"Golden, Colorado is looking into revising our Performance Measures. Once revised, we want to compare our performance to other similarly-sized cities. Is there some type of national repository for performance measure data against which Golden can evaluate itself?" Vince Auriemma, Deputy Director of Public Works
This is what you get when you tell a guy you seldom receive questions for this column! Thanks, Vince. I'm not aware of such a repository but I'm sure some of you out there could probably offer some ideas. Let me know and I'll include it in the next issue or let Vince know directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: If your agency is seeking a program to determine if your agency's policies, procedures and practices compare to recommended practices by nationally recognized experts in the field of public works, the 5th edition of the Public Works Management Practices Manual may be just what you're looking for. The City of Golden, CO utilized the Manual for Self-Assessment and then to earn Accreditation in November 2003. Check it out. Watch for upcoming Self-Assessment Workshops in a location near you.
"I don't know about anyone else but I'm getting pretty tired of listening to all the push in the industry and society for 'diversity in the workplace.' How are those of us in public works supposed to make this happen?"
My first thought is for us to be aware that there are ways we can encourage diversity, but the problem is we seldom realize that fact. Making a change in the culture and thinking of any organization takes planning and determination. One really great example of a totally diverse project, begun with that aspect in mind, is the Monorail Green Line in Seattle, WA. Voters actually created the Seattle Monorail Project to build and operate the fourteen-mile monorail. One of the first actions of the SMP Board of Directors was to adopt a clear and strong diversity policy, not only for its staff but for how it would do business. Contracting requirements, training, and the approach to the entire project was designed so that qualified small, minority, and women-owned businesses could participate alongside larger companies so that people who had not traditionally had access to the work were able to get it. For more information on this project contact the Seattle Monorail Project at www.elevated.org. Slowly but surely we can change.
"We are seeing a significant increase in electronic waste in our waste stream. Is there anything we can do to help our residents find better methods of discarding of this equipment?"
Office Depot Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have taken a significant step to address the growing electronic waste problem. The two companies are launching the first free national e-recycling program in the United States. Office Depot will accept any brand of electronics at all of its stores for a period of several weeks. Hewlett-Packard will recycle the electronics collected at two of its recycling facilities. Even though this is for a limited time, it's the easiest way yet for consumers to turn in their old electronics and divert them from landfills. Check with your local Office Depot and HP offices for more information.
"Talk about going to extremes. I recently heard about a guy who thought he was being a good citizen and, instead of just dropping a bill of lading for a package he received on the ground, he carefully placed it in a litter barrel on the city street. Good citizen, right? Wrong. The guy got a $35 ticket for littering. Can you explain that one to me?"
We're definitely a society filled with extremes—and not all of them are good ones. The rest of this story is that in Washington, D.C. the commitment to managing solid waste is absolute and has led to a zero-tolerance policy. For dropping trash in a litter barrel, you get a ticket? Yes. The District has an Improper Use of Litter Receptacles law which says that "Public wastepaper boxes shall not be used for the disposal of refuse incidental to the conduct of a household, store or other place of business." To combat illegal dumping, solid waste inspectors spot-check cans two nights per week. Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Works, told the Washington Post, "The purpose of public litter cans is for simple pedestrian trash-cups, food wrappers, a gum wrapper, the kind of thing you would have in your pocket... A bill is something one could assume had been mailed." Guess we'll have to decide city by city how much we can tolerate. Seems hard to teach folks to use the litter can if what they place there may cost them!
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