Saturday, December 06, 2008

Despite some more examinations of our recent refuse woes from Matt McBride- namely, the way in which the "house count audit" of the Walking Id's administration is being done...

The "house count audit" is supposed to independently determine for the city exactly how many houses are getting trash service - nearly two years after the contracts started. In the public's minds, this would probably involve an outside firm coming into City Hall and poring over the trash companies' address lists. But that's not what this "audit" is about. In fact, it appears this audit is not an audit at all, but simply an elaborate exercise in CYA ....

...The methodology for the audit is a whiz-bang technical mashup of vehicle-mounted GPS receivers and GCR's witches brew of data pulled from Entergy bills, post office records, and Sewerage & Water Board records.

From what I can gather, GCR is producing some kind of list where they think it is likely folks are receving trash service (not where they know service is received). GBB/GCR calls these addresses "prospective refuse collection points." Then GBB, with their GPS boxes and wireless antennas, seems to be going out on trash collection days and noting who has their cans out, and then tying that into the database.

Missing in this "audit" of the trash companies is the obvious - there is no interaction with the trash companies and their records. In effect, it is people driving around looking at trash cans and creating a brand new address list. There seems to be no provision whatsoever to determine if the city is getting double billed for any of those cans, or whether those cans should even be there. I also wonder how GBB/GCR accounts for people who might not put out their cans - or who do not have them within sight of a passing car - the days their auditmobiles roll by? And what about the year and a half of service the city had already paid for by the time the audit began?

Frankly, it's the goofiest audit methodology one could come up with. It's like going to the Grand Canyon, spending the entire time in the gift shop looking at postcards, and then coming home and telling everyone how Grand the Canyon is! It seems designed to avoid looking at the actual records in order to provide plausible deniability in case irregularities are uncovered. It also avoids placing the Sanitation Department in the uncomfortable position of having to explain their very poor oversight and contrary execution of these lucrative contracts. If nobody's looking at the records - and based on the actual records it seems no one is - then no one can say anything conclusive about them and their obvious problems.

(Please give E some suggestions as to how to present his petition to remove Veronica White from her sanitation directorate. A combo of sending it to the City Council members and a media blitz on the front steps of City Hall as E presents it to the Mayor's office is a start...and then we all must keep referring to its 568 signatures on a regular basis until she is gone.)

...I have to agree with Cliff's attention to Big Red Cotton's post New Orleans - It Ain't For Everybody, and reprint it here for your consideration:

Okay, so a soon-to-be released survey identifies the 20 cities Americans say they would most want - and least want - to relocate for a job.

Guess which list New Orleans made...

Because the national economy is in the crapper into the unforeseeable future, more Americans will be faced with having to relocate to find work. So this Washington-based professionals organization, The Human Capital Institute, created a survey to help cities determine how to market themselves to attract talented out-of-town workers. They interviewed 2,500 employees and entrepreneurs nationwide who ranked New Orleans as their fourth least favorite pick for places to move to. Amongst our cited ills are population shrinkage, murder rate increase, and post-Katrina tourism industry challenges. The negative attributes rankings were health and safety (55%), image (49%), and environment (45%).

Hmph... Well on behalf of New Orleans, allow me to say that we don't want to be with anyone who doesn't want to be with us. I, for one, am tired of Homogenous Nation's negative opinion of New Orleans. We cannot be everything to everybody, especially imagination-lacking, subdivision beige house loving, mainstream America. We're busting our asses to put this city back together and take it to the next level - it's a GD mission! So if you're not feeling this, move over and let the ones through that DO wanna get with us.

Excuse my tangent folks. I'm just OVER the whole 'image' conversation.

Ironically, the other cities that made the survey's Top Worst List happen to be our sister cities:

New York/New Orleans - Disaster Soul Mates
Detroit/ New Orleans - Chocolate Cities
Los Angeles/New Orleans - Hollywood/Hollywood South

Apparently, the respondents are not so much into catastrophe, flava, or drama. Okay, I get that. Again, this aint for everybody.

The other irony is that our economy is still growing and outperforming the rest of the nation - we're actually ADDING jobs here while the rest of the country is losing jobs. And according to CityBusiness, New Orleans is fast growing as a hot spot in the tech sector. So I have a feeling some of those naysayers are going to be eating their words about us sooner rather than later.

Oh it feels good to be able to say that and actually believe it has a chance in hell of being true...

Anyhoo, I'm filing this after a fabulous Creole Italian dinner and too much wine and song at Vincent's. Now I'm off to catch one of the best live music shows in the country - the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf, which will be packed as it is every middle-of-the-week Tuesday night. And the night won't end till the band says it ends.

Ah New Orleans, my beloved... If loving you is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

I said it before and I'll say it again: Hell, yes and Amen!


Cade said...

The trash cans have bar codes which uniquely identify them. If they were being scanned (which they are not), one could easily know all the cans picked up on a given day. For people who don't put out their can every day (or even the same can - we ended up with two), it's simply a case of mining the data to determine the household can usage in a given period.

If we were getting the service which we were promised, that is.

Editilla said...

If the levees fail again New Orleans won't be a town for Anybody.
But relax. The Times Picayune says the Corps is Reducing Risk by Building Strong.
Now don't you all bellyfeel better?

King of New York Hacks said...

Trust me, we are in bad shape here in NYC !

mominem said...

I personally amd planning to insure the crap out of my house and if the levees fail again, I'm gone.