San Francisco Wants to Help Us Recycle

Helping Hand Spurned

The Progressive Reading Series is a monthly event in San Francisco, where book authors, comedians and musicians get on stage, do their thing and raise money for a good cause.

The $1,000 to $2,000 raised each month usually goes to a political candidate, a drive to register voters, or any good cause.

This month, the San Francisco group has decided on what they feel is a very worthy cause: Providing recycling bins to the city of Houston.

But they can't find someone in the city bureaucracy to accept their largesse.

"I can't get anyone in the city to return my calls so I can figure out where to buy the bins from and where to have them shipped to," says Stephen Elliott, founder of the group. "I've e-mailed and called and one of the volunteers, Chris Benz, who I'm CC'ing, has been trying to talk to someone for two days."

This month's event promises to be a big one, moneywise: Author Jonathan Franzen, who wrote the best-seller The Corrections, will be reading. Plus it will give San Franciscans a chance to get in a jab at poor, benighted Houston.

"I figure we can definitely raise enough for 200 recycling bins," Elliott says. (If the city will only take them. Of course, it may be awkward to accept them when you're actually cutting back on recycling.)

Elliott has an idea on how to make their donation go even further: "Maybe we could get Exxon to match our donation" he says.

A follow-up post: Houston, we have done our part to get this city off its nonrecycling ass.

We wrote this morning about how a group of San Franciscans wanted to donate recycling bins to the city, but they were getting absolutely no response from Houston officials.

About an hour after the item went up on the Web, the Progressive Reading Series got an e-mail from Marilyn Leday, recycling division manager for Houston.

She said she'd "like to discuss" the idea of donating 200 recycling bins to Houston, which we guess means action will be taken immediately, if not sooner. (Or maybe not.)

Stephen Elliott, the founder of the reading series, is hopeful:

"Initially she wanted to wait a week or two, but I told her the event is in two weeks so I need confirmation really soon," he says. "We also talked about getting larger bins for a pilot single stream recycling program. Houston needs 4,300 bins to try out the program and those bins are $60 a piece. The current bins are only $6.25. If we could get corporate sponsorship we could probably fund the bins needed for the pilot program. But I'd also be happy just to get 200 more 18 gallon bins out in Houston."

Thanks, San Francisco. If we can ever return the favor by shipping some of our pollution your way, we'll be glad to do it.

Another follow-up post: Houston, we have not done enough to get this city off its nonrecycling ass.

We put blind faith in the report that a city official had finally contacted the San Franciscans who nobly wanted to donate recycling bins to the city.

It was blind faith misplaced.

"Hi Rich — I haven't heard back from Marilyn since Monday, and the fundraiser is a week from tomorrow," writes Elliott, who frankly is beginning to sound a bit whiney.

A last follow-up post: Mayoral spokesman Frank Michel says the city will be glad to accept the bins. He disputes how long SF has been trying to contact Houston, and blames any slow response on Tropical Storm Edouard. (So Edouard did affect something.)

Enron's Lou Pai Gets Into Cow Farts

Everyone read last week about how Lou Pai, the stripper-lovin' ex-Enron exec who made off with $270 million before the crash, ponied up about $31 million in fines to settle his SEC case.

Which will probably affect the gentlemen's clubs in Colorado, where he lives now, for about a month or so.

There was no word on what the Pai-man is up to these days, but now we know: He's trying to corner the market on renewable energy.

Natural Gas Week reports that Pai is a major investor in Element Markets, a Houston-based company that, according to its Web site, "helps companies take full advantage of today's environmental business opportunities — from credit trading to project development and technology commercialization."

The company deals in Renewable Energy Credits, a bookkeeping thing where energy companies can trade and buy energy from renewable resources.

"Pai's trying to corner the market on RECs," one energy executive told NGW.

So the whole business of renewable energy may just get Enron-ed. We can't imagine a better way of solving the energy crisis.

Element Market's Web site, by the way, features shots of a wind farm under the link "wind," solar panels under the link "solar" and a cow under the link "methane capture."

So, we guess, Lou Pai is now getting deep into the business of cow farts.

On TV and True

LIVE!! From Crystal Beach in Bolivar Peninsula!

Is a reporter from Channel 13, outside, telling us no one should be outside during Tropical Storm Edouard.

"There's surprisingly a lot of traffic out here," he says, as the camera pans to show two trucks.

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