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Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Mayor Skibitsky States DPW Fleet Not Capable Of Handling "This Type Of Storm"......TFoTM Says "Good Excuse" But We Don't Buy It
On Wednesday, December 29th, The Fact of The Matter reported that Westfield DPW workers had been scheduled for a furlough day on Monday December 27th, the day the biggest snowstorm of the year would end up dumping close to 30 inches of snow in our area. Mayor Skibitsky, please forgive us if The Fact of The Matter caused your phone to ring with residents asking about the furlough day we reported. Today, the Westfield Patch published a story about the furlough day and also asked Mayor Skibitsky some questions that the Mayor, informed or not, answered.
According to Mayor Skibitsky, last Monday's scheduled furlough day was cancelled. The Fact of The Matter asks: Why was a furlough day scheduled for late December when snowfall is a risk? Was it to extend the holiday weekend? That sure was a lesson learned. With regards to DPW workers showing up for work on the rescinded furlough day the Mayor stated, "They were called back in and responded, all but one showed up and I don't know why he wasn't there." The Fact of The Matter knows why......he is out of work with an injury.
The Mayor said, "Thirty seven out of 38 came back in." Actually Mayor Skibitsky, 35 of the 38 came back in. The one person previously mentioned is out injured and the other two just didn't show up. Correction: A total of 5 DPW workers were MIA....2 due to injuries and 3 others did not show up. So 33 of 38 responded.
The Westfield Patch also reported that "Skibitsky said the DPW's main concern early on had been the main roads in town, before moving on to the secondary roads." Not True. The superintendent was directing his men to their assigned areas throughout the night and did not direct them to prioritize the main roads as the Mayor suggests. Anyone with a scanner can tune in to the DPW's mayday calls.
The Westfield Patch further reports that "Skibitsky defended the town's response to the storm, saying that the size of the blizzard, which dumped over two-feet of snow on the town made it tough to clear the streets quickly. The blizzard has been cited as one of the five worst snowstorms to hit New Jersey." This storm was no different then any of the other snowstorms we have had in excess of 24 inches when the streets and downtown were plowed and cleared of snow without fanfare.
The Mayor stated, "This is one of the worst storms in recorded history." "There were drifts that were three to four feet high." Mayor, I thought snow drifts occur up against structures where wind swept snow has nowhere to go. How does that hinder plowing roads?
The Mayor also stated "Because of the size of the drifts our trucks got stuck, which took time away from plowing. We don't have a fleet of trucks to handle this type of storm." Mayor, the fleet of trucks Westfield has, has handled this type of snow in the past. Actually, some of the trucks got stuck because they are light in the rear end. When a truck makes a right turn off a street onto another street, the accumulated snow piled on the corner will often cause a truck to get stuck if it tries to "plow" through such a large mound. These are not snow drifts, they are mounds of snow plowed into a corner where one street meets another.
The Westfield Patch reports Skibitsky said that while in past storms the town would have DPW workers come in overnight to handle downtown streets and parking lots, the time needed to clear town roads prevented that from occurring this year.
Front End Loader
Mayor Skibitsky, what may have prevented the parking lots from being cleared on time was stuck plows. Typically the lots are cleared as the storm goes on, by front end loaders, however those loaders were being used to rescue snowbound plows. The Mayor said that the DPW staff had worked over 36 hours clearing the roads and town officials did not feel it would be safe to have them handle overnight clearing of the lots.
Mayor, I agree with you that the fleet of trucks the DPW supervisors drive couldn't handle a 5 inch snowfall. The 3 Dodge Durango's, and the Jeep Cherokee that these men occupy are nothing more than a drain on the taxpayer during a snowstorm. When these vehicles are no longer useful to the DPW fleet, may we suggest that Ford F150's or Dodge Ram Pickups be purchased so that plows can be mounted to them and the supervisors can assist in clearing the snow. Why not have these DPW supervisors out plowing with the others.
Here is an idea for the next storm. Divide the manpower up so that you can run two seperate shifts allowing the plows to run 24 hours until the roads and lots are clear. You would be paying 8 hours straight time with 4 hours overtime to each man, but the plows are running continuous. If you are worried about overtime costs, have 3 shifts of 8 hours each. Spread out the manpower to keep the trucks running. Most importantly, get your supervisors to lead by example and plow instead of just driving around in their SUV's or hanging out in the garage.
In an emergency such as this past snowstorm, come up with a contingency plan between the union workers and management to adjust manpower schedules to the needs of the town. Mayor Skibitsky said "That regardless of funds, clearing the streets remained a priority for the town, from a safety perspective and allowing for residents to get to work." If thats the case, then why were they not done the way they have been done in past years when just as much snow has fallen.
The town had the benefit of a "holiday week" where kids were off school, people were off work and on vacation, and there was less commuter traffic.
Mayor Skibitsky, My "fleet" was able to handle this "type of storm.". My fleet consists of a snowblower and two shovels. Starting early before the snow got to deep, allowed my fleet to combat Mother Nature with ease. But then again, no furlough days scheduled in my household. No overtime costs to incur here. But I did have to pay for the gas that ran the snowblower up and down the block clearing my neighbors sidewalks and driveway aprons. And I didn't even throw any snow in the street.
Just think Mayor, the worst of the Winter is yet to come, cross your fingers, and your toes, now your arms, and don't forget your legs. Now pray for no more snow so we don't have to write another one of these informative blogs filled with information, sarcasm, and a little satirical humor. Satire, something Mr. Foerst likes to dabble in.