Sunday, September 30, 2007

How big are the new cans?

New Orleans seems to be a city of willing victims, where conmen don't even need the basic intelligence to make their stories consistent.*

I never thought I'd tell Gordon Russell how to do his job, but there does seems to be an important detail missing from his report on the city's decision to replace its new bomb proof garbage cans with even newer wrought-iron ones. Since the stated reason for replacing the (old) new cans with the (new) new cans was that the (old) new cans were too small for the mayor's taste, the obvious question would be to ask the (new) new cans compare to the (old) new cans in size. I do know that the (old) new cans had a 39.9 gallon area. That seems somewhat small for outdoor garbage cans, but one of the first things that I noticed about the (new) new cans was their small size. Without any of the (old) new cans around to make a comparison, I can't be sure, but I think that the stated reason for purchasing the (new) new cans is inconsistent with the observable facts.

It certainly seems inconsistent with the mayor's claims that he stretches every dollar to make the recovery work. I find it hard to believe that even Nagin thinks that buying 1,000 new garbage cans at $670.00 each is the best possible use of city money. If I go into detail about the mayor spending $670,000 of city money because he doesn't like to stoop to throw away trash, this post will be covered with exclamation points and foul language, so I'll limit my comments. However, I do it find it hard to believe that the mayor is that tall or his arms are that short. I don't recall the city ever having garbage cans that were so short that the mayor would need to stoop to throw away trash. Maybe they were so short that I didn't see them; that would certainly explain the poor advertising revenue. Personally, I'm surprised that the mayor was able to resist the temptation to fill the empty advertising panels with his own visage. Is it possible that Nagin actually had the good sense to realize how poorly that would be received and decided to remove the temptation? I'd have to start drinking again to believe that, although I could imagine the mayor spending city money to compensate for his own lack of will power. At any rate, there's still the question of what happened to the old cans. There are still large stretches of major thoroughfares where garbage cans are nowhere to be found -- the city doesn't have a single can along the entire length of Jeff Davis Ave, to give just one example. Spending money to replace the (old) new cans, rather than to put out more cans seems strange.

I'd hate to suggest that Gordon Russell collaborate with the Chris Rose, but somebody needs to ask why the (old) new cans were "cleaned and serviced" before they were replaced, and how much the city paid for the cleaning and servicing. I don't want to be overly repetitive, but the only possible explanations involve mind-boggling fiscal irresponsibility, corruption or cynical dishonesty. The residents of the city do have the right to know which it was. Assuming it was the relatively innocent reason that the city couldn't afford to empty its garbage cans on a regular basis and overflowing garbage cans create a bigger litter problem than non-existent ones, the city shouldn't have gotten away with the "cleaned and serviced" crap. Had the city come out and said that it was removing the cans because it couldn't afford the maintenance, somebody other than Dr. John might have asked about Palm trees on Canal St. I doubt that James Gill would have come out of his stupor, but somebody other than a visiting preacher and a local musician might have pointed out the obvious. With an election looming, the mayor couldn't have that. The election's over, but the mayor will continue to wait until the last minute to furnish the council with the details of new spending proposals until he gets called on the bullshit. Gordon Russell is a good reporter, but he needs to asks about "cleaning and servicing" garbage cans before replacing them.

Of course, the worst bullshit in the article was Nagin's description of the old (new) garbage can deal as a "Charles Rice special." Had it been an isolated incident, that might be acceptable. But, there were at least three questionable deals involving Charles Rice while he was CAO and two of the three involved professional services contracts. I'm not sure, but I believe that the mayor is responsible for the "professional services' designation. At any rate, these weren't complicated deals involving technology or the entertainment business. If Mayor "it's not my fault" can get away with the "Charles Rice special" excuse, can "Ernest Collins specials" and "Greg Meffert specials" be far off?

At any rate, when Charles Rice left the Nagin Administration, the assumption seems to have been that Nagin was cleaning house. I have no idea why the local press corps accepted the most innocent of several possible explanations, since Nagin didn't seem to have been angry at Rice at the time. At any rate, Rice left city government shortly before Katrina. Shortly after Katrina, the city gave his new employer a high-priced contract for debris removal. That must have been a Veronica White special.

*Obviously, I'm still imitating Jeffrey Sadow.

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