Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Burgher’s Testament: Why We Live in Houston and Visit(ed) New Orleans

1. Tuesday was our regular pick-up day for garbage and heavy trash, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that both were retrieved right on time---which occasionally doesn’t happen during a non-post-hurricane week. Our part of town may have been first in line when service resumed, but we figured the pick-up would be stalled for a while, given all the Rita-related branches and limbs awaiting disposal, along with the various non-storm related trash set out by residents (such as us) who used the post-Rita reordering of the garage and patio as a chance to do some early spring cleaning. (But that did cause us to recall how the current mayor, shortly after taking office, wanted to explore making heavy trash pick-up a by-request service …)

2. On the Friday afternoon before the far edge of Rita wheezed though Houston, we joined a neighbor in battening down some of the detritus---abandoned rebar, busted 2x4s, etc.---left by the bankrupt contractor that quit in the middle of installing a new water pipe below one of the two streets that make our neighborhood accessible to the larger world. We also diligently stowed away or weighted down the rubber “work zone” barricades (or “non-work zone,” in this case) and the tall one-way signs the city has put up on the long-closed eastern half of the street. People were rightly worried about all of this loose crap being flung about in a 100 mph breeze. No sooner had we finished and there coming down the street was a city truck with a work crew poised to perform the very same battening-down. We weren’t angry at all---in fact, we were more than pleasantly surprised that the city even bothered, given everything that was going on that day (not that there was much work left to do). Obviously, someone in Public Works---possibly having been nudged by one of our crankier, more activist-type neighbors---was on the ball. To paraphrase our hero and inspiration Larry King, “City of Houston, we salute you!”

3. From the New York Times, September 28, 2005: “[then-New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass’] unorthodox management style was evident two weeks after the hurricane when he stopped while visiting various police districts for a pedicure, a massage and a haircut. It was, he said, all part of visiting his ‘troops.’ ”

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