Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Snow job

Mother nature finally came to the rescue this week, melting much of the snow city Public Works plows seemingly couldn’t clear. February’s last wintry gusts made it a rough going in the city last week, after one arctic blast after the next pummeled the northeast. But while crews around the Capital Region hustled to clear roads, it almost seemed like the city’s Public Works plows stopped running altogether.

Streets buried by Tuesday’s storm remained largely covered Wednesday, despite a snow emergency being declared by the city. Temperatures dipped to -10 degrees and lower iced down just about anything exposed to the elements for more than a few seconds. And then another storm hit Friday.

Simply put, the city’s roads and walkways were abominable over this spell. Even a warming trend over the weekend didn’t seem to clear much. Overall, the city streets seemed starkly different from those maintained by the state, county and other municipalities.

In the warm world of cyberspace, there’s been a quiet but audible murmur about the either failing response or absence of action by Public Works crews. The easiest criticism to launch is against Skip Scirocco, the department’s newly installed commissioner, who is getting a taste of a primary function his post governs: Snow removal. Early critics suggest it’s Scirocco’s ineptitude in running Public Works that lead to the drastically bad conditions last week.

But Scirocco is one of the only changes the DPW has witnessed between this winter and last. In truth, the department -including Deputy Commissioner Pat Design -hasn’t changed very much at all. This suggests there could be a more concerted effort to balk the new leadership; a “mutiny underplow,” as one anonymous poster suggested on a Saratogian blog.

And then there’s the more official, but less believable cause for the snow-choked thoroughfares: No salt. The Capital Region’s media has blathered on at infinitum over the waning supply of road salt in the area has forced crews to combine their remaining supplies with sand. The result has been less melt on the roadways and thus a bit more snow for residents to slog through, they contend.

Interestingly enough, crews only now seem like they’re starting to remove the massive snow piles narrowing roads and blinding corners, nearly a week after the brunt of the storms touched down. This is despite Scirocco declaring another snow emergency Saturday and pronounced spells without winter weather last week, during which DPW dump trucks would ordinarily be seen hauling snow out of the streets.

Perhaps all this is quite subjective; it’s tough to gauge the response from one snow storm to the next. And perhaps Scirocco and Design are trying to reduce the department’s level of overtime during the closing moments of a season when rank-and-file workers rack up the extra pay.

However, the seemingly poor performance last week could also be the harbinger of some departmental breakdowns in wake of the DPW’s first commissioner change in decades. At the very least, Scirocco should offer the public some sort of report about the ongoing clean up effort tonight, if for no other reason than to allay the perception of its slow progress and the formation of a departmental rift

46 Comments:

Anonymous Kyle York said...

Woaaaaa...slow down and smell the graywacke. That's right, graywacke. It smells like...Victory in the morning.

Actually, it's like road salt...and it 's the natural local gravel that's part of our DPW's Weapons of Winter Destruction.

There is no revolt, no insurgency, no war on Skipporism. We face the same shortage as all regional towns. The DPW veterans are still the best.

Leadership counts. Ask around. If Pat Design asked crews to tackle the snow with teaspoons, they'd dig till their knuckles bled.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous jmcmahon@spa.net said...

Tommy, we miss ya..........

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The effect of the snowstorms may have been compounded by the rain and the reduced amount of available salt but the road troops were, as hard to find as our City's police cars.

It probably does have more to do with overtime management than rebellion, but we can be glad that we won’t hear that City’s roads and walkways last month were the result of a discriminating 123-year-old building.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on. No one is new in the PW department. If someone is slacking they are deliberately trying to make McT look good. An impossible task.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only the streets, but the curbsides are particularly horrible. The icebergs blocking the entrances to sidewalks make "healthy transportation" nearly impossible. This is ANOTHER lawsuit against the city just waiting to happen. DPW - get on the ball!!

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny... when Providence became gridlocked in snow this winter I fondly remembered upstate New York's efficient snow removal. I guess that's a thing of the past.

No more dive bars, Kinney is leaving the Saratogian and a shortage of road salt? What is happening up there!

