Mayor: Blame Private Contractors For Snow Job

Many Waltham residents and officials say they are furious with the plowing job in Waltham.

City officials say they are furious about the job private contractor plow crews have done to clear snow from the city's streets, and Mayor Jeannette McCarthy said she plans to “rethink” how the city plows snow.

“There is no excuse,” McCarthy told Waltham Patch about the shape private contractor plow crews have left many city streets in days after the storm. "I’m going to rethink how I run the private system. I'm not going to run it the way it's always been run.”

"It is my responsibility ultimately," she added.

As of Monday, Feb. 11, many Waltham residents said they were still upset about the poor condition of their streets, according to comments left on Waltham Patch’s Facebook page. Streets in surrounding communities, such as Newton, were much cleaner than Waltham, according to Facebook users.

McCarthy said she blames the private contractors, who plow all of the city’s streets, for leaving roads in rough shape, but added they hit some unexpected snags. Some contractors had equipment failures and in other cases some trucks had no drivers to operate them. McCarthy said she was told some private drivers were, at times, too tired to drive and needed rest.

"As soon as we got them available, they were put out [to plow],” McCarthy said. 

In some instances, private contractors performed well in some areas, but poorly in other parts of the city, McCarthy said. While some of the roads appear to not have been salted, McCarthy said the city indeed pre-treated main roads, but did not reach many side streets.

"Some neighborhoods were perfectly good. Other neighborhoods were pitiful,” McCarthy said.

As a result of the performance, McCarthy said she plans to meet with the private contractors and Consolidated Public Works Director Michael Chiasson to review the issues.

"If anybody didn’t perform properly, they are out," McCarthy said.

The City Council plans to reqeust Chiasson discuss the issues at a future meeting, according to City Councilor Ken Doucette.

For a list of a which contractors plow which roads, click on the PDF in the photo box to the right.

In total, McCarthy said her office received around 80 complaints on Monday, Feb. 11, from residents, and about 10 complimentary calls to thank the city for the plowing jobs, McCarthy said. She said she did not receive any calls about the city’s public works drivers, who only plow city-owned property, McCarthy said. 

City Councilor Robert Logan also said, on his Twitter feed, he was angry with the plowing performance. 

“In 23 [years] on Council, I have never seen worse plowing job, nor have I ever received as many complaints on any issue!,” Logan tweeted.


When asked about previous requests to purchase more and better city-owned plows and trucks, McCarthy said City Purchasing Agent Joe Pedulla is creating a list of vehicles and their current condition to determine which ones they city will stop using.

At least one idea to reform the current system is off the table. McCarthy said she would not consider eliminating the use of private contractors because the city would have to purchase more trucks and expand its public works department.

