html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Smackdown

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Somewhat dorky:

Last year I read Lisa Belkin’s Show Me a Hero, which was a great book about the city of Yonker’s battle against integrating low-income housing into middle-income neighborhoods. I loved the entire book, but my favorite part was when the judge started to enforce his court order. The city of Yonkers had gone to amazing lengths to avoid the integrated low-income housing, fighting the legal battle as long as possible, recalling the city counselors who advocated obeying the court order, swearing to unceasing civil disobedience, holding protests. Finally they said (all of the next quotes are my paraphrase):

“The good citizens of Yonkers will never submit to this cruel and unreasonable edict by an activist judge in New York City who doesn’t understand that his integration order will unravel the very fabric of our close knit community. Never will we allow those people to live on the same blocks as our friends, family, grandmothers! Not because we are racist, no no! But because, well, you know. Anyway, if you, cruel activist judge, lived here, you would understand that our noble spirits are unquenchable, and our commitment to resisting integrated low income housing is indefatigable. You will never force us to comply.”

The judge said: “Watch me.”

He ordered a thousand dollar fine for the first day they didn’t agree to integrated low-income housing. And Yonkers said “We laugh at your thousand dollar fine!” The judge continued, “The fine will double every day until you obey the court order. On the day you agree, you will owe not just that day’s total but also the cumulative total of every previous day. Assholes.”

I think Yonkers caved at $256 or $512K. There were other really good parts of the book, but that was my favorite.

Really very dorky:

Show Me a Hero came to mind this morning because I think the same thing is going on in Los Osos (small town near the coast in Central California). The agency I work for compiles the water news for us every day, and I actually read it. It is kinda hard to tell through the formal tone of the newspaper reports, but it seems like the local Regional Water Quality Control Board has told the city of Los Osos that they must build a sewage treatment system. Something about how they have to stop shitting in their groundwater.

I guess Los Osos has been on septic tanks, and installing a sewer system and a wastewater treatment plant is going to be very expensive for them. I haven’t followed it closely, but from what I can tell, the whole thing has been a fiasco. I think Los Osos has taken grant money to build it, but not spent the grant money well. Multiple contractors haven’t done their work. I think the locals may have also recalled a Sanitation Board who decided that Los Osos should pony up and build it. The good citizens of Los Osos are determined to defy the cruel activist edict by a RWQCB who doesn’t understand that hooking up to a sewer system will destroy the rural character of their community.

So yesterday the RWQCB announced that if the people of Los Osos do not want to install a sewage treatment system to keep shit out of their groundwater, they can do it another way. Every year, they will randomly select 50 households that will have to pump their septic tanks every two months. It will cost about $2400 per household.

It isn’t quite doubling a fine everyday, but it is pretty good.

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Anonymous Greg said...

This proves the age-old adage that every job involves dealing with crap.

9:21 PM  

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