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skippy’s performance has been dismal at best. The employees who supported his and Pats coup now feel entitled to do as they please. Not only has their plowing been slow and lazy there are widespread reports of city trucks plowing private driveways some as far away as Greenfield. There have also been reports of retaliatory behavior against known McTygue supporters one going as far as to have his parked car struck by a city plow in front of his own home.
The weather has improved to the point of giving Skippy’s boys a little breather but the uninspired and lackluster performance does instill confidence.

First Skippy has to realize they are employees and not his friends. He is there to lead something he cannot do from behind a desk. Pat must go and a professional should be brought in to supervise. Pat with all his treachery backstabbing and favoritism is unable to fulfill this job function.

Next city employees should be subject to more drug and alcohol screening. Any employee who is found using city equipment in an authorized and illegal manner should be terminated.

This is not about McTygue this is about keeping our city safe and clean. We are stuck with Skippy but Pat must go for the good of the community.

I already know the Keehiacs will jump all over this. McTygue this McTygue that. McTygue is the Anti –Christ. I guess you can all go the Y and hang out in the hot tub and rant about the evil McTygue. Oh I’m sorry I forgot, some of you are banned from the Y. So sorry to bring up a sore subject.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think the plowing is bad wait to you see Skippy’s taste in flowers. Congress Park will become a litter covered ghetto park. I hope he doesn’t sandblast the Spirit of Life or but a Bocce course next to the Italian gardens.

But wait not to worry we have Pat {my boys are doing a hell of a job} Design to add his artistic touch to the park. I have a feeling dandelions will become the new city flower.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think the plowing bad you should hear some of Skippy’s new ideas. There’s one rumor Skippy wants to do away with Shakespeare in the Park and replace it with Skippy’s favorite form of entertainment professional wrestling.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a little unplowed snow has anything to do with McTygue's departure, it's a small price to pay. I don't miss his lunatic ranting one bit. Good riddance!

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My too favorite quotes about a complete and total screw-up.

From President George W. Bush's infamous comment to FEMA chief Michael D. Brown while the latter was botching the federal response to Hurricane Katrina:
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Now we can add Skippy Sirocco and Pat Design as the worst response to a simple snow storm in twenty years.
“My boys are doing a hell of a job”

Incompetence is alive and well.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of Saratoga woke up to flooded streets this morning. DPW seems unable to find or clear catch basins around the city. This responsibility is one of the simplest and basic functions of the DPW dept. This has nothing to do with salt supplies or labor shortages it is caused by sloppy supervision and is an example of the foxes running the hen house. Come on Pat get your boys off the asses and make them get out in the rain if they don’t want too there are many people who will.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems the organ grinder and his pet monkey aren’t up to the job.

Skippy should go back to animal control the four legged kind and not the two legged beasts that haunt DPW.

Patty boy should go back to running his fleabag “we rent rooms by the hour ” motel.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Skippy anybody explain to you about cleaning catch basins? I just saw a car float down my street.

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bocce Ball Course:

That is a great ideal, lets have a bocce ball league in congress park this summer....yeehaaaw. skunk rule, chicks get naked

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not only the streets, but the curbsides are particularly horrible. The icebergs blocking the entrances to sidewalks make "healthy transportation" nearly impossible." AMEN brother. I sat in my store Saturday wondering how long it would be before we see someone come to clear. Mid afternoon there was ONE GUY with a snowblower coming towards my block and then just before getting there he crossed the street and did the other side - completely ignoring where my store sits. After screaming out the window you have f***in' got to be kidding me I borrowed a shovel and cleared the sidewalk and a path to the street. Where do I pick up my paycheck from the city? We had no customers and my rent needs to be paid so I am thinking a part time job clearing snow will be necessary.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do get when you cross a animal control officer with a third rate motel owner?


A DPW dept that can’t plow its way out of its own garage.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem we have is too many drunks at the american legion that have nothing better than to complain. Sorry boys but McTygue (Billy) is still there and he is a fuck up. Get rid of him and the last of the diehards will follow. Billy let's him and his boys hang out instead of work! Prime example : Why is Tony Fisher spending the entire day plowing snow away from the areas by his house to keep his basement from flooding?

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Trout21 said...

It is my understanding that Pat Design broke his ankle and is out of commission.

One of the things that got lost in the campaigns was the difference between Tom McTygues rough style at the council table as compared to the work he did as public works commissioner.

