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Free flu shots – comming to a traffic jam near you?

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, October 27, 2007

From the Baltimore Sun, Howard County offers free flu shots. The Howard County Heath Department is going to hold another flu shot clinic at Gateway Business Park on Sunday Nov 4th from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

I participated in this “emergency-preparedness” exercise last year. The article quotes waiting times last year were 90 minutes. Although I didn’t time it, I’d swear that I waited longer than that. The county is going to try to improve on that this year:

To cut waiting time, which last year was about 90 minutes, the county has separate vaccination sites for adults and families.


Police will direct traffic around Gateway Drive in the Gateway Business Park, off Route 175, which usually is empty on Sundays. Vehicles with adults will be directed to a parking lot at a building containing eight vaccination stations. Vehicles with families will be directed to another office building lot with 15 vaccination stations.

I really support using events like this as preparedness exercises. Last year showed they had some problems and it sound like they are going to address them. In the event of an true emergency like an avian flu out break or other biological event, the experience gained from these types of events could make a difference.

I’ve already received my shot this year, but I you haven’t received yours yet you may want to give this a try. You can’t beat the price and you get to help increase the county’s preparedness to boot.
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Posted in Ed C, General, Howard County | 8 Comments »

It’s expensive to live in Howard County – Steven Sattler, CA Communications Director

Posted by Ed C on Thursday, August 30, 2007

From the Baltimore Sun: CA officials paid well.

The Columbia Association paid about $1.2 million in salaries to the top 8 association officials. The CA has an annual budget of $50 million.

The association manages open space, swimming pools and athletic facilities in Columbia, with much of its annual budget coming from taxlike liens paid by every property owner in the planned town.

I enjoy living in Columbia and use the facilities offered by CA regularly. That said, maybe some of the “expense” of living here should be attributed to that “taxlike” lien.

Posted in Ed C, Howard County, Taxes | 4 Comments »

Going Forward On the Tower?

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, July 20, 2007

Well the law suit has been dismissed.  Is the fight over?  Mr. William Rowe, mid-Atlantic vice president of WCI Communities’ hopes so.

“My hope is that now we have a hearing examiner ruling, a board of appeals ruling, a Circuit Court ruling complemented by a unanimous [planning board] vote against the proposed zoning amendments. All of them put together complement each other and should be enough to convince everybody that the project was approved appropriately,”

According to the article I don’t think those members of the community fighting the towere are through.  However, it takes money to file an appeal and I don’t know what financial resources these folks have.

The question remains.  What is Ken Ulman going to do?  This is a set back for him in terms of his campaign promises.

As a reader commented earlier:

If Ulman ends up dropping the height limit pursuit, in favor of the tower, he has broken a campaign promise. Even though the end result is what you want, you attack him for breaking a campaign pledge.

If Ulman sticks with the height restriction, then he is blindly pandering to CoFoBoBo et al, and is making decisions that are bad for business. The end result isn’t what you want, and you attack the guy for that.

Either way, the guy can’t win in your perspective.

That reader is correct.  This is a no win situation for Ken Ulman.  He played politics with a hot potato in order to get elected and he knows it.  What he does on this issue will be a real test and show of his character.

Posted in Howard County, Ulman | 3 Comments »

O’Malley Whine er Watch

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, July 13, 2007

The Democratic party sent out an email that really brought back some memories.  Remember during the election last year when Ken Ulman put up a web site that told absolute lies about Chris Merdon’s record.  Yes campers, I just said Ken Ulman is a liar.

At the time I traced the web site to Mr. Ulman’s campaign and posted the evidence on this blog and people called ME a liar.  I was told that Ken wouldn’t stoop to that level.  After all Art McGreevy had even said Ken was above that kind of thing when he trashed Mary Kay Sigaty in the County Council race.

“There is an old saying: “How you run is how you govern.” Ken Ulman is running a positive, well-organized campaign. He is working hard every day. It was these traits that led to his endorsement. [Teacher’s Union]  If how you run is a reflection of how you will govern, the community will be well served by Ken Ulman.”

For example here are a couple comments regarding my allegations about Ken Ulman’s involvement with therealchris.com at the time:

Yeah, really. Even if the Ulman campaign is behind this, as you suggest, do you have any evidence that the allgations contained in the website are inaccurate or misleading?

And

It also takes real Chutzpah to suggest that the publishers of this site are trying to hide thier indentity from the public. Right on the web site itself it says:

“By Authority of Maryland Democratic Party, Ken Banks, Treasurer.”

