Woodrow Clark, left, city of Columbus garage director, and Mark Ward, Columbus Fire and Rescue chief of training, listen to Public Works Director Mike Pratt speak during a Monday retreat.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett Buy this photo.
Mike Pratt, director of Public Works for the city of Columbus, speaks Monday at a city retreat. City officials and department heads gathered Monday at Plymouth Bluff in Lowndes County for departmental reports and to discuss city business.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett Buy this photo.
July 20, 2010 9:02:00 AM
During a retreat for city officials Monday, the Columbus City Council expressed concerns of underutilized police substations and underperforming Public Works Department crews.
City department heads presented their goals and objectives for their departments, during the retreat held at Plymouth Bluff.
Columbus Assistant Police Chief Joe Johnson, in Chief Joseph St. John''s absence, listed the goals of the Columbus Police Department, including objectives to "reduce crime in substation areas."
"What''s the concept of the substations?" Ward 6 Councilman Kabir Karriem asked, noting he received complaints of substations -- which citizens in his ward worked to make comfortable for officers by providing food and beverages -- not being used often.
"A substation should be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Johnson admitted. "(But) you get into a personnel and scheduling process. That would call for additional personnel. We don''t have that luxury in manpower."
"Why do we have so many of them?" Karriem asked, referring to the department''s five substations.
"It gives a sense of security," Johnson responded. "Those guys may take their breaks there. Just that (police) vehicle parked there (at the substation) gives the perception police are present."
"I hope this substation thing can be revisited," Karriem said, asking for a "report" detailing the function of substations and how they will be managed.
"Why are you not putting people on light duty at these (substations)?" Ward 2 Councilman Charlie Box asked.
"Usually reserve (officers) have other jobs and they work during the day," Johnson said "In this day and time, we have to be very careful about the deployment of light-duty people in certain areas.
"We know we have a long way to go," Johnson added. "There are some things we look forward to doing."
Public Works Director Mike Pratt noted Columbus Action Center improvements since the last city retreat, held in January.
Additionally, he reported city crews are busy with a "huge list" of ditches needing work performed.
"We''re trying to get through that list now," he said. "We''re slowly making a step into it. We''re not doing any big paving or patching jobs right now, because I''ve got every operator I''ve got working in a ditch right now."
City crews also are working their way through eight dilapidated houses to be demolished and 85 overgrown lots to be mowed.
Another of Pratt''s goals is to "hire better-skilled people" and he will ask for additional personnel in next year''s budget, he noted.
Box suggested a five-day work week, instead of the city''s current four-day work schedule, would improve productivity in public works crews.
"Everybody knows they''re just hanging around on their shovels," he said, noting they should not be "rewarded" with a three-day weekend. "Put them back on a five-day work week and let them know why."
"The heat makes them tired earlier," said Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin.
"It''s a knee-jerk reaction to do something like that," said Mike Bernsen, the city''s chief financial officer. "Putting them on a five-day work week is not a punishment."
"Whether it''s a five-day work week or a four-day work week, when the heat''s up like this, they''re going to slow down," Pratt, who doesn''t believe a five-day work week would lead to more productivity, said of his crews. "(But) I''ve got some that are that way even when it''s cooled down."
Public Works Department crews currently receive a 15-minute break in the mornings, a 30-minute break for lunch and another 15-minute break in the afternoons, Pratt reported.
"I have seen an improvement (in Public Works), but there are still some things that are not being handled," Karriem said.
"It still boils down to accountability," said Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, who noted "very little" is being done by public works crews.
Box suggested Pratt start documenting incidences of crew members being reprimanded for performance problems.
"You see what has to be done, so it rests on your shoulders," Smith said to Pratt.
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/21/2010 8:21:00 AM:
Say it isn't so!!! Low productivity from the shovel dancers? A backlog of work yet to be done? Awww man, this is gonna cause one of Birneys roses to wilt.
columbusfan commented at 7/21/2010 12:48:00 PM:
If they are slowing down because of the heat, why not alter their work hours. If they are not being productive during a regular shift, make them come in an hour earlier; then during the heat of the day say between 1-3 let them off and then back to work from 3 until all of their hours are in. They probably wont like the idea of coming in early and staying later but if they work this schedule a while, they may decide that they will be productive
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/22/2010 9:44:00 AM:
UH, work at night? Hello??
A trip to any fast food place in town will show you what you can expect in the way of productivity. Sure they get the food out the window fast, but you're getting a cold, smashed sideways, messed up order and gotta go back after the fries token of their appreciation.
And you'll get the same from the City Crews and it's your own fault Columbus. For years, if not decades, this has been allowed to go on. Ten minutes of weedwacking followed by 15 minutes of standing around talking. A hole in the ground with 3 people dancing on their shovel while one digs.
You can see it at City Hall too which makes them asking about it all the more funny.
doj commented at 7/22/2010 11:15:00 AM:
Three airconditioned pickups and a golf car to follow and watch one lone walker pick up a couple of beer cans on the side of the road. Two tractor with bushhogs. One cutting grass, the other following behind not cutting, just following, then both stopping in the shade to rest after cutting both sides of the street for a whole two blocks. Two dump trucks, a pickup, and a backhoe with five people standing around watching one man with a shovel clean out a ditch. Three empty trash trucks driving down the street at different times, stopping and looking at a small bushel sized pile of limbs, then driving off without picking it up. The problem is planning and supervision. Plan what needs to be done, assemble the equipment and personnel needed to do the job, and then supervise the work. You can't supervise from an airconditioned office at the City Barn. Specify what you expect to be done, and if it isn't done, fire somebody and get somebody that will do the work. Forget the heat, that's just an excuse for not working. It's hot to the citizens too, but they work to pay your salaries.