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After the Blizzard Cometh the Stench

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NYC snow storm, 2011This winter’s blizzard has been recorded as the sixth worst of all time. Even though they are no strangers to snow storms, New Yorkers were still helpless after experiencing extensive travel delays, dysfunctional transportation, blocked off routes and even fatalities. It has since been uncovered that, perhaps, the city’s very own sanitation department could be blamed for the laxity of the snow clean up. However, it has been a week and the snow has melted or turned into sludge and everything seems to be in working order–but it stinks.

New Yorkers are currently awaiting the clearing of at least a weeks’ worth or trash in the city and its surrounding burrows. Granted that the city isn’t entirely known for its fresh smelling air, last weeks events have both visitors and residents in agreement that the piles of garbage engulfing the streets of New York is beyond rancid. The smell is ever-present and it invades homes and stores; many of which will be experiencing a brief sales lull following the holidays. The collection of 50,000 tons of waste and disposal only resumed a week after it had been covered in the 20 inches of snow that blanketed much of the east coast.

Frustratingly, the only words of support Mayor Bloomberg had to provide were : “It’ll take a few days to catch up, but they’re out there (sanitation workers) today, and hopefully, in the next three or four days, it will all be done with”. As this story is written, day three has arrived and unfortunately rotting garbage remains despite the promised extra 100 garbage trucks and the collection of recycling isn’t even scheduled for the next couple of days. Having said that the real stench actually derives from the Mayor’s poor handling and communication of the incident.

New Yorkers have been sharply reminded at the end of one year and the beginning of another that the economy is still very bleak right now, it’s palpable. The clear up farce is said to arise from hundreds of sanitation workers fearing demotion, throwing a spanner in the works and perhaps even trying to accrue more overtime. Meanwhile, hundreds still have their jobs, access to pension and health care benefits. The debt to maintain the sanitation department currently stands at a quarter of a billion which is just equal to the taxpayer’s contribution to sanitation departments pensions and benefits. There is also the reminder that despite downsizing (demotion in the case of the sanitation workers) debt will still increase and the number of unemployed is ever rising despite efforts made to help the city’s economy. Basically, what the Mayor has left to admit is that we are spending more and gaining even less and the mess of the blizzard is a perfect example of this.

Now there is an investigation into the root cause of the snow fiasco and all the costs continue to add up. For example, tombstones were crushed by plowed snow in a Jewish cemetery in Midwood, Brooklyn. Parked cars were plowed into and destroyed on a street in Brooklyn heights. There’s also a story that a 26-year-old male attempted to commit suicide but his fall was broken by reeking garbage nine floors below his window. Maybe New Yorkers can assume that amongst all of the rubbish somewhere underneath the garbage is a solution. That’s if the rats don’t overrun the city first.

–Nikkita Flavius-Gottschalk is a Contributor to The Free George.

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