I refuted many of the lies Ken Ulman told about Merdon’s record and no one ever responded or came to Ulman’s defense.  They just called me a liar.

The next day or two Ulman admited he was behind the site.

The Democratic Party was quoted at the time:

This site is “not unusual,” said David Paulson, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, adding that the party not only pays for http://www.therealchris.com, but also http://www.therealsteele.com, which blasts Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, Republican U.S. Senate candidate.

“There is cooperation between the Ulman campaign and the Democratic Party,” said Paulson, who declined to discuss the level of Ulman’s involvement.

As Ken Ulman said at the time and I quote this because even though it is a bunch of BS it seemed to work for him:

“Folks want to spread conspiracy theories,” he said. “If folks don’t like the fact that their records are being pointed out, it’s part of the campaign.”

Do you know what?  When you examine campaign finance records their is no record of the Democrats paying for the www.therealchris.com (either domain name or hosting services) their is no record of the Democrats paying to printer for the thousands of mailers that promoted the web site either.  How do I know ?  The printers mark on the mailers clearly identifies the printer and producer and it is the same printers mark on Ulman other campaign literature.  I see that Ulman’s campaign paid a mailing house a lot of money during the campaign.  I don’t see that the Democratic party made any payments to the same mailing house.  So did Ulman’s campaign pay for the web site and the mailers and inappropriately use the Democratic Party authority line?  Does this violate campaign finance laws – we will find out.  That is a different story and will let you know what the State Board of Elections says.

So what is the fuss?

The fuss is the excellent web site www.omalleywatch.com , Martin O’Malley’s alarm regarding the site, and how a tactic they perfected is now coming back to haunt them.

The memo I referenced above is here and explains the issue.

Evidence is mounting that former Governor Bob Ehrlich and his new North Carolina law firm’s Maryland-based staff are the driving force behind a totally anonymous and controversial smear website. The owners and operators of that website have gone to great lengths to both communicate their partisan attacks to the press and keep their identities secret from the voters of Maryland.

The Dems know something about scare tactics… 

The Democrats and Martin O’Malley are obsessed with discovering who is behind the site.  Strike that.  They are obsessed with connecting Bob Ehlrich to the site.  Now they think they have a smoking gun and are trying to fire up the loyalists.

Unlike Ken Ulman and www.therealchris.com where I connected the IP addresses and the ISP / web hosting company to www.kenulman.com do you know what the Democrats came up with?  An email memo to reporters and bloggers written by a former Ehrlich press secretary who works for the same law firm Ehrlich works for now.

So here is a synopsis of the Democrats proof.

Person A worked for Ehrlich at Government House.  Person A then went to work for Ehrlich at Womble Carlyle.  Person A issued a memo to a reporter discussing their concerns about an O’Malley land deal.  The same points and concerns show up on a blog (www.omalleywatch.com) Therefore, Bob Ehrlich is behind www.omalleywatch.com.

Absolutely spot on brilliant.  Can’t get anything past Martin O’Malley and the Democratic Party.  Just incredible detective work.  No wonder crime is practically non-existent in Baltimore City.

Read the Examiner story by Len Lazarick.  No mention in The Baltimore Sun that I could find this morning.

Lets get real.  The Democrats have no problem attacking Steele and Merdon with smear web sites and lying about their records and trying to conceal who is involved.  Yet a legitimate site (www.omalleywatch.com) comes out that fairly examines O’Malley’s administration and to them it is a major consipiracy.   No one lied at omalley watch.  Can the Democrats say the same?

The State Comptroller, Mr. Franchot, happens to find the site to be useful because he used the same referenced memo in a board of publics work meeting (the same one where Ken Ulman was the director – remember) to question the Governor and the deal.  It was a great memo, why wouldn’t the Comptroller use the information?

As O’Malley Watch so eloquantly put it in their response to the whiners at Government House:

Evidence is mounting that the Maryland Democratic Party (MDP) and the O’Malley administration wet their pants several times a day over the new phenomenon known as omalleywatch.com. Several members of Governor O’Malley’s staff have been overheard referring to information on the site. The Governor himself referred to the site as “critics” at the Board of Public Works hearing.

Now since www.omalleywatch.com has started to create some real credibility O’Malley has to tear it down.  Unlike my response to www.therealchris.com where I proved that Ken Ulman was a desperate liar when it came to Chris Merdon’s record the Democratic Party and O’Malley refused to address any of the points in the referenced memo.

