The following was submitted via email to the Cape Charles Mirror. This is a relatively trivial issue, basically trying to replace a trash can that had been removed from the owner’s home without their permission. One can argue for both sides of this issue, however, it is important because it does highlight a festering problem. In this case, the citizen claims that they were treated trashily by a member of the town staff. Obviously, this is just one incident, and what is presented here is only one side–however, this is not the first time the Mirror has been contacted about this issue–this reader brought receipts. It would seem this is an indicator that should be looked into by HR. Is this isolated, or endemic? The event also highlighted another problem– that the town is not in full grasp of its resources. The reader provided data that indicates that the town has no idea what is actually happening on the trashcan front.
From the reader…
When I purchased my bldg on Mason there were two trash cans. Then, one can just disappeared.
I called the Cape Charles Utility clerk, and asked about a replacement. She said I would have to pay for a second trash can. I explained that I’ve always had two trash cans at my home and shop, and I’ve never been charged for two cans. She sent someone out to pick up the second trash can at my home. She didn’t ask if I wanted to pay extra and keep the can…she just took it.
I don’t have to look any further than my backyard to know that CC Utility Dept’s attached PDF is inaccurate. I did a quick look around town and it appears to me that some folks have more than one can. The PDF shows one trash can per household. A few businesses are paying for more than one trash can but again I don’t think those numbers match up.
From the reader continued…
The Treasurer’s answer to the problem: we can’t control the movement of trash cans. If we can’t control trash can theft then I suggest we do what other big cities do…we put the house number on the can. Easy peasy…
If you find you have a problem with our very capable utility clerk, please let me know so that may address the matter personally. She reports to me and we work very closely together on most matters.
That being said, people push those cans around from time to time, swap them out for a better one and pull one over to use when they know their neighbor is gone for the winter, etc. We have no control over those actions.
John Hozey says
I do appreciate that the Mirror acknowledges that this coverage only presents one side of the story. However, it is unfortunate that the Mirror does not try to find out the other side of the story before publishing a biased view of an issue.
As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story…
The town staff is not perfect. They never will be. But in my 30 years in this business, I have never worked with a more dedicated, caring, and hard-working group of public servants.
When this resident contacted the town, the exchange was overheard by a second staff member who can corroborate that the manner in which town staff was addressed was grossly inappropriate, harassing, and bullying. Despite this, Kathy Fraas remained calm and professional, as always. When a mistake was pointed out to her, she did her job and promptly corrected it. If anyone was treated like trash, it was town staff at the hands of this particular resident.
Regarding trashcan inventory, no we do not maintain an iron fist control over them. We do the best that we can for a small town, with the limited staff we have. Frankly, there are many more important duties that this limited staff are required to do. It is utterly impractical to think that we could assign numbers to cans and keep them in their proper place. Whose job would it be to police this, as we have a contractor who collects trash every week, not town staff.
We simply do not have the resources to try and fix everything that might be admittedly imperfect, but not broken, just because of one unreasonably disgruntled resident. Make no mistake, our town staff are simply incredible, and I am very proud to go to work with them every day!
John Hozey, town manager
Editor’s Note: The message was sent to the Mirror by a Citizen. It was their story, not the government’s. The Mirror provides a platform for folks to be heard, before the Town has a chance to spin and quash it. This story rattled the cage, and that’s always a good thing.
Karen Lowe says
I’m sure there is some misunderstanding here on the part of the business owner. We have had nothing but excellent service from Kathy Fraas.
The first contact with Kathy was initiated by her when a neighbor of ours apparently complained about an abundance of trash during the summer high season at our vacation rental. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, some weeks had an excess of trash that resulted in trash bags, simply being put on the ground in our trashcan area. I personally believe that this is due in part to the absence of recycling cans provided by the town. People on vacation do not care to drive to Cheriton to accomplish recycling, even though we suggest that in our rental literature.
Kathy was a great problem solver by suggesting that we pay for a second can from May through October. We agreed to this, and this system has worked flawlessly for a number of years.
I cannot imagine, as this business owner complains, that Kathy treated him/her in anything less than a professional and helpful manner.
Kathy has been nothing but great to work with. We were in the same situation when the new trash cans were replaced, and one went missing. Definitely put your number on your can for less confusion
I’ve had horrible experiences with the town staff. I’m constantly correcting their mistakes. In one particularly infuriating instance, I received a hefty fine because they’d been sending my personal property tax bill to the wrong address for 4 years, even though my address was correct with the DMV and the post office. It’s a little hard to keep up with my 25 tax bills coming from different entities at different times but as the taxpayer it’s my responsibility to find their mistakes and correct them. I can never get through to anyone and when I finally do, they are rude and unprofessional. The only way to get anything done with them is to go in in person, IF they’re ever there.
Editor’s Note: You are not the only one, we have fielded complaints like this for years. The fact that the “Town Manager” felt the need to jump in and circle the wagons should tell you all you need to know.
I’m appalled a business owner would anonymously call-out a town employee for such ridiculousness, and by name! I’d like to know which business to avoid. Kathy Fraas is professional and accommodating. If you need more than one can, order a second one and pay for it…. that’s what we did! If you have difficulties identifying the can(s) you pay for, put your address on ‘em. Kathy, thank you for your service!
A principle tenet of journalism is that a story is only as reliable as its source. Your “receipts” don’t really identify a culprit here. A cursory check around town would reveal there are hardly any folks left who haven’t been irrationally accused of malfeasance or haven’t otherwise been inexplicably raged at by the complainant a/k/a Popcorn Lady. I agree that even unhinged people are deserving of cooperation and patience by town staff, but there is truly no proof she was not accorded both.
Editor’s Note: Whenever someone uses ‘principle tenet of journalism’ or “journalism 101′, you understand you are dealing with someone that has no idea what either of those concepts really mean. Besides, the Mirror is punk rock journalism. In this case, we treated this account like we do many others. The person was upset, took the time to type it out and send in the letter, and even did a FOIA (and submitted that data). In a way, it’s not much different than an op-ed or letter to the editor. If you had talked to this person, you would have given them a voice also, free of pressure and spin. Where else can citizens do this? We do regret that we did not edit out Ms. Fraas’ name; we published 23 articles, and just missed it. Of course, comments are open, and so everyone gets to put in their two cents, like here.
Blue Hoss says
Not you again?
Just to clarify, this business owner had a second trashcan that the town did not know about and was not charging her for. Someone took it. She now wants the town to replace it, but this time knowingly not charge her for it. I’m sure her interactions with town staff were just as reasonable as her position here.