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Hailey R. February 12, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Ya know what I think is pretty funny, The same people are on her all the time and they have something to say about everything or should I say complaining! I say you all have to much free time on your hands! Take up a hobby that does not include whining! Maybe you should start a new career in snow removal! I think you all just love trying to cause havoc to peoples livelyhood. Stop trying to destroy people and their reputations. People like you must have pretty miserable lives that you feel the need to go on patch 24/7 and try to cause problems! Grow up people!!
Greg February 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM
So how long have you worked for the Mayor Hailey R?
Tim Hill February 12, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Hailey, you are not comprehending the discussion. We all are well aware that we had a blizzard, and that we live in New England. Those facts are not in dispute. We all also know that Newton and Watertown are in New England and also had a blizzard. The question is why were those towns able to handle the blizzard while Watham was not.
Tim Hill February 12, 2013 at 05:50 PM
The voters should hold the Mayor to her word. First line of questions the counselors should ask the mayor: "Mayor, you said that "Some neighborhoods were perfectly good. Other neighborhoods were pitiful.” Which neighborhoods, in your view, were perfectly good? [I am really curious about that one] Which ones were pitiful? Second line of questions: "What contractors were responsible for the neighborhoods you thought were pitiful?" You said that "If anybody didn’t perform properly, they are out." Will you be discontinuing the city's relationship with those contractors?
Kristine Conti Fusco February 12, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Robin~ To answer your question: Most, if not all, are businesses contracted to do the plowing for Waltham. I think Fred brings up some good points regarding the size of the trucks vs. the size of the snowstorm. Ultimately, there should be a Plan B that the DPW puts into action for snowstorms over 6". Also, Mayor McCarthy will hopefully in the future will make it mandatory to meet with the DPW, Police, Fire, and contractors before major snowstorms to alleviate any confusions and express the expectations. Listen, it's easy for us to sit here and condemn and criticize. I personally believe that Mayor McCarthy has done a wonderful job. Not everything she does is going to be perfect, and yes, there will be mistakes made. However, just the fact that she listens and reads the feedback on Patch and other waltham city websites, makes me feel that Waltham citizens are being heard and being taken into consideration. Next time you come across a citizen from Watertown, ask them if they feel like they're being heard by their town. I guarantee you their answer will be a fervent "No." "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do." Dale Carnegie
CP February 12, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Question: If we know which contractors plow which streets; why are city trucks not out there checking on the job they are doing and reporting back? We pay big $ for these contractors. My own neighborhood (also the Mayors) was plowed to the hilt.
Tim Hill February 12, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Barbara, is that the issue? Is Waltham paying contractors less than Newton and Watertown?
Matt Carter February 12, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Most contractors are from Waltham. Some are from other area towns but about 75% are from Waltham.
Matt Carter February 12, 2013 at 06:50 PM
There are but there is only 4 or 5 for 150 Miles. Very hard to watch over the contractors when your that severely understaffed. The equipment is ridiculous at the city. The back of the DPW looks like a Bone Yard with NO plans for replacement. Our equipment is undersized and outdated. Mayor just announced she will not re-run in the Next Election. Good its time to go Mayor! The city has not had any new equipment in 2 Years. The Police Cruisers delivered last week were the first new city vehicles in 2 YEARS! I love Waltham and I love this city but ever since McCarthy has been mayor we have been going downhill fast.
Molson February 12, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Hailey you sound like a typical liberal. The job was done poorly and there is no excuse. Get off you love fest with the the mayor or dpw director. Come drive down my street, your Prius wouldn't make it. The street still needs a plow and with the ice it's a safety hazard. You probably haven't left the house yet. Your probably a teacher who hasn't worked yet. Try going to work at 5:30 in the morning with no sand or salt on the street.
Greg February 12, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Problem Solved: http://waltham.patch.com/articles/waltham-mayor-says-she-wont-seek-another-term?ncid=newsltuspatc00000003 She is not running for re-election.
Alice H February 12, 2013 at 07:17 PM
I was told by one contractors wife that DPW called off the snow crews at 6 am Saturday morning.
Nick Low February 12, 2013 at 08:25 PM
An interesting aside - cities that get hardcore snow on a regular basis (Utica, Syracuse) don't use private contractors, they use real hardcore snowplows, not some guy with a pickup and a plow. I would not classify anywhere in metro Boston as getting hardcore snow on annual basis. Take that for what it is worth. Are your expectations too high? Realize that as hardcore you think Boston area weather is it does not compare with some other places. So you are getting service commensurate with typical amounts of snow and the amount you are willing to pay, somewhere on the long continuum between Syracuse or Buffalo and Washington DC or Atlanta.
Nick Low February 12, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Molson, your expansion of this discussion into typical stereotyping and crap adds little to the discussion. How 'bout I stereotype you and ask why your F-150 with three gunracks can't plow through just about anything?
