Starting Friday, the city of Mobile will begin contracting out trash pickup on a temporary basis as crews remain almost a month behind schedule.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson explained to members of the Mobile City Council that extra crews are needed after the city was told by a vendor the trucks it ordered more than a year ago are still not ready.
Not to be confused with garbage pickup, which is on schedule, trash refers to yard and construction debris normally picked up every other week.
Councilman Fred Richardson, who is running against Stimpson for mayor in August, blasted the administration for hiring contractors. He said the city had “failed” to do one of its basic functions.
“We need to buy equipment and we need to hire employees,” he said.
Taking it a step further, Richardson accused the Stimpson administration of using this scenario as a ploy to contract all of the trash and garbage services in the future.
“I could see us doing this if Hurricane Willie Earl had just left and had torn up the city,” he said. “We haven’t had a storm though. In fact, we got our first rain [in a while] yesterday. This is failing our citizens.”
Executive Director of Public Works Jim DeLapp told Councilwoman Bess Rich the department is not experiencing a shortage of workers, but is planning to increase the number of employees soon.
Rich also asked for the current number of employees in the department. DeLapp said he needed to look it up and would provide it to her later because he didn’t know it off the top of his head. Richardson asked not only for the number of current employees, but for the number of employees in the department last year as well.
City attorney Ricardo Woods told Richardson the move is not a ploy to privatize the service. Woods said the city had explored that option in the past and it was “too expensive.”
“The highest and best use of city taxpayer dollars is to have city employees do the work,” he said.
Woods added the shortage of trucks is due, in large part, to shipping issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
All-Star Field of Dreams
Municipal Judge Karlos Finley, who is also running for mayor in August, reintroduced his idea to honor the baseball greats from Mobile at Tuesday’s meeting. He calls it the “All-Star Field of Dreams” initiative.
The project would place statues of the city’s all-stars in the shape of a baseball diamond all around the Henry Aaron Loop downtown. The configuration would include 12 statues of the following players: Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Willie McCovey, Frank Bolling, Ozzie Smith, Amos Otis, Billy Williams, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, Ted Radcliffe, Jake Peavy and Terry Adams.
In his vision, Finley said Paige would be pitching to Aaron near Water Street, while the infield would be situated along Claiborne Street and the outfield would be along Broad Street.
Finley also presented the council with a price for the project of just over $700,000. The cost includes $55,000 each for the statues and another $48,000 for 12 pedestals.
Richardson also laid claim to supporting the city’s rich baseball history. He said it was his idea to place a statue of Aaron at Aaron Park, which he called a kids’ park in the city.
This story was updated on June 16 to remove a portion that contained a factual error.
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