Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Consolidate Trash Hauling Now

Almost five years ago, I wrote about the ridiculous way residential trash is picked up in St. Paul: Each home-owner contracts separately with one of a dozen haulers. This means half a dozen 20,000-35,000 pound trucks go down our streets and alleys every week.

The city attempted consolidation once several decades ago, only to be scared off by direct mail sent by the haulers to the clients, which brought out the few rabid individualists who think their identity is tied up with who hauls their trash.

Now, we have a state law (passed a few years ago) that makes it a bit easier for cities to consolidate hauling if they want to, a city council president who backs the idea, and a major study done in one of our larger neighborhoods that found most people support it and that it's likely to save home owners money.

The same fight is taking place in some of our large suburbs (Minneapolis, of course, has had consolidated trash hauling for decades or maybe even a century). It's almost funny to hear the arguments made to support the current non-system.

Most recently, though, a couple of Republican legislators want to introduce a bill to place a five-year ban on consolidating hauling in order to maintain "our freedoms." They even go so far as to say that a special legislative election held in one of the suburbs last week was a referendum on the matter, because the Republican candidate took a seat that has long been held by a Democrat. Today's letters to the editors contained three responses that represent what I think on this matter.

Attempt to legislate how cities pick garbage haulers just stinks

As I hear the fifth garbage truck of the week come rumbling down our alley, collecting trash from one or two customers (soon followed by the sixth, collecting from one or two more), I read of state Rep. Pat Garofalo's upcoming bill to take away my city's option to choose organized trash collection ("Fight over garbage choice moves to the Legislature," Feb. 13). If it's "tyranny" for a city to take away an individual's choice to choose their own hauler, what exactly is it when the state takes away a city's right to do the same thing? I'm not sure if this would be termed "ironic" or just "hypocritical."

Whatever it is, it sure lacks clear thinking. What is so awful about allowing a city to perform what should be a municipal function in the most equitable, cost-effective way possible? What is so awful about allowing citizens to determine for themselves if they want just one truck or seven trucks rumbling down the streets and alleys every week?

—Bob Guenter, St. Paul

Bloomington's recent election of Chad Anderson as state representative came as a result of 2,582 votes cast for him, while 2,452 were tallied for his opponent, Andrew Carlson. That is a whopping grand total of 5,034 votes cast out of a population of over 85,000 in Bloomington. Anderson did win — by a narrow 130 votes. Now, can either Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, or the newly elected Anderson truly claim that the ridiculously poor voter turnout and close vote was a message about "organized garbage collection"? Good gosh! ("Fight over garbage choice moves to the Legislature," Feb. 13, and "Republican takes Bloomington House seat," Feb. 10.)

I do wish to thank outgoing DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski for her many years of serving as our representative.

—Scott Maxwell, Bloomington

Oh, please. The Legislature cannot agree to meet to help miners in Minnesota who are out of unemployment benefits, but are immediately willing to take care of garbage pickup? That is a lot of truck fulls of garbage!

—Sande Whalen, Columbia Heights
It's time for consolidated trash hauling in St. Paul.


Note: Did you notice the ridiculous names of the two candidates in the Bloomington legislative race? This is Minnesota, land of 10,000 Scandinavian families, where running for office with a name that ends in "son" gets you 10 percent more votes.

In this case, we had Chad Anderson running against Andrew Carlson. That's the worst pairing of names I think I've ever heard in a race. How can you even remember which one you plan to vote for, other than the D and R by their names? If they were running for one of our nonpartisan positions (like mayor of St. Paul) I don't know what people would do!


troutbirder said...

I really like your Thoughts on the 1990 posts. Fair and balanced as they say on Fix News. It help me clarify my own confusion. My heart goes for Bernie my brain and vote will be for Hillary....:)

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks, TB!