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As Long as We Remember...

July 31, 2008

Trashing Trash

Joan Marie Aquilino

The 2008 trash discussions have turned into nothing but garbage. No reusing, no recycling and definitely no reduction in the verbal waste being thrown around, and very little, if any, accountability.


I'm fully on board with recycling and working to save our natural resources. It is apparent that the county staff and commissioners are committed as well, ready and willing to assist citizens and answer their questions.


However, there is a lot of anger coming from the direction of the anti-incinerator people these days. They talk a lot about others (county staff and individuals) that stand in their way.


I don't see it that way. What I see is that they are standing in their own way. They are having trouble seeing the forest for the trees, too mired down in the minute details to see the broader picture.


Stop complaining. No matter how small the step, just take it. The appearance to many is that the anti group talks, loves talking, hearing their own voices and are shocked if you have your own idea to share. They can't debate because it's the "My Way or the Highway" approach.


It’s Commissioner Kai Hagen’s civic duty to taxpayers to inform them if there is new, different, more cost effect, better for the environment, option out there. It is his responsibility as a Commissioner, not a community activist running for re-election. Present it already! Present it where it will matter not – through emails and forums and signature gathering events. This could have been done a year ago, instead of eleventh hour drama.


County staff and the last couple Boards of Commissioners have been seriously deliberating what action to deal with the over abundance of trash. Our days of using our own landfill or trucking and dumping it into another county‘s backyard are quickly coming to an end because of escalating costs and dwindling space.


To leave this issue for yet another board to deal with is shirking their responsibility to the taxpayer and voters of this county. We didn't put you in office to worry about their next election, or to miss meetings while you prepare for your activist role. We put you in office to do a job no matter how unpleasant it may be. You won the office, you were elected, now please do the job you are being paid to do.


Actions speak volumes! Words are worthless unless followed with action. I want to scream, "Stop Talking" – and put that energy where it counts. Let us know what our county already offers and what's coming. Volunteer your time in a local business to help them start recycling.


Pick one school, or one classroom, and help them get started with their own recycling program. Knock on neighbor’s doors and ask if they know what is available to help with recycling. Have a list of recycling places or web sites readily available to advertise alternatives, if you don't want to waste paper.


If you go to a public events, take a few free standing collapsible trash bag stands and encourage people to use them for recycling. Every item you keep out of landfill won't be incinerated. All simple things. Stop complaining and campaigning and do the grunt work. When I or others ask why, or if these things are being done, there is never a response, just excuses – or silence.


Instead of a forward movement, we waste time, energy and paper, making "no incinerator" bumper stickers and yard signs. We continue to talk about what is in our way instead of what we can accomplish. The conversations can continue, but the credibility factor of people actually "doing" far outweighs that of those just talking. Practice what you preach.


At this point the credibility of this anti incinerator group is lost to me. I'm not sure it can be recovered. After much back and forth about who said what, I applied through the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to obtain some of the emails in question and see for myself exactly what transpired. It became apparent to me rather quickly.


I discovered that some people in the anti-incinerator group, seemingly led by one of our county commissioners and by a resident of Boulder, CO, were busy "trashing" more than just an incinerator.


Here’s a quote from an email sent by Caroline Eader to the Boulder County Board of Commissioners: "Hello, I am coordinating a Zero Waste field trip for the County Commissioners of Frederick and Carroll Counties in Maryland".


Another quote from an email is from a Boulder official who informed our county Staff that they… "told Caroline (Eader) to stop sending … derogatory comments about the officials back there (meaning officials here in Frederick) as I really don't care about her opinion, or her mission…."


Ms. Eader did tremendous damage to her own credibility by presenting herself as an official coordinator of the recent trip to Boulder. When asked, claimed she did no such thing.


Commissioner Hagen defended and supported her claim. When that happened, he too lost credibility. Luckily, county officials from both sides realized what was happening and stepped in or she might have harmed our county's reputation as well.


Prior to winning election to the Board of County Commissioners, Mr. Hagen was a self-proclaimed community activist. So far it seems, he hasn't realized that he actually won the election and now has a job. He is being paid by the county to represent all of us, not just special interest groups. He can actually accomplish things through his elected position.


Mr. Hagen claims Board of County Commissioners President Jan Gardner stands in his way. Ms. Gardner repeatedly tells him to give her something to present and it will be on the agenda. What more can she do?


He has repeatedly ignored those suggestions, preferring tell the general public that he's being ignored and blocked. No other commissioner seems to have trouble getting items on the agenda. Why is this so difficult for him?


The only person standing in Commissioner Hagen's way is Commissioner Hagen himself. I don't pay my tax bill with rumor and innuendos. I won't accept hearsay information either. Present it in the official capacity of your office. This way it's public record. All statements are held to a higher standard of accountability.


Rumor has it that maybe, just maybe, we might see him requesting an item for the agenda sometime in September 2008. It's now almost August. Might be nice to give staff a little notice. Time will tell.


Anti-Incinerator proponents have suggested that another commissioner should put it on the agenda for Mr. Hagen. That one totally escapes me. Why?


If Mr. Hagen is capable of running our county then I'd think he'd be capable of submitting an item for the agenda all by himself. If he's not, we've got a serious problem. Am I wrong?


I question my county government constantly; but this is one time I'm fairly confident in the direction they are leading us. I won't go blindly. I'll still question. The biggest question right now is: what's next? Pick a direction and move forward.


...'til next time


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