Thursday, June 15, 2006

White to Houstonians: Use It Or Lose It (in the Circle of Life)

o A recent letter from the mayor of Mexico City … no, ’scuse us, it’s from our mayor, Bill White … to the habitantes de Houston … sorry, let’s flip it over to the English-language side … to Houstonians relates that we are blessed to live in a city “rich with history, culture, diversity and resources.”

Ah, yes. So what’s your point, mayor?

The point is, apparently, is that despite these blessings, the city faces many challenges, including “protecting our environment” (to which we can only say, “No shit?”). But el alcalde is on the case. His latest offensive, the letter relates, is a “recycling awareness campaign,” which looks to be the major initiative hooked to the recent 2006 Environmental Summit, sponsored by the city and the oxymoronic Keep Houston Beautiful organization.

Well, the costs of “awareness” are nominal, we suppose.

The mayor notes that the letter recipient lives in a neighborhood that has curbside recycling collection, but only one in five residents citywide who receive the service actually use it while a “number of neighborhoods are on the waiting list” to get it.

So … “a lack of neighborhood participation may result in a loss of service.”

Oh. Awareness= potential loss of service.

We’re not sure how to take this. As a vigorous, even obsessive recycler---we compost anything we can from the kitchen, then regularly piss on our heap, because human urine is 1 whole percent nitrogen, a key component in decomposition---we’d be more than a little miffed to lose our curbside service because our slovenly neighbors are too lazy to toss their empties in their city-supplied bins.

Hell, we’d be pissed. We might start hauling our plastics and cardboard over here.

What’s puzzling about the mayor’s missive is the lack of explanation for the threatened loss of service. Is recycling a zero-sum deal---there’s only a certain amount the city will entertain, and that’s it? Or is it that recycling’s not turning the requisite profit, which was the explanation offered a few years back when White’s predecessor cut out glass recycling (forget about saving landfill space and contributing---marginally [very] to be sure---to the overall betterment of the planet, not to mention that expansive sense of virtue one gets from this act of pseudo-environmentalism, the way hybrid drivers became taken with the smell of their own emissions on that episode of South Park).

There’s a carrot with the mayor’s lil’ stick, though: the neighborhood that “scores” highest in recycling (participation and, um, poundage) will win $5,000 that can go to sprucing-up the environs.

We’ve tried to rally our neighbors to the mayor’s recycling cause. One shot us the finger. Another wagged the blunt barrel of a small-caliber handgun at us from behind a partially opened door. A third cussed us in a language that neither we nor our Spanish-speaking neighbor could understand.*

o Count us among what surely will be the growing legions of Houstonians unimpressed by City Councilwoman Sue Lovell. According to this Channel 2 report we saw Tuesday evening, Lovell, apparently after being on the receiving end of some grousing from constituents, placed an unspecified quantity of blame on Lamar High School for the recent gang-related stabbing death of a boy of either 14 or 15 (although he sure looked a lot older in the pictures) in Ervin Chew Park. Lovell
said parents have told her that the problems started at Lamar High School on June 6, the day of the stabbing. Lovell said the students were asked to leave the campus and ended up fighting with rival gang members at Ervin Chew Park. "HISD must step forward, must acknowledge a problem and must reach out to the people that can help them," Lovell said. "Not ignore them, nor shove it off to the neighborhoods where it does become a problem and where people get hurt."
Yes, once again the public schools have fallen down on the job, which, at least the way Lovell sees it, is to be these kids’ mommas and daddies.

o Speaking of “gang-related” (the third most-often-used adjective in southwest Houston, according to a recent survey), we see that the National Geographic cable channel is re-running its documentary World’s Most Dangerous Gang, which examines MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, the conglomeration of Salvadoran youth with which the young man killed in Ervin Chew Park supposedly was affiliated. (We’re pretty sure this isn’t the “culture” the mayor was referring to in his letter.) It's on sometime Sunday night, probably after our bedtime.

* Pardon our Lynn Ashby-ish flight of fancy.

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