Endorsement: Vote Yes on St. Paul Trash Referendum

Organized trash collection is an improvement over the every-household-for-themselves approach that St. Paul had prior to the current system. The illegal dumping. People denied service. Trucks coming down the alley every day from different hauling companies. The people who want you to Vote No are the same people who defended that old system.

As we get close to election day, the “Vote No” campaign argues that they actually support organized trash collection — they just have problems with the contract. I tend to agree with “Vote Yes” proponent Javier Morillo, who says some of the faults in the contract came about because the city tried to appease people afraid of changing the old system — the same people who now compose the “Vote No” coalition. An attempt to save the small garbage haulers resulted in giving those haulers a generous deal.

The “Vote No” side is now arguing that they can get out of the contract or create leverage to renegotiate by voting no. This is despite the fact the Minnesota Supreme Court has said the contract would remain valid regardless of the outcome of the referendum. The city council has prepared for this contingency by allowing for an extra, potential property tax increase of $27 million if “No” wins. “Vote No” has criticized this as a scare tactic by the city. But really, making preparations to pay your bills is just doing the responsible thing. If “No” prevails, the resulting tax increase would force larger multi-family homes and commercial properties to pay for the city’s trash collection through property taxes — even though they don’t receive trash collection through the city’s system. So those properties would be paying for trash collection twice.

All this suggests that St. Paul should stop listening to the “Vote No” crowd. They’ve been wrong repeatedly, and listening to them has made the situation worse. The leaders of the “Vote No” movement actually have an incentive to lead St. Paul into chaos because that chaos lands on the heads of their political opponents; whatever fallout may come from a “No” victory means they can extend this trash fire and pounce on the mayor during the next election two years from now. Voting “Yes” keeps the city’s organized trash ordinance in place, and lets the city work on fixing any problems without immediately making those problems worse.

Vote Yes for organized trash collection in St. Paul.

Further reading: Naomi Kritzer on the trash referendum. Council Members Amy Brendmoen and Mitra Jalali Nelson argue for Vote Yes. Council Members Jane Prince and Kassim Busuri argue for Vote No.