This is what I was talking about last Friday. The “dirty deal” relates to the city’s trash disposal contracts. Now that it’s the top story in today’s paper, I can talk about it.

Are you yawning yet? I don’t blame you — unless you live in New Orleans. In that case, you should be angry.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: At the end of last year, the city signed some big fat garbage contracts with some local waste disposal companies. We’re paying far more than we used to, and far more than surrounding parishes. But at least the contract specified unlimited pickup of curbside debris.

So, when FEMA stopped paying for debris pickup this summer, the local companies should have taken over. But they haven’t, and we’ve all seen the result: piles of garbage rotting on the street.

One Month and Counting...

So why are the local guys not stepping up and fulfilling that part of their contract?

Because the City Council in their infinite wisdom passed an ordinance in April limiting curbside debris pickup to 25 lbs. or less.

That stinks. Mind you, we are still paying for the big fat contract. We’re just not getting what we’re paying for.

Why on earth would the council approve such a provision? Could it have anything to do with campaign contributions? Is this a dirty deal? Until I see convincing evidence to the contrary, I have to assume that it is.

We are getting screwed. The cost of debris removal is falling on the shoulders of the private citizen. My neighbor on the corner, for example, who just recently got his Road Home check, has a big debris pile sitting by his house. He will have to pay to have that debris removed. That’s only fair, except that he’s paying for it twice.

The City Council should rescind its rule that curtailed the garbage contract. Give us the service that we are paying for, or give us a refund!

  1. So, how exactly is that supposed to work? Do the garbage collectors carry around electronic scales and weigh each item before deciding whether or not it can be collected?

    Assuming that’s not the case, that silly rule gives them the justification to pass up any debris. They can eyeball it and say, “hmmmm. Looks like 26 lbs. Keep going. . .”

    You guys are right to be indignant. That’s ridiculous!

  2. That sounds like local government at work to me B. It’s as if they have no memory and are only robots. They do one thing, just to pass a “law” or “rule” stating the first item cannot be completed.

    Things such as this happen everywhere. I know it’s severly important in NO right now, because of all the remodeling debris and such.

    I say yall march!

    I was reading another blog somewhere, I’m sure you’ve read it, a few people would support you for mayor! I just need to know where to write the check!!!

  3. I’d have to hazard this isn’t about campaign contributions and is more about overt bribery and extortion. Who are the companies with the contracts? Waste Management Inc.? Get their names and do a web search for trash companies affiliated/indicted with organized crime. Trash is one of the bastions of the old La Cosa Nostra regimes. NOLA has been owned by the Marcello family since the mid-20s.

    Don’t believe they’ve been chased away. They are just better than they used to be, and the NOLA family was always very good. They are high on the suspect list to have gotten JFK.

    But… very careful when you follow the money. JFK, remember?

  4. I knew this story was being researched what I am wondering is who is going to pay for the large, very large piles of organic debris in front of Road Home Buyout properties?

    I have been documenting these properties and it appears as soon as the title clears the Road Home Program has a contractor come in and clear the lot. Many of these properties have not been maintained for 2 years so the tree and brush debris piles are huge.

    Now wo is going to pick up those?

  5. 25 lbs? WTF?!!!! My Beagle weighs 25 lbs! What utter bullshit. We are being taken for such a ride, it is PATHETIC. We need to take these expensive BOONDOGGLE garbage cans they made us buy, decorate them, fill them up with stuff that used to be recyclable, get a brass band and stage a Mardi Gras Garbage Parade to City Hall, then dump all the SHIT on their steps, where it belongs. Corrupt, criminal MORONS.

  6. To the anonymous commenter: The companies are Richard’s and Metro Disposal. The deal was noted as a big win for minority-owned businesses. Waste Management held the old contract, but they didn’t bid in this go-round because of the onerous “unlimited” debris pickup stipulated in the new contract. Oh, the irony!

