Answer Man: Sloppy trash pickups in Asheville? Why are news crews so far away from protesters? – Citizen Times

19August 2020

The city of Asheville utilizes a claw truck for brush pickups, and workers do try to clean up debris after operating the machine.

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: The city of Asheville yard waste pickup leaves a mess. The waste is not totally picked up and Is left scattered in the street. Why not take the time to sweep it up and leave the street clean? This is a recurring problem with neighbors, also.

My answer: Invest in a blower, and suddenly it’s a recurring problem only for your neighbors.

Real answer: The city obviously does not want to leave a mess behind when cleaning up messes.

“The Sanitation Division strives to provide quality yard waste collection to all residents,” Asheville Sanitation Manager Jes Foster said via email. “Each week, Sanitation yard waste trucks check and service up to 15,000 stops.”

More:Answer Man: Bear-proof trash cans available in Asheville? Mail-in vs. absentee ballots?

With that much work, sweeping becomes less of a priority.

“Trucks are equipped with pitchforks and rakes in order to collect as much material as they can,” Foster said. “While staff do their best to clean up as much debris as possible, current workloads unfortunately do not allow for extended time sweeping up all particles at each stop.”

To minimize debris, the Sanitation Department “highly recommends using compostable paper bags or reusable containers marked as ‘yard waste’ for leaves and smaller yard waste,” Foster said.

“Containers can be emptied into the trucks easily, and compostable paper bags can just be tossed in the truck without opening or can be easily pitchforked into the truck if wet from rain,” Foster added.

If you’re concerned about material left behind after pickups, contact Sanitation at 828-259-5857.

People marched again on the streets of Asheville June 6, 2020 to protest police brutality and honor the lives of those lost in the black community.

Question: Why are the WLOS news crews staying so far back from the Defund the Police protesters? Are the protesters intimidating the news crews? Are these Antifa?  

My answer: I’ve found disguising myself as a compostable leaf bag is a fantastic way to get really close to protesters. By the time they figure out it wasn’t a leaf bag following them around downtown, I’ve gotten the scoop. Yes, you could say the story is in the bag.

Real answer: WLOS-News 13 General Manager Joe Fishleigh offered what he called a “simple answer.”

“Due to the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic, for our safety and the safety of protesters I have directed our reporters and photographers when covering these events, regardless of the nature of the protest, to stay outside of the crowd,” Fishleigh said.

More:Ex-Asheville officer jumps into melee, claims to be ‘police.’ Calls to investigate him

More:Assault, impersonating officer warrants sworn out against police advocacy group president

More:Defund police: Asheville officials support ‘divest and invest’ strategy; Clash over details

I can tell you here at the Citizen Times, we’re also trying to limit close contact with other people. But I also know the protesters at times have made it clear they don’t want journalists up close, and journalists have respected that.

As far as them being Antifa, or anti-fascists, that’s a loosely based group of folks that typically don’t wear uniforms or otherwise officially identify themselves. As I wrote in a previous column, antifa protesters are an amorphous, far-left political protest movement the comprises wide-ranging groups bound together by their opposition to fascism and right-wing extremists.

They are militant in their tactics, in that they engage in violence at times. But they’re also not an official group with a headquarters or a public relations person.

More:Asheville protests: Of 57 arrests made since May 31, majority were local, white

I suspect some of the hundreds, or even thousands, of protesters we’ve had downtown over the past few months may identify as antifa, but it’s hard to gauge how many of them that would be.

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or


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