How Many Arborists Does it Take to Declare a Dead Tree DEAD?

Click here for the full report: One Arborist for the Price of Three: COA Field Arborist Productivity, First Quarter 2011 

Our most recent study of the Office of Building's Arborist Division's work performance for the 1st quarter of 2011 confirms what we already knew from our previous report, "Time to Trim the Deadwood"That study indicated that the field arborists are not working to full capacity and one field arborist could do the work required under today's economic downturn.

The three Field Arborist's salaries are paid from the Tree Trust Fund.  That Fund was created to replant lost trees and educate our citizens of their rights and responsibilities under the Tree Protection Ordinance.  So why is the City spending money that was intended to replant new trees to pay three field full-time arborists to do the work of one?

The new 2011 Budget should allow for planting more trees by reducing the field arborist staff.

Over a year ago, Peter Aman, the City of Atlanta's COO, promised us that he would deal with unproductive arborists.  He said in a June 14, 2010 email that with regard to reduction in force he had "no discretion in how individuals are selected to be eliminated" but "if those individuals that remain do not do a satisfactory job they can and will be replaced." He boasted in a follow-up email that, "No recent administration has held both senior and junior employees more accountable than Mayor Reed's. Indeed, we have developed a very strong reputation of holding individuals accountable for job performance and will continue to do so." Seemingly oblivious to the productivity issues in the Arborist Division (which reports up to him), he asked us to provide "specific examples of poor performance of arborists".

Our latest report marks the 10th document that have been published on The Tree Next Door website detailing the lack of productivity and poor performance that has occurred for at least the past 15 months (since January 2010, when our analysis began) and the attempts by various city personnel to cover it up.  So far, Aman has done nothing other than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a sham of an "investigation" which was so poorly executed it was lampooned in a YouTube video.  Watch it to see how your City uses your tax dollars! 

How many investigative reports does it take for one City COO to see that his field arborists aren't doing their jobs?

If the field arborist staff should be reduced in the forthcoming budget cuts, it should not be in accordance with the City policy of "last hired, first fired" that was used to reduce staff in 2010 (and triggered the arborist productivity analysis we've been conducting).  Afterall, Aman did promise that he would address the issue of poor productivity if we provided data showing the performance problems.  Given his promise and the data we've provided about each individual's performance, the only arborist that the City can rationally retain at this point is David Tachon.  Even then, Tachon's job can only be justified as a full-time job if he picks up the work of the other two field arborists.

Shel Schlegman, Chair of The Tree Next Door, wrote an email to all of the City Council members on June 20, articulating the above and attaching a copy of the One Arborist for the Price of Three analysis.  Perhaps City Council will pick up the ball that Aman has dropped?

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