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Bookmeyer’s gang may eat crow on their quest to shut down sanitation department

This news story was published on August 23, 2012.
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Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – The Bookmeyer regime may be about to eat crow on their quest to shut down the city’s sanitation department.

It shouldn’t be a surprising taste or texture for our Mayor and his gang, however, as they ate plenty of it when they failed to shut down the Human Rights Department.  They also tasted that salty crow flesh when they made Brent Trout explain why the arena project was shelved … and when the garbage plant vote was lost.

As these embarrassments unfolded, sights were set on making radical changes at the fire department and rubbing out our sanitation department.

(PHOTO: Bookmeyer needs plenty of water bottles to wash down all the crow he and his gang have eaten in the past 2 years.)

The fire department shift change proposal (predicated on jealousy that firemen were making overtime) led to an investigation that uncovered that proposed shift changes would be costly, impractical, and take the department in the wrong direction.  They quietly gave it up in a work session, similar to how they had Trout explain the arena project failure.

A goal pursued under the Bookmeyer regime was his dream of “managed competition” which takes aim at city employees and vital services city hall provides.  He may have called it “lean.”

Pursuing this goal has not been easy and took time to set up.  Only after Bookmeyer and his team of Council members took office (Travis Hickey, Janet Solberg and Scott Tornquist) could Eric’s dream take flight, and this group has backed him ever since.  But three votes are not enough.

Finally this January, through his diligent assistant Brent Trout and with the final piece of added support in a guaranteed “yes” vote in Councilwoman Jean Marinos, Bookmeyer began a serious push to enact his overall agenda and shut down the sanitation department.

Bookmeyer first set Trout upon researching managed competition and putting the sanitation department under the microscope, spending the time and dollars of city staff pursuing and justifying this goal, all the while leaving themselves outs along the way.  As Councilman Scott Tornquist said last month, those sanitation workers should “welcome” the managed competition process, as it may “prove” they are efficient at their jobs.

Only now, after a public backlash, is Bookmeyer and his gang considering backing down on eliminating 12 good paying city jobs and killing a great service, recognized as such by the citizens of Mason City  and many city hall employees.  As pressure from the community has mounted, a source close to the situation has informed me that Bookmeyer is now having second thoughts about the pursuit of privatizing sanitation pick-up in Mason City and wants the issue to go away quietly.  It may die in a work session or memo as other projects have.

The backlash from the community could not be ignored by Bookmeyer.

As one high-ranking city hall insider informed me, the sanitation department as it currently exists “works great.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and no changes are needed.  They provide excellent service at a very cheap rate.”

Bookmeyer, a shrewd, calculating man who has eyes on becoming the Governor of Iowa, knows this pursuit now looks bad, and it could cost him the next mayoral election.  As cunning as Bookmeyer is, he may be hearing the rumors on the street that folks of high regard are considering a run at his office.  He may now know the time to give this up and rebuild his tarnished record is at hand.

As the council will be meeting Thursday night in a work session to discuss managed competition as it relates to the sanitation department, City staff has been investigating “whether our current service charge ($9.60 per month for sanitation) is competitive with other communities,” according to a city hall memo written by Brent Trout (see the council packet.)

Trout’s memo states that research just completed by Finance Director Kevin Jacobson (only now revealed and acknowledged by city hall) indicates that “we are in a very good position with our rates of service compared to other communities.”  I wrote about these costs months ago.

The memo goes on to say that “the council needs to discuss whether the level of service is currently the level of service desired in the community.”

Furthermore, the memo states that City Hall has “moved ahead of ourselves in our discussion from the standard model (of managed competition) currently executed in other communities by not conducting a pre-competition assessment of the service (sanitation) to determine if it is a candidate for managed competition.”

Trout also states in his memo that “I am not an expert on managed competition.”

The revelations in the memo generate a litany of questions that beg for answers, and at least one observation.

The observation is this: Bookmeyer and his gang had no idea when they began their pursuit of managed competition of how the sanitation department was performing financially; they had no idea of how good its service was for the city or if it fit properly; they know nothing of managed competition and how to implement it; they cannot even say at this time if sanitation is even a good candidate for managed competition; and they have attacked the jobs of 12 sanitation workers with no justification.

In other words, they have no idea if there is a problem at all with sanitation, but yet they are zeroed in.  Why?

The city recently handed a local company $175,000 in infrastructure to create three jobs.  Using their logic, that means the jobs of these twelve persons may be worth as much as $700,000 to the city.

Would eliminating the sanitation department be worth $700,000?

Perhaps not.

Mr. Bookmeyer, I hope you enjoy the taste of crow.  You will probably be sampling it often for the next year and a half.


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26 Responses to Bookmeyer’s gang may eat crow on their quest to shut down sanitation department

  1. poop Reply Report comment

    August 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

    caw! caw!

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    If they are doing such a great job and we have such a great rate then why would it cause any stress and worry for the sanitation department? Is it so bad that they be treated like every other business and employee? If you aren’t doing the best job at the best rate, you will be replaced.

  3. Sandy Servantez Reply Report comment

    August 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I was sick tonight listening to the council saying what a great job the satiation department is doing and how the cost is more than fair and yet the continue to put undue stress on the families that work for the dept. Mr. Kuhn was the only one that said from the beginning this is something that shouldn’t even be on the table.

  4. flower Reply Report comment

    August 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    we have a great group of sanitation workers…..allow them to do their job as they always have….why cause so many feelings of hurt and fear of what is to come. This will affect seniorty status to all who work within the city….keep what we have…..

