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Recycling bins unwanted gifts from city

March 14, 2013 4:21:01 PM PDT
Once upon a time, certain City Hall departments were the punch lines of jokes, such as: "What is blue and sleeps six? A Streets and Sanitation truck."

But ever since Chicago government became ready for reform, comedians, and complaint departments, may have had less to work with.

So when the I-Team heard about a story concerning the mysterious arrival of recycling bins at addresses that didn't qualify for them, they decided to look into it.

"In the middle of the beautiful but messy snowstorm some people came by and started dropping bright blue recycling bins in front of every unit on our street," said West Loop resident Jill Rivkin.

Those special delivery gifts from city officials were part of a new recycling initiative by the mayor's office. Under an outsourced contract, the past two weeks 64,000 of these bins were placed in front of residences at addresses provided to the recycling company by city streets and sanitation officials.

There was just one problem.

"We have private pick up for recycling and for trash so we knew they weren't appropriately dropped at our house," Rivkin said. "Nobody knew what to do with them. Some people were tucking them in between the buildings, some people were putting them on top of their snowy bushes behind their gates.

"For the most part they were just getting shoveled in with piles of snow on top and piles of snow next to them. They did have "property of the City of Chicago" on the top so we just made some calls to just report that we got these bins mistakenly and they sat there for a week."

These gifts from the city were unexpected, unnecessary, unwanted and, until the I-Team got involved, unreturnable.

"We had some interest in our home," Rivkin said. "We all have a lot of care about our neighborhood. We want it to look really nice. Everybody takes good care of their house."

After a week of resident complaints to the city and to their alderman, the I-Team called Streets and Sanitation. Shortly thereafter a small miracle occurred in the big city.

"I was gone from about 11 until 1, 1:30 maybe, and at some point within that time they disappeared," said Rivkin. "We really wanted them to be gone because there are a lot of people looking to buy homes in the West Loop and a lot of people looking to sell homes in the West Loop and they were really an eye sore."

A Streets and Sanitation official maintains that this delivery mistake involved only a small number of recycling carts and that they regret the inconvenience to residents.

Of course, there are many bigger problems in the city, but as all precinct captains and ward committeemen know when it comes to trash collection, no problem is too small.


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