Local News

Raleigh Sanitation Director To Retire, Superintendent Reassigned

Posted September 29, 2006

— Changes are being made in the city Solid Waste Services Department in the wake of complaints by sanitation workers.

City officials told WRAL that Lash Hocutt, the department's operations superintendent, will be reassigned to the Public Utilities Department. There is no word on what Hocutt's new position will be with that department. He has worked for the city for nearly 16 years.

Also on Friday, City Manager Russell Allen announced the retirement of Solid Waste Services Director Gerald Latta, effective Dec. 1. The city hired Latta as a lab technician in the Public Utilities Department in 1971. He was promoted in 1981 to supervise water plant operations. He has served as the Solid Waste Services director since August 1989.

Allen said that he will immediately begin a national search to fill the Solid Waste Services director position.

Allen also hired a consultant to assess management and work on their relationship skills. In place of Hocutt, he promoted three supervisors for a team approach. He said his expectations are high with his new team, and he said he'll watch it closely and is open to other changes.

"I think they can communicate better," said Allen. "That's one of the things I heard was communication, respect and fairness."

The shake-ups in management come in the wake of labor issues that arose more than two weeks ago. City workers have complained that they are forced to work shifts longer than 10 hours without being paid for overtime.

The workers also claim they are often awarded compensatory time off, but then not allowed to use it.

"That's one of the three or four issues in the sanitation department," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "The operations manager has been transferred, and I think the city manager is going to look at other positions with an independent observer to see if other changes need to be made."

Allen said he hopes with these changes, all sanitation workers will see progress.

The Raleigh City Council is expected to get a full report on other possible management changes at its meeting Tuesday.

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