Souto, on a Trash Tear

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Earlier today, loquacious county Commissioner Javier Souto paid a visit to the governmental operations and environment committee. The former state senator was hoping to convince his colleagues to support his legislative measure aimed at cracking down on scoundrels who pile up bulk waste, such as old appliances and discarded furniture, in front of their properties.

Homeowners in unincoporated Miami-Dade and seven muncipalities are allowed two free bulky waste pick-ups a year. After that, the solid waste department charges $23 per cubic yard of trash for each additional pick-up. What's more, if it's five cubic yards or less, residents have to pay a minimum $115.

Souto wanted the solid waste department to take a more proactive approach by picking up trash piles first and billing the homeowner later. Sounds great, doesn't it? Except, as some commissioners noted, when a homeowner claims that it's not their trash and that someone else put it there. "I understand what you're trying to do," Commissioner Joe Martinez said. "But I think it's a little bit unfair."

Give Souto credit. He fought valiantly for his proposal. And once the Souto train got rolling, not even committee chairwoman and Commissioner Natacha Seijas could stop him. So without further ado, we give you the Rambling Man, unplugged:

Souto: "I'm going to make it very simple for all of you. I'm the kind of guy who picks up a bottle, a can...It is the same BS every single time. We don't get anywhere."

Seijas:"Commissioner, why don't you wait until the other commissioners have a--"

Souto: "I have been with the county manager, the assistant county manager and it doesn't work. The beat goes on...This is not Cocoplum or Gables by the Sea...One day it's ten percent bigger than the day before. The next day it's 20 percent bigger. It's an [Hurricane] Andrew-type pile...If you want me to scrap this thing, then let's forget it."

Seijas: "Commissioner Souto, please let everyone speak and then you can--"

Souto: "I'm going to withdraw the item...One, the system doesn't work. I've sat for hours with [county manager George] Burgess...That's why I bought 400 garbage cans with funds from my office...We remove tons of litter and trash with two pickup trucks I have. Matter of fact, I asked Burgess if I could buy a crane to relieve [solid waste department]...This is not Castro and Cuba or those countries where piles are everywhere. This is Miami-Dade County 2007." --Francisco Alvarado

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