Saturday, September 29, 2007

"A Charles Rice Special"

That's your ever-quotable mayor again explaining that he never really wanted those "bombproof" garbage cans in the first place.

$750 trash cans deemed a waste
Posted by The Times Picayune September 28, 2007 8:57PM

By Gordon Russell
Staff writer

New Orleanians, it appears, will never get to find out whether the "bombproof" trash cans the city bought for $750 a pop three years ago were worthy of the title.

That's because all 600, purchased for a steep $450,000, have been junked.

Now Mayor Ray Nagin's administration, which staunchly defended the original trash can purchase, has begun replacing them with a different model. Unlike the old ones, the new ones do not feature advertisements -- nor do they claim to frustrate terrorists.

In a recent interview, Nagin said he was never a fan of the squatty cans, bought with a no-bid contract at the direction of former Chief Administrative Officer Charles Rice. Rice left city government in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina.

"Those little munchkin trash cans? We got rid of those," Nagin said, referring to the trash can deal as "a Charles Rice special."

I realize I'm practically re-posting this entire article but it's so full of fun stuff I find it hard not to.

Told of the mayor's comments, Rice fired back.

"This was discussed with Ray Nagin one-on-one and in a staff meeting in his office," said Rice, who is practicing law. "Ultimately, any decision involving the city of New Orleans rests with the mayor. He approved the purchase of the trash cans, and at the end of the day, Ray Nagin makes the decision and bears the ultimate responsibility."

The trash cans were controversial when they were installed, though the controversy had nothing to do with their size. The problem was that the company that supplied them, Niche Marketing USA, acknowledged a business relationship with Terrence Rice, Charles Rice's brother -- though the Rices have denied the link.

The deal was also a demonstrably bad one.

Typically, companies that deal in trash can advertising supply the cans for free to cities -- and give cities as much as 25 percent of the ad revenue as well.

Niche Marketing not only charged New Orleans full price for the cans, it promised the city only 15 percent of the ad revenue. Because of poor ad sales and the cans' short life span on New Orleans' streets, the city's return worked out to only about $6,000.

But I'm posting this for two additional reasons. First, I figured I could get this up before it shows up on Moldy City where the subject has been treated several times in the past.

There are also related background articles compiled at the Nagin Files here here and here.

Second, I'm posting this because it occurs to me that the "bombproof" cans are apparently available. Would it be possible perhaps for a private citizen to acquire one and... you know.... see if it can or can't be blown up? It would make a fine Mythbusters episode, would it not?

Update: In comments, Oyster observes
It seems obvious to anyone with a brain that bombproof munchkin cans were at odds with the larger goal of "exploding the pie" of New Orleans.
He may be on to something there as the Mayor makes the following statement in another snip from today's T-P
"It is a smorgasbord in New Orleans! It is a buffet, an economic buffet! All you can eat!" he told the crowd. "If you have a lawnmower and an edger, you can make money in New Orleans."
It seems all too plausible that an exploding pie or two may indeed be on that "economic buffet".

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