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JUNE 03 - JUNE 11, 2014

Owens' Garbage Plan Leaves Much to be Desired, as Debacle Approaches

By Mike Hudson

June 03, 2014

Donna Owens garbage plan as it is planned will be a disaster.

When Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster first took office in 2008, his first move was to fire then-city engineer Bob Curtis. The position has not been successfully filled since.

Dyster's second move was to hire Donna Owens as city administrator, importing her from Atlanta, Ga., where she worked as deputy commissioner of solid waste services for the city.

But the esoteric knowledge she acquired while helping to oversee garbage collection in the Peach State's largest city has not proven very useful in overseeing the day-to-day operation of one of New York's smallest cities until now. For it was Owens, the former garbage queen of Atlanta, who negotiated the new five-year pact between Modern Corp. of Lewiston and the City Niagara Falls.

It was Owens who recommended that residents and businesses receive the smallest containers for garbage of any municipality in Western New York and quite possibly the nation. And it was Owens who concocted the projections purporting to show how much money the city will save by going from having the worst recycling rate in all of Western New York to the best.

While no one contacted by the Reporter was willing to speak on the record, government officials with knowledge of waste disposal and private garbage collection executives contacted for this article unanimously agreed that completely changing the deeply ingrained habits of nearly 50,000 people when it comes to taking out the trash is not something that's going to be accomplished overnight.

In 2004, Owens was part of a shakeup in Atlanta's waste management program that saw the merger of such services as garbage collection, bulk rubbish collection, yard trimming collection disposal and special operations. The reorganization and reallocation of resources to specifically dedicated facilities in Atlanta was designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations, Owens said at the time.

Now, a decade later, no similar provisions have been put in place for Niagara Falls. In fact, under the Modern Disposal contract, no provision is made at all for services such as yard trimming or bulk rubbish collection, services desperately needed particularly during the summer months, when people most often move and mow their lawns.

Yet some aspects of the Owens plans are similar. In Atlanta, Owens enlisted a cadre of "Trash Troopers" to educate and enforce her new regulations. Here in Niagara Falls, the garbage Nazis will be called the Sanitation Waste Education Enforcement Team, SWEET for short.

Will repeated violations of the new garbage regulations result in stiff fines or even jail time for offenders? As with so many things about the new program, neither Owens nor her boss Dyster are saying and no one on the City Council thought to ask.

No one thought to ask either why the plan calls for 64-gallon garbage totes when the average American household produces 96 gallons of solid waste each week.

Nobody thought to ask about a lot of things, but we'll all find out in two months, when this latest Dyster fraud becomes operational.





Dyster Garbage Plan Utter Trash; Residents, Businesses to Pay Price
Owens' Garbage Plan Leaves Much to be Desired, as Debacle Approaches
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