Really, what is the point of holding a public hearing, when no one speaking at the hearing speaks to the facts of an issue? Why is it that unsubstantiated theories play any role in policy discussion? Last night’s public hearing on the transfer station solid waste contract issue was appalling.
To put in perspective the issue, solid waste disposal in Connecticut with CRRA has been a contentious issue because of the fees charged by CRRA and the lack of accountability. Every editorial about the issue in towns subject to the CRRA contract say the same thing. The gist, recently from a Hartford Courant editorial:
Relations between the quasi-public agency and its member towns have gotten pretty testy since 2001, when the agency gave Enron an illegal and unsecured loan of $220 million and the corporation promptly went bankrupt.
CRRA recovered from the investment by raising the fees it charges towns to dump their garbage. But the arrangement left municipalities smoldering.
The agency eventually recovered a large portion of its losses from Enron’s bankruptcy estate. But when the tipping fees didn’t go down, towns sued.
Courts have repeatedly upheld the towns’ claims that they should have been compensated with a reduction in their fees or a refund. But the CRRA still hangs onto the money and its appeal.
The conclusion that the Courant drew was that towns must shop around. And they did. Norwalk is not alone in seeking a new contractor. Nor is Norwalk alone in seeking to expand recycling. There’s money to be made in recycled waste, and that in the end lowers the rates charged for shipping out the garbage that can’t be recycled. There’s even a burgeoning market competition for buying garbage to fuel power generating plants.
Despite the drama of saving children from transfer station arguments, the city transfer facility on Crescent street is near a playground and children’s museum. Pollen and humidity have just as great an impact on asthma as do pollutants such as dust, and other contaminants, at least according to countless studies cited by the EPA. The science of causation of asthma is pretty clear, its an inherited disease much like most allergies. You can’t catch it from a passing garbage truck. The group, environmental justice simply propagates junk science in order to incite fears in low income populations.
The Common Council has the ultimate control over city operations. It has no control over private enterprise. Should the Common Council vote to continue solid waste disposal in its present state, they are essentially conceding that they are incapable of making improvements to the quality of life for all of Norwalk. While other cities and towns in Connecticut have chosen the path of greater accountability in solid waste disposal, we in Norwalk get political indecision.