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Tensions mount over budget: Chairman Brown has accused DC's CFO Natwar Gandhi of concealing last year's $42 million budget surplus from the council "in cahoots" with Mayor Gray. Gandhi had shifted the surplus to another account, although insists it was a drafting error. (Post)

The signs of disengagement: Teachers are struggling to keep District kids in school, where only a bit more than half graduate. Identifying the warning signs early and heading off problems can make a big difference later on. (WAMU)

Up in arms over car barn: Activists in Kingman Park are protesting the streetcar car barn, currently slated to be built in the neighborhood. Residents say it will bring noise and disrupt the residential character of the area. (Post)

A walk down K Street: The center of downtown DC has strong ties to the recent past and grand plans for the future, but the oft-maligned K Street, NW, is far more than ugly glass boxes and curb cuts. (Post)

Confusion burns: The DC fire department is abuzz over orders allegedly issued regarding behavior for firefighters attending Mayor Gray's State of the District address. A DCFEMS spokesman denied the orders had ever been issued. (Washington Times)

First, they came for our land...: Anti-urbanist activists have started to use a conspiracy theory surrounding UN resolution Agenda 21 to oppose smart-growth and sustainability initiatives, calling them plots to take over property rights. (NYT)

Florida HSR would have been profitable: Governor Rick Scott canceled Florida's high-speed rail a year ago and refused $2 billion in federal funds. But, a new analysis shows, if he had accepted the money the line would have run a surplus. (TBO)

And...: The job of being a trash collector is highly coveted, and for good reason. (Post) ... A bill to make texting a primary offense has advanced out of committee in Virginia. (WAMU) ... The clarion rings to fight the House transportation proposal. (TTP)

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David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast working on his master's in city and regional planning at Cornell University. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin


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Minor quibble - the proposed streetcar maintenance facility will be across the street from Kingman Park, not actually in the neighborhood.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Feb 7, 2012 8:58 am • linkreport

Brilliant. NIMBY activists are aligned with the Tea Party and worse!

by William on Feb 7, 2012 9:05 am • linkreport

What's the Barn going to look like? Any possibility of mixed-use developmet?

The old car barns looked great and added to the neighborhoods ( ( (

Proxemity to a High School can be a problem or an opportunity. If they build a bland Metrobus-style can-of-a-building repair shed, it will be disruptive and waste space. But if they integrate its training facilities with the school to collaborate on a technical training curriculum for it students, it could supplement the existing school.

by Ronald on Feb 7, 2012 9:11 am • linkreport

Two things:

Agenda 21: This is like plan maryland. These activists should already realize that their use of their private property is restricted. The only thing Agenda 21 says is that governments should consider environmental impacts into the restrictions already in place. This would include removing a particular restriction to help the environment.

Streetcars: having one industrial use in a neighborhood (one that is operated by the gov't no less) does not change the character of a neighborhood. The bus garage on 14th doesn't somehow invalidate all the homes near there.

by x on Feb 7, 2012 9:15 am • linkreport

The NYT agenda 21 article is the worst sort of reporting. It paints these people as kooks, and therefore undermines any legitimate resistance to so-called "smart growth" policies. It is just like Hilary Clinton's "vast right-wing consiparacy" straw man -- demonize your opposition, which turns them into enemies.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

Re: car barn
It would be cool if they could build it on the old Pepco site that's phasing out completely this year (also across from Kingman Park). I think most of my neighbors would agree that ANYTHING is better than a Pepco plant.

It could potentially be built as a value-adding facility that isn't an eye-sore... but you're talking about a neighborhood that is the step-child of ward 7. We're gonna end up with a giant concrete block surrounded by a chain link fence.

by LoLo on Feb 7, 2012 9:36 am • linkreport

@LoLo -- Seems like a good idea; I was wondering about that myself.

But otoh I expect that 1) the Pepco plant is in private hands and the purchase of part of the property will have to be negotiated, causing some delay; and 2) in any case the site should probably stay in one piece to preserve all potential future uses of it.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 9:42 am • linkreport


No one sits down with their high school guidance counselor and answers that typical question with “I want to be a garbage man”.