Molson February 12, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Matt you are a joke. This mayor cut a lot out because it was waste. You sound like a gately fan. He who gave his friends jobs and spent a lot of money. Why is michael Chassion getting a pass. The mayor made a bad choice in picking him. He made a fool out of the city this past storm. I hear his people don't even like him because he is arrogant. But not once have you complain about him. Your just out to bash the mayor. Go straight to the problem, and that's the director. I believe under this mayor Waltham was ranked 72 in this county for best city to live in. Because she doesn't cave to the unions and police and fire makes her a good mayor. Enjoy living in this great city.
Kerri February 12, 2013 at 09:14 PM
I live in Watertown but work in Waltham. I can honestly say that while I was out shoveling on Saturday, almost every plow that I saw on my street was from a business in Waltham. While I am grateful that Watertown was plowed, it made me wonder why the plows weren't in Waltham.
Annette C February 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Just out of curiosity, isn't there a city ordinance about homeowners and tenants, (residential and commercial alike) being responsible for shoveling out the sidewalks and driveways in their immediate area? My neighbors(4 unit building, 6 people shoveling, no snow blowers, no plows) and I took care of our sidewalk, walkways, and driveways by Monday evening. What are the repercussions for the residents and businesses that do not adhere to city ordinances and how and when are they enforced? If info at all would be appreciated!
Annette C February 12, 2013 at 10:31 PM
i just looked it up and answered my own questions. According to the City Of Waltham Public Works Website. "Residential Walks: While there is currently no ordinance in the City of Waltham that requires residents to clear their walks, it is strongly encouraged to ensure safe pedestrian passage. Commercial Walks: City ordinance 17-23 states that certain sidewalks (Moody & Main) are the responsibility of the owners of that property."
Molson February 12, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Nick low good try but no. You just bashed me for adding little to this discussion. But yet you come out with that statement. Just shows your name fits your iq. Hailey praises these workers for doing a terrible job. That's what's wrong with people now a days. If I were to do a poor job at my work, like the plows did. I would be out of business. Praise the people who do a good job, but those who do a bad job, let them know. But get the job done right. It's about safety.
Saul Blumenthal February 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Unfortunately most of the residents of River St between Newton St and the Shaw's were not so diligent. The repercussions are that pedestrians are forced to walk on the street.
Kevin Sullivan February 13, 2013 at 01:55 AM
I don't understand how contractors are not held responsible for the work they do for the city. Isn't it someone's job to make sure the people they pay big bucks to are doing the job correctly. Plus too tired?? Are you kidding me? The snow ended around 1:00 pm on Saturday. They've had days to clean up this mess and get the roads and sidewalks ready to open the schools. This is just extremely poor management from the mayor down!
mk February 13, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Check with the surrounding towns and you will find that they used more salt before, during and after the storm than Waltham. that lack of salt created the hardpacked buildup on the roads
d caplin February 13, 2013 at 05:24 AM
I'm curious about school cancellation Tues. due to sidewalks not being cleared. What makes anyone think sidewalks will be cleared by Wed.?
Nick Low February 13, 2013 at 06:05 AM
Molson you dragged pointless labels and stereotypes into an admittedly now mostly useless townie whinefest. I responded in kind in equally useless fashion. I don't think either of our posts stands up badly against some of the other pointless posts in this thread.
Matt Carter February 13, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I still saw contractors plowing my street till 2PM Saturday
Waltham Rezi February 13, 2013 at 09:03 PM
Typical, blaming Mayor McCarthy for not cleaning up the sidewalks and roads after one of the biggest snowstorms Waltham has ever seen. I suppose the majority of you would only be satisfied if you actually saw the Mayor behind a snowplow or with a shovel in her hand- newsflash: there's a whole department that's in charge of the clearing of roads in instances like this, PUBLIC WORKS. Why doesn't anyone blame them? Oh, because the Mayor is an easy target due to the position that she's in. She trusted that her right hand man in DPW had it under control while she dealt with several other issues that the city is dealing with- apologies. Granted she is the Mayor and as she said, "It is my responsibility ultimately," give her a break. She can't control Mother Nature, she isn't licensed to drive a plow, and she's doing the best she can.
Matt Carter February 13, 2013 at 11:27 PM
And the DPW Head trusted are loyal mayor to buy him the right equipment to get the job done. But oh look she still has not. This happened 2 years ago and nothing has changed.
Tina February 14, 2013 at 06:13 AM
Forest Street and the surrounding roads were relatively clean and well-plowed. The reason, I think, is that many of the wealthy contractors live in that neighborhood. They take care of their own first when it comes to plowing!
Tina February 14, 2013 at 06:25 AM
It was still snowing hard at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning!
Nick Low February 14, 2013 at 06:43 AM
Or could these have been better plowed because they are easier to plow well? More suburban, less density, wider streets, etc.


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