  7. I don’t know. According to Stacy Head as quoted in this article, it was always her intention for residents to be responsible for their own debris hauling. And according to Cynthia Willard-Lewis, the extra costs of these contracts arise from the stupid plastic bins and… I guess… GPS tracking on sanitation trucks (which seems wholly unnecessary to me). So it looks to me like, yes, this is an unnecessarily costly contract but not exactly the kind of corrupt scam the paper is obviously trying to pin on Cynthia W-L.

  8. Uh, anonymous. Waste Management is not involved and that’s the company the Marcellos control via fronts. These are a new set of thieves and grifters who partially got the contract because they’re minority owned. The other big companies declined to bid because of the now rescinded “bulky waste” provisions.

  9. Jeffrey, how long have you and Cynthia Willard-Lewis been sleeping together? I hope Menckles kicks you right to the curb, where you won’t get picked up because you weigh more than 25 lbs.

  10. Give them time. I’m sure that next week they’ll have an expose about Jackie Clarkson. Has anyone asked if Clarkson’s red power suits are manufactured by campaign contributors who utilize child labor?

  11. That is also cute. But the point is well taken. Obviously the T-P will not print anything that paints Clarkson in a bad light but will continue to highlight Cynthia’s responsibility for stuff… like this debris hauling debacle… that is not only the fault of the entire City leadership but was also inadequately reported on by the T-P when these bad contracts were signed.

  12. The “bad contracts” were reported on pretty well at the time, I thought. What’s news to me is the piece the Council passed in April limiting debris pickup to 25 lbs. How did that fly under everyone’s radar, including the news media and the so-called reformers?

  13. That’s one of those devils-in-the-details that I can understand a lot of people even, possibly a professional reporter missing. Maybe not a good reporter..but we can’t have everything. What I would question there is why the “reform” faction of the Council didn’t see it as a problem when it passed unanimously. But this just brings me back to Head’s statement that council members may have originally intended for individuals to pay for their own debris all along.

  14. “Jeffrey, how long have you and Cynthia Willard-Lewis been sleeping together?”

    Hey, she WAS first runner-up in the Miss Black America pageant….I mean, if Jeffrey’s not interested….you know….


  15. – David Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 11:32 am
    Dump this shit at the gates of contracting companies. Hell, dump the shit at the homes of the city council.

    that’s a brilliant idea. I have a truck….i think a midnight stealth run may be in order…we get 4 or 5 truckloads of shit and dump it right at the entrance to City Council Chambers, blocking the door. Then we’ll see who they get to come pick it up.

  16. This explains why I’m having to wage a war with the trash folks over picking up my garbage. They won’t take my cat litter since each bag weighs about 30#s.

    No one has ever said a word about P/U limits.

    Count me in to play garbage gal one night.

  17. I’m not even actually trying to defend Cynthia here. The problem I have with this is the original argument over the cost of these contracts as reported last year by the T-P had to do with the “mechanized” pick-up and the plastic bins. Now, the paper has added a new angle that implies the over-payment has to do with debris removal which was not the case originally. In this context, the article allows Stacy Head, who originally argued against debris pickup altogether to weasel her way into affecting outrage that we are suddenly paying too much for this undelivered service.

    Meanwhile, the article slants in such a way as to paint Cynthia as the only Council member with any serious culpability when the actual blame spreads far thinner and wider.

    Couple that with the timing of the article, and I can only conclude that this is intended to hurt Cynthia politically. I’m in the unfortunate position of having to point that out despite the fact that I am not nor have ever been “in bed” with Cynthia politically or literally as has been hypothesized above.

  18. I just thought of something. The article mentions debris clogging up storm drains during the last flood. There was a lot of that around Carrollton. I wonder if there were some pissed off Picayune reporters?

  19. I don’t want to turn anyone off to guerilla trash dumping, but I will point out that you can move a lot of shit in the new garbage cans the city provided. I mean a lot. That’s because now the garbage men don’t have to lift them; the trucks do that for them.

    For instance, when I renovated my bathroom, I gutted that thing completely and threw all of the debris out the window and into the alley below. When it came time to haul off the pile in the alley, I wasn’t about to pay for that. Each week, I filled the city cans as full as possible. It helped that my house was a double, giving me two cans, and that no one was living in the double next door, so I used those as well. But everything–the toilet (disassembled), the tub (broken up), everything–went out in those cans. Something to consider. Just make sure you can get the lids closed reasonably well.

