It#039;s time to separate fact from fiction

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Another week has passed, and little progress seems evident in stopping the impending labor strike by Ironton city workers.

Although officially the strike is over wages and insurance, the real issue seems to be largely over whether the city should have cut several workers, including three out of the city's sanitation department.

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While only one part of the larger pie, the issue with the sanitation workers has become the most visible. But, on the surface, the solution seems quite simple.

Whenever the issue is discussed, however, everyone wants to ignore the 600-pound gorilla of a question: Why is garbage pick-up really so behind? People have hinted and said things that allow others to draw conclusions, but few people want to ask - or want to answer - why the logic put into the mayor's budget cuts does not work in practice. On paper, the cuts work just fine.

We've all done the math and wound up scratching our heads inquisitively. The fact is garbage collection times in the city slowed before the first employee was ever cut. Dozens of residents have come out and said this, though few will say so publicly, presumably for fear of hurting someone's feelings.

Collection times obviously have become worse after the cuts, but no one can answer why; no one can point to a fact or figure that answers why the math doesn't work.

One councilman, Brent Pyles, looked at the garbage statistics and compared the first week of May this year to the same period last year. The result was that workers are picking up less garbage as a group and less garbage per man. The last of which seems the most damning fact.

We are all for supporting what's best for Ironton - and what's best for all of Lawrence County - but the city's residents need to know that they are getting their money's worth.

Right now, we don't think they are. We just wish all of the city council members, the mayor and the union president would sit down and discuss the reality of the situation and get down to facts, not fiction. Ironton deserves better leadership.