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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

S.F. Parks Director: Examiner's Absentee Gardener Story Bogus

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 2:32 PM

click to enlarge How about "The 86-Percent Gardener"? That's good too, right?
  • How about "The 86-Percent Gardener"? That's good too, right?

Today's San Francisco Examiner story alleging that the city's park gardeners are AWOL half the time is bogus, and stemmed from a misreading of a controller's report that was actually complimentary of those workers' performance, according to the city's acting parks director.

"The Examiner's report says, 'They were going to mow the grass on Tuesday, and they weren't there on Tuesday.' My response is, 'Well, did you see if it was raining on Tuesday?'" said Jared Blumenfeld, acting director of the Department of Recreation and Parks. "We play a role in resolving every issue coming our way. When needles, mattresses, and bottles are dumped in the park, we clean them up. The gardeners are getting the work done; sometimes it's very hard, in a given day, to work out if a gardener would be in the place they were going to be according to the schedule."

According to a story in today's  Examiner:

  • Fewer than half the gardeners who water and cultivate The City's parks were found to be at their assigned areas, according to spot checks done by The City between January and June 2008.
  • Inspectors visited dozens of local parks and checked maintenance schedules, discovering that many gardeners assigned to those areas were missing in action, according to a City Controller's Office report issued Tuesday.
  • Between January and March 2008, gardeners complied with their work schedules 40 percent of the time. That increased to 54 percent between April and June.

However, Blumenfeld said the key statistic of the Controller's report  wasn't 54-percent shedule compliance, but an 86 percent overall performance rating the gardeners' received.

"Ultimately, you don't get (such a high score) unless you're doing the maintenance every day. The point with coming out with plans and schedules every month is to ensure that, every month, the grass is going to be mowed twice. What the new report says is, yes, in 86 percent of the time, the grass is owed twice."

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Matt Smith

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