strong></p><p>To understand &ldquo;what the deal is&rdquo; (per Dan&rsquo;s vocabulary), it helps to understand how street sweepers operate, so I headed to the intersection of Erie Street and Milwaukee Avenue on a brisk, fall (or, let&rsquo;s be honest, early winter) morning in November. There to greet me was one of the city&rsquo;s 50 street sweepers. This particular machine was decked out with Blackhawks logos as well as the &ldquo;One Goal&rdquo; motto that celebrated the hockey team&rsquo;s 2013 Stanley Cup win. Our driver: Stan Newsome, a seven-year street sweeping veteran.</p><p>We let our <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmoSemxMLzY" target="_blank">video </a>do the heavy lifting when it comes to how the process works. In it, you can see that Newsome&rsquo;s ride is equipped with multiple brooms that whisk leaves and debris off the street and into a container. There&rsquo;s also a little water-sprayer off the side that helps wash away any additional stuff that&rsquo;s left over. These sweepers take what they collect and dump it into a dumpster before heading to the next section. Multimedia producer Jian Chung Lee caught Newsome&rsquo;s sweeper miss some things on the first pass, but after the second or third runs there was little left but a few broken leaves. As you can see, too, stray parked cars make the work less effective.</p><p>More on that later ...</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo 1_0.JPG" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 247px; width: 185px;" title="The view from the left side interior of a city of Chicago street sweeping machine. For ease of operation, controls include a dial that measures speed in the range between turtle and rabbit. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />But what about the <em>why </em>of the whole operation?</p><p>Streets and Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Charles Williams offered a short explanation.</p><p>&ldquo;[In] Chicago, we maintain very clean streets with these street sweepers,&rdquo; he said, adding that clean streets translate into cleaner sewers as well &mdash; year round.</p><p>&ldquo;The way the city is built, it&rsquo;s real important to have all the water drain down,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Say, for instance, in the wintertime when you have all the snow plows out and they&rsquo;re melting the snow, if the water has nowhere to drain, all the streets are clogged up with excess slush.&rdquo;</p><p>Gross. And, more than that, potentially dangerous.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re gonna have huge puddles of water. ... That&rsquo;s gonna freeze over and you&rsquo;re gonna have ice.&rdquo;</p><p>And Williams said there&rsquo;s no other option or better machine available than a sweeper. They can run year round, except, of course, during inclement winter weather, though you&rsquo;ll most likely to see them from the spring to late fall. Each sweeper has a price tag of $168,000 and each racks up approximately $40-45 thousand dollars in annual maintenance costs.</p><p>According to Williams, without sweepers, the city would have to resort to a much more expensive option: manual labor.</p><p><strong>The math and the calendar</strong></p><p>So, now that we understand why street sweeping happens in the first place, let&rsquo;s get into Dan&rsquo;s sneaking suspicion that ticket revenue is in the proverbial driver&rsquo;s seat.</p><p>Right now if you leave your car parked in an area that&rsquo;s going to be cleaned, you can practically guarantee your vehicle will be adorned with a bright, orange $50 ticket. Next year, the city could raise the cost to $60.</p><p>If this is a familiar territory for you, dear reader, you are far from alone. According to data from the Department of Revenue, the city has taken in more than $15 million in just street-sweeping ticket revenue every year for the past five years. So far this year, drivers have paid $15,336,802. That&rsquo;s about 17 percent of the total revenue brought in by parking tickets this year. And the sweeping season&rsquo;s not finished; foliage was delayed this year, Williams said, and crews will be sweeping later than usual to grab leaves before the heavy snow comes around.</p><p>According to city spokeswoman Kelley Quinn, every dollar paid from these tickets goes into the city&rsquo;s corporate fund, which means the revenue&rsquo;s not earmarked for anything in particular. So it&rsquo;s not as if Dan&rsquo;s friend pays a street-sweeping parking ticket and it goes directly to the Streets and Sanitation guys and gals: It all goes into one pot.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lauren_chart.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 5px;" title="According to data from the Chicago Department of Revenue, the city has taken in at least 14 million dollars in parking ticket revenue from street-sweeping violations alone each year for the past five years. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /><a name="Chart"></a>To keep that $15 million figure in perspective, it costs the city about $8.5 million a year for street-sweeping itself.