I will admit it isn’t the worlds most pleasant job and “can” be somewhat dangerous. However, the world is filled with far more dangerous and /or unpleasant jobs. I get it… I spent my teens and early 20’s working crap jobs. Ever done roof construction in the summer? What about laying asphalt? I even worked in a slate quarry for a couple years. I have a buddy who works for the Philadelphia sewer auathority and whose job it is to crawl/walk though the cities sewage tunnels to inspect them. All of these jobs are just as dangerous (if not more) and backbreaking yet all of these folks are expected to work ~40 hours a week and don’t get paid any more.

It seems to me that the City needs to reevaluate the money it spends on trash collection. Having 241 people on the payroll that only work ~4 hours a day, or 20 hours a week seems like some pretty “low fruit” in terms of spending less and doing more, especially considering all of these people get full time benefits and pensions. That “average” salary of 36K a year is actually the equivalent of 72K a year.

The question is why are we paying 241 people to work half time, when we could pay ~120 people to work full time? And don’t give me “oh they hussle” crap. If anyone of us had jobs that only took us 3 or 4 hours a day, we either wouldn’t be full time employees or our bosses would find something else for us to do. This guy that they interview admits that when he started there were no truck lifts, no compactors and their routes took them 8 hours. We've made substantial efficieny improvements and if it only takes these guys 4 hours to do a route now, then send them on another. Or, we could meet halfway. Cut the workforce by 1/3rd instead of a half. Since the average crew is done is four hours, you could send them out for another half of a route so they are working 6 hours a day and save the taxpayer ~30 million a year.

Or if in this City of "jobs for everyone" we can't eliminate positions, atleast double up on the street trash collection shifts. Businesses all over the city spend a fortune via their BIDS on private trash collection on the public streets and sidewalks because the city can't or won't keep up with it. Seems like there is a lot of available "bandwith" there on the city side to take back this responsibility. is just easier to make drafting errors, hide tens of millions of dollars, scream the sky is falling and raise taxes only to "gasp" find a quarter of a billion dollars in surplus.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

The NYT agenda 21 article is the worst sort of reporting. It paints these people as kooks, and therefore undermines any legitimate resistance to so-called "smart growth" policies.

Perhaps it's a matter of reality having a well-known urbanist bias.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

+1 freely

That "$36k" figure is grossly misleading. These guys are getting paid a lot to work half a morning. You mean I can get paid like I work 40 hours, get all my benefits covered, and get a pension, AND I can still have a full time job on top of that? It's no wonder unions are less popular to the rest of us.

I don't really expect the city to do anything about this, though.

by Jeff on Feb 7, 2012 9:52 am • linkreport

Re: Firefighters -- Seriously? Department leadership is admitting publicly that they've publicly labeled the opposition to their policies as "racist"? Gee, there couldn't be any other explanation for disagreement with a radical revamping of the scheduling policy, designed to eliminate a large number of (distantly-residing) firefighters from the department.

by Arl Fan on Feb 7, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

Re: Agenda 21

Back in the SF Bay Area, the Agenda 21 folks are disrupting every meeting dealing with the regional plan, called One Bay Area. Take a look at what they sound like:

It's frustrating to see and hear people come to meetings believing they'll be shut out - they think planners are pre-screening acceptances, like they have a List of Truth-Tellers - and then end up shutting out everyone else by being disruptive.

by OctaviusIII on Feb 7, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

$36k for half-time work is not being overpaid given that the average household income in DC is $101k. They hustle; they earn their pay.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:05 am • linkreport

I don't know the ins and outs of garbage collecting but 18 or so dollars an hour is not some astronomical amount to make...even for "part-time" work. It's just not a lot of money....unless you're single w/no kids.

Maybe they could minimize the workforce but 38k? To collect garbage? That's barely entry-level pay.

