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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Garbage Haulers for Citizen Overcharging

Yesterday many if not all Maplewood homes received a postcard from a group called "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice," urging residents to vote against me.  In the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, it's perfectly legal for a group of corporations to set up a front group like this (to keep their own company names away from the political dirty work, lest they annoy some of their customers) and use it to spend any amount of money they like to influence an election, as long as it's not coordinated with a candidate.

In Maplewood's case, the vote on what to do over trash is planned to occur before any new councilmembers would take office.  Still, the haulers who oppose this are worried about the bigger picture -- they desperately need to make an example of me, as someone who has merely been willing to even have a discussion about the pros and cons of organized hauling, and as someone who has embarrassed them by shining a light on some of their less scrupulous billing practices and doing my own research and reporting on how many residents are currently overcharged.  Their willingness to pour money into defeating me is meant to warn away any other elected officials around the metro who might be asking about whether trash could be collected more efficiently, affordably, and with less damage to our environment and infrastructure.

Of course, not everyone who receives the postcard is going to see the hauler front group as an altruistic organization simply trying to encourage better informed public policy.  For example, here's an e-mail message I received today:

Mr. Nephew,
If you are behind the effort to find the least expensive garbage vendor for Maplewood, then please continue this effort. I received a propaganda postcard in the mail from the garbage haulers, who are sending a misleading and alarmist message protecting their own interests, not mine.
If you find a viable cost-effective solution for the city that results in one vendor, then go for it. I do not consider it an infringement of my liberties to have the city make a contract with a waste vendor that saves me money.
[Name Withheld]

If you don't like the haulers trying to buy this election, to protect their own corporate profits at your expense, there's still time to help my campaign in the last week before election day.  We'll be delivering literature to homes this coming weekend, and if you can't help in person I still welcome campaign contributions (easily donated online via PayPal).

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