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm


    Please refer to the people that work at there fire station as Fire Fighters not firemen because there are 3 female firefighters and they do the job just as well as the guys. Plus I would like my daughter to believe that she can have any job that she wants and refering to firemen or policemen is not health for that. Thank You

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Yea Matt….for gods sake please be politically correct.

      • Just My Opinion Reply Report comment

        August 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

        I agree with the first “Anonymous”. Should be called police officers and fire fighters. To call them anything else takes us back decades.

  6. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 23, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Anyone who thinks the beerman is for all the citizens should watch the video of him attempting to kill the will of over 900 taxpayers signatures on bringing the library bond issue to a vote. He wanted anyone apposed to the issue not to have any rights representing only the wishes of his country club drinkers. And after becoming mayor he has continued his anti blue collar rampage. You can put a suit on a sow but thats still what it is.

  7. MC Bystander Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Is Trout trying to do the right thing and support city staff by giving the council proof that these workers provide a good service at a good rate!? With his findings it sure sounds like we are a getting a good service at a fair rate. I’m just disappointed that from what it sounds like a few minutes on the phone would of taking care of this months ago and saved these famiies some unnecessary worries and headaches. Doesn’t that dept’s supervisor and manager have that kind of information, were they even involved in this process?

  8. Right business? Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Mayor tried to bring a new business to town but it wasn’t the right business? Are you referring to CES? Where did they end up locating their business again? Oh that’s right, NOWHERE!!! Why though, since it was such a good deal? Why don’t any of the losers who supported CES want to talk about the fact that they did not rush in and save another city like they were going to save ours?
    Good job NIT for informing others and helping save us from that fiasco.

  9. jesse Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    This guy and this council is going bye-bye.

  10. cindy f Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Bookmaggit has to answer for the statues first and now this. This man is truly off center.

  11. John Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Watch…now they will use the public’s approval and support of our current sanitation dept. against us…to raise our rates. Vote these arrogant bums out!

  12. Reggie Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!!!
    Matt does NOT like Bookmeyer. This just in…….Bookmeyer flips off NIT by scratching his face……Bookmeyer doesn’t know if the sanitation dept. provides the best service at the best price. How dare he NOT know this.Ask Matt ,he knew this all along…..Bookmeyer tries to bring a new business to town but it is NOT the right business.Ask Matt, he knew this all along….. Bookmeyer looks into a convention center to augment the downtown but it is not the right time. Ask Matt, he knew this all along….. This Matt guy is one smart SOB if all you do is read this site.

    • My Voice Reply Report comment

      August 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Breaking news, ask anyone…Reggie has a hard-on for Matt. Didn’t know that was possible as I thought as much as he whines, he must be a girl. Huh, guess that’s still possible, for Reggie. Ask……..anyone.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      August 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      I like Eric just fine. We are Facebook friends. I do not agree with his policies nor the way he conducts himself as mayor. Otherwise he is a swell guy and I wish him well.

      • another anonymous Reply Report comment

        August 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm

        Being FB friends means nothing. What’s your point, Matt?

    • Publius Reply Report comment

      August 23, 2012 at 2:57 am

      Matt was right about Bookie’s shortcomings all along…He doesn’t like his policy anymore than anyone else. How can anyone hate on someone for being right? Bookie’s got his head in the sand and doesn’t care about the long run. He lacks the intelligence to grasp basic economic development strategy. He wants to schmooze the crowd so he can further his political career. He’s an empty suit, all hat and no cattle. Matt, Keep up the good work, exposing this incompetent greaser for who he is.

  13. Brent Wymore Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Brent Wymore Local 1367
    I agree with Joe Bohl and will print my real name.

  14. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    The costs meant nothing to the beerman. It was simply him exercising his power to do whatever he wants. Since he does not work he wants to take it out on those who do unless of course you are in his drinking club. He is a pathetic individual.

  15. Observer Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    A simple one and a half-hour search on Google would have been all that was needed to put the idea to bed. It would have shown published rates of hundreds of other communities (if who ever did the search knew how to compile the data), and what happened when private contractors were brought in over municipal run operations.

    I published some of what I found through looking at offical municipal sites, and talked with folks in different communities. The disparities were glaring. I took into account the tipping costs of private landfills, transfer stations, waste-to-energy. I accounted for extra taxes, fees and so forth. And, I also was warned that many other communities who used private haulers, also charged extra for services we got included such as bag fees for yard waste. Local rules such as in Philadelphia, where every household must separate the trash from the live garbage (which is fed to pigs in Jersey), and have pick-ups for each.

    So if an uneducated type like myself can find the preliminary data, I am sure those in the Hall could too.

    One more thing, which must accompany the study of the economic impact of those jobs. It is not as big a deal in places like Orange County, NJ or Dupage County, IL. But in limited population areas, they make a bigger impact, and are much harder to recover once lost.

    Just ask any Holcim worker.

  16. Joe Bohl Reply Report comment

    August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    As Union President representing the employees in the sanitation department I would be happy to see this thing put to rest. We have been saying all along city employees are providing a great service at a very reasonable price. Now we have proof with Brent Trouts packet to council we can all see that the small communities around us are paying more for less service.

    • dirty ernie Reply Report comment

      August 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      thanks joe, you do an awesome job. bookmeyer and company- thanks for stirring up the whole city and 12 families for nothing.

      • former council Reply Report comment

        August 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm

        Perfect two sentence synopsis of a great story by Matt, once again. NIT only place to get straight talk on anything.

      • Gotta Stir!! Reply Report comment

        August 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

        If the Mayor and current Council didn’t have every City department wondering if they are next, they do now!! “If it ain’t broke, let’s fix it” should be this group’s motto!! What a joke. Mmmmmmmm, crow!!!