Cannery no! New bins illicitly bear Councilman Menchaca’s name

In it to bin it: Councilman Carlos Menchaca seemed pretty delighted with the cans bearning his name when he posed with their creator, welder Marsha Trattner.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Talk about naming and shaming!

Pricey new trash cans slated to roll out in Red Hook this week are plastered with the slogan “Sponsored by Council member Carlos Menchaca” — defying a city ban on electeds branding bins with their monikers. But the local pol claims he had no idea the business group responsible had made the illicit and unsightly additions, and agrees the decals should go.

“I was surprised and humbled by that gesture but I also hope they remove it — it ruins the artistic integrity of the sculpture,” said Menchaca (D–Red Hook), referring to trash cans as art.

Menchaca used $15,000 from taxpayer coffers to fund the 10 new refuse receptacles for Van Brunt Street in a project organized by Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. and crafted by local welder Marsha Trattner.

The fancy cans will replace an existing batch that are Sandy-battered but still appear to be in working order.

A spokeswoman for the workforce-development group also says Menchaca didn’t know his name was part of the design until they were unveiled this week, and her outfit thought the ban was just on pols asking for their label on junk buckets.

“We were under the impression that the rule was an elected official can’t ask, ‘Oh put my name on this,’ but it’s up to the nonprofit,” said Jesse Solomon. “We decided to acknowledge the council member in that way.”

In fact, the rule is that litter baskets can advertise that they were funded by a council member, but not which one, according to Department of Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins.

The pols used to be able to get their names on official Sanitation trash cans, too, just by assigning a few hundred bucks to the agency — but the city banned the practise after critics complained they were using public funds to turn community amenities into promotional vehicles, according to a good-government expert.

“It became, ‘Why should the council members take credit for providing public trash cans when they’re using taxpayer dollars?’” said Citizens Union honcho Dick Dadey. “They weren’t using their own dollars or campaign dollars.”

The “Menchaca” ornamentation is just a sticker, so Trattner doesn’t think it should be too hard to take it off before the detritus drums hit the street.

— with Lauren Gill

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.

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