Speed Bump In The Alley

A judge has ruled that Saint Paul’s Tony-Soprano-style trash collection system violates the city charter:

Ramsey County District Judge Leonardo Castro ordered that the system be suspended June 30 until voters can decide whether it should continue.
“It’s huge,” said attorney Greg Joseph, who represents three residents who sued the city. “It’s the right thing. We’re very, very happy.”

Last year, the City Council rejected a petition from residents to put the issue up for a vote, prompting some to file suit earlier this year asking for judicial intervention.

Between the lines, Judge Castro ruled exactly as many of us had been saying since the beginning; that the system was a violation of the city’s charter:

The city’s charter allows residents to petition to have ordinances put up for a vote. Critics of the city’s organized trash system gathered 6,469 signatures asking that residents be allowed to vote on the ordinance governing collection, the judge said.

“… A city’s charter is, in effect, its local constitution,” Castro wrote. “… Here, there is no evidence in the record that the petition presented in October 2018 was deficient in anyway. [City leaders] concede that the petition was sufficient. Consequently, it was an improper exercise of power for the Council to refuse to place the Referendum on the November 2019 ballot.”

More and more, Saint Paul’s government seems to look up to Chicago as its role model.

In the meantime – half of the haulers that were pummeled into the system have left, with many of the smaller haulers being swallowed up by larger, out of town jobbers:

A mix of small companies and big corporations were among the 15 haulers that signed a contract with the city in November 2017. Seven remain, including three based outside Minnesota.
The number of haulers will soon drop again. Last month, Waste Management announced it had bought Florida-based Advanced Disposal Services.
The retreat of haulers is happening despite the city’s pledge to preserve small businesses in the transition to organized trash collection.
“The city chose to pursue a consortium option to ensure all garbage haulers — of any size — could maintain their current market share in providing services to St. Paul residents,” Lisa Hiebert, a spokeswoman for St. Paul Department of Public Works, said in a statement. “This approach was reflective of the feedback we heard from the community, and what was represented in the final council resolution.”

“Unexpectedly”, of course.

Unless you’ve paid any attention to other such “partnerships”.

1 thought on “Speed Bump In The Alley

  1. Mitch, you beat me to the point that even if the ordinance is overturned the damage has already been done. Half the haulers have left market or been bought out by larger haulers, therefore competition has been damaged and the new prices will probably be higher and the customer service will be poorer. The line about maintaining market share belongs on a standup comedy stage.
    My city has a single hauler city contract. It gets confusing because I contact the City with certain issues and the hauler directly with for a different set of issues. The week the driver bypassed my very full can both groups insisted that I needed to contact the other one. I finally got a response when I went public and denounced the entire debacle on Twitter. Their social media responded within 5 minutes and I had a truck empty the can within an hour.

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