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.