The Tommy haters will simply not acknowledge the experience, energy and dedication that Tommy McTygue brought to the job when it came to the nuts and bolts of maintaining the city, especially when it came to snow removal. Tommy would act as field commander during snow storms patroling the city while pressing his people in terms of mobilizing them to the fullest.

The fact is that one day Tommy was going to retire (involuntarily in this case) and that the city would have to deal with the more plodding and pedestrian management that is the best that we can probably expect. Given Skippy's limits, things will, in all likelihood, get worse than they need to be but we will never see the quality of public works that we saw under McTygue.

On another subject, how about the completely intemperate and over the top press release by Ron Kim attacking Scot Johnson. What ever the merit of the arguments, launching a verbal assault in the form of a press release without making a documented and thoughtful effort to find a mutually excepted solution produces the double edged effect of making Kim look ugly and the mayor look stateman like. Scot Johnson must be saying, "may all my political foes be as inept as Ron Kim."

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody misses McTygue. That is for sure! I don't recall Tom McTygue in the 30 years he was there planting 1 flower or plowing 1 street. He was too busy with his unethical approach to the position that had people sick of him. Thank God for Skip!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh come on lol we live in the friggin snowbelt and this is one of the worst winters in a long time lol quit bitching... go build a snow fort and pelt all our favorite personalities at they leave city hall.. its much more rewarding than bitching about them! I almost got scotty J in the ear this morning! The bastard!

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo to all our city workers who have done an incredible job with our fair city through a terrible winter. They are miracle workers who have kept the city open every day in spite of the worst assault of storms in years. Thank you.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Leadership counts. Ask around. If Pat Design asked crews to tackle the snow with teaspoons, they'd dig till their knuckles bled.”

That’s really great but I would prefer they learn how to adequately operate a snow plow and perhaps dig out a catch basin. The city is drowning in melting snow and the roads are starting to look like third world goat paths. So forgive me if I’m not impressed by bleeding knuckles or bravdo.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

"Bravo to all our city workers who have done an incredible job with our fair city through a terrible winter."

It's been no worse than any other year. In fact, winters like this were once standard in Saratoga. We got off easy for two years running.

As I implied, snow removal and the adequacy of the job therein is a largely subjective matter. Frankly, I wasn't even going to blog about the whole thing until folks who normally don't bitch about the snow and winter started bitching up a storm. I leave it to the reader to decide: lack of salt, lack of leadership, cost savings or a combination of all three. I'd say the 'terrible winter' was a factor, but there have been far worse winters in recent memory. Think 1993.

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“It is my understanding that Pat Design broke his ankle and is out of commission.”

McTygue did it

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:05pm Maybe you should payoff the workers so they do your sidewalk like you used to payoff McTygue for service. Or since you can't payoff McTygue maybe get off
your lazy ass and grab a shovel. What do you get when you cross a drunk from the American Legion and ex-commissioner of DPW? Bullshit times two!

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:28 The reason for the flooding is because in 30 years McTygue failed address the sewer problem and now we are stuck! Instead of using funds for important needs he continued to do sidewalks for friends!

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Thank God for Skip!”

And don’t forget George Bush for all the wonderful things he’s done for this country and Iraq. There’s a thought why not send Skippy to Iraq to straighten out all there road problems in Bagdad. I am sure they could use a man of his stature intellect and leadership abilities.

4:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The problem we have is too many drunks at the american legion that have nothing better than to complain.”

I would rather have them in the american legion then driving City Plows with a six pak.
Seriously we need more Drug and alcohol testing of all the DPW workers. You know it wouldn’t hurt to test the cops now and then too. Lou Benton on the other hand should be tested daily.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Billy let's him and his boys hang out instead of work!”

And Design lets them plow out there homes there buddies homes there mothers homes then they go up to Greenfield plow out a few more homes. Then they return to Saratoga hit a few cars take a break .Tough job.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“It is my understanding that Pat Design broke his ankle and is out of commission.”

I heard his head was stuck in Skippy’s ass and as “His Boys” we trying to extricate him he slipped and fell. I have no doubt he will sue the city.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tommy Boy is history! Deal with it!
We are better without him!

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Tommy Boy is history! Deal with it!
We are better without him!”