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 10:10 am • linkreport

Goldfish, I have heard reasonable arguments against Smart Growth, but they're not coming from people who believe in Agenda 21. The article is pretty accurate; just because it's unflattering to the opposition doesn't mean it's a hit job.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 7, 2012 10:11 am • linkreport

@OctaviusIII: No one in the video said anything about "Agenda 21" or the UN or anything else like that; it shows reasonable (if emphatic) remarks by concerned citizens. They are not the kooks as portrayed in NYT article.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:13 am • linkreport

Goldfish, they are kooks. Listen to what they say.

by Terri on Feb 7, 2012 10:17 am • linkreport


Newt Gingrich supports the Agenda 21 concerns. He was briefly the leading GOP presidential candidate, he won the south carolina primary, he is still second to Romney in national GOP polls and delegate counts, etc, etc.

This is not marginal kooks. This is the tea party, and is a large part of the GOP.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 7, 2012 10:20 am • linkreport


This isn't some class warfare hitjob, and you seem to miss the fundamental point.

They aren't making $18 an hour. They are making $36 an hour. They work 4 hours a day (a 1040 work year instad of the normal 2080) and receive on average 36K a year.

Who in the US gets full time health and insurance coverage AND a fully funded pension for 20 hours a week?

This guy admitted there was more work to do when he started and that the efficienies that have been introduced into this line of work (can lifts, trash compactors) have drastically reduced the work load and time.

What we have is a 20th century labor model attached to a 21st century logistical solution.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 10:21 am • linkreport

@freely, 20 years ago, $36k for half-time work was excellent pay. Not any more. Don't believe me? Well then, would you consider it?

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

@x "Streetcars: having one industrial use in a neighborhood (one that is operated by the gov't no less) does not change the character of a neighborhood. The bus garage on 14th doesn't somehow invalidate all the homes near there.

That's not the issue.

Like it says in the linked article:
"“They never asked our opinion,” she said. “They just said: ‘here it is.’”

And that's a real problem. There's a reason we call our bureacrates 'public servants'. First and foremost they're there to serve the public. And that means consulting with the public to be affected. Not only the ones intended to be the beneficiaries of a public works project such as this one, but also those expected to contribute more to its success than those just riding the trolley. Yes, the public servants have to balance the interests of all the public they serve, but at a minimum they should have sat down with the neighbors to be affected by the car barn and asked 'Is this acceptable to you? If not, what can we do to make it acceptable to you?'

by Lance on Feb 7, 2012 10:29 am • linkreport

@goldfish - uh, for unskilled labor, yes, I'd say that $36k for 20 hours a week is in fact a very good salary.

by worthing on Feb 7, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

Freely, do sanitation workers in other cities collect trash for a full 8hours? I don't know what the "average" work hours are but working from 6 to 11 (on good days) doesn't seem so out of the ordinary. I'm not going to get into calculating their base salary+benefits, then saying they're overpaid. Not when the take home pay amounts to, yes, 18bucks an hour?

If I had a better idea what workers in other cities make and their hours, I could probably cosign better to what you said. But my knee-jerk reaction just won't be "oh they're overpaid" when I don't have anything else to compare them to.

18/hr still isn't a lot of money though.

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 10:38 am • linkreport


20 years ago, it wasn't 36K, it was ~22K (inflation), AND they were working full 8 hour days.

Would "I" work a part time job for $36 an hour (with a fully funded pension and health benefits to boot that then allowed half a work week to do something else? It wouldn't have been too long ago that I would have. While I've reahed a point now where I don't have to, I spent quite a bit of time in my youth (see above) working worse jobs for a heck of a lot less.

But there are tons of people out there working full time jobs without benefits pulling in $10-12 an hour.

There are mechanical, civil and eletrical engineers graduating from college making 40-50K a year (full time, for an hourly wage of $24 dollars an hour) and they certainly dont get pensions.

