Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Once More, About the Sanitation Contracts

And the reporting about those contracts. I don't mean to single out the article mentioned in the last post for criticism. Michelle Krupa did a commendable job of reporting on the aspects of the story that she covered, the following was an especially nice detail:
White was traveling on city business Thursday and Friday and was unavailable for comment, even though spokespeople traveling with her did return calls this week on other matters. An automated reply from her e-mail account said she would be out of the office until June 11.

However, all the recent reporting gives the combined costs of the three contracts as $33M. Before the most important point of the story became the fact that the French Quarter is clean, all the reporting on the matter indicated that the cost was expected to increase when the city's population increased an landfill fees were included. Something may have happened to change that, but I haven't seen it reported.

At least that part of the issue was covered at one point. It has been reported that the new contracts are limited to buildings with four or fewer units, but the cost implications of this have been totally ignored. I can't believe that building owners who need to pay for private contracts are going to pay the city sanitation fee without a court fight. I have no idea how big a cost it will be, but if that part of the new contracts is enforced, it will be an added cost. Since Nagin made an issue of campaign contributions, it's only fair to point out that that provision is an added bonus to campaign contributors. After all, two of the contracts went to Nagin donors, one of them a very large donor.

Also, I've mentioned this before, but when he made his 100 day presentation last May, Nagin mentioned dividing the city into three zones for purposes of garbage collections. Clearly, he had begun work on the contracts, yet he said nothing about costs or automation for another four months. This at a presentation where the mayor repeated his promise to restore transparency and accountability to city government. Somebody should really ask the mayor or one his six PR people (WTF?) about that.

Finally, any post on garbage collection should mention Lolis Elie's reports on recycling.

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