Make no mistake, waste removal is big business and it’s a political business. As an Evanston, Illinois, youth, I still recall those Chicago Tribune stories that regaled the mob’s role in determining which waste companies got which garbage contracts.
When Richie Daley initially ran for mayor, one of his first press conferences involved how to streamline garbage pickup.
Though the stakes are somewhat lower these days, it’s always fascinating whenever the Tri-Cities puts out those requests for waste removal proposals. And this spring has certainly been no exception.
It started with the current Tri-Cities garbage company, Advanced Disposal, distributing plaintive pre-printed missives warning residents that Western Civilization will most certainly collapse if their vastly overpriced bid is rejected.
The fascinating thing is, through the magic of social media, I learned that, no matter which Tri-Cities municipality you call home, all of the dire door hangers were signed “Your Advance Disposal driver, Sean.” That means one of the following must be true:
- Advanced Disposal only hires drivers named Sean
- Advanced Disposal requires all drivers to change their name to Sean
- Sean works a heck of a lot of overtime
Or perhaps, considering that “Sean’s” decidedly feminine handwriting is exceptionally consistent, perhaps some administrative assistant signed all of those flyers with the same name at the same time.
It’s not that I begrudge any self-starting young woman from becoming an Advanced Disposal driver, it’s just that, in all of my 20 Geneva, Illinois, years, I’ve never seen one!
When Advanced Disposal realized they were being massively undercut by Morton Grove competitor, Lakeside Recycling Systems – $2.60 to $3.40 per garbage sticker – they suddenly sent those three city councils a letter claiming the original bid was an inexcusable error. What they really meant to say was, it was a mere $3.10 per sticker.
In a move even more illegal than attending a Batavia City Council meeting in the buff, that consistently statutorily challenged body utterly violated the sanctity of the bidding process by considering Advanced Disposal’s sudden bid “adjustment.”
By vote, a city council can reopen the bidding process, but they cannot consider information that comes outside the legal bidding process. That means Batavia will likely be hearing from Lakeside’s attorney sooner rather than later.
Then, to compound their capacity for truly bad judgement, the Batavia City Council voted to stay with Advance Disposal, citing their sponsorships of and free refuse services at community events.
Oh! So apparently, bribes still work! Perhaps the garbage game hasn’t changed nearly as much as I thought it had. And how do the alderman know that Lakeside wouldn’t have been more than happy to match that kind of “good” corporate citizenship.
Meanwhile, in a move that bleepin’ scares the hell out of me, Geneva did the right thing by ignoring that illegal secondary bid and going with the company that worked within the guidelines.
The bottom line is, no matter what waste removal firm patrols the Tri-Cities, there’s always a point at which I begin to wonder who works for whom. I understand folks can’t be dropping baby grand pianos affixed with a garbage sticker off at the curb, but there are times I’ve had to resort to an electron microscope to ensure my refuse falls within their anal-retentive tolerances.
Put more simply, if you give an Advanced Disposal driver the slightest reason to drive by your house, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
And I love the added touch of the drivers leaving the now empty 60-gallon garbage and recycling receptacles directly in the middle of the driveway so you have to exit your vehicle and move them to the side to have any hope of ever reaching your garage.
Of course, I hope no one loses their job as a result of Geneva’s shift, but I’m more than OK with a 22 percent garbage sticker price cut. Go Lakeside!