I commend Commissioner John Page for his op-ed in the VDT today, attempting to do what no other Commissioner has tried: to explain the trash issue. Indeed, like him, most of the people I talked to while campaigning for Gretchen were for keeping the waste collection centers open, and of those the vast majority were willing to pay more, which is the main reason the previous Commission made a big mistake in closing those centers. Unfortunately his letter seems to indicate nothing can be done. Well, here are some things that can be done.
Let the contract lapse.Commissioner Joyce Evans insisted on the contract with the sole provider being only for one year. Let it lapse after that year!
Publish the contract.What’s in the contract? How do we even know it’s for only one year? The new Commission already had to do over a decision of the previous Commission (remove license fee from Sunday alcohol sales) because the ordinance written up afterwards wasn’t what they thought they passed. Publish the contract and let everyone see!
Publish an accounting for the waste collection sites.Commissioner Page wrote:
The county was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year because the fees for the permits were not bringing in enough money to fully fund the sites.How do we know that? According to the only figures actually made public by the county, that deficit was rapidly decreasing. The only further detail we got was this handwaving by County Manager Joe Pritchard:
Unfortunately operating costs run annually slightly over $400,000. The revenue projections are a little bit complicated.Well, let’s see what’s so complicated. Publish an accounting!
Get legal insurance if the county doesn’t have it.Commissioner Page ended his op-ed with this:
However, the County cannot legally breach its contract without the threat of being sued by the company into which it has entered the contract.How does Commissioner Page know that the contractee would have a leg to stand on if they tried to sue? Publish the contract so we can see!
Besides, on the front page of the same issue of the VDT was this story: Suit against sheriff settled,
A $590,000 settlement has been reached between Sheriff Chris Prine and three of his former employees from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, resolving a four-year dispute that centered on allegations of wrongful termination and work place discrimination.
Does anyone think the sheriff is going to pay that settlement personally? That’s why the county has insurance!
If the argument is the taxpayers would end up paying for higher insurance premiums, that could easily happen if the Commission does not fix this problem, if someone sues them for being derelict in their legal responsibility to protect the the public health, safety, and environment. That lawsuit against the sheriff was by terminated employees. The county just laid off a bunch of employees. Who knows what could happen?
Reopen the dump sites with higher fees for the cards.See above about how do we even know the contract says the county can’t do that?
Or set up an enterprise fund or special tax district to fund the sites.This was an option never even discussed by the Commission, even though they authorize special tax lighting districts all the time.
Take the red pill.When new Commissioners take that training in December in Atlanta, are they forced to take the blue pill? They always come back afraid somebody might sue. Choose the red pill! Stop making decisions against the public good without even holding public hearings. And if a previous Commission has done that, fix it!
In the movie, the Matrix, Morpheus said:
Remember! All I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.
Let’s start by getting the truth about waste management: how much did the waste collection sites really cost, and let’s see that contract.
PS: And the rest of us can sign the petition.