Sunday, March 25, 2007

From Bombproof to Rat Proof

A frustrated Ralph Lupin, the Vieux Carre Commission's tough-talking chairman, told the commission Tuesday, "I don't understand Ms. White's obstinance other than that she's a bitch."

Ralph Lupin certainly provides the best quote in today's paper, but he's not giving Veronica White enough credit. Bitchiness alone can't begin to explain bombproof garbage cans, absurd explanations for missing garbage cans, the abandoned vehicle fiasco, or so much more. It's also worth remembering that the really lucrative garbage collection contracts went to Nagin campaign contributors.

Update: I see that I didn't explain the rat proof reference in the title and that it's not explained until the third page of the quoted article:
In addition, he said, city Health Director Dr. Kevin Stephens suggested that use of the bins is a health issue because rats can gnaw through plastic trash bags.

In the past, I rolled my eyes when Veronica White used that a rationale for requiring residents throughout the city to use the approved cans, but I really have to wonder when the city Health Director makes that argument about the French Quarter.

When I lived in the Quarter, we couldn't put out garbage before five, and it was picked up every evening by ten or so. Rats simply did not go out to rip open garbage bags and eat dinner every night between five and ten. With twice daily garbage pickup, one would expect it to be even less of an issue. However, from SDT's website it seems that the twice daily pickup is only for businesses. Residential pickup is daily. Still, it's at night on the long streets and in the morning on the cross streets.

Rats ripping open garbage bags simply can't be an issue on the long streets, it would be almost completely impossible, and I doubt that it would likely be an issue on the cross streets. When Veronica White brought up rats when the plan for automated garbage pickup was first proposed, I thought that she was looking for added selling points. I don't see how plastic garbage bags, if put out at the proper time and picked up on schedule contribute to the city's rodent problem in any part of the city, they certainly don't in the French Quarter.

The only reason that I can see for insisting on the new cans in the French Quarter is to keep residents of other areas from also demanding an exception. That makes it a political issue between the sanitation department and French Quarter residents, not a health problem. It's worrisome that the city Health Director would allow his office to be used for political ends. I'm hesitant to even suggest that he has, but allowing plastic garbage to be used in such a small area simply is not a health issue. Especially when they're picked up daily.

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