Thursday, November 01, 2007

A City Embroiled In Garbage Controversies

As if C. Ray Nagin's inexplicable decision to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to replace perfectly good municipal trash cans because they were too short for the Mayor's liking wasn't enough...

Now the Times-Pic has a piece alerting the public to another episode of incompetent municipal administration related to garbage collection.

Editor B
puts it together:

At the end of last year, the city signed some big fat garbage contracts with some local waste disposal companies. We’re paying far more than we used to, and far more than surrounding parishes. But at least the contract specified unlimited pickup of curbside debris.

So, when FEMA stopped paying for debris pickup this summer, the local companies should have taken over. But they haven’t, and we’ve all seen the result: piles of garbage rotting on the street.

So why are the local guys not stepping up and fulfilling that part of their contract?

Because the City Council in their infinite wisdom passed an ordinance in April limiting curbside debris pickup to 25 lbs. or less. (Emphasis His)

That stinks. Mind you, we are still paying for the big fat contract. We’re just not getting what we’re paying for.

So small non-profits working to gut people's homes here are now forced to shell out their own money - hundreds of dollars at each site - to haul garbage. Way to stick it to 'em, Ray.

Now why would the mayor and city council approve of this type of screw job? There is no logical utilitarian explanation for this. There is not one private citizen, not one resident interest group, not one major voting bloc that benefits from this. The only winners here are the two waste disposal companies that got the fat as fuck contracts.

The T-P article fills us in to a couple of irrelevant details:

Willard-Lewis, like city Sanitation Director Veronica White, said she does not believe it is the responsibility of Richard's and Metro to collect debris under the existing trash contracts. Both are minority-owned companies based in her eastern New Orleans district, and together the companies have donated $6,500 to her current campaign, state records show. The companies gave $27,500 to Nagin's political war chest between 2002 and 2006, when both were subcontractors under the city's previous sanitation deal.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

On the provision allowing the companies off the hook on debris hauling, the T-P continues:

The measure was drafted by the Nagin administration and sponsored by Willard-Lewis. It was approved unanimously by six council members; Councilwoman Stacy Head was absent.

Willard-Lewis said last week she recognized the apparent discrepancy between the contract language and the terms of the new ordinance.

"I guess the glitch is: What do you mean when you say 'unlimited'?" she said.

Hmm, yes Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, this is a complicated issue. This city has pressing garbage collection needs. Residents are gutting and renovating their homes and have come to rely on trash hauling services from the city. So you put together a couple of fat contracts to make sure the job gets done for your residents. The service is paid for. Extremely complicated. A lot of legalese, lawyers, the city charter states - oh yes we are vetting those issues individually as they present th- well if you define it that way - council hearings are set - administrative ---- COULD Y'ALL JUST FUCKING PICK UP THE GARBAGE?

Look, urban governments all over the country are messed up. School districts and criminal justice systems are broken in lots of places. City residents all over the country don't exactly have high expectations. We've been beaten down for so long... But we do expect the garbage to be picked up when we put it on the curb. That might be the single most basic service a city can provide. If the mayor's office can do nothing else, just pick up the damn trash.

What kind of city is this where there is a new scandal breaking every damn week over something related to garbage? The size of our trash cans, the price of our trash cans, debris removal, collection, recycling... this town is seriously screwed up. A world class city. The jewel of the Gulf South. What a god damn joke. This type of shit makes me feel like I'm roaming the halls of my high school as the newspaper editor. You mean the principal bought new staplers with the band uniform budget? This ain't the type of shit a real city needs to be having problems putting together. I can make it real simple:

1. Have trashcans on major street corners, place trash bags in them. Replace full trash bags with empty ones and haul those full trash bags away to a landfill.

2. Once a week allow residents to place their personal garbage in bags and cans on the sidewalk. Pick it up in giant trucks. Haul that trash to a landfill.

3. Once a week allow residents to place recyclable materials in bins on the sidewalk. Pick it up in giant trucks. Haul it to a recycling center.

Bing bang boom. Every other municipality big or small in the whole of Europe and the United States and Canada has figured out a way to do this without it being on the front page of the paper.

You know, even those mythical places where "waste management" was always in quotations and the subject of murmurs and investigations....

They still were able to pick up the trash and take it away.

We were all willing to overlook the fat two-bid contracts you gave to these companies. We didn't say a whole lot about paying three times what Jefferson Parish pays for the same service. As long as they pick up the garbage. Not to be, I guess.

A big big thanks to Mayor Nagin, Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and the others on Council that let them hammer this through without so much as a peep.

Instead of just quietly throwing our money away, they're dousing it in gasoline and burning it in big piles right on our front lawns. Love you guys!

I move to propose an addendum to the measure of the charter at the point of order of the amendment:

Let everyone with a truck and a pile of gutting debris begin hauling it to the front of City HAll.
Until the assholes running this city (into the bottom of the ocean) hold the two companies to the fat contract they signed.

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