I am a little puzzled that you can't acknowledge that these guys have a pretty good thing going. If I barely graduated highschool and had a choice of jobs between slinging frys at McDonalds for 25K a year full time, and slinging bags of trash for 36K a year part time (with pensions and healthcare to boot), you bet your ass I would choose this.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

@Goldfish ... that $36/hr translates into about $150,000 for 40 hrs per week ... Not bad chump change ... Yes, I know they only work half that time ... but still, $75,000 a year is far more than most white collar professionals earn in this country and THEY have to work at least 40 hrs a week (most work far more if they're not government) and have to invest a lot in education costs. That, plus as someone noted, they're getting full time health care and other benefits AND they're free to get another part time job with the 20+ hours left to work in the week. Something's wrong here ...

by Lance on Feb 7, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity: you are doing the very thing I am complaining about, damning people by their associations (Agenda 21 = Tea Party = Newt Gingrich = anti-urbanists). This make them your enemy; this is neither smart nor "smart growth." I have no doubt that some people really are kooks, but to broadly connect them to "anti-urbanists" does us all a disservice.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

BTW, the article states, As long as the weather and traffic cooperate, sanitation workers who start work at 6:30 a.m. can be done by the time most desk jockeys are pondering their second cup of coffee.

So can we drop the 20hrs/week line?

Also, I willing to bet that somebody put a bug in the worker's ear who seems to be bragging about not working long hours. I would guess he was too geeked to realize that it just wouldn't read well since he had no control over how it was presented.

And I don't know what "kids" he's able to spend more time with by getting home @noon. Shouldn't they be in school anyway?

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

If they cut their pay from $36/hour to $15-20/hour, do you think they would have trouble filling the jobs? A lot of unskilled laborers make a lot less than even that amount. Even waiters make a lot less than $36/hour.

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

@Lance, check your arithmetic. $36*2000 hr/year = $72k.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

@Freely, where are you reading the information about fully funded pensions?

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

Like it says in the linked article:
"“They never asked our opinion,” she said. “They just said: ‘here it is.’”

There is nothing in the article about the schedule that was posted about it either so she may just be talking out of her whatever. She doesn't substantiate the claim at all. Nor does the story's writer try to find out what happened and makes it purely about the noise the "transformation" of the neighborhood that is apparently on such a thin line that a tire shop has irrevocably changed the neighborhood.

by X on Feb 7, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

@goldfish I did not state that ALL anti-urbanists are concerned with Agenda 21, are tea partiers, or are Newt Gingrich supporters.

However the tea party and the Newt Gingrich campaign are NOT marginal groups, they are part of the GOP mainstream. Given that, its quite possible there are as many or more folks whose anti-urbanism is informed by concern over Agenda 21, as there are other vocal anti-urbanist folks.

I mean does the fact that many people who are concerned about income inequality are NOT part of the Occupy movement, mean that coverage of the Occupy movement is a deliberate distortion.

I am NOT saying that all opposition to urbanism is like the anti Agenda 21 people. The NYT article itself said that. I do not see evidence that the NYT is biased, because it reports on a position that is now mainstream GOP politics.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 7, 2012 10:54 am • linkreport

@freely: the pay is not as good as you think. The inexperienced and the bad workers have no choice but to work in jobs that underpay. As soon as they have the experience, they see other opportunities and they move on. If you need reliable, experienced people to stay at a job, you need to pay them more than what they make at McDonald's.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 10:55 am • linkreport


Why are we dropping the 20 hours a week line? Had you read the very next sentence from the one you quoted you would have seen... “You can be finished by 10, 11 o’clock in the morning"

It was the very next sentence.

Hmm...6:30am to 10-11am is 4 to 4.5 hours a day which is 20-22.5 hours a week.

So how is this NOT a ~20 hour a week job?

If you finished your job every day in 4 hours would your boss be ok sending you home and continuing to pay you or would he/she find something else for you to do?

These guys make (at a minimum) of $36 dollars an hour. End of story, a wage that is the envy of many a folk who work full time ~40 hour jobs.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 10:57 am • linkreport

@Freely, if I posted a line from the article, it stands to reason that I would have read the very next sentence.

What I read is a line by the author introducing the next idea which is, "they don't work long hours." But the same article says that time also depends on the day. It is not a cut/dry 4 hour workday and the article you're referring to NEVER suggests otherwise. You are.

I don't think it would be easy to find out what the official hours for sanitation workers are. Instead of always assuming that everything DC gov't does is wrong, why not research or at least offer some information for us to consider rather than your opinion. Like, where is the information discussing their fully paid pensions and how does that differ from workers in other similarly situated areas? What's wrong with discussing that?