&nbsp;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s one more relevant detail: The timing of street cleaning is another point of drama for some drivers. Williams says every spring, the city meets with ward superintendents to plan out the sweeping calendar. Schedules are <a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Sanitation/Map-Street-Sweeping-2013/rjwk-epe7" target="_blank">posted online</a> so residents can &ldquo;plan ahead.&rdquo; Once it&rsquo;s sweeping time, the city will post bright orange signs the day before or the morning of to warn drivers of what&rsquo;s to come.</p><p>To Dan&rsquo;s concerns that ticketing during cleaning might be a revenue grab, the city contends that&rsquo;s not the case.</p><p>&ldquo;If they just pay attention to the signs, they don&rsquo;t get a ticket,&rdquo; Williams said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a revenue thing, we would actually prefer them not to park on the street so that we can do our jobs and keep the streets clean.&rdquo;</p><p>For his part, Dan says all this makes sense, calling the process &ldquo;uncomfortably logical,&rdquo; but he is struck by the raw numbers involved. (&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a lot of money,&rdquo; he said). And he also wonders if maybe the city could work a harder to ensure drivers know when it&rsquo;s time to move their cars. He&rsquo;s had friends say they parked overnight, only to wake to a signs (and tickets) that weren&rsquo;t there the night before.</p><p>&ldquo;I know they&rsquo;ve got a job to do. I know they&rsquo;ve gotta make sure the drains don&rsquo;t clog and they&rsquo;re doing it for the good of the roads and everybody,&rdquo; Dan said. &ldquo;But if you don&rsquo;t have a chance to move your car, they can&rsquo;t do their job, and you get a ticket.&rdquo;</p><p><a name="questions"></a></p><p><strong>Your follow-up questions</strong></p><p>Turns out, Curious Citizen Dan Costalis wasn&rsquo;t the only Chicagoan interested in how the city sweeps its streets. Shortly after we published this story, readers left comments below, hit our Facebook page and tweeted burning questions that we couldn&#39;t ignore. We&rsquo;re happy to report we hit the airwaves about some of these on WBEZ&#39;s Morning Shift program as well as here.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/124519058&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="350"></iframe></p><p><em><strong>If it&rsquo;s so important to clean the streets, why wouldn&rsquo;t the offending cars get towed instead of ticketed?</strong></em></p><p>The city says in order to tow a vehicle, it still has to be ticketed first, so there&rsquo;s no avoiding that. Also, according to Molly Poppe, spokeswoman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, towing vehicles would require additional staff that the department doesn&rsquo;t have.</p><p>Other cities, such as Boston, do tow vehicles for parking during designated street cleaning days. Boston city workers walk around and ticket offending vehicles, just like Chicago does; however, Boston contracts with private tow companies to whisk away any vehicle sporting a ticket.</p><p><em><strong>I noticed there&rsquo;s been a marked decrease in the city&rsquo;s street sweeping ticket collection since 2010, I wonder what explains this drop.</strong></em></p><p>The Department of Revenue wasn&rsquo;t able to come up with an answer at this time. And since there are a number of factors &mdash; and, perhaps, different departments&rsquo; opinions &mdash; that could play played into this, we&rsquo;re not on safe ground to say much more. But, we will keep digging!</p><p><em><strong>I&rsquo;ve been told the city can write a ticket every 15 minutes. That sounds like a revenue scheme to me!</strong></em></p><p>City spokeswoman Kelley Quinn offered to debunk this myth for us. She says motorists should only receive one street cleaning violation per day, per location. If you do get more than one ticket on the same day, in the same location, Quinn says the driver should contest those subsequent violations. Details on challenging parking tickets can be found <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/revenue/challenging_tickets.html" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p><em><strong>If they have to extend the street sweeping schedule into December, how do they let people know?</strong></em></p><p>This actually happened while we were reporting out this story: The foliage came a bit late this year, so all of the leaves hadn&rsquo;t fallen by November 30th, the end of the regular sweeping schedule. Poppe says they&rsquo;ll stick signs up 36-24 hours in advance to let people know.</p><p>Also, it turns out the city is able to sweep in the winter &mdash; weather permitting, of course. Poppe says it&rsquo;s usually to keep the main arterials clean, so there&rsquo;s not much parking involved on those streets. But if there is, or if a residential street needs a sweep, Poppe says the signs will give residents a heads up that sweepers are coming.</p><p><em><strong>Still shaky on the details?</strong></em></p><p>Our listeners and social media followers had a lot of great tips about smartphone apps and websites meant to help ease car owners&rsquo; pain.