I bet that they never will.

I think who ever is behind omalleywatch.com should come forward.  However, for the Democrats and O’Malley to whine about the use of a tactic they perfected is just ridiculous.

We are getting the same BS about BGE, Maddalone, Slots, the budget gap, unfunded mandates, etc.  This is what the Democrats are worried about?

Posted in Howard County, Maryland, O'Malley, Ulman | 22 Comments »

Tax Increases Being Prepared…

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get ready for tax increases.  First comes the prep work.  Senator Pipkin says it all…. but it comes down to this “SCARE TACTICS”.

Senator E. J. Pipkin (R. Upper Shore 36) voiced outrage at “fear and strong-arm tactics to force counties to support tax increases.” He pointed to an e-mail, prompted by the O’Malley administration and sent on July 5 by the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACO) chief lobbyist, Dave Bliden, to various county leaders to motivate local government support of impending tax increases.

Why is MACO doing the bidding of the Governor’s office?  Aren’t they the Association of Counties?  Why on earth would they involve themselves in this battle?

Pipkin characterized the e-mail as “an end-run around most local elected officials which resembles the type of arm-twisting used by Tony Soprano and his ilk.”

Yep, they didn’t tell County Council nor our House or Senate representatives.  This went straight to the County Executive’s offices.

Referring to Josh White, the Governor’s Intergovernmental Relations Chief, the e-mail said, “Josh is interested in coordinating a message for the Governor as he goes on roadtrips to the counties. He (Josh White) is looking for not just the property tax equivalents, but real vignettes of the county ‘doomsday budgets’…like closing libraries, reductions in deputies, larger class size, no support for volunteer firefighters. I (Bliden) suggested a goal of 10 examples for each county, if the proposed State ‘doomsday budget’ comes to fruition…..”

Doomsday budgets.  Get ready folks.  We are going to have to shut down County Government.  Make no doubt about it the libraries will have to go out of business.  Please nominate 10 examples of your own for Howard County in the comments section below.

Now I will bet that Calvin Ball’s living wage bill will go foward without question.  No matter how much that contributes to the “doomsday budget” Ken Ulman will be screaming and crying about shortly.  Did I hear someone ask “Why will Calvin’s bill go foward?”  That is a good question.  As one reader put it to me:

Call it “charity for the unions” ask why, in the face of an alleged budget crisis would they consider raising costs that might require tax increases. Just paying back their union buddies for campaign donations and volunteer poll workers.

 The reader then encourages me to:

Call them out for buying votes with our tax dollars.

Well, honestly I didn’t think of Calvin’s bill in that light.  Now that the point is raised I have to ask the question.  The reader’s comments make sense to me.  We will have all the proof we need when we get the “DOOMSDAY” scare tactics thrown at us and Calvin’s bill passes.

Bliden goes on to say, “the Gov could be visiting the counties during the next weeks, which presents an opportunity to deliver. And, with a good product, we could share with the other counties to get them motivated. Something for discussion at our July 13 meeting.”

“It boggles the mind that such terms as ‘opportunity to deliver’ and ‘good product’ would be used to bamboozle Marylanders into handing over more of their hard earned money to the state,” said Pipkin.

Bliden continued, “Another good perspective would be having interested constituencies there to show their interest, e.g. the volunteer ff’ers (firefighters).”

Hmmm.  I wonder if Ken is going to call on the union here in Howard County.  He will probably pack the rooms with them.  He has probably told Mayor O’Malley that he can deliver any union the Mayor wants.  Although water meter readers at Public Works might be questionable.

Pipkin said, “I thought I was beyond shock and outrage until I read about using volunteer firefighters to help beef up the propaganda campaign to get locals to rally behind the state tax increases. The e-mail lays out an arrogant and shameless blueprint for getting locals to back tax increases. As Bliden says, the next few weeks of gubernatorial visits to the counties ‘is a good opportunity to make a case, and, even more important to convince the Governor we (the counties) are there 100% to help him help us.'”

“Absolutely shameless!” said Pipkin.

The referenced email follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen–

I just spoke to the County Executive Smith and Jan Gardner about a conversation I had with Josh White, the Governor’s Intergovernmental Relations Chief, about which we wanted to motivate a a response.

Josh is interested in coordinating a message for the Governor as he goes on roadtrips to the counties. He is looking for not just the property tax equivalents, but real vignettes of the county “doomsday”

budgets”… like closing libraries, reductions in deputies, larger class size, no support for volunteers firefighters. I suggested a goal of 10 examples for each county, if the proposed State “doomsday budget” comes to fruition..

