Friday, December 01, 2006

T’was the Night before the Budget Vote

That’s plenty of time to review $33 million in sanitation contracts for the first time, right?

On the eve of the New Orleans City Council's vote today on the 2007 budget -- which will include $33 million for three new trash-collection deals -- top officials for Mayor Ray Nagin delivered long-awaited final versions of two of the contracts and announced the winner of a third trash pickup deal in the French Quarter.

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Moreover, sanitation Director Veronica White made clear that the council's options -- despite its power of the purse over Nagin's proposed budget -- were severely limited, given that the deals are slated to begin Jan. 2.

"What would you do at this late date if we should not approve this?" Midura asked.

"What would be the alternative? There would be no garbage pickup," White said. "That would be the alternative."
It’s C. Ray or the highway.

Why are the details of the contracts being released the day before the Council must vote on them?
It is not clear, however, why the city did not disclose the contracts sooner, despite numerous inquiries in person and in writing. The public records law generally requires public entities to provide public documents "immediately," or within, at most, three days. Mayoral spokeswoman Ceeon Quieet said Thursday that she did not receive such inquiries after Nov. 13.
Oh, I see. There were “numerous inquiries” before November 13, but none after November 13. That’s why no one got to see the contracts before yesterday, not even Councilwoman Midura, a member of the budget committee that “monitors contracts for collection and disposal.”

From the T-P article:
With the contracts in her hand, Midura pressed Wilde on why the city attorney's office, which provides legal counsel to the mayor as well as the council, refused to clue her in over the past six weeks to the bulk of the agreements' content. Instead, she said, they responded to her repeated requests for draft versions of the contracts -- in whole or in part -- with dubious explanations, including the assertion that the public records law specifically exempts lawyers' work product.
What does that say for Nagin’s pledge of “transparent spending policies”? Moldy City clues us in.

Also from the T-P article, the true litterbugs are the rats:
"Hiring a bunch of people to go around and pick up manually, you're defeating your purpose," she [sanitation Director Veronica White] said, noting that uniform carts with lids that are part of the new deals will stop rodents from tearing through plastic bags, which she called a major factor in loose litter.
Some of us are worried about a different type of rats.

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