Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna only had good intentions when she introduced a motion requesting that Mayor Brian Arrigo to implement an educational program on how to use the city’s new trash and recycle bins and what items can be placed in the bins.
McKenna herself outlined an eight-part, citywide outreach campaign that included having a “captain” for every street who would be willing to talk to their neighbors about the new trash and recycling program.
But while the councillor’s intentions were noble, the motion ignited a wave of criticism about the implementation of the program and the lack of information that the councillors had at their disposal.
Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch wondered aloud why the Council didn’t have the information about the costs of the barrels, adding that he had been contacted by his constituents for information.
“As the Ward 6 Councillor, I should be able to answer these questions when people call me or email them back with answers,” said Patch. “We should get a little better communication on this issue.”
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo asked about the origin of the funding for the distribution of new barrels to residents.
“We really haven’t much transparency,” said Rotondo. “I’d like to find out what grant money that he [Arrigo] actually used and from where, and what was the purpose of the grant. These issues are really troubling because since then, we’ve been pretty much in the dark.”
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo said, “I share his [Councillor Patch’s] frustration. You hear things through the grapevine, but you don’t really know. It’s just another situation where the City Council has to dig for information.”
Holding up a one-page, barrel program information sheet, Rizzo added, “This is about as much information about the new trash barrel program as I know. Otherwise, I suppose I could dig on to the website and try to figure it out. It just doesn’t make sense to have a program like this, that’s going to impact every single resident, and not have a complete rollout. To roll out a program like this, where our municipal leaders can’t answer questions – is just unacceptable to me.”
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky told his colleagues, “We have to give this [new barrel] program some time, folks. It’s only been in operation for a week. This is something we’ve been talking about. We came up with a partial solution. It’s not a total solutions. The mayor is trying to do his job without being interrupted and questioned. A simple phone call to 3-1-1 will answer almost every question.”
Council President Jessica Giannino wrapped up the discussion, stating that “the Mayor’s office has every good intention in pointing this program forward in an effort to combat an issue that we’re all concerned about – but I think putting instructions on a trash barrel is like buying a dresser at Ikea. No one is going to read the instructions. And that’s that’s the reality of it. So there’s a great amount of literature out there, but the problem is we need some kind of program to get the information out there.”
Giannino also commended McKenna for the foresight of her motion.
The motion’s reverberations reached the corner office where Mayor Arrigo responded to the councillors’ less-than-laudatory comments about the new barrel program (See sidebar).
The Council, following the initial suggestion of Councillor Ira Novoselsky, sent the matter to the Council’s Public Works Committee.
Statement from Mayor BRIAN ARRIGO
The following statement is issued by Mayor Brian M. Arrigo in response to discussion at the City Council meeting of the new trash collection program now underway in the City.
First, there is no intention, no plan, no hidden objective of a ‘trash fee.’ It is irresponsible for anyone to suggest as much, and any such statement is nothing more than unfounded gossip that serves no useful purpose in the management of a trash collection program, which is vitally important to the health and welfare of all our residents.
Second, we are barely into Phase I of a huge task. We are still in the middle of distributing over 16,000 trash carts. As I’ve said previously, enforcement related to the new program will be delayed as residents adapt to it. As residents adapt to the new procedures, we will take the information we receive and incorporate it as we move further into the process. Some of that information will come from resident complaints, some of it will come from ideas that residents offer, but whatever the source of information, it is helpful as we move forward. We welcome valid, helpful opinions and constructive criticism because nothing is set in stone. We had to start somewhere, and this will remain a work in progress.
Finally, I am surprised that some individuals claim that they knew nothing of the trash barrel program. The purchase of the barrels was included in the municipal budget that every member of the Council analyzed before passing it in June. We have emphasized the barrel program in every comment and statement that we have made in the past six months relating to the rodent control program. I have written two editorials on the topic–one as recently as three weeks ago–that appeared in all local media, was posted on the City’s Facebook page, and posted on the City’s website. I recorded a CodeRed reverse 911 message that made over 14,697 phone calls, 1388 emails and 1382 texts. I recorded a video statement that was played on local cable television–and we will be producing another with updated information soon. At the beginning of October we utilized the postal service to mail an information card to over 16,000 residential address in the City explaining the new trash collection procedures. We have also included informational fliers with EVERY barrel delivered. On the City of Revere website since the beginning of the month, the headline in bright red and yellow smack in the middle of home page contains direct link to some 25 Frequently Asked Questions that address many of the questions that the Council brought up Monday night. So I cannot understand how someone can claim they knew nothing about the program, unless they simply didn’t pay attention.
Also, on the September 24th meeting of the Revere City Council, DPW Superintendent, Paul Argenzio, appeared for the Council to discuss the program and answer any questions.