John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trash Rates in Roseville

Speaking of Roseville trash bills, Roseville is one of the few cities that publishes official hauler rates on the city website -- the rates that the haulers themselves report when they apply for a license from the city.  You can see if you're paying what your hauler claims their rates to be.

In Maplewood, I found (here's my entire report) that on average, residents actually paid about 25% more than the official rates reported to the city.  I would not be surprised if the situation is similar in Roseville.  I did actually get a couple of examples of Walters bills in Roseville last year, and in both cases the customers were charged a higher base rate than the one reported to the city.

In any case it's a good idea to shop around (and to figure in any fuel or "environmental" surcharges that a hauler may or may not tack on to those base rates).  In Maplewood, the residents who paid the least tended to watch their bills closely and to call other haulers for rate comparisons frequently, and then either switch or use the rival offer as leverage to get a lower rate with their existing hauler.

Of course, with an organized system, the city does that bargaining for you. Here's a comparison of the 2012 official rates in Roseville:

2012 Monthly Garbage Hauler Rates
Rates may or may not include taxes or other charges such as fuel surcharges.
Hauler Phone 32 Gallon 64 Gallon 96 Gallon Extra Bag
Ace Solid Waste 763-427-3110
Allied Waste
Aspen* 612-884-8000 $17.84 $20.59 $23.35 $2.00
Garbageman 763-269-8182
Gene's Disposal*
$12.25 $14.25 $16.25 $2.50
Waste Management

In comparison, starting in October 2012, Maplewood residents will be paying the following rates through the city's contract, including all taxes and fees:
  • $10.63 for 32 gallons, weekly pickup
  • $11.93 for 65 gallons, weekly pickup
  • $13.39 for 95 gallons, weekly pickup
In other words, when you add state and county taxes to the Roseville hauler reported rates above, you find that the largest container in Maplewood will cost less than the smallest container in Roseville -- and that's not even considering if those Roseville haulers tack on fuel surcharges or other special fees (which most probably do, based on what they do in other cities).

Given the money at stake, you can see why the "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice" are willing to spend a lot of money to stop Roseville from following Maplewood and saving their residents a lot of money, at the expense of those hauler' profits.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Case You Ever Wondered...

The recent Republican primary in House District 43B answered the question: "Would it be better for a Republican primary candidate to have the Republican party endorsement, or simply not to be Bob Zick?"  Turns out, the answer is the latter, as demonstrated by local party endorsee Zick losing to Kevin Klein, a guy who (according to the Lillie News) "suspended his campaign after not receiving the Republican endorsement on July 30." This essentially unknown person, making no effort to campaign, beat Zick by a margin of 55 to 45.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Roseville Garbage

As a follow-up to the last post, you may wonder who exactly is behind "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice," the group pouring money into the Roseville City Council race with an eye to choking the grassroots interest there in organized collection.

According to campaign finance reports last year, the funding of this group in their Maplewood operation came from these haulers:
  • ACE Solid Waste
  • Dick's Sanitation
  • Randy's Environmental
  • Walter's Recycling & Refuse
It's possible of course that companies have joined or left the group, but given the spending they did last year in Maplewood (despite that fact that only Walters had a residential license in Maplewood), I would expect they're all committed this year as well.  If you live in Roseville and use one of these firms, you now know what some of your trash bill is going to fund.

(Thanks to the folks at Walters, by the way, for visiting my blog recently, and reminding me that I should write this post, since folks may not know who is behind the front group.)

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

WTB Roseville City Council Seats

Last year, as "Garbage Haulers for Citizen Choice" bought themselves two seats on the Maplewood City Council (Bob Cardinal and Marv Koppen), it was odd at first glance -- since most of that group were not even licensed in Maplewood, the one that was had very little business here.  What's more, the key votes were going to be made before any new councilmembers were seated, and there was a likely 3-member council majority to approve organized collection whose terms didn't end until 2014.  But all the election spending in Maplewood of course had less to do with Maplewood than with sending a message to other suburbs -- in particular, next door in Roseville, where the business interests behind this group have a lot more business at stake, and where there's been a notable groundswell of resident interest in and support of organized trash collection.  Given that we estimate Maplewood's plan will save our residents about $1.6 million per year, you can understand that these haulers are willing to spend a fair bit to protect their profits elsewhere.

