The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Public Works’ Hanson charms council; council member Vernon praises honesty over hiding the truth

In City Hall, Kris Gulick, Monica Vernon on May 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Craig Hanson, the city’s public works maintenance manager, all but charmed the City Council on Wednesday evening with his analysis of the city’s recently completed battle with winter ice and snow.

It’s the honesty that does it.

Hanson reported that the city fielded more than 1,500 calls and more than 1,000 e-mails from inquiring or angry citizens with questions related to the city’s performance during this winter’s snow and ice onslaught.

Hanson admitted that the city made mistakes and suggested ways to improve.

For instance:

Next season, the city is apt to hire a contractor to shovel unshoveled sidewalks and then bill the property owner just like the city does now with the mowing of weeds. That will get the job done quicker. The city also may try to connect neighborhood youngsters who want to shovel snow with property owners who need shoveling.

In its plowing work this winter, the city knocked over more than 100 mailboxes, and the city was too slow in replacing them. Hanson will have more mailboxes on hand next winter so replacements can be made quickly.

The city expects to better enforce rules against citizens blowing snow into the streets.

Communication with the public will improve.

Among matters yet to discuss in the coming months will be the city’s alternate-side parking in some residential neighborhoods. Residents don’t always comply, and one thought has been to implement the policy all winter, not just after a snowstorm, so residents are better trained when snow arrives.

Council member Monica Vernon couldn’t praise Hanson enough.

She said Hanson’s presentation was refreshing because it acknowledged the city’s shortcomings while offering a plan to do better.

“I think our citizens want to hear that,” said Vernon, who added that too often in the past the tendency might have  been  to keep “hidden” what didn’t work right.

Council member Kris Gulick asked Hanson if it was possible to try to measure how much it might cost the city in payments that result from plows hitting parked vehicles and how much the city might save if it better enforced the alternate-side parking rules. He also wondered how much quicker the city could get plowing done if people followed the rules.

Gulick noted that one of the photos in Hanson’s presentation was a photo of Gulick’s own northeast Cedar Rapids street in winter. It showed cars parked on both sides with barely enough room for a plow to get through. The street is not now among residential streets with an alternate-parking designation, Gulick said.


  1. Some cities have alternate side parking year round to allow for street cleaning etc.

  2. I will give js the benefit of the doubt that he is not accusing anyone of professional misconduct. However, the public should be aware that it is very dangerous to imply that a professional reporter has during their employment intentionally produced a work product that is less than truthful. Such statements may ruin the career of a reporter and/or cause the accusing party considerable financial consequences. Some reporters may take great offense to such implications. I certainly would.

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