Monday, February 27, 2006

Solid Waste Battle

We have been commenting on the "Prague Spring" that has been orchestrated between the mayor and the City Council. Our position has been that the way in which city government is structured, with its strong mayoral form of governance, makes it essential for the City Council to act as an important check on executive excess and even stupidity. This is especially true with a mayor whose great wealth apparently gives him as sense of both noblesse oblige as well as infallibility.

Given these parameters the council needs to evolve into a real legislature, something that is difficult under the restrictions of existing term limits. That is why we took no offense when Speaker Quinn recently axed all those staffers. If Chris Quinn is going to restructure the council and strengthen its capacity to be a real counterweight to the mayor then we're all better off.

It goes without saying that the garbage issue, because of the profound weaknesses in the mayor's SWMP, offers the council the kind of opportunity to step up and truly legislate. The first responsibility of the council is to offer a comprehensive evaluation of the SWMP's flaws. A close look will expose its failure to come up with any significant waste reduction plan and, once this is clearly shown, the profligate nature of the building of so many marine transfer stations will become apparent.

Let's be clear. The use of food waste disposers for the reduction of both residential as well as commercial garbage offers the most realistic as well as economical method to alleviate our city's costly dependency on trucking garbage to out-of-state landfills. That is why the recently introduced measures (Intros 112 and 133) need to be advance quickly, along with a thorough critique of the limitations of the administration's proposed SWMP.

The previous council's failure to do this allowed the mayor to claim the policy high ground in his insistence on "fair share" siting for the city's transfer stations. As we have said all along, siting that allows for fair burden sharing is no substitute for a comprehensive waste reduction strategy that ameliorates everyone's burdens.