You keep talking about 36/hr as if that's their take home pay. It's not. But you (and likely others) will keep saying it in an effort to make it true. Stop it!

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

@DA: link does not work.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

I don't think it would be hard to find out what the official....

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 11:15 am • linkreport

@freely-this is a philosophical perspective, "There are mechanical, civil and eletrical engineers graduating from college making 40-50K a year (full time, for an hourly wage of $24 dollars an hour) and they certainly dont get pensions."

Mine is that a primary benefit of an education is that you have a choice to do a job that is interesting, not dangerous and not unpleasant; not so that you can make more money than someone w/o the education (although that is often the case). If engineers envy the sanitation workers' pay, hours and benes they are free to apply for those jobs.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2012 11:20 am • linkreport

Yes, worthing, $36K for a 20 hour workweek is equal to $72K. The people I know who make $72K (and under, actually) all have BAs, most MAs and work one of those "40 hour weeks", meaning 50+.

Yes, it's physically demanding. But the fact that the jobs are nearly impossible to come by hints at a serious supply/demand imbalance which strongly suggests they're overpaid for the work they do.

by Catherine on Feb 7, 2012 11:21 am • linkreport

Sorry, Goldfish, I feel compelled to pile here and agree that yes, all those folks you mentioned truly are kooks. ;)

by MrTinDC on Feb 7, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

Is anybody really surprised about NIMBYs in Kingman Park? This is the same neighborhood that refused to have a Metro station in the vicinity of Oklahoma Avenue nearly a half-century ago. And now after all these years, a legitimate fixed-guideway alternative is proposed for their neighborhood and they haven't learned anything from their mistakes.

by Reza on Feb 7, 2012 11:25 am • linkreport

Maybe if the sanitation workers didn't move at warp speed, they would be more thorough--and not habitually miss pickups. I used to live in a DC alley, and it was hit or miss. And DPW adamantly refused to pick up recycling from the alley--despite frequent service requests. Woe to anyone who didn't put their trash in bags. It would end up, loose, on the ground. Another favorite tactic is to walk down the streets well in advance of the trucks, and leave large piles of trash bags "adorning" the parking lanes. And they leave the cans willy-nilly all over the place, lids open, on their sides, sometimes a half-block away. Occasionally I'd come home from work and have to hunt up and down the block for "our" cans. DC trash workers appear "lightly supervised" to say the least.

Meanwhile, Arlington County (where trash pickup is privatively) reports that a change in contractors will save residents money. At my new home in Arlington, you are billed for trash service on your water bill. DC trash and recycling "service" is yet another thing I don't miss about the District.

by Paulus on Feb 7, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

I totally disagree with this prevailing notion that just b/c you have a college degree you automatically deserve more pay than someone w/out. No you don't.

What you get is a choice of working at a job that isn't dangerous and boring; you get to choose work that is safe and interesting. If you want to make more money doing something that is boring and dangerous-go for it. But those w/o the education don't have the same array of choices for work that is safe and interesting. Having the freedom of that choice is a primary benefit of education.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

Garbage collectors making a decent wage isn't new. It's a necessary job that's often dirty, requiring early hours, and quite a bit of manual labor. There also tends to be a smell that sticks with you. Some of my best memories as a child were my dad explaining how a man working hard (even doing things others might not want to) could save and invest his money and own land. Then we would go visit a "park." The park was the privately owned land of a garbage collector who owned a house and several acres of land, but wanted the land to be used as a community park. He was a hard working man people appreciated and recognized for hard work.

How many posters here are working a "40-hour week"?

by selxic on Feb 7, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport


Are you sure? I just clicked and it went through fine. What's the error, a 404?

by David Edmondson on Feb 7, 2012 12:01 pm • linkreport

@DE: It is working now. About 30 minutes ago, the 3-4 times I tired it it gave error 503 I think. Thanks for your attention.

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 12:04 pm • linkreport

How many posters here are working a "40-hour week"?

A 40-hour week? That'd be part time.

I'm having a tough time getting upset that DC trash collectors make an average of $3000/month. Some days may be be 4 hour days, but others may be 6 or 7. And if you plan for a 4 hour day, and there's traffic, or weather, or whatever, all of a sudden there's a lot of overtime, or routes don't get serviced. I see trash collection as perhaps the most important municipal responsibility, maybe behind fire and police. It's OK with me if the department is slightly overstaffed.

