D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray apologized Wednesday for the botched roll-out of the city’s new trash and recycling cans after a Washington Post report that some of the old cans that have been picked up were not recycled like the city promised.
Residents have been complaining the district has taken too long to collect the old cans, which were a campaign pledge by Gray. Many of the new cans started appearing at residents’ homes in the days just before the Democratic primary, which Gray lost to Council member Muriel Bowser. The district spent $130,000 on overtime in a blitz to deliver the cans.
Gray denied that was political but acknowledged the roll out didn't go well.
“I'm not happy about the way this has gone,” he said. “We set out to do something good for the people of this city.”
But Gray did not take responsibility for the problems. That fell to Public Works Director Bill Howland the longest-serving agency director in the district’s history.
As for why he authorized crews to throw away about 5,000 of the old cans rather than recycle them as promised, Howland said the old cans were piling up and blocking alleys and sidewalks.
“We were behind on the collection and a lot of people were complaining,” he said.
Howland also took the blame for authorizing overtime as residents clamored for the new cans.
“It was whatever it took to make the story go away, which it won’t go away,” he said.