Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Trashy Recology Neighborhood

Large residential garbage and recycling containers have mysteriously appeared in my Civic Center neighborhood over the last week in spots where they don't belong.

They sit on the middle of the sidewalk on McAllister Street...

...with one burnt-out recycling container sprawled across the street from City Hall.

The containers are parked next to a Veterans Building public garbage can...

...and along the sidewalk at Franklin and McAllister Streets.

The waste disposal company in San Francisco is currently called Recology, but under various previous names, the Italian-American, worker-owned company has had an unbroken monopoly on garbage contracts since the 1930s.

According to a thesis By Rose Doris Scherini, "The Italian American community of San Francisco: a descriptive study":
"This monopoly of the scavenger business by Italians has been an economic boom for the ethnic group; immediate employment was provided for unskilled immigrants, and economic advancement was facilitated by stock-sharing. Until recent years, when workers of varied ethnic backgrounds have been hired, the scavenger work force was almost entirely made up of Ligurians. Employment was usually arranged by a relative already in the employ of one of the companies. In the thirties and forties, the Scavengers Protective Association (S.P.A.) also played a social role in the community; its annual picnic was a major event, well-attended, even by non-Italian mayors..."

Recology has been much in the news lately as their no-bid contracts have come under increasing fire from Potrero Hill activist Tony Kelly and retired San Francisco judge Quentin Kopp while the Board of Supervisors is trying to fast-track a new contract with the company for a waste landfill in Yuba County. (Click here for the recently laid-off Sarah Phelan's article on the issue at the Bay Guardian.)

Another bit of bombshell news is the participation of Recology in the astroturf "Run, Ed, Run" campaign to urge "caretaker" San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to run in this November's election even though he very publicly promised he would never do so. John Cote wrote a story at the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday (click here) that was unusually blunt about the sleaziness of Lee's sponsor Rose Pak and her shakedown of Recology for money, signatures, and personnel, which professional public relations liar Sam Singer is claiming was all the fault of an unnamed rogue executive at the company. The Bay Citizen this morning also chimed in with an expose of Recology and its connections at City Hall (click here), including its long, cozy relationship with both Ed Lee and former mayor Willie Brown Jr.

When asked about her association with the company, Chinatown fixer Rose Pak simply lied and said she had never even heard of Recology which doesn't seem very credible. Maybe Ms. Pak should walk west a couple of blocks the next time she's visiting her protege Ed Lee in the Mayor's Office at City Hall, and she'd see all the mysterious garbage cans with the Recology logos on them littering the sidewalks. They look like an omen.


janinsanfran said...

Nice to see you taking on the garbage monopoly. I think the current corporation undercut itself when it took on the current ridiculous name.

Civic Center said...

Dear Jan: I'm not really taking on the garbage monopoly since I'd rather see locals with the franchise rather than some Texas corporation. Still, it would be nice if they weren't quite so greedy while being so connected to the local power structure. And you're right about the name. It sounds like something Gavin Newsom came up with while high on something.

AphotoAday said...

Interesting info on the Italians and the scavenger business. Applies to our very colorful Joe Garbarino, our long-standing Minister of Garbage here in Marin County.

I'm all for recycling, but I believe what is actually happening is a lot of what we carefully sort out into the appropriate bins just ends up at the landfill.

Yep, I've got three big bins. One for garbage, another for paper, plastic and glass, and another for garden waste. Three big trucks visit my tiny dead-end street every Monday morning to pick up the contents of "their" can.

Anyway, seems like if I was a kid I'd be stealing wheels off of those bins for a coaster or something.

Civic Center said...

Dear Donald: There was a flavor of "stealing wheels off of those bins for a coaster" but in Civic Center it was probably some meth'd out lunatic who had found a stash of Recology garbage bins. But that doesn't make sense either because they were so spaced out around the neighborhood.

In any case, thanks I am sure to the power of the blogosphere, a public worker in a neon jacket was picking up all those bins and taking them away somewhere at 6:30 this morning. They are gone. Finish. I couldn't make out if it was thanks to Recology or the Department of Public Works.

And yes, waste management is a traditionally Italian-American business in the U.S.ofA, and they're not going to be giving it up any time soon.

Diane Harrigan said...

Yes - I noticed the neighborhood was cleaned up this morning! Thanks SFMike! There's still blue smudge on the sidewalk form where the one bin was torched, but the other misplaced receptacles have been wheeled away. The whole thing is sort of bizarro.

AphotoAday said...

Hi Mike -- it's me again.
WOW -- you actually have Civic Center clout. Way to go.