The Invisible Deal

13 09 2012

The St. Louis Forestry Division’s contract with a private company appears to have vanished, taking the credibility of City Hall with it.

by Bill Newmann

A sign at the gates of the city’s Hall Street composting facility

St. Louis Composting Inc., the private company that accepts wood waste from the city, has been operating without a valid contract since the beginning of September, the Journal of Decomposition has learned.

Despite numerous requests made this week, City Hall could not produce a copy of the current contract between the Forestry Division and St. Louis Composting.

Forestry signed a deal with the company three years ago when the city agency decided to privatize its composting operation. St. Louis Composting submitted the successful bid. On September 1, 2009, the firm entered into a three-year contract worth up to an estimated $750,000, according to city documents. The agreement expired on August 31 of this year.

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See No Evil

18 07 2012

St. Louis Forestry Division Commissioner Greg Hayes turns a blind eye to his agency’s clandestine landfill in Carondelet Park.

By Bill Newmann

“A man should look for what is and not for what he thinks should be.”Albert Einstein

Forestry boss Greg Hayes says this dump doesn’t exist.

By all appearances there is a landfill craftily tucked within the trees at the St. Louis compost facility in Carondelet Park. But according to the city official in charge of the site, the dump  doesn’t exist.

On Monday, St. Louis Forestry Division Commissioner Greg Hayes denied the dump site’s existence, which was first reported by the The Journal of Decomposition last week [What a Dump!, July 10].

Hayes’ denial comes on the heels of a response from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that draws into question the legality of Forestry’s  Carondelet Park landfill. In a response to a request under the Missouri Sunshine Law, DNR verified that none of the required state permits have been issued for the unacknowledged dump.  DNR is the state agency that regulates solid waste disposal.

Renee Bungart, DNR’s public information officer, was unavailable for comment earlier this week regarding the department’s policy on investigating illegal landfills.

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What a Dump!

10 07 2012

City officials deny illegal dumping in Carondelet Park. The clearing in the background is the location of the alleged illegal landfill.

Cloaked by a grove of trees just beyond public view at the  free-compost site in Carondelet Park, the city Forestry Division is covering up its real dirty work.

by Bill Newmann

With the first bloom of the crocus, the foragers begin to descend on the southeast corner of Carondelet Park with shovels and pitchforks in hand.  Among the gardening set, a visit to the South St. Louis compost pile is a rite of spring.

The pilgrimages, which continue throughout the growing season, have the down-to-earth purpose of adding soil nutrients to front yard rose beds and backyard tomato patches.  Not surprisingly, urban gardeners and  landscapers who participate in this humble ritual have long showered perennial praise on the St. Louis Forestry Division for the free compost and mulch it offers.

There is a dark side to Forestry’s green image, however.

The free compost – tons of it – is littered with every kind of trash imaginable. A stench fills the air next to a fetid clump of trash that has accumulated under a piece of heavy machinery.  Nearby, a green flip-flop protrudes from one compost pile. A hairbrush lies next to another.  Besides the abandoned footwear and the filthy article of grooming, there are countless fast-food containers, Styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, and aluminum cans.

But the trash isn’t limited to the compost heaps.

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The Sunny Side of the Street

18 06 2012

The alleged Center of the Universe

A walk down Chippewa sheds light on St. Louis Forestry’s policies and practices

by Will Delaney

The Donut Drive-In, at Watson and Chippewa, is a Route 66 landmark and the alleged Center of the Universe. To be accurate, the Center of the Universe is thought by some to be inside the hole of one of the millions of glazed donuts that the shop has deep-fried here since 1954. But there is a lack of consensus among quantum physicists as to which hole that might be. The continuing enigma is an inexplicable leftover of the Cold War, steeped in hot grease and shrouded in secrecy.

Theorists postulate that the portal into the void may have passed decades ago, running its course through the digestive tract of an unsuspecting southsider, or it could very well be in the next batch of glazed delicacies to come out of the fryer. To be on the safe side, I ordered a couple of custard-filled pastries instead. They don’t have holes. I am normally less cautious, but recent events, which I attribute to the approaching summer solstice, have raised my guard. Under current karmic conditions, it was too early in the day to risk being swept into the vortex of a freaky donut hole that defies scientific explanation.

I ate breakfast in the asphalt parking lot, leaning against the west-facing wall of the concrete-block building, a location chosen not for its scenic view of the nearby car wash, but spurred  by extreme solar conditions, which by 10 a.m. were already turning city streets into a blast furnace.

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The St. Louis Chainsaw Massacre

7 06 2012

When a tree falls in the city does anyone hear the cash register ring?

By Bill Newmann

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”Henry David Thoreau

An example of the St. Louis Forestry Division’s handiwork.

The hit jobs are carried out with military-like precision in broad daylight on city streets almost every day.  As a result, thousands of St. Louis’ oldest residents have disappeared over time, targeted for disposal without warning.  Moreover, the hatchet men in these coordinated attacks operate with immunity under a blanket law that provides authority to act with no public input.

The victims are mature hardwood trees that line city streets.  The perp is the Forestry Division of the St. Louis Parks Department. The city’s urban foresters adhere to a model shared nationally by the commercial timber industry, a world in which trees are planted, grown, and harvested in a perpetual cycle.  The strips of publicly owned land between sidewalks and curbs are akin to a plantation, and the trees, an agricultural commodity.  Removing the mature tree canopy that shields the city is an unavoidable part of this municipal agribusiness.  Adding insult to injury, a private company profits from this taxpayer-subsidized scheme.

Street trees have become a cash crop.

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Dead City

31 05 2012

Unearthing the necrophilic affair involving the St. Louis Forestry Division, Land Reutilization Authority, and St. Louis Development Corporation

by Bill Newmann

“Ashen lady give up your vows, save our city right now.”Jim Morrison

In the distance, the din of traffic ebbs and flows on Gravois Boulevard, a heavily-traveled St. Louis thoroughfare. But here in Gatewood Gardens Cemetery, the dead remain unperturbed by the noise. What might perturb the living, however, is this: the bone yard is owned and operated by three overlooked government agencies, an unholy trinity that controls thousands of other properties throughout the city and is accountable to no one.

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