On the persistent failures of municipal government

On the persistent failures of municipal government

Local government is a gamble that can have disastrous consequences when it fails. – MSNBC host Joy Reid

Or I could’ve quoted myself instead, “The people who should run for city council are smart enough not to, and the people who shouldn’t aren’t.”

I suppose my singular solace in that perpetually disappointing local governance regard is, as bad as the Geneva city council is, they’re not nearly as incompetent as their Batavia counterparts. Though the fact that Geneva’s Kevin Burns is the wort mayor in the Collar Counties probably makes it a wash.

The Batavia city council’s greatest hits include, but aren’t nearly limited to, going whole hog into the Prairie State Energy Campus clean coal con sending their electric rates skyrocketing to the point they’ve had to apply reserves to keep the populace from rebelling. Despite their best efforts, an oxymoron if there ever was one, Batavia cannot get out of that 30-year contract.

We just covered the ill-advised Batavia ten cent per single-use shopping bag fee which disproportionately affects senior citizens and has shoppers looking to neighboring towns to avoid it. I haven’t been to Target or Kohl’s since the tax – let’s call it what it is – was implemented, and I’m sure I’m not nearly the only one.

Which brings us to the latest Batavia city council folly which involves businesses being forced to pay upwards of $250 a year for garbage service they don’t want or need. Here’s what happened.

When their contract with Advanced Disposal (AD) was set to expire in early 2018, the Batavia city council put out a request for bids. But when Lakeshore Recycling (LSR) beat the proposed Advanced contract down, the Batavia bleeding heart liberals threw a hissy fit over losing “a good corporate citizen.” Failing to muster the minimum amount of fortitude required, the council folded faster than a Trump insurrectionist in front of a federal judge.

Completely undermining the bidding process, that body let Advanced adjust their bid downward, and then they stuck with them despite LSR’s bid being significantly lower than the reduced rate. Then and still Alderman Alan Wolff claimed, “Advanced Disposal has done an exemplary job, I think it would be a mistake to change at this point.”

“Exemplary job?”

I realize people are more prone to bitching than praise, but if you take a gander at AD’s Internet reviews, they come out to a 1.4 star out of five rating. And generating that kind of universal fear and loathing takes real talent. Even AD’s Batavia Facebook reviews add up to a dismal two out of five stars.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Alan, but serving 20 years on any council is way too long for anyone, and considering his increasingly bizarre decisions, I wouldn’t let him pick my ice cream flavor at Baskin-Robbin’s.

So, those aldermen utterly abrogated their fiduciary duty to the taxpayers they purport to serve by voting to retain a truly terrible company, which forced their constituents to pay more for garbage service than necessary.

But that ain’t the half of it because it actually gets worse.

Had that illustrious city council performed half the due diligence they claimed they’d done on the clean coal contract debacle, they would’ve swiftly noted that AD was already in talks to be acquired by Waste Management (WM), the only refuse hauler with reviews worse than Advanced Disposal. A 1.1-star rating? That beats Twitter and Trump casinos!

Prior to LSR, we had WM in Geneva, and they were, bar none, the worst company I’ve ever dealt with. To say their drivers were discourteous would be a disservice to discourteous people everywhere. They reveled in coming up with creative excuses to bypass your house, they’d leave the garbage receptacles in the middle of your driveway, and they were so callous in their methods that the neighborhood looked a lot like the aftermath of Woodstock when they were finished.

And sure enough, because those alderman never miss an opportunity to make a bad decision, Waste Management acquired Advanced Disposal in April of 2019, rendering all of the liberal/city council corporate citizen contentions moot.

That Advance Disposal/Waste Management contract ran out this year, and this time the Batavia city council hired Groot Recycling and Waste, a company that actually has a 4.4 star Google rating. The problem is neither Groot nor any other contender would offer the typical suburban sticker system, which means all Batavians have to buy into (literally) Groot whether they like it or not, which means businesses, many of whom pay their own garbage haulers are stuck having to cough up $250 a year for a service they don’t need.

Meanwhile, Geneva went with the less expensive LRS contract in 2018, and even after that contract was renewed in May, we still have garbage sticker service, which means our senior citizens aren’t forced to “rent” receptacles they wouldn’t nearly use every week.

It may be unprecedented, but the Geneva city council chose wisely that time.

It’s one thing for the self-anointed Batavia “elite” to fall for AD’s con, but for aldermen to buy into these waste haulers’ fantasy website propaganda extolling truth, justice and the American way, is a truly a sad state of affairs. Anyone with half-a-brain knows the only thing these refuse companies care about is getting as much money for as little work as possible.

Of course, I was dumb enough to get into a Batavia garbage social media argument with someone who thought I had a very short memory. Her response to my regaling folks with this sad tale was, “If you think you can do better then run for Batavia city council.”

Well, I would if I lived in Batavia, but I don’t, which makes that a somewhat daunting proposition. With all due respect to our closest primate relatives, a pack of chimpanzees could do better than the Batavia city council has done over the last 20 years.

Not to mention that this kind of ineptitude isn’t relegated to the city council, which is exactly what Batavia voters get for essentially electing Jeff Schielke mayor for life. The man’s never had a real job as an adult and that deficiency consistently shows through in debacles like this one and how Batavia consistently lags well behind St. Charles and Geneva in almost every regard.

Leave it to Batavia municipal government to make me feel better about living in Geneva.

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