Having said all that, there's simply no excuse for missed pickups, partial pickups, or leaving cans blocks away.

by dcd on Feb 7, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

I'm with HogWash, (for once), where are you guys getting the garbage pay information?

I see the following data points:
- Article says the AVERAGE pay is $36K
- One guy says it's great because he's done in 4-4.5 hours.

Somehow then you all extrapolate that out to "these garbage guys all make $36 an hour! AND they only work half as much as the rest of us!" Seriously?

You know nothing about how many hours the average worker works in a week, the average shift, none of that.

This is sloppy math even for this group.

by MLD on Feb 7, 2012 12:12 pm • linkreport

I totally disagree with this prevailing notion that just b/c you have a college degree you automatically deserve more pay than someone w/out.

Did anyone say that? No one deserves to automatically get any level of pay. Folks deserve to get what the market is willing to pay them. It's highly likely that if the market set the wages of DC trash collectors, it would be pretty similar to what Arlington trash collectors get paid -- that is, a lot lower.

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2012 12:13 pm • linkreport


Now you've gotten into the realm of ridiculous. Take home pay? Who mentioned that? How do I know what his takehome pay is. Do we talk about anyones job and "take home pay"?

What about that full time guy flinging frys at McD's for 9 bucks an hour..whats his take home pay?

This guy makes ~36 bucks an hour. His takehome pay depends on him. He makes 36K a year and works ~20 hours a week. This isn't rocket science.

As far as assumptions go, I am not assuming anything. The article was very clear in that people like the jobs because the hours are light and pay good. Then the collector himself stated factually that being done by 10 or 11 is common, followed up by a story of how he has another job because he has the time. If you think the collector and author are both wrong and the other 240 collectors work 10 hour days, then by all means prove it to us.

I agree with Catherine. The fact that there is practically zero turnover and their ranks are filled with people who keep their jobs for decades, that there is a severe supply/demand inbalance and that DC could follow Arlingtons (or anyone of the other local jurisdictions that hire out their trash collection) model and save not only a bundle of money but get better service.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

You know nothing about how many hours the average worker works in a week, the average shift, none of that.

While the article doesn't provide hard data, the implication is certainly that they work significantly less than 40 hours per week. Significantly less than garbage collectors in Las Vegas and nationally:

According to the former contract, the trash collectors work 45
hours per week. The average time on the clock for a garbage collector in the U.S.
ranges between 35 and 40 hours per week.

According to BLS data, DC has the second highest paid garbage collectors:

In 2008, the states where refuse collectors earned the highest hourly average payment were New York ($22.64), District of Columbia ($20.81), Washington ($20.13), California ($19.77) and Alaska ($19.49). States close behind in the running were Illinois ($18.15) and Wisconsin ($18.06).

Read more: How Much Does a Garbage Man Make? |

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2012 12:27 pm • linkreport

Another item from the story: gratuities. I never tipped a garbage collector and I don't think anyone else on the block did. But maybe it's commonplace is the tonier neighborhoods. Jonah Goldberg tips his collectors, reporting deep in Ward 3 somewhere.

by Paulus on Feb 7, 2012 12:38 pm • linkreport

@Freely, I've gotten ridiculous for looking at the article, repeating the fact that they make 36k, then concluding that they make around 18/hr? That's ridiculous?

Yet, you've doubled the salary and added a "full" pension based on something that article never once alluded to. And you're the reasonable one here? Are we reading and commenting on the same article because your logic is totally ridiculous here.

Do we talk about take home pay? No we don't. But we also don't inflate "salary" and assume that 36k really isn't the actual salary because it doesn't account for benefits. Since when is that ever standard? Anyone with a benefits package will always "make more" than what their actual salary suggests. What's your issue with following the same standard here other than just wanting to be right?

This article was clear in that it seems to have interviewed one man who has worked the same job for 42 years and another for 25. That's what is clear about it and as I mentioned, if we were truly interested in the veracity of that, it seems as if contacting DPW is a good place to start. But I know that you aren't since you most always have something negative (and I mean just something) to say about dc workers. In this case, you're upset that trash collectors make 36k.

I am in awe how you now ask me to provide you with evidence backing up something I said when much of what you've said has been assumed based on nothing more than the slant from which you read anything gov't related.

And cosigning Catherine means that you too WANT the sanitation dept to experience high turnovers so as to make the job and options more "balanced." You haven't presented one shred of evidence concluding that the city is losing money by paying them 36k a year. It does, (as I said) keep the "anti-gov't" meme growing strong though.

How dare sanitation workers get paid 18/hr. How dare they!

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 12:41 pm • linkreport

For comparisons sake,

Arlington County actually reduced their trash collection fees this year by 5% and spends 13.5 million a year in trash collection for its 207K person population, or $65 dollars per yr per resident.

DPW's Trash collection and disposal budget this year is 62 million dollars for our 617K population, or $100 dollars per resident.

So, here we have it. District residents spend 54% more per year per resident to collect trash than does Arlington County.

There could be a couple marginal ancillary sources for a percentage of that difference but we spend half again as much than Arlington and there is no reason for it.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 12:46 pm • linkreport

@FChurch While the article doesn't provide hard data, the implication is certainly that they work significantly less than 40 hours per week. Significantly less than garbage collectors in Las Vegas and nationally:

So you think Vegas to DC and DC to Cali are good comparisons?

This wasn't a study. It was an interview with two people.

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

In defense of Kingman Park "NIMBYs", the neighborhood wasn't against the metro station -- it was opposed to the huge park n' ride facility that was planned to go with it. They wanted to make Kingman Park a hub for Md commuters. I'm glad it didn't go through, even if it meant that we lost out on our own metro stop.

by LoLo on Feb 7, 2012 12:50 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church-Did anyone say that?

Yes it was implied several times by freely, catherine and others that those with bachelors, masters and engineering degrees who make 50k are somehow getting slighted b/c the sanitation workers are getting 36K or even 50K in line with the degreed. I'm saying those MAs and engineers are free to get other jobs-jobs that are dangerous, unpleasant and boring, if those other jobs pay more.

A degree by itself is not entitlement to higher income than someone w/o a degree. There is this notion that if an MA is getting 50K then someone w/o a degree automatically should make less. Bulls**t.

I don't think I'm disagreeing w/ what you said. (I won't get into my belief in human dignity over greed). In essence I think I'm agreeing with you, if you concurr that if your job pays x, then thats the pay and its irrelevant if you have a degree. My point is that having a degree allows one to choose jobs that are interesting and not dangerous. A degree doesn't entitle you to more pay than someone doing a dangerous boring job that doesn't require a degree.

by Tina on Feb 7, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
2. Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD
3. Colorado Springs, CO
4. New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ
5. El Paso, TX
6. Springfield, MA
7. Baton Rouge, LA
8. Tacoma, WA
9. Baltimore-Towson, MD
10. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

Perhaps MD-VA is narcissm of small differences, compared to the rest of the country. Although I am puzzled about the difference between the DC metro region and Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick.

by charlie on Feb 7, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash: I don't mind garbage collectors having a pretty good gig, for more or less the same reasons Tina mentions. Providers of critical services should be paid well as far as unskilled labor goes. However, the DC garbage collectors clearly do not make $18 an hour, as you're repeatedly espousing. Falls Church has posted BLS stats to that effect, and there are plenty of very clear implications in the article as well.

The real discussion point here, if any, is "what is the best amount for DC to pay providers of unskilled essential services," not "you don't know they don't work 40 hours and by the way why do you begrudge them their benefits?" I think freely's point regarding benefits--put aside the pension comment for now--is that 20-30 hour/week jobs very rarely provide benefits commensurate with those who work 40, if they provide any at all. That's one of the reasons this is such a valuable job.

by worthing on Feb 7, 2012 12:58 pm • linkreport

@Worthing, ok, they don't make 18/hr..they make more...2 dollars more which brings it to 20/hr. I don't think the 2 hours amounts to me being sooo offbase with my hourly assumption though.

