Friday, October 31, 2008

Et Tu, Trashanova?

Lee Zurik files this investigative report.

SDT Waste Management is billing area parishes (and us, the taxpayers) for dumping fees as part of separate commercial contracts.

Oyster wrote my favorite Trashanova blog post ever:

As someone who was tracking twentysomething Sidney as he accumulated French Quarter hotels and "boutiqued" them during the real estate boom at the turn of the millenium, I've always wondered what his secret was. Impeccable timing? An innate business sense? Or did he simply leverage his connections and family money?

After the Federal Flood, Torres started a Waste Management firm. With the infinite need, it seemed like another potentially shrewd maneuver. But what captured the public's attention was Sidney's other qualities. Here's a young guy who is good-looking, stylish, local, and has a "can do" entrepreneurial spirit. He's a great post-Katrina story-- what's not to like?

Well, I dunno. Most people don't hear about SDT's large campaign contributions to Nagin (in 2007), SDT's highly advantageous service contracts, and SDT's curious choice of subcontractors.

I did a quick check of campaign contributions and just for a ballpark idea. Sidney D. Torres III and IV gave at least $28,500 to aid Mayor Nagin's campaign efforts from various LLCs based out of the 937 Esplanade Ave. HQ since 2002. Of that amount, $15,000 was posted to the Secretary of State as recently as 2007, during Mayor Nagin's fake gubernatorial rodeo.

Early suspicions about Sydney Torres appear to have been quite prescient. Oyster's larger point in that post about Torres' ability to generate fluff media is worth considering. I'll never forget choking on my coffee in the car listening to him nearly charm the pants off of NPR's Melissa Block in an All Things Considered report filed from the SDT command center during the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

What's remarkable about the NPR report is Torres' personal level of involvement in day-to-day operations, closely monitoring where his trucks are at all times from his state-of-the-art command center. So he's likely pretty well aware of the billing issues Mr. Zurik was attempting to flesh out.

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