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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Following the Trash Money

A campaign finance report for "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice" has appeared on the City's website this morning.  So if you're wondering who has been paying for all those oversized postcards in your mailbox, here are the four garbage hauling corporations behind the front group:

  • ACE Solid Waste
  • Dick's Sanitation
  • Randy's Environmental
  • Walter's Recycling & Refuse
They report donating a combined $9000, and spending that amount on the race.  In addition, three of these haulers (Dick's, Randy's, Walter's) have individual officers and owners who were big donors to the Koppen campaign; according to his latest report, eleven hauler-affiliated individuals each gave him the $300 maximum contribution.  Add those numbers, and it looks to me like the haulers have spent more on today's election than any of the candidates.

Of these four "Citizen Choice" haulers, only Walters is licensed for residential service in Maplewood, and they apparently have very few accounts here.  I was never able to locate one of their bills in my study, but I did find customers of theirs in Roseville -- where they charge those customers rates that are higher than what they report to the city per licensing requirements.

As I've said before, these outside corporations are meddling in our election because they want to intimidate other local governments.  They want to protect their own profits and scare other city officials away from scrutinizing their dubious business practices.

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Looking at the election results, it seems as if we won't have you representing us any more, which makes me sad. I guess the spending blitz by the haulers had the effect they were looking for. Thanks so much for your service.

Thanks, Kevin. I'm disappointed by the results, but I knew it was possible when I committed myself to figuring out what was best for Maplewood without regard for what best served the haulers' profits. If this is the price of doing the right thing for Maplewood's future, I'm OK with it.

Sorry Mr. Nephew, but what this particular campaign came down to was representation of the people.

Many times campaigns are about rumor and accusations. In this case, the facts were in black and white. You wanted to have the city control garbage collection. I presumed that you polled people and figured out that this is what the community wanted. Or maybe you felt that you had educated the community and convinced them that this is what they wanted.

The haulers have the right to defend their business. They have the right to challenge the thinking of the elected officials. Without the haulers putting out mailings, many in the community would not have known what was going on or that they had a choice.

When the voters were asked the simple question of whether you want your garbage service taken over by government, the public voted a resounding NO. Either your polling was inaccurate, or you didn't do the job you thought in convincing people that this is what they wanted.

The other possibility is that you thought that you knew best and that government knew best. Regardless of the reasons, the vote was pretty clear.

I read some of the pieces and I thought they were pretty fair. They pointed out who was for this and who was against.

The question for the three remaining council members is whether they feel that the people support their desire to have the city take over garbage service. The public's opinion is pretty clear. If the council doesn't get the message, I suspect that the haulers will be more than happy to educate the public again two years from now. Hopefully they do this as this is their right.

Money, apathy, alienation, (and did I mention money?): garbage in, garbage out.

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