I don't even think "what is the best amount" is the discussion at all. It seems focused simply on, "they make too much for doing so little." That they're milking the "system" somehow in a way that's unfair.

What part of the article discusses how the benefits are commensurate with those who work 40hr weeks?

Many "part-time" jobs offer a benefits package. The problem is that most people with those jobs can't afford the insurance nor do they invest. Your local supermarket offers "benefits packages" to its part-time employees.

evenm McDonalds does

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 1:21 pm • linkreport

Paulus: FWIW, I have not had problems with the trash folks. They do leave the cans lying on their sides or upside down, but it's a simple matter to reorient them, and besides I have to put them back in the place against the fence where they normally sit outside trash day, anyway.

by David Alpert on Feb 7, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash: I don't even think "what is the best amount" is the discussion at all. It seems focused simply on, "they make too much for doing so little." That they're milking the "system" somehow in a way that's unfair.

I'm saying it should be the discussion, or at least the natural jump-off point from that initial gut reaction.

by worthing on Feb 7, 2012 1:52 pm • linkreport proposed legitimate rationale or reasoning why DC pays ~54 percent more per capita for the same trash collection and disposal services that Arlington gets?

That is because there isn't any.

by freely on Feb 7, 2012 2:11 pm • linkreport

@freely, your point is valid. Except how does the service compare? On Capitol Hill the trash trucks come by twice a week. How often in Arlington?

by goldfish on Feb 7, 2012 4:35 pm • linkreport

@goldfish. Not on all of Capitol Hill. Just the historic district (smaller cans require more frequent pickup).

by Tim Krepp on Feb 7, 2012 4:38 pm • linkreport

Except how does the service compare? On Capitol Hill the trash trucks come by twice a week. How often in Arlington?

As a former Arlington resident, I can verify that the service is excellent -- both reliable and professional. Service was once a week but Arlington is much less dense than DC, so it takes longer to service everyone.

Why not just end any discussion of whether DC garbage collectors get paid too much by hiring a reputable waste management company to do the job? They can pay their workers whatever they want as long as DC gets a nationally competitive price and reliable service. That's how Arlington does it.

In essence I think I'm agreeing with you, if you concurr that if your job pays x, then thats the pay and its irrelevant if you have a degree.

I agree. Bill Gates doesn't have a degree and he made plenty. Plenty of arts majors don't have a job, much less a high salary.

by Falls Church on Feb 7, 2012 4:51 pm • linkreport

@freely proposed legitimate rationale or reasoning why DC pays ~54 percent more per capita for the same trash collection and disposal services that Arlington gets?

You seem to be more interesting in attacking DC "scofflaws" than anyone else in this thread. So no, there is no proposed rationale for a topic that no one was even aware of until today. What we do see is that you clearly have a really BIG issue with city workers making 38k/yr. But then again, I've yet to see you express anything positive about DC gov't. So this attack on garbage men making 38k/yr is consistent with your previous anti-DC anyting position.

by HogWash on Feb 7, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

Now wait a minute here. It sounds as though the average salary of $36,000 is after many years on the job. It doesn't say what the starting wages are. So if you're comparing an entry-level engineering job to a 20-year veteran making $36K, that's hardly apples and oranges. What would an average engineer make after 10 years on the job. You can debate whether turnover should be higher, but that's another question.

And I wonder if the city provides an incentive for collecting trash more quickly. It said sometimes you can finish up at 10 or 11. I happen to know my collection is sometimes picked up at 2 p.m.

by lou on Feb 7, 2012 6:10 pm • linkreport

Re: Garbagemen. God bless 'em. I could complain about 'em but fact is, they deal with our shit. You cannot argue with that. Down and dirty, smelly and oozy, they deal with it every time. Well almost every time.

by Jack Love on Feb 7, 2012 7:23 pm • linkreport

I agree with both sides on trashgate. The wages seem high, but i am reminded of numerous studies that show you can save money by paying compabies who hire cheaper people but then you have to pay addtnl benefits to saif workers because the lower wages cant be lived on. Therefore you end up worse than you were before

by h street landlord on Feb 7, 2012 11:19 pm • linkreport

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