</p><ul><li><a href="http://sweeparound.us/">http://sweeparound.us/</a> came to us via Twitter. Drivers can punch in their home address and the site uses city data to figure out when the next sweeping date is, what sweep area the house or apartment is in, and can even help set the driver up for alerts.</li><li><a href="http://en.seeclickfix.com/apps">SeeClickFix app </a>was an app we learned about from a commenter. It essentially is your smart phone&rsquo;s way to report neighborhood issues to 311</li></ul><p>Lastly, if you&rsquo;re a Chicago resident, it behooves you to ask your alderman questions. They might have an alert system set up for you. For example, Alderman Tunney office sends emails and text alerts the evening before and the morning of street sweeping operations within the 44th Ward.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><div><em>Correction: An earlier text version of this story suggested the Streets and Sanitation annual budget was $8.5 million. The department&#39;s budget for 2014 is $216 million, while the budget for street sweeping activity is $8.5 million.</em></div></p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/street-sweeping-essential-service-or-revenue-scam-109221 A century of waste: The evolution of Chicago’s garbage collection http://www.wbez.org/news/century-waste-evolution-chicago%E2%80%99s-garbage-collection-108529 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Transportation%20of%20Waste%20By%20Street%20Cars%20%281905%29.jpg" style="height: 308px; width: 620px;" title="(Chicago Public Library/Municipal Reference Desk) Transportation of waste by street cars (1905)" /></div><p>Working with dirty data can be messy, especially if it&rsquo;s some of the old numbers found in yellowing-pages on library shelves.</p><p>Recently, we stumbled upon a treasure trove of statistics on early sanitation practices in Chicago.</p><p>In the early 1900s, the Department of Public Works published annual reports, complete with fold-out tables filled with data and hand-drawn maps of city service.</p><p>We compiled the information in the archives and combined it with current data from the city to give you a graphic look at how Chicago&rsquo;s garbage collection system has evolved over the last century.</p><p>In 1905, the city&rsquo;s garbage collection system was struggling so much that <a href="https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3mMRyzLFC6Fc1hnbWw2ZElGcDQ/edit?usp=sharing"> the Department of Public Works described it </a></p><p>&ldquo;If there should be anyone who thinks otherwise (Chicago&rsquo;s garbage collection is done well), he can be easily converted by watching from his alley the manner in which it is necessary to load his refuse on the city wagon; by following in the wake of a swill-soaked wooden wagon, particularly on a hot day; by observing the arrival of the wagon at the big clay pit dumps, surrounded by people living in some cases right at their edges; by witnessing the struggle of the horses in the mass of garbage, broken glass and tin cans in an effort to get their loads in position; by noting the laborious process of unloading with pick and fork, requiring from thirty to forty minutes; by experiencing the insufferable stench that must be endured by the people in the neighborhood; by realizing the immediate effect on their health and the danger for years to come from building over such a mass of corruption, in some cases 80 feet deep.&rdquo;</p><p>A survey was conducted to see how garbage collection in the city was taking place. We transferred the hand-made tables into Web versions and created a map of the garbage collection system circa 1905.</p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="width: 620px; height: 200px;"><tbody><tr><td rowspan="2"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/title_0.jpg" title="" /></div></div></td><td colspan="2"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/1905%20Ward%20Breakdown.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wardstatssmall.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td rowspan="2" style="vertical-align: middle;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/plus.jpg" style="height: 81px; width: 20px;" title="" /></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/1901%20Ward%20Map.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wardmapsmall.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td rowspan="2" style="vertical-align: middle;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/equals.jpg" style="height: 81px; width: 20px;" title="" /></div></div></td></tr><tr><td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wardstatssmall.jpg" target="_blank">Click for full image</a></span></td><td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=GVIZ&amp;t=TABLE&amp;q=select+col0%3E%3E0%2C+col1%3E%3E0%2C+col2%3E%3E0%2C+col3%3E%3E0%2C+col4%3E%3E0%2C+col5%3E%3E0%2C+col6%3E%3E0%2C+col7%3E%3E0%2C+col8%3E%3E0%2C+col9%3E%3E0%2C+col10%3E%3E0%2C+col11%3E%3E0%2C+col12%3E%3E0+from+1pgm8h12zD8FgasubQ-mc_McRkPcwpE1UT3qziCI&amp;containerId=gviz_canvas" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:10px;">View as table</span></a></td><td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wardmapsmall.jpg" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:10px;">Click for full image</span></a></td></tr></tbody></table><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="760" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/August/1905Chicago/1905GarbageMap.