The Gov could be visiting the counties during the next weeks , which presents an opportunity to deliver. And, with a good product, we could share with the other counties to get them motivated. Something for discussion at our July 13 meeting. Another good perspective would be having interested constituencies there to show their interest, e.g. the volunteer ff’ers.

This is a good opportunity to make a case and, even more important, to convince the Governor we are there 100% to help him help us.

Can you get your team motivated? We would be most willing to work with them.

Best wishes.

David

As Monoblogue put it:

I suppose my issue with this attitude is that, judging by this e-mail, counties are more interested in protecting their turf than asking the tough questions, both of themselves and of Governor O’Malley.

What would those tough questions be?  Examining our ever increasing spending  and stoping Calvin Ball’s “living wage” bill.  Despite what some people think Marylander’s are not open to having their pocket picked when Government can’t control their appetite for our money.

The Examiner picked up this story this morning.  Think it will be in The Sun?

Posted in Howard County, Maryland, O'Malley | 8 Comments »

Howard officer dies after being hit by car

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, June 18, 2007

This is terrible news….

Howard officer dies after being hit by car

Wheeler was standing in the road to flag down cars that other officers using radar flagged for a traffic infraction. Investigators believe the driver — a 24-year-old woman whose name was not released — did not see Wheeler before he was struck. Charges against the driver have not been filed.

I have witnessed police in many jurisdictions using this tactic and always thought it was extremely dangerous.  One time I was driving during rush hour on I95 between Baltimore and Howard County when a State Police officer walked into the middle of the left lane and flagged down a car.  Traffic came to a screeching halt and almost caused a serious accident.  Not only does it put drivers at risk it certainly puts the officer at risk.

I certainly hope that this practice will now stop.

Posted in Howard County | 1 Comment »

Where in the world is Cindy?

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, June 10, 2007

Anyone notice that CindyV is missing?  Cindy, where are you?

Posted in Howard County Blogs | 3 Comments »

Fair Share

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, June 10, 2007

I love how people come up with these nice names for terrible ideas.  The Howard County Board of Eduction and the Howard County Education Association are having a public disagreement over this principle ironically named “fair share”.

What is fair share?   A mandatory union fee to be paid by school system employees who are not members of the union.  Why charge someone to belong to your club if they are not a member?  The Baltimore Sun explains it this way:

The mandatory fee would be paid by teachers and support staff who are not union members but who benefit from union services.

I can not believe this.  What a load of pig dung.  What services?  The Sun nor the HCEA is ever really specific about this.  Give me a list of services. 

How many of us are the residual beneficiaries of someone elses work?  The Sierra Club (I am not a member but I appreciate some of their work), the NRA (I believe in the 2nd Amendment but I don’t own a gun), Ducks Unlimited (Conservation), in addition I work for a company with employees who are repesented by a couple of unions.

When the unions negotiate salary and benefits for these employees guess what those same benefits usually find their way in to the management benefits package.  The most obvious example of this is the granting of founder shares when my company merged with another.  We don’t get everything but we get most of it.  If the union came to my company and demanded that they begin deducting union fees from my pay check I would go ballastic and hire a lawyer.

I managed the Baltimore St. Patrick Day Parde for 3 years.  We brought thousands of people to downtown Baltimore on a day that nothing else is happening.  We created an event and a buzz around it.  We spent over $100,000 for that event every year and had a great time doing it.  It was hard work raising $100,000 from March 17 to March 17th every year.  We didn’t make lots of money – but we covered our bills.  However, the bars, the merchants, the restaraunts, and the city made lots of money.  We had a study done that estimated spending at the parade exceeded $1M.  We never saw one penny nor one tax dollar for our efforts.  Do you think Martin O’Malley or these businesses gave a rats !##.  You would be correct if you said they didn’t care and Martin O’Malley still insisted we pay the city $14k for traffic cops, road closures, and security (despite the tax dollars we raised).  Do you know what  I empathise with the HCEA – but my message to them is the same I got from Martin O’Malley – GET OVER IT.  What they are doing isn’t right.  If I want to have a parade then I have to pay for the parade.  What else am I going to do hold a parade in a field so none of the Baltimore City merchants and free load off my hard work?  Unlikely.

