A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old
and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and
disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel
Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add
or would like to make an empty threat, please contact
October 22, 2006
Please Bring Us Your Garbage
A corporate trash hauler dictates City policy to Mayor Jennings
Sunday morning The Wife jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn...
a little after eight, actually... and ran to the front door like
it was Christmas. She shuffled back slowly into the kitchen reading
the Sunday paper. “They put it on the front page,” she
said, voice filled with awe. “On top, above the fold.”
She was referring to the garbage expose. We’ve finally learned
the sad, sordid truth
about The Dump, officially called the Albany
City “Landfill” off Rapp Road in the Pine Bush. All of
our suspicions about greed and mismanagement have turned out to be
true. And once again, it has been proven that in government, secrecy
City officials would have you believe that giant, stinking mountain
range of garbage that towers over the Thruway by Exit 24 comes out
of Albany households, that it is composed of our chicken bones, plastic
bags, kitty litter and such. But in truth, less than a tenth of that
mountain range of waste comes from Albany kitchens and wastebaskets.
The rest of that pile is imported. At a serious discount.
|Active Part Of The Dump
It appears that last year one of the biggest international garbage
corporations, Allied Waste Industries, slammed Jerry Jennings against
the wall and told him what they wanted out of him. They wanted to
dump more garbage in the Pine Bush than anyone had ever dumped before.
And they wanted to dump garbage at a deep discount, half of what
most everyone else paid.
Jennings gulped like a cartoon duck and did exactly as he was told.
It seems that we do NOT have a shortage of landfill space in this
country, or even in the Capital Region. As the Mail
and Jobs Coalition explains, we actually have TOO MUCH:
Our landfill supply is not merely sufficient, we have a nationwide
glut. While the number of landfills has declined, the measure that
counts -- landfill capacity -- has increased enormously.
Not only do we have a growing volume of landfill capacity, landfill
use has also declined because we are increasingly better at recycling
and recovery. The result is that landfill costs have failed to keep
pace with inflation. This is the best possible evidence that a landfill
shortage does not exist and it's also good news for local homeowners:
If there really was a landfill shortage local property taxes would
And to drive the point home, Mail and Jobs quotes from the Allied
Waste Industries annual report for 2004:
"We have a network of 166 owned or operated
active landfills with operating lives ranging from 1 to over 150
years. Based on available capacity using annual volumes, the average
life of our landfills approximates 36 years."
Get it? Allied doesn’t need the Albany City
Dump, nor does Waste Management or any of the other garbage
corporations. But Jerry Jennings desperately needs their garbage. Because of
poor management on his part, ten percent of the City budget is dependent
upon Dump revenues.
Allied read Jennings like a book and played him like a piano. Because
Jennings operates City finances in near-total secrecy, he had to
stand alone against Allied when they decided to shake him down. They
saw that he had no one to turn to for help with these negotiations. And
he had no where to turn for alternative means of revenue.
So Jennings had no choice but to start doing the bidding of his
new corporate masters. He told the City taxpayers that we are running
out of landfill space. He told us that we need to sacrifice Pine
Bush Preserve because we all throw out too many uneaten dinners and
banana peels. He told us that there is no alternative.
He is now on his third attempt to destroy Pine Bush. And he is still
trying to open a dump in Coeymans alongside the Hudson River, having
sacrificed over five million dollars of taxpayer funds for that purpose.
So far. There will be millions more.
And now he has budgeted nine million dollars to expand the City
Dump into the Pine Bush. This is starting to cancel out the revenues.
Doesn’t it look like this whole dumping garbage business isn’t
as profitable for the City as advertised?
|The Wife walks the loop road around The Dump
As for The Wife, she had been contacted in the middle
of last week about the expose by Brian Nearing of the Hearst Times
Union. Brian was looking for quotes from The Wife for the article
been betrayed,” she told him) and he swore her to secrecy until
the article came out on Sunday. “And tell your husband not
to put it on his blog,” he made sure to add.
For the rest of the week The Wife was jumping up and down. She told
just about everyone to make sure and and get a copy of the Sunday
Hearst Rag. And she told everyone who cared about The Dump to get
ready for action, because the garbage has finally hit the fan in
a big way.
Brian proves with this great expose that he is indeed a journalist
wasting his life as a corporate content provider. Not only did he
pore over piles of paper to find this outrage, he actually staked
out The Dump for several days. He saw a lot of Allied trucks rumble
through the gate.
And he told The Wife that he saw a lot of others trucks, including
trucks sporting the name We Care LLC. This turns out to
be a company located in a tiny burg called Jordan NY, which is due
west of Syracuse along the Thruway. The name on their website is We
Care Organics. They call themselves "the northeast's premier supplier of recycled organic residuals."
Despite the name, We Care does not appear to be “organic” in
the sense of clean and pure, but more like “carbon based.” Mostly
they appear to produce soil from municipal sewage plants. That’s
all very good, but there is some nasty stuff that gets skimmed from
municipal sewage. I shudder to think what exactly all those trucks
are dumping at Rapp Road.
Okay so why did the Times Union managers allow Brian to do this
scathing bit of journalism? What is the political advantage to the
Jennings belongs to the Wrong Party, of course, even though he manages
finances like the Correct Party does. He even endorses and holds
fund raisers for candidates run by the Correct Party, such as Pataki
and Sweeney. But the Times Union managers hate his guts. And as long
as he is a member of the Wrong Party, the Hearst corporation will
not object to their local employees attacking him.
If the article were written in a way that would hurt Allied Waste
Industries, they would not have allowed it to run. Rule number one
at any corporate media outlet is to never initiate any story that
is harmful to a corporation, and only report on harmful stories if
forced to by internet reporting.
While the story may eventually affect Allied’s ridiculously
deep dumping discount, there really is no harm done to them. They
can pull out of the Pine Bush Dump with one second’s notice
if they wish. It’s sort of an unexpected extra for their
But Jerry Jennings and the City of Albany are a different matter.
A few weeks ago Jennings announced a 2007 budget that
includes no property tax increase. Meanwhile, the suburbs are all announcing
big tax increases, with the biggest increase in towns that are run by the
Correct Party. Imagine how this situation must make Times Union boss
Rex Smith seethe like a snake.
So now Jennings may have to reassess the budget, which has
not yet been ritually adopted by the Common Council. What if there
is such an outcry that Jennings has to reveal his nasty financial
secrets, not just about The Dump, but about the Water Department
and other hotbeds of financial mismanagement? What if the budget
is... unreal? Ephemeral? Pure nonsense?
Perhaps Jennings would have to issue a new budget this year with a tax
increase, or next year for sure. And he would have to scramble to pick up the mess he's made of the City's finances.
That would certainly make Rex Smith rub his hands together
and cackle with glee. Score one for the Hearst Times Union's ongoing suburban war against the City.
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