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The graph below shows how much garbage the city of Chicago was producing month by month in 1910 and in 2012.</p><p><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/graph_0.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 620px;" /></p><div class="credit">Sources: 1910 data from <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/1914%20Report%20of%20the%20City%20Waste%20Commission%20of%20the%20City%20of%20Chicago.pdf">1914 Report of the City Waste Commission of the City of Chicago</a>, Municipal Reference Desk, Chicago Public Library; <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/1910,%202012-13%20refuse%20tonnage.xls">2012 data from Department of Streets and Sanitation</a>.</div><p><br />Population estimates were detailed on the 1914 report, and 2012 population is based on <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1714000.html">estimates by the US Census Bureau.</a></p><p>In total, the city of Chicago produced 99,537 tons of garbage in 1910 and 892,034 tons in 2012. That&rsquo;s about 97 pounds of garbage per person in 1910 compared to 657 pounds per person in 2013</p><p>But don&rsquo;t be fooled, though it looks like we&rsquo;ve increased the amount of garbage produced per a person nearly sevenfold, data work is rarely that simple. University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Planning and Policy Professor Ning Ai specializes in waste management. She explains, it&rsquo;s difficult to draw a direct comparison between these numbers.</p><p>&ldquo;Compared to a century ago, garbage not only differs in generation rate, but also in composition. Intuitively, the amount of garbage increases along with economic growth. For example, many packaging materials in the waste stream have changed from glass to much lighter-weight plastic and paper. Thus simply comparing the numbers either using the volume (e.g., by cubic yards) or weight (e.g., tonnage) may not reveal the challenges of waste management fully or even accurately.&rdquo; Said Ai.</p><p>Today, we have entire categories of garbage that never existed in the 1900s. Check out some of the various categories of garbage that existed back then compared to the new stuff in today&rsquo;s municipal code.</p><p><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/definitions.jpg" style="height: 476px; width: 620px;" /></p><div class="credit">Sources: 1914 Report, <a href="http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Illinois/chicago_il/municipalcodeofchicago?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:chicago_il">City of Chicago Municipal Code, Article II, Title 7, Ch. 7-28</a>.</div><p>In the early 20th century, the organic refuse, also known as garbage, would be processed and reduced down so more garbage could be placed in landfills without taking up more space. Much of the inorganic matter would be incinerated because ash also took up less space in the fast filling city dumps.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Municipal%20Reduction%20Plant%20%281907%29.jpg" style="height: 359px; width: 620px;" title="(Chicago Public Library/ Municipal Reference Desk) Municipal reduction plant (1907)" /></div><p>Back then, landfills were the enemy, a 1905 Department of Public Works report said, &ldquo;The dumps must go. Dumps poison the air for miles around and if ground made by dumping is dug up years afterwards, it is found still putrid.</p><p>Over a century later, landfills are still a massive problem for refuse collection in the city. The Chicago metro region has six active landfills, five of which are currently designed to reach full capacity within 10 years according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Act of 2011.</p><p>ldquo;Public opposition out of environmental and economic concerns have also made it increasingly difficult to build or expand waste disposal facilities in the city. The total costs of transporting the waste and dumping in a remote site are typically lower than disposing of within the city, and it is &quot;out of sight, out of mind.&quot; Said Ai.</p><p>Most of today&rsquo;s dumping sites are located well outside of the city limits. Below we compared Chicago&rsquo;s dumping sites in 1905 to city dumping locations identified by Anne Sheahan of the Department of Streets and Sanitation.</p><p><img src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DumpsMap.jpg" /></p><div class="credit">Sources: 1905 data from <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/1906%20Department%20of%20Public%20Works%20Page.pdf">1906 Report of the Department of Public Works to the Mayor&rsquo;s Office</a>, Municipal Reference Desk, Chicago Public Library; 2013 <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/City%20Landfill%20Locations%20(Department%20of%20Streets%20and%20San).xls">data from Department of Streets and Sanitation</a>.</div><p>Ai added that the cost of these preparations and the cost of transporting large quantities garbage to remote landfills also has a big environmental impact.