Civil Discourse Now

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Trash Pick-up Cancellations---Fodder for Mayor Ballard to Privatize Another Aspect of Indy Before He Leaves Office?

   The number of days trash pick-up has been canceled worries me. I think the administration of Greg “Give Me a Reason to Toss Sweet Deals to Pals” Ballard will use the days trash pick-up have been canceled this winter as a pre-text for final privatization of that service by the City.
   First, let me say that I understand what it is like to work in sub-zero weather. During college, I worked for my old man’s construction company. His company was union, but there was an exemption for direct family members of contractors. That did not mean I was paid the union wage (I think it was about $13 per hour) of the time. I was paid three bucks per hour. The exemption meant I could touch sheet metal—as in carry fittings, help put them in place, etc.
   When I was home for the break that covered the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice—what others erroneously celebrate as Jesus’s birthday—the company had a contract with one of the car factories in Kokomo. I believe it was Chrysler, but frankly, from my perspective across the flat deck of a roof outside, or through cross-beams 60 feet or so inside, the company for which the work was performed did not press on my mind.
   The temperature was ten degrees below zero. The job was to move “dust collectors” as I recall—huge units, big bastards 30 feet or so tall that filtered air and connected to exhaust things on the roof—from one part of the plant to another. Simply to walk in that kind of weather is a pain. To try and work with tools is worse, because either one’s hands are in gloves and the manipulation of tools and other objects is difficult, or one suffers frostbite. The wind howled—I mean “howl” as in wild dogs from the infernal regions that led huge gusts—out of what seemed like every direction. The air inside the plant was heavy with a drizzle of machine oil, but much preferred to the plain across the roof.
   The people who work on those trash trucks, even in good weather, have jobs I do not envy. The word “trash” is simple, but let us face what is in those garbage cans and bins: rotten food, broken glass, and, after a series of garbage cans that might all weigh about the same, somebody loads one with highly dense objects of refuse. There also is the chance a live critter—read that as “rat”; okay, if you were unaware, now you know one of my phobias—will jump out of a trash can it had believed, until that moment, was it and its family’s new domicile.
   Some of the guys stand on the back bumpers of the trash trucks. There also is a driver, of course. Everybody jumps down or out, from what I have seen, to grab the next cluster of trash cans. They lift heavy crap that we have thrown away, and the job is not easy.
   Today’s trash pickup was canceled once again. (I tip my Cubs hat to Eye on Indianapolis for the “word” on this development.) The reason is the cold temperatures.
   The past seven years have seen former Lieutenant Colonel and, for next 11 months or so, Mayor Ballard attempt to privatize anything he can privatize in Indianapolis. I understand, from stories on the web, that DPW made the call out of concern for the safety of its workers. I agree workers’ safety should be a priority.
   I have this suspicion that someone on the next-to-top floor at City-County Building—the top floor is a museum; if you have not gone there, you should do so, before the Criminal Justice Center is built and City-County Building is given away to some foreign investors to develop as tax-free condos—might see a way in which this deep freeze can be used to privatize trash pick-up. Already Republic picks up trash. So does Ray’s. On its website, Ray’s observed it would be out picking up trash, and the cancellation affects only Marion County residents.
   So that means one of several things:
   1) Maybe Ray’s has equipment far superior to the equipment of DPW. If so, we should take some of the money shoveled at cricket fields and lobbyists and push it toward new trash pickup equipment.
   2) Maybe there is a greater concern for the safety of workers at DPW than there is at Ray’s. If that is the case, our City government should cut back its contracts with those companies that expose their employees to unnecessary danger.
   Under either of those notions, to privatize trash collection does not solve the problem. When we hit winter, temperatures will drop, sometimes to the minus-zero range, when few people are out and about. Whether trash pick-up is handled by the City or a private contractor, the temps will be the same.
   Maybe I only am paranoid. Maybe those who run the City of Indianapolis harbor few thoughts of profit whenever possible at public expense. I am sure that, in other parts of the country, sanitation services never have been the source of skim for shady elements. (Tony Soprano was fictional and, besides, his work was in environmental clean-up.)
   On the other hand, if the Republican Party manages to capture the White House in 2016, we might not have to worry about these super-sub-zero conditions. The Republican Party might just believe all this poppycock about “global warming” and try to pump out as much fossil fuels as possible. Donald Trump might eye the shores, now naked of glacial ice, of Antarctica for development by one of his companies (that seem to go into bankruptcy a lot).
   And that’s where the Republican Party would be wrong. The theory is global climate change. Wild swings in temperatures are part of the phenomenon.
   And that gets me back to Mayor Greg. He probably has his eyes on the way in which trash pickup is done in India. After all, they don’t have problems with trash pickup in sub-zero weather in Delhi—or the New (improved) Delhi.

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