Sure enough, the GHFCC has been spreading cash around again this year, trying to repeat their Maplewood success by buying a couple of seats on Roseville's city council.  Unlike Maplewood's race, when the spending was focused on mailings on the eve of the November general election, in Roseville they've started throwing their weight around ahead of the primary. From their mailings and candidate financial reports, one can see that the haulers have decided that their candidates are Lisa Laliberte and Bill Hoffman.  In a field of seven candidates for two seats in Tuesday's primary, with the top four advancing from the primary to November's general election, Laliberte came in #1 and Hoffman came in #4.  The top three candidates were fairly close, at 1282 to 1377 votes each, while #4 was a much more distant 860 votes.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out in the general election, and to learn how the candidates not anointed by the haulers' PAC respond and adapt their campaign strategies.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Election Spam Coming Your Way

If you're a resident of Ramsey or Washington County, you may in the next few days find a bunch of primary election junk e-mail in an address you thought was private.  Here are several articles that explain how and why:

Winona Daily News/AP
Pioneer Press

If you're a Maplewood resident, though, it seems like you may not be subject to the least for now.  As the AP article says, "One city, Maplewood, was an exception. City Clerk Karen Guilfoile cited a privacy policy on the city's website that says email addresses will be kept confidential."

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Trash System Exemptions

For almost everyone in Maplewood, the pricing in new organized collection system will mean savings large or small. The largest (95-gallon) bin is $13.39 per month (including all taxes and fees), and a household could get service for as little as 6.83 per month (again including all taxes and fees) for the 20 gallon every-other-week service option.  But there is a group of exceptions, however: people who were getting by without any trash service under the open hauling scheme.

While some such folks may have been doing things like illegal dumping, as I spoke with people I encountered numerous examples of perfectly reasonable things, even things that should be encouraged. In some cases a business owner might bring trash to their office commercial dumpster; in other cases, an elderly resident told me they produced very little trash and either shared a bin with a next-door neighbor or used the trash bin of an adult child who lived nearby; or someone with very low volume might periodically bring trash to a pay-dump location for disposal.

My view has been that we should allow exemptions for these folks under an organized collection scheme, and the plan we approved last year left the door open. State law requires cities to mandate trash collection service, but allows exemptions for environmentally responsible alternatives. The details were left to be implemented by ordinance after I left the council, however, and I wasn't sure if a policy would be adopted that would be as permissive as I would like.

The final policy adopted is as flexible as I could have hoped, and much more permissive than the exemption policies I've seen in other cities. A form on the city website allows households to apply for the exemption. It states that "the city has sole discretion in allowing an exemption if it is verified that a property owner has an environmentally responsible method of disposing of their garbage," and provides some expansive examples of what would be acceptable (quoting from the form):
  • Written permission to dispose of garbage in a neighbor’s or family member’s garbage cart (shared service).
  • Use of a commercial dumpster owned or leased for use by a commercial property. (This commercial property may be owned or leased by the applicant, or the applicant may be an employee who has written permission from his/her employer to use the employer’s commercial dumpster.)
  • Self hauling garbage to a state permitted solid waste facility. 


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hill Cozies Up to Zick

Apparently Bob Hill's campaign strategy is to get even cozier with the local "operation chaos" gang who have been working to subvert the local DFL.  Here's a screen shot of Bob Zick's cable access TV show (a reliable venue for DFL-bashing) last night, featuring Hill, Zick himself, Diana Longrie, and some other guy.

Hill is challenging DFL-endorsed candidate Peter Fischer in this month's primary for House District 43A. Zick is running to be the Republican candidate against DFL incumbent Leon Lillie in House District 43B. Longrie is challenging DFL Congresswoman Betty McCollum.  In 2008, Longrie also challenged Leon Lillie by running against him in the DFL primary...while she was still listed as an officer of the local Republican party.  That year, Zick sent mailings encouraging voters who supported him to vote for Longrie in the DFL primary as "operation chaos."

In 2008 Zick was on the Independence Party ticket, thereby avoiding a primary and getting a government handout of public campaign financing.  I guess he shares a willingness with Hill to jump parties when it seems politically convenient -- Hill, the self-described "lifelong Democrat," hosted Independence Party caucuses this year (before he knew he'd be redrawn into a DFL-leaning district).  Come to think of it, Longrie has been known to hitch herself to the IP when it suits her purposes as well.

What next?  Should we expect to see Hill kissing the ring of Rush Limbaugh?

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