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?