Ironically enough, on my way home from work, I saw that the giant debris pile on the 3300 block of Iberville was gone. I did a double-take. I posted a picture of that very pile early this morning. It had been there since mid-September.

A couple blocks on, at Iberville and Salcedo, I saw the truck into which the debris had been loaded. I stopped a moment and talked to the guy who climbed out of the cab. He had a cool gold tooth with a star on it. He confirmed they were picking up certain piles that were on a list, and that they were hauling multiple loads of debris every day. They don’t have sufficient personnel to keep up with the demand.

He said he didn’t work for Metro, or for Richard’s, but for the City of New Orleans.

I guess this means that responsible people who pay to have their debris removed immediately are essentially punished for their virtue, while irresponsible people who leave gigantic trash piles on the street for months are rewarded.

Next morning: As the ever-vigilant Matt has pointed out in the comments, there’s a related story in today’s paper:

Mayor Ray Nagin on Thursday said he is poised to spend $1.5 million to rid New Orleans of heaps of construction debris, even though it appears taxpayers already are paying for the task under a pair of expensive city sanitation contracts that cost a combined $24.5 million per year.

The announcement came on the heels of revelations that city officials are not requiring the vendors, Richard’s Disposal and Metro Disposal, to collect debris discarded from gutting and rebuilding projects. The firms’ contracts call for collection of “unlimited” bulky waste, including “demolition material,” from homes and small businesses.

In explaining their reasoning, city officials have pointed to the building code and an ordinance adopted by the City Council in April — five months after the contracts were signed — that saddle residents with the tedious, expensive chore of hauling away all but the most piddling piles of debris. Several private companies quoted a rate of $350 to haul away 30 cubic yards of debris.

Of course, the mayor’s plan is for the budget he hopes to get approved, so it doesn’t explain my conversation with Mr. Gold Star.

  1. A friend of mine works for the City and sent me a slideshow that the Mayor presented recently to a bunch of City department heads and public agencies> This was a few days before all this information about the garbage contract hit the paper. The Mayor apparently bragged a lot about the additional $1.5 million he is funneling into having City sanitation workers pick up trash– it’s on two slides, as ” recovery accomplishments” and “quality of life improvement”, both as a very positive thing. He apparently also said that he’s promoting Veronica White and making her in charge of demolitions, and that he was proud of her for being strict about the “iron-clad” disposal contract. In fact, we seem to be paying twice for this service. This seems like mismanagement of public funds to me.

    The full list of “recovery accomplishments” on the slide are: Debris Removal, Reducing City Employees, Restoring Utilities, and Lobbying DC during 31 trips. Seems a little sparse to me, and some of those things were really accomplished by other agencies.

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