News of Mayor Bill White’s (let’s give credit where it’s due) move to evict the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation from its longtime home on prized and highly developable city-owned property near River Oaks (as detailed in this very fair and balanced story in Sunday’s Chronicle) comes on the heels of word that the city may be poised, for the first time in its history*, to impose a fee for garbage collection services on single-family residences.
We learned the latter fact from the front page of last Thursday’s newspaper---not the front front page, but the front page of the weekly zoned edition of the Chronicle that’s distributed in our neck of the metropolis. And of this we’ve heard no more (talk about underplaying a story!).
In other words, this proposal hasn’t exactly gotten prominent mention in the media, or by our elected officials.
According to the Chronicle’s Alief/Southwest News, at-large Council member Ronald Green told the Alief Super Neighborhood Council last week that the city is likely to propose a $3 or $4 monthly fee for recycling and heavy trash pick-up and collection of such could come through city water bills (as if they aren’t high enough already). Green allowed that there “is a $2 million to $3 million gap in providing waste collection service and a fee for recycling and heavy trash is going to be an option.”
We’re not sure what he meant by “gap,” exactly, but we’ve never been under the impression that garbage collection (light, heavy, recyclable or otherwise) is a city service that is supposed to pay for itself, anymore than police protection is supposed to be a self-sustaining service. Fact of the matter is, we always thought that municipalities were incorporated mainly to provide for sanitation and public safety, but as usual we must have been wrong. What do we pay city property and sales taxes for, anyway? So we can, like, turn a city golf course into a soccer stadium for a California ga-jillionaire? Or what?
This doesn’t surprise us, as White has previously targeted both services: Early on as mayor he proposed making heavy trash collection a by-request service (it’s unlikely White and his neighbors haul their expired Maytags and decayed fence posts out to the curb, as the do-it-yourselfers in our neighborhood do, in large numbers), a proposal that went nowhere. More recently he threatened to do away with recycling pick-up in neighborhoods where residents don’t avail themselves of the service in sufficient numbers, but we've lost track of where that one stands.
So we’re thinking that maybe the city should go ahead and toss the mentally challenged folks out of their center because its 99-year lease violates the city charter or whatever legalism is justifying the eviction and use the windfall from the sale to cover the $2 to 3 million “gap” for waste collection and reap some revenue from the fug-ugly high-raise apartments that will no doubt replace the center---housing that, and we’re just taking a wild swing here, will be priced well beyond the “affordable” range for the rest of us down here on the ground paying the $3 or $4 garbage fee.
But here are our predictions, once the public is riled: No garbage fees, no eviction of the retarded. And here’s a gratuitous forecast with no connection to those two, which we’re throwing in as lagniappe just because we were over that way this weekend: Midtown=the “Gulfton Ghetto” of the 2030s (we’ll be too too dead to care or else blessedly medicated in the Old Folks Compound up in Navasota).
*We think that's the case but we're too time-pressed for this "fact-checking" business at present. If this would not be a historical first, then we regret the error, etc.