How about this one.  In business various lines of business always leverage the work of other lines of business to eek out a residual benefit for themselves and line of business.  Now only one of the LOBs is funding any initiatives, only one is fighting the budget battles, and sitting on endless conference calls cajoling people to get the work done.  But when the work is done others take the end result and apply it to their product or work group.  Who is crying about it?  No one.  That is life.  That is business.  It has been done to me and I have done it to others.  Is it bad business.  Not at all and no one minds it because they are looking to the greater good.  Ahem.

What is the purpose of this?  I think it is a money grab.  To read the HCEA’s explanation they sound like they would have to close their doors if they can’t charge non-members.  They make it sound like non-members are a bunch of cheats who take the fruits of their hard labor and work and won’t pay for it.  The fact is that the services they are talking about are contract negotiations which occur one every X years?  The non-members don’t take advantage of any other services the HCEA provides.  What are those benefits?

  • Transfers (non-procedural, merits)
  • Evaluations (non-procedural, merits)
  • Class Size
  • Parent Complaints
  • Conflict with Other Staff
  • Child Abuse (what to do if accused, procedures)
  • Suspension and Dismissal
  • Certification and 2nd Class Certificates
  • Lawsuits (including negligence, failure to educate)
  • Special Education Concerns
  • Workers Compensation Claims
  • Health and Safety
  • Environmental Conditions

This really infuriates me.  What specifically does this mean other than what I have already stated?

State law requires that HCEA treat non-members and members alike in respect to the contract. In effect, a non-member receives free services – services that are paid for by their dues-paying colleagues. Some people may not want to be members of HCEA, but we would like the opportunity to discuss with our Board the possibility of their paying a fee for the services they receive from HCEA.

Tell me more please.  Also, why not discuss it with your non-members.  Why negotiate with the BoE – it isn’t their paycheck.  Perhaps the reason you won’t speak to the non-members is that they have a message for you that you don’t want to hear.  I think that is closer to reality than the HCEA insinuate that they are a bunch of free loaders.

I certainly hope the Board of Education holds their ground on this issue if not the HCEA is going to demand 1% of the life time earnings of all Howard County school graduates since the students are in effect receiving free services in the form of well paid teachers represented by the HCEA. 

Posted in Howard County, Howard County News | Leave a Comment »

Invasion of the Gypsy Moths

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, June 4, 2007

A couple of weeks ago at the dinner table, as is our custom, we discussed what my daughter had learned at school that day.   She told us that they had talked about caterpillars and went into a lengthy account of what they learned.

Over the next couple of days she and her brother began to notice caterpillars around our yard.  They began to construct houses for them so that they could turn in to butterflies.  I thought it was cute and typical childhood behavior and I was happy that they were so curious.  Soon we noticed a lot of caterpillars and the construction work on new housing for these visitors quickly turned into a chore so the kids lost interest.

Our neighborhood is over 50 years old and contains a lot of large oak tress (great in the summer time but a bear during autumn).  Although I noticed that there were a great deal more caterpillars than usual I wasn’t alarmed.  At the same time I noticed a lot of leaves in my neighbors yards and chalked it up to someone cutting grass and trimming tress.  It wasn’t until I noticed even more leaves laying in the streets that my curiosity began to be aroused.  The final clue was the appearance in our yard an on our deck of brown pellets that look like dry coffee grounds – these are Gypsy Moth droppings.  Then I put it together.

To be certain I talked to one of my neighbors who, I had noticed, had a lot of shredded oak tree leaves in their yard.  I was hoping it was the result of tree trimming and lawn mowing.  They confirmed the worst – GYPSY MOTHS.

gypsy.jpg

I lived in Pennsylvania when that State experienced an epidemic of Gypsy Moths that devastated large tracks of forests and neighborhoods.  Oak trees were being defoiled in great swaths throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It took two years for Pennsylvania to get the problem under control.

Here is a photo of the damage Gypsy Moths can do to a forest – this photograph looks like it was taken during the winter season.

ippm_gm_damage_tree.jpg

lw_ps_gm_cont2.jpg

Maryland has a gypsy moth suppression programin place.  Apparantly it isn’t possible to eradicate this pest.  Given my neighborhood’s proximaty to Patapsco State Forest these pests have a large feeding area in which to grow.

I have contacted my local and state representatives about this problem and am hoping that we can be provided some guidance from the proper government offices.  However, the purpose of this post is to:

  1. Inform readers of this problem (if you are not already aware)
  2. Find out if you are seeing similiar signs of Gypsy Moths
  3. Find suggestions on how to treat the problem

Of course the problem, should you have one, should be reported to the State.  The contact information is as follows:

Chief, Forest Pest Management
Robert H. Tichenor, Jr.
410-841-5922
Fax: 410- 841-5835
tichenrh@mda.state.md.us

I look forward to your responses.

