Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trash Talk

Maybe you haven't heard, but trash is the hottest topic in the land these days. And everybody's got an opinion.

It's the system that has served Lower Providence well for almost twenty years, with Mascaro doing the hauling. We were one of the first townships to do contract for volume purchasing power with a single hauler; now the vast majority of municipalities across the state have caught up with us. Mascaro was the winning low bidder in the last six contract cycles dating back to the early 1990's. We were trendsetters in the waste removal arena before it was trendy to be.

The trash removal contract is up for rebid. There's been great debate about whether it should be rebid, and if so, how it should be rebid.

Recently, supervisors Chris DiPaolo and Rick Brown decided that we should get out of the trash business altogether and not put out a bid for one company to do trash removal. I'm sure this recent change of heart has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Chris, and close friends of both he and Rick Brown, were sued by Mascaro recently involving alleged election violations during the primary this past spring. Nah, probably just a coincidence.

The bid package that will be put out for bid will, in addition to a tiered pricing option depending on whether you want once or twice a week pickup, have an 'opt out' provision. The problem is, 3 supervisors think "opt out" means one thing, and 2 think it means something else.

Rick and Chris think 'opt out' means you opt out of the contract hauler option and instead pick your own company to pick up your trash. Piero Sassu, Marie Altieri and Craig Dininny support 'opt out' to mean that you are one of those folks who has some other option to handle your trash. Maybe you own a business, and you dispose of your residential trash there.  You have NO need for trash service here in Lower Providence.

The math associated with this option as interpreted by Rick and Chris is staggering. Here's a little word problem: if you and your neighbors select, between you, six different trash companies, and each of those six picks up one time a week for trash, one time for yard waste, and once for recycleables, how many trucks do you think that is thundering down your road each week?

That's a lot of trucks tearing up all the roads that were just paved...roads that have to last for ten years, until they're paid off. That's a lot of extra vehicles on the roads with the school buses each morning. That's a lot of extra noise.

What do you think makes sense? And for the record, since Election Day is coming up soon, Republican candidates Eckman/Thomas favor multiple haulers, and Democrat candidates Keenan/Heinegg support one contract hauler with tiered pricing based on how many pickups you need a week...a modification of what we have now.

I understand the township will be surveying residents on this issue. However, the survey is a mere two questions long and doesn't fully explain the options. Be sure to let your elected officials know just what you want, whether you respond to the survey, or take the time to email them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What does it mean to you?

The other day I was participating in a Facebook 'discussion' about politics. A resident in another township was complaining about politicians who get elected and then 'forget to serve the people who put them there'. There was then a discussion about what, exactly, that means, followed by a conversation about how politicians claim they are 'just trying to do the right thing' and what, exactly, does THAT mean? 

It was interesting to see how differently people interpret those concepts. I observed that I've learned when it comes to politics, no matter what you do, someone's going to be unhappy with you, so you might as well choose a well-thought out course of action and have the courage of your convictions to stick your neck out defending it. And, your version of what's right and mine can be vastly at odds with each other, but we'll both express righteous indignation at the accusation that either of us wants anything less than 'the right thing' for our communities.

I also gave the opinion that in my experience 'not forgetting the people who put you there' is sometimes interpreted by politicians as needing to cater to special interests. I've seen it here in Lower Providence; how the needs of the few are sometimes held to be more important than what benefits the overall community. Tell me: are there any four or five residents here who are more important than you are? Or your family? Your neighborhood? Quick, tell me who they are so we can all quit fighting about it and go rake leaves or something.

So tell me, what do those things mean to you? When you elect a candidate to some office, what, exactly, do you expect?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fair is Fair

Isn't it part of the American way that those accused are entitled to face their accuser? That people should be accountable for the things they say and do? Well, maybe so, but apparently not here...not if you're Rick Brown.

Mr. Brown, a current and past supervisor, went on record at the Aug. 24 Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting as voting against approval of the invoice submitted for July by the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) solicitor, relating to legal work regarding the American Revolution Center (ARC).  He insinuated that my solicitor and the ZHB that I chair were somehow improperly billing the township for this work. Seems Rick couldn't understand why on earth there would be charges for a case that had been all over the news as abandoning its efforts to build a museum here and relocating to Philadelphia.

Maybe Rick has been at this a tad too long, because apparently his memory is starting to go. The reason there was an invoice was because...of Rick himself.

Rick submitted an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in July in that still-open litigation, asking the judge in that case to allow his personal opinion to be considered along with the rest of the record. And that's fine, I respect his right to do what he feels he must. But he filed his brief 4 days AFTER the ARC announced that they were leaving...and he never mentioned that he filed this brief in the BOS meeting while he was strenuously objecting to the payment of the invoice. Surely Rick, with all his years of experience as a township supervisor and a former ZHB member himself,  knew that his brief had to be reviewed and responded to by the ZHB solicitor and that of course he would bill for that, as he should.

Why would Rick do that? FYI,  Rick already testified at length in the ARC hearing...his position and opinions are already on the record. Rick cost the township taxpayers an extra $4,093 in July and August this year solely because he filed that brief. I don't know about you but that's money I'd rather have go to our parks program or some other more worthy cause than addressing a brief that didn't have to be filed.

When I showed up at the September 17 Board meeting on behalf of the ZHB and our solicitor to ask Rick about his sudden memory lapse, why he seemed to be intentionally misleading the residents, why he seemed to be insinuating that the ZHB (and by extension, me) and its solicitor had somehow done something improper, what do you think Rick did?

He ran. Literally, ran out of the room, left a Board of Supervisors meeting while it was still in progress, stating that he didn't have to listen to me (which I find pretty strange considering he's usually very interested in talking and trying to tell me how to run the ZHB). Where's the accountability for the things he said in a public forum on August 24? He probably didn't want to answer, because he doesn't HAVE a good answer.

On top of that, he probably should have abstained from voting on invoices related to a case he's attempting to become a party to. It just screams
"conflict of interest".

So, how 'bout it, Rick? Want a do-over?