Recycling--or more accurately, the lack of recycling in Westbrook--is creeping closer to becoming a big issue in city politics. Again.
Michael Miles, a Wesbrook resident and a member of the Recycling Task Force, penned a column in the March 20 American Journal that begged the city's solons to implement a program that improved Westbrook's recycling rate, which was last reported to be 8 percent. And this week, the Committee of the Whole, a committee of the City Council, requested the folks at 2 York Street to look into this issue (apparently this report drafted in February 2007 by the Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste and Recycling wasn't good enough for them) again and get back to them.
Considering even the most mealy-mouthed among us can declare Westbrook's recycling rate to be relatively pathetic (most of our neighbors have recycling rates in the 30-40% range), here are the current positions of City Councilors and the Mayor, as best as I can tell:
Mayor Bruce Chuluda
In an e-mail, Mayor Chuluda wrote: "I firmly believe that since we are still in the infancy of recycling in the city that a pay per bag program is the way to bring about the required change of habits to the user base." Moreover, BruChu vetoed a $250,000 expenditure that would've instituted curbside recycling without a pay-per-bag system. In short, in favor of pay-per-bag, but very much against using substantial city funds to institute a new system.
City Councilor Brendan Rielly (D-Ward 1)
Prefers an automated curbside pick-up system. As for his opinion on the pay-per-bag program: "I hate pay per bag. I think it's the worst of all possible choices."
City Councilor Drew Gattine (D-Ward 2)
Did not return an e-mail asking his position or generate quotes interesting enough for the American Journal to print.
City Councilor Dotty Aube (D-Ward 4)
See City Councilor Drew Gattine, (above)
City Councilor Suzanne Joyce (D-Ward 5)
See City Councilor Dotty Aube (above)
City Councilor Michael Foley (D-At Large)
In an e-mail, Councilor Foley wrote: "I am in favor of the automated trash program like in Scarborough & Saco."
City Councilor John O'Hara (R-At Large)
Apparently calls himself a "pay-per-bag guy." So, yeah, I'd say he prefers a pay-per-bag system.
Finally, for what it's worth, this taxpayer and generator of trash (now that would make a good tombstone epigraph) prefers a pay-per-bag system.
- John C.L. Morgan