</p><p>&ldquo;The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is currently working to roll out residential blue cart recycling citywide and is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2013,&rdquo; Sheahan said. &ldquo;We will continue to work with residents through community outreach to encourage regular recycling across the city, which is not only good for the environment, but it can result in considerable cost savings for the city.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Simran Khosla is a WBEZ intern. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/simkhosla">@simkhosla</a>. Email her at <a href="http://mailto:skhosla@wbez.org">skhosla@wbez.org</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 27 Aug 2013 10:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/century-waste-evolution-chicago%E2%80%99s-garbage-collection-108529 Less pay, more training for new streets and sanitation workers http://www.wbez.org/news/less-pay-more-training-new-streets-and-sanitation-workers-98723 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1162388614_c10a05f60f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>New Chicago streets and sanitation workers will see more training but less pay under a new agreement between the city and a major labor union.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the agreement Tuesday with Laborers Union 1001. He said the changes are projected to save taxpayers more than $30 million dollars over the next six years.</p><p>From now on, new hires for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation won't just be trained for one job, like rodent control. They'll also learn how to remove graffiti, trim trees,sweep the streets, hang signs and more. On average, the city hires 50 new workers for that department each year. Emanuel said the changes would make things more flexible for superintendents that need more hands on deck for a particular job.</p><p>"This is a new day. We have to write new rules. We can't get stuck in the old way," Emanuel said.</p><p>New hires will start at $20 dollars per hour, which is $13 dollars less than the current entry rate. Their rates per job will also change. Currently, a street and sanitation worker is paid the same rate, no matter which job he or she completes. The new rules state that someone who trims trees, for example, won't be paid the tree-trimming rate if he or she is needed for street sweeping.</p><p>Lou Phillips, head of Local 1001 said the plan was a win-win-win, especially with the city's tough budget situation.</p><p>"My service is providing work for my members and that's what I have to do. So if we need to be more competitive to fit into the scheme of things, then we need to be more competitive. We need to step up and do the right thing," Phillips said.</p><p>The new agreement won't affect any current employees in the union. They are still covered by a previously negotiated contract that runs for five more years. Phillips said he'd be talking to members this evening about the new rules.</p></p> Tue, 01 May 2012 16:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/less-pay-more-training-new-streets-and-sanitation-workers-98723 Officials: Snow plowing has been equitable http://www.wbez.org/story/news/officials-snow-plowing-has-been-equitable <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/IMG_0849.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago officials say crews have now opened most side streets after this week&rsquo;s blizzard. And they&rsquo;re rejecting claims that the city is neglecting some neighborhoods. <br /><br />Complaints about the snow removal are coming from several City Council members. <br /><br />Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) said Friday afternoon that her constituents had been calling her office all day. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s disheartening for residents whose street hasn&rsquo;t been plowed to see on TV that the downtown is devoid of snow,&rdquo; Lyle said.<br /><br />Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) is asking the city&rsquo;s inspector general to investigate whether the snow removal has been equitable. Jackson spokeswoman Keiana Barrett on Friday afternoon said much of the ward remained impassable and that factors might include politics.<br /><br />Matt Smith, spokesman of the Streets and Sanitation Department, insisted that the department was doing the best it could and that its decisions had nothing to do with clout. &ldquo;Some areas&mdash;based on weather conditions, drifting and other situations&mdash;have been hit harder,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;We assess those and we clear them up.&rdquo;<br /><br />Smith said city crews would continue working on side streets through the weekend.<br /><br />The city is not planning to plow alleys, however. Streets and San Commissioner Tom Byrne on Friday said the snow would block garages and that garbage trucks were laying down grooves instead.</p></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 21:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/officials-snow-plowing-has-been-equitable