Followup on Trash Hauler Regulations
(posted October 2015)
Watchdog’s article on the evolution toward a single trash hauler caused a stir in establishment circles. While our article simply listed the steps in a long-term process that could eventually lead to a single trash hauler system, the establishment cried we don’t have a single trash hauler system currently and that it is not scheduled at this time.
In seeking to reassure voters going into the fall elections, the establishment is playing a semantics game, focusing on the phrase “single” hauler. When the City looks into new regulations for trash hauling in 2016 we don’t know how many haulers will be allowed to operate.
It is probable that in the first few years of the trash hauling regulation, the City will allow more than one company to operate. But whether we end up with two, three or whatever number of companies allowed to operate, the bottom line is the City is determined to reduce the number of haulers.
Therefore the issue is not about a “single” hauler but rather about preserving personal choice - can you choose or retain your own trash hauler or will you be forced to use one of the companies authorized by the City.
To clarify the situation, Ward 4 Councilmember David Wiechman recently offered a resolution to prohibit the City from implementing rules (other than health and safety) that could interfere with an individual’s right to choose their own trash hauler.
The measure was defeated with only Ward 1 Councilmember Ramey Johnson and Ward 3 Councilmember Pete Roybal supporting the individual
Trash Haulers Targeted?
Although the City is still refusing to use the word “single hauler” the goal of reducing trash generation raises questions as to what specifically is planned to implement these ambitious reduction goals.
It also gives rise to an interesting political question. A representative/lobbyist from Republic Services attended at least two council meetings when trash removal was discussed. Sources have speculated that they are positioning themselves to get the “contract” when the city finally steps in and begins regulating trash removal services.
When the city gets to the point of selecting a trash hauler, it raises the question of how our political leaders will chose which out-of-town corporation will get “the contract”. On the one hand, Republic, in addition to supporting the concept of consolidating trash services, donated $500 to be a “sponsor” of the mayor’s “State of the City” program in March. This money was donated to some of the mayor’s favorite charities.
However, the other major trash removal corporation, Waste Management, donated $1,000 directly to Mayor Paul’s election committee (after the election - see politics.)
So will the mayor and his Council allies vote for the trash hauler who donates to charities supported by the mayor or go with the company that gave twice as much directly into the mayor’s campaign war chest (for the 2019 election).
Of course, a possible solution might be to divide up the spoils and have both companies share the city or give each company their own territory. By having two trash haulers, it would satisfy the city’s claim there will be no “single hauler”.
Sustainability Plan Seeks
At its April 3, 2017 study session, Council heard a report on the city’s sustainability plan. The plan calls for a 20% reduction in consumer energy and water use. It also envisions residential recycling growing to 60% by 2025.
When questioned by Council, it was revealed these reduction goals were city wide rather than per person. This is significant because when more newcomers move here, the city’s overall consumption increases. In order to achieve overall reductions the current residents need to cutback even more to cover the additional consumers.
A comparable situation came up recently with the proposed Rooney Valley development. Xcel realizes thousands of new residents in Rooney Valley will need power. To provide this new power, they will have to spend money to build new infrastructure.
However, they are trying a conservation program where the current consumers are being asked to use less. The savings from the current consumers could be given to the newcomers thus delaying the need to generate additional power.
Campaign Donations to Local Politicians Have Already Started Flowing In
Even before the City has been authorized to manage trash hauling, the major trash haulers have started making campaign "donations" to Mayor Adam Paul.
This page from Paul's 2016 annual campaign disclosure filing shows one of the two lead competitors made a $1,000 donation.
However this donation was made in February of 2016, three months AFTER the 2015 mayoral election. By waiting until 2016, this contribution was not required to be reported until a year after the election in November of 2016
Is the City Moving Toward a Single Trash Hauler?
published July 2015
With the adoption of the Sustainability Plan and accompanying Comp Plan by the City Council, Lakewood appears to be headed down the path of a single trash hauler. Both plans call for the City to implement policies for regulating individual trash hauling. To reduce household wastes the plan envisions the City requiring trash haulers to provide recycling services and/or implement a pay-as-you-throw trash collection program.
The Sustainability Plan anticipates implementing a program by either City ordinance or contracting with haulers. The model would be like the one implemented in Golden and rejected in Arvada. Golden contracted with one company and requires all residents to use only that company. Plan proponents argue a monopoly could lower prices (at least in the beginning).
Selecting a single hauler would be the discretion of the City. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine this system will select the politicians’ favorite company (does anyone smell campaign donations?).
The actual plan documents use vague and unclear language. In order to clarify the intent of the City, Ward 4 Councilmember David Wiechman (supported by Ward 1 Councilmember Ramey Johnson and Ward 3 Councilmember Pete Roybal) introduced a motion to amend the plans to ensure all regulation of trash haulers would only use voluntary compliance measures. This measure failed because Council wanted to retain the right to make participation in the single trash hauler program mandatory.
Although the plan starts with environmental conservation measures the document also delves into social engineering such as Goal SE1 - increase local food assets by 50% by 2025 or Goal SE2 - increase number of households above living wage standards by 15% by 2025.
These plans can be viewed on the City’s website at www.lakewood.org.
City Control Of Trash Hauling