August 5, 2016
A dispute over who should be paid to pick up the trash has left residents of Flint, Michigan, which made national headlines this last spring over its ongoing water crisis, with nowhere to put their garbage but piled up inside their homes.
The office of the city’s mayor, Karen Weaver, issued a notice on July 30, one day after Flint’s previous contract with Republic Waste Services expired, notifying residents that they should avoid putting out their trash on August 1, and instead keep it inside.
“Due to the circumstances, there will be no trash pick-up in the city starting this Monday, Aug. 1, 2016,” the notice read. “Until a new agreement is officially in place, we ask the residents not set their trash out at the curb to prevent animals from disturbing it and make [sic] the situation worse.”
The circumstances center around an ongoing battle between Mayor Weaver and the Flint City Council over which company should be contracted to pick up the city’s trash. Mayor Weaver wants it to be Rizzo Environmental Services, and the City Council wants it to be Republic Waste Services.
The benefit of using Rizzo is that the company bid $2 million per year less than Republic, which would save residents money. But the opposition insists that Rizzo has connections with former Flint Mayor Woodrow Stanley, not to mention some unsavory ties with Michigan’s northern neighbor, Canada.
According to M Live, the council voted 8–1 on July 18 against hiring Rizzo. Mayor Weaver later vetoed this decision, only to have the council come back and override that veto. The situation is now at a standstill, as the opposing sides war over what to do.
Republic’s apparent offer to continue providing trash services after the July 29 expiration of its contract, hinged upon a court hearing in which the council pushed for Mayor Weaver to reinstate trash pick-up. Mayor Weaver is also being charged with not adhering to the council’s vote and essentially ignoring it.
At this point, neither side admits to violating the city’s charter concerning the trash contract, but clearly one of them has, and Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah is set to hear the case and make a decision.
“We hope to have a new agreement in place that will allow crews to resume trash collection by the middle of the week,” Mayor Weaver told the press. “We realize this is an inconvenience and we’re working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
Why is there so much corruption in Flint?
Such political theater may have gotten Flint its 15 minutes of fame with the lead in the water scandal, but this time around there are serious ramifications for public health that are entirely avoidable. Letting garbage just pile up in people’s homes because you can’t come to an agreement over who should take it to the dump is completely unacceptable, threatening public health in a whole new way.
The whole purpose of having a city council is to make decisions like those regarding trash pick-up, and it appears as though Mayor Weaver is acting out of harmony with the law in demanding that it be her way or the highway. This is the argument of the lawsuit that’s been filed against her.
The fact that Flint’s water crisis isn’t even over, with new criminal charges still being brought forward in that case, suggests that Flint’s government is deeply embedded with corruption that needs to be rooted out in order for it to move forward as a first world city. If this corruption isn’t dealt with, it will continue down the path to third world ruin.
Sources for this article include: