Fri, Nov. 15

Letter: Cottonwood should not create monopolies for private companies

On Sept. 26, 2013, I attended a City of Cottonwood "work session" at the behest of my 90-year-old friend, because a discussion was going to ensue concerning garbage service in Cottonwood. Someone, I think it was councilman Garrison, wanted to bring this issue back to the City Council to allegedly "bring the new council member up to speed" on the matter.

Apparently, in 2010, the City Council conducted a survey regarding whether Cottonwood residents would like to move to a single trash hauler that privately contracted with the City of Cottonwood to provide ALL trash hauling services to the City of Cottonwood. At that time, according to the survey results, residents overwhelming rejected the elimination of their right to select their own trash hauler based upon competitive pricing/service.

My friend told me she was concerned that Waste Management would become the company that contracted with the City of Cottonwood and she would lose her current provider, Taylor Waste, which she likes and wants to keep.

I asked her why she thought Waste Management would be the company that the City Council contracted with to the exclusion of all others. She responded that because Waste Management is a multinational corporation with a history of undermining competitive bidding to establish monopolies, she was certain that Waste Management was the private corporation that would be awarded the contract.

Sure enough, when I attended the work session, Waste Management was in attendance promoting the idea of moving to a single contractor for the City of Cottonwood.

Interestingly, Mayor Joens referenced the 2010 survey and stated that over 500 out of the 700+ surveys received expressed a desire to maintain multiple trash providers. Ironically, Mayor Joens said, "Of course, this represents only 4 percent of the residents [referencing the 500+ comments].

Generally speaking, when a survey is sent out and the response is NOT what the City of Cottonwood wants to do, the results are denigrated. When the response favors the goal of the City Council to privatize the service, it is lauded as an expression of the "will of the people."

A person does not have to be an economic genius or hold a degree in economics to comprehend what happens when a city enters into a private/public contract that effectively eliminates competition.

Initially, the price of the service is "reasonable" and service quality is generally high. However, over time as the monopoly corporate entity entrenches itself and all competition is eliminated, the price rises and the service quality diminishes.

Now, if [I should say when because my impression at the meeting was that 4 out of the 7 council members support the effort by Waste Management to monopolize the trash services in Cottonwood] the City of Cottonwood privatizes the process and allows Waste Management to monopolize the trash service, my friend will be forced to use what she perceives to be an inferior company that provided inferior service quality.

Is that how our country is supposed to function? Is the purpose and goal of government to create monopolies for private corporations? Before the presidency of Ronald Reagan, anti-trust laws were actually enforced in America.

The reason given for this desire to move to a private, single contractor is tenuous at best, and suspicious on its face.

In closing, allow me to say that Mayor Joens made several statements regarding "mutual respect" between the council and citizens in attendance at the work session. She asserted that "mutual respect" is essential to effective communication. She is correct.

However, respect is something that is earned. It does not accrue to anyone based upon social status, economic status or political power. If Mayor Joens wants the respect of the citizens she was elected to "serve" [as opposed to dominate and control] she has to earn that respect.

What she really demands is "politeness". And while she can force citizens in attendance to be polite to her, she cannot force them to respect her. Respect is earned by ones actions. When a persons words and deeds are in harmony, when one does what one says and says what one does, they earn respect.

That was not in evidence at the work session. The pedantic attitude of Mayor Joens and her repetitive attempts to equate the goal of the City Council to "do what is best for the City" [meaning of course, what is best for the City Manager and administrative staff] and equating that with what is in the best interest of the residents was absurd.

Far too many elected officials misinterpret the meaning of "representative government". Far too many of them believe that the only role of the citizenry is to vote and after voting their elected representatives into office that is the end of citizen involvement in government.

John Bond


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