It’s not about Tommy Boy ass wipe. It’s about unplowed streets flooded neighborhoods and city trucks plowing out private homes in Greenfield. Ronny boy keeps screaming about his phone system but the real problem is the fire trucks and police cars couldn’t answer the calls anyway. Half the city streets were impassable not for hours but for days and the only thing that saved us was the weather broke.

Don’t have any nightmares junior, Tommy’s not coming back. But Skippy will be facing a real challenge in two years so if I were him I’d start looking for another patronage appointment. Maybe he can replace Lou Benton down at the drink hall. Pat can go back to his flea bag hotel and renting rooms by the hour. Now that really adds to the ambiance of the city maybe he’ll see your wife there.

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you can rent one of the rooms when you are getting your daily dose of McTygue boning you up the poop chute! It's the McTygue boys like Tony Fisher that are plowing there own driveways instead of his section of the city he is assigned to. Maybe you guys over in Boydville off York Ave. can get off your asses and move your cars so city workers can plow the streets. I heard Warren St. is real bad because the people on that street don't work so they don't get out and move!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I heard Warren St. is real bad"

So is half the city, I hear Jefferson Terrace is the worst with most of the maintenance staff sleeping in the community center. Looks like maintenance did get a new computer to play with. To bad they can’t figure out how to start a snow blower.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe you can rent one of the rooms"
No I don't need to.See I work for DPW and get all my sleep on the job.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McTygue used to piss away a ton on overtime for these jerkoffs. They are probably rebeling because they aren't getting their overtime. Sit around during the day and work overtime. It's time to rid us of the leftover McTyglits and bring in people willing to work!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

outside of shortages of salt/sand mix the city streets are as always. The abuse of not fixing them over the years is now catching up to us. Too bad the last commissioner let it get so bad!

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's time to rid us of the leftover McTyglits"

Yea when all the scum in the city like you need a job.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public Works had better start figuring out how to get into a forward drive gear before they start rewarding their best employees with bonuses. Spending time like some posters, blaming yesterday’s storm for today’s preparedness or worse, tomorrow’s storm doesn’t work for the Public.

Repairs to roads, maintenance of city lands and properties, improvements, efficiency of personnel will ultimately be the management test for our new Commissioner. Blaming the other guy was only acceptable last November.

The Public wants to know that the Work can get done efficiently. The other Public Department has already shown us that it can’t.

4:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:20

Go piss in your soup! How can any intelligent thinking person think it is possible to straighten up 30 years of abuse in 2-3 months? In 2 years time Skip will have a good handle on this and your hero will be a distant bad memory.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:14 "How can any intelligent thinking person think ..."

Infrastructure is never at 100%. It's wearing down as you complain. Ice storms break road surfaces and have to be maintained the following spring. It’s called maintenance, management and budgeting.

Blaming your demons will not get the work that was promised last November. Pissing on ghosts doesn’t impress anyone.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

numbnut 1:24

What is meant here is McTygue is still in there! Bill McTygue that is! Where the hell is he in all of this? It's been less than 3 months since Skip has been in. Where are you parking your Caddy?

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:43 "What is meant here is McTygue is still in there! Bill McTygue that is!"

Like it or not, he actually knows what's going on. A problem with your "intelligent thinking", is that permanent government is almost impossible to eradicate, not that anyone would want that. Efficiency is another thing. We all want that because that means savings for all.

Adding staff positions and increasing pay scales as if to “put one over” on the system which we have all have to pay into, is selfish not to mention wasteful. Separate those that do little but complain and plot the overthrow of the “elected” officials from those that do their job well and you’ll have a plan.

BM understands more than you are willing to admit, and suggesting that he be replaced with someone that demands a “learning curve” to correct 30 years of “whatever” wouldn’t be too smart. Get over it and get to work.

Enjoy the day, it might be your last – and why spend it complaining?

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah! Billy boy really looks like he knows what he is talking about. That power point at the council meeting was awful. He is a bleeping idiot. Even Mayor Johnson had a look of disgust on his face listening to this braindead jerk!

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill McTygue don't know shit! I taught him everything he knows!

Tony Fisher
Toe Fish
Tony Fischette
Antony Fishtoyd

6:50 PM  

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