    Come to think of it, all the debris from my ill-fated renovation went out in those cans. At least I got something out of city services.

  20. This is just a fabulous city. They can’t even manage to pick up the god damn trash. What a joke. There is a news story about something related to trash every f’n week. Whether its munchkin cans, the fact we still have no recycling, these fat contracts, the fact that we’ve decided to allow the beneficiaries of those fat contracts to not do their jobs, blah blah blah. It’s trash pick-up, people! It’s the most basic of municipal services.

    When are we planning to start dumping our debris on the steps of city hall? I’m free all weekend. Who’s got a pickup truck? Who’s willing to bail us out of central lockup?

  21. I’m not sure how I’d rate the Picayune’s initial coverage, if you read the lengthier articles all the way through, it was obvious the process was rigged, but the Picayune didn’t cover it the way it would have if those had been state contracts. Adrastos is right about the now rescinded bulky waste provisions, but you had to look really hard to see what was going on. The only thing I saw in the paper that looked troublesome was the provision that you had to make an appointment for bulky waste provision, I posted about that in April, BTW.

    When I did a little more online research, I saw that there was a limitation based on size — as near as could figure the cubic inches listed were about the size of one large sofa. That’s far from unlimitted, but a lot more than 25lbs. I don’t know where I found that, or where I saved it, or if I ever posted about it. This is the first I recall hearing about the 25lbs.

    If we could see the original RFP’s, it’s obvious they contained phony provisions about unlimitted bulk pickup to frighten off competition. I suspect the provisions about automated service were misleading, and another shoe is going to drop over the “clarification” of the law that limitted pickup to four bags at a site to anew law that requires private collection for any building with more than four units.

    I agree with Dangerblond about civility, but the main problem is the civility that keeps people from acknowledging that the Nagin administration is thoroughly dishonest. From an October 2006 Picayune article:

    “Under the new contracts, she (Veronica White) said, residents will get their money’s worth in the collection of an unlimited amount of garbage and bulky items, including large appliances.”


    “At least two major companies that sent representatives to that meeting said it was not their lack of interest but the city’s impossibly demanding specifications that held them at bay, raising some questions about whether the winners will be able to live up to the contract terms.

    In an Aug. 23 letter to White, Roddie Matherne, general manager of Houma-based SWDI, wrote: “Because of the onerous requirements in the specifications, we have decided against submitting a bid at this time. If the city decides to revise the bid specs to something more predictable, we would be happy to have an opportunity to . . . possibly submit a bid at a later date.”

    Matherne said last week that his company’s concern lay predominantly in the requirement that the contractor collect unlimited amounts of bulky waste, a task that could get expensive if residents heap tires at the curb or if the Army Corps of Engineers quits collecting storm-related debris, as the agency is expected to do citywide by Jan. 1. “

  22. Jeffrey, did you notice that the yuppie riverfront development money is behind your girlfriend Cynthia? I never thought I’d prefer Clarkson to Willard-Lewis, but in this case, I think she’s the better choice.

    Anonymous, it’s funny that you brought up the mob. Jimmie Woods, of Metro Disposal, is no mafioso, but he has as many politicians and mininsters in his pocket as Don Corleone. Eddie Jordan and Dollar Bill come to mind Ed Murray, Austin Badon, Cedric Richmond and the Rev. O.C. Coleman all spoke to the city council about the wonderful homegrown businessmen who were getting the new contracts.

  23. I hate to agree with Jeffrey but the timing of the article does fit the Picayune’s pattern of editorial opinion leaking into news coverage. Seeping might be the better term for this trashy thingamabob. They hate CWL and like Jackie so we’re in for more of this.

  24. I like the way people tend to hate agreeing with me.

    Again, I don’t want to be misinterpreted as supporting CWL here. I think she’s part of the problem. But I do think the T-P is trying to single her out here for political purposes.

