Saturday, December 01, 2007

It could have been November 30

With the expiration on Sept. 30 of an agreement among federal and local officials that provided for the collection of demolition debris across the city, residents, nonprofits and contractors have found themselves facing the tedious and expensive task of having to cart their own refuse to a landfill.

In other words, the garbage collection controversy might have just as easily erupted after the city council election and the budget hearings. Prior to the contract controversy and the city council election, full funding for the IG's office was far from a done deal. Despite this inaccurate report, Willard-Lewis supported a "fully and appropriately" funded IG's office before the election and the controversy sealed the deal. Contrary to what some people think, an IG's office with enough funding to concentrate on "prevention" may well save the city major headaches (possibly, only possibly, bankruptcy) down the road.

This brings up a point that I've made before, but I'll try to make it more politely this time. It might not be almost possible for bloggers and other residents to get the Picayune, and the local media, to cover stories that it has no interest in covering. It would probably be possible, but it would involve a tremendous effort, probably involving letters-to-the-editor or calls to talk radio. However, newspapers frequently use bloggers as an excuse to highlight stories that fear of controversy would otherwise cause them to ignore or bury in the back pages. I think that the garbage controversy belongs in the latter category -- almost everything that I posted about it was printed in the paper, just several paragraphs deep in Metro section articles. Well, the campaign contributions were only listed as part of normal campaign finance reports and much of it involved looking up old articles online or getting information from other websites, but I think that the Picayune wanted to pay more attention to the contracts but was afraid to put anything that controversial on the front page. I suspect that the "crisis" created by the breakdown of the agreement between the federal government and the city gave it the excuse that it needed. Do we really want to keep waiting for the federal government (to stop doing things)?

If you think that the purpose of blogging is merely to be able to look clever and say "I told you so," I certainly have as much right as anybody to say, "I told you so," about both the garbage contracts in particular and the Nagin adminstration more generally speaking. Before Dambala started his blog, I often felt like the lone kid saying the emperor had no clothes. While newspaper editors, op-ed writer, talk show hosts and other bloggers were having fainting spells over the mayor's tendency to stick his foot in his mouth, I was pointing out the blatant cronyism. I guess even broken clocks are right twice.

Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post so thoroughly. I look forward to future posts.
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