Posted in General, Howard County, Maryland | 1 Comment »

What is the goal of recycling?

Posted by Ed C on Monday, May 28, 2007

What is the goal of recycling? Seems like a simple question, but like most things when you start to look into the details it may not be so cut and dried.

Susan Kinsella at the August 30, 2004 National Recycling Coalition Conference asks the following:

Of course, this raises the question of when should we count something as “recycled”?
Is it when it’s “diverted,” even if eventually it’s landfilled?
Is it when it reaches a manufacturer, even if it cannot be used by them?
Or is it when it actually gets used to make a product?

Both the Baltimore Sun (Recycling redux) and the Examiner (“Single-stream” recycling encourages more to take part) recently published articles on Howard County recycling.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) is going to spend $280,000 on 5,000 wheeled bins that will be distributed in a pilot program in Elkridge. And if the program “works” it will be expanded to the entire county at a cost of 4 million dollars.

From the Sun:

If Howard’s planned pilot program is successful, it could show how to boost collections at a time when recycling growth has slowed nationwide.

Though the amount of trash that is recycled nationally grew from 16 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 2000, it has risen to just 32 percent since then, according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The Environmental Protection Agency’s goal is 38 percent by next year.

According to the Maryland Recyclers Collation Howard County’s waste diversion rate was 45%.

During 2006, Howard’s recycling system took in 58,092 tons, with 24,150 of that from curbside collections, Tomlin said. The rest – things like branches, construction debris, tires, wood, electronics and yard waste – were brought by residents to the county’s Alpha Ridge Landfill. The amount collected last year represented roughly a 6 percent increase over 2005. Commercial firms, which collect trash from businesses and apartments, recycled 121,168 tons in the county, said Alan Wilcom, chief of the county’s recycling division.

Mr. Ulman is proposing to spend 4 million dollars on what amounts to 13.5% of Howard County’s recycled waste. Sure, it may be the most visible part of the program and everyone can “feel good” about recycling, but how effective is it?

One metric that can be used to measure the effectiveness of a recycling program is measuring the volume (or weight) or curb side collection will increase. The theory being that if people have larger bins with wheels, then they will recycle more. In conjunction with this is the concept of “single stream” where all recyclable materials can be mixed and collected at the same time and then separated at a special facility. A complication of the single stream collection is that it can reduce the usability of the materials. The Recycle America facility that processes Howard County’s recycled materials opened in August 2006 in Elkridge and sounds like a model facility. However, neither the Sun or the Examiner articles provide specifics about the efficiency of the plant.

A 2004 study quoted by Susan Kinsella:

In fact, AF&PA released a study in March that found that the cost for manufacturing products
increased by $8/ton when using materials from single stream processors. Even though single stream
tended to reduce the cost of curbside collection by $15/ton, it increased the overall cost of recycling
by $3/ton.

And from her conclusion:

I don’t hear people evaluating choices based on the health of the whole recycling system, only on
what each choice will do for them. But recycling is a collaborative system. All the different sectors in
recycling have to cooperate with each other in order to further their own long-term self-interest.

We need to expand our concept of “diversion” to embrace focus on quality and environmental benefits. Why do recyclers put so much focus on collecting materials and so little on what’s needed to manufacture recycled products that customers will be happy to buy? Putting the focus on what’s needed to manufacture these products is what will reliably drive the diversion from landfills that we want.

What is the goal of the Howard County recycling program? Is it enough to initially divert waste that we would send to a landfill no matter where it eventually ends up? If diverted resources end up being landfilled by a manufacturer or consume more resources to process, are we really helping the environment, or are we just making our selves feel good?

Is this the most economical and environmentally friendly way to spend our 4 million dollars? How about expanding the hours / days that the Alpha Ridge facility is open for recycling? Currently, Alpha Ridge collects 58% of our residential recycled materials, would having the facility open a few days of the week in the evenings increase participation and reduce the lines that form every Saturday? Just think of the gas savings alone.

We should not just settle for diverted. We should be able to measure and then strive to maximize all portions of the recycling chain while minimizing the cost to tax-payers. Before spending more of our money, the administration should be able to document that this is indeed the best use of these funds.

Posted in Ed C, Howard County | 4 Comments »