  25. Perhaps the T-P is trying to make it up to Clarkson. Remember when she blew her cool with Fielkow? She looked very bad in the T-P account of it, and I think it contributed to her defeat. I don’t know if the T-P has a bee in their bonnet about CWL, but if they do maybe it’s about time. After all, she did sponsor the bogus ordinance where we find that we are limited to 25 lbs of debris, in cahoots with Ray Nagin, after negotiating a garbage contract that obligates us to pay twice as much as before for a lot of bells and whistles that we don’t need. Has Clarkson done anything in the past few years that screwed us to the same degree?

    BTW, have ya’ll seen the scuttlebutt that CWL is the next to go down, so we should vote for her and later on we can get two new council members? I’m not taking that chance. How do we know we won’t end up with two people who are much worse than Clarkson?

  26. I think the timing also was affected by the retreat of the Corp. There was discussion that the debris removal would be folded into the City debris removal contract.

    I heard that Veronica White is going to be put in charge of the demolition process when it get’s back on track

  27. When the contracts were debated by the Council, the objections raised by Head and Midura had to do with the “bells and whistles” of mechanized pickup that DB is talking about.

    The costs of the contracts were not linked to heavy debris pickup by the “reformers” at that time. Head, in fact, argued that debris pickup should be the responsibility of individual residents. Later, when the entire council… including the “reformers” approved the 25lb rule, it was entirely consistent with their having accepted the high costs of the contract being related to “bells and whistles” and not heavy debris.

    The point is, at no time has anyone on the Council acted to get a solution to the problem of debris hauling. But they have all approved a contract that spends a big pile of cash for GPS-enabled garbage trucks. CWL is responsible in part but is not alone. Has anyone to asked if any of the other Council members have received donations from these contractors?

  28. David, at some point you won’t be able to throw all that debris into your cans. The new ordinance requies that all garbage be in tied plastic bags, and there is a 250lb limit on the amount that you can put in each can.

  29. Jeffrey, one has to assume that since CWL was the chair of the committee, the rest of them accepted her recommendations in the interest of civility. Yay, another triumph for civility. I don’t think even the most cynical of us realized that these bells and whistles would turn out to be as useless as they have. Of course, that’s no excuse for them obligating us to a contract where we pay twice as much for half as many people. That point was well-covered by the T-P, but look who made the run-off. The T-P can’t help it if we vote crooks back into office.

    The question about who contributed to whom is a good one. I assumed that these people only contributed to CWL and Nagin, because that is all that’s mentioned in the article. The article makes clear that the rest of the council voted with CWL and that Head would have had she been there. If these garbage people contributed to other council members and it was left out of the article, that’s irresponsible. BSJ David, do you know the answer? Jeffrey, if the answer is “no,” that what else can the T-P do but state who voted for it and who didn’t? It’s not like they tried to hide it. They also stated that the other council members had no comment.

  30. Looking to understand the council’s actions here… is it possible that the ordinance limiting the weight to 25 pounds was couched purely as a building code change, and that its effect on garbage collection was obscured to the point of being completely misleading? Don’t get me wrong – this is what council members are supposed to ferret out – but I’m having a hard time believing that the entire council knowingly went along with this restriction.

  31. I dont think the TP is really slanting it per se. I mean the waste companies are from CWL’s district, they are not doing anything and are making money, and they were found to be financial contributors (and lord knows what else) of hers. Now she wants to look into ‘other ways’ to spend more money to get the job done… is it another contract for a ‘contributor’ of hers? No matter how you slice it, the whole thing sounds really shady. In light of our recent indictments, I dont think its a matter that we should disregard– especially in a time of elections. If candidates are doing something wrong which could possibly warrant legal problems, I’d like to know Before the election so I don’t waste my vote. Note, the D. Shepherd situation. Plus the rumors around blogs speculate that she could find herself in front of a federal judge some day in the future. Who konws, may be just speculation but stuff like this only confirms my concerns. So maybe its good that the paper is digging on this candidate… not to mention current councilmember. I think every candidate running for office should be publicly asked, point blank “Are you the subject of any type of federal investigation” and see what we get. After all, we cant clean up our streets or our crime until we clean up our government….

  32. That’s a very good point, swampwoman, especially in light of Veronica White’s insistence on the use of garbage cans in the Quarter because – and I am not making this up – of the threat of bubonic plague.

  33. All the comments about politics and slanted against a certain politician don’t matter. The fact remains that the Jeff Parish contracts are nearly a third of the cost and are providing debris pick up. How the heck can the city’s contracts not be enforced to do so if it’s three times as much?

  34. Sec. 138-43. Residential bulky waste placement and collection.
    (a) The city will collect bulky waste a maximum of once per week by appointment or on an “on-call” basis. The resident shall be responsible for calling or e-mailing the city’s solid waste collection contractor to schedule an appointment for bulky-waste collection. Bulky waste shall be placed out for collection no later than 5:00 a.m. on the scheduled collection date and must be placed in neat stacks. It shall be unlawful to place bulky waste out for collection prior to the pre-scheduled appointment or scheduledcollection day. The amount of bulky waste placed for collection shall not exceed a total uncompacted volume of ten cubic yards on each scheduled pick-up.
    (b) Bulky waste shall be collected from residential units only. Small businesses that receive solid waste collection services from the city shall be responsible for proper transportation and disposal of bulky waste.
    (c) Large bulky household items such as refrigerators, stoves, furniture, etc. shall be placed at the curb or in the service alley before 5:00 a.m. on the scheduled (day of appointment) bulky waste collection day, but not before 4:00 p.m. of the day prior to the day scheduled for bulky waste collection. All compressors must be removed from appliances prior to being placed out for collection.
    (d) Bulky waste placed in alleys shall be placed adjacent to the property line. Bulky waste placed out for curbside collection shall be placed in front of the resident’s property, between the sidewalk and the street curb. The director may designate alternate placement and collection points. Bulky waste shall not be placed on the sidewalk or in the street, within five feet of any fire hydrant, utility pole, mail box, garbage cart, recycling container, or any other fixed object, on top of any water meter, behinda fence or any obstruction or barrier, or in any other manner that would interfere with or be hazardous to pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists.
    (e) Items of bulky waste that are acceptable for normal residential collection are:
    (1) Tree limbs and branches less than four feet in length and 12 inches in diameter, neatly bundled;
    (2) Metal materials weighing 25 pounds or less;
    (3) Pipe less than one inch in diameter and less than four feet in length;
    (4) Manufactured items, including, but not limited to, furniture and appliances;
    (5) Bagged leaves, weeds, grass, small vegetation clippings and hedge clippings;
    (6) White goods;
    (7) Twenty-five pounds or less of construction and demolition solid waste generated by a resident and properly containerized and/or bundled;
    (8) Cardboard boxes;
    (9) Carpet less than four feet in length, rolled and tied; and
    (10) Tires; maximum of four tires per scheduled collection.
    (f) Items of bulky waste that are not acceptable for normal residential collection include:
    (1) Tree limbs or branches more than four feet in length or 12 inches in diameter and not properly bundled;
    (2) Metal material in excess of 25 pounds;
    (3) Pipe more than one inch in diameter or more than four feet in length;
    (4) Unbagged leaves, weeds, grass, small vegetation clippings and hedge clippings;
    (5) More than 25 pounds and/or improperly containerized or bundled construction and demolition solid waste generated by a resident, or any amount of construction and demolition solid waste generated by a contractor working at a residential unit;
    (6) Concrete, cement blocks, stones, bricks;
    (7) Any materials containing asbestos;
    (8) Lead acid batteries or any hazardous, infectious, or medical solid waste;
    (9) Vehicle or equipment parts in excess of 25 pounds;
    (g) It shall be a violation of this section to place unacceptable bulky waste items, bulky waste items exceeding ten cubic yards or improperly placed bulky waste items out for collection. The responsible party shall remove and dispose of all bulky waste improperly placed, bulky waste exceeding ten cubic yards, improperly containerized or bundled, and any unacceptable items of bulky waste at their own expense.
    (Code 1956, 28-9; M.C.S., Ord. No. 22601, 1, 4-19-07)

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