Sheehan

Disposal ban rates a big 'D'

Staff WriterMarch 12, 2008 

So Monday is D-Day.

That's D as in Disposal.

D as in Don't Replace.

D as in Dummies.

The latter would be the Raleigh City Council's new groovy majority.

I don't mean to sound disrespectful (ah, another D) but the council seems to be flaking out, frittering away its mandate for change and apparently forgetting to listen to the same voters who sought fresh leadership for the city's growth problems. Including the drought.

Perhaps the council members can't hear over the surreptitious sound of garbage getting devoured in sinks all over the city.

Perhaps it takes only a few months in office to grow tone deaf.

Consider how cautiously the city has moved on water conservation devices, merely "suggesting" their use, rather than requiring it in new homes.

It's pretty bad when the governor beats you to the regulatory punch.

Likewise, the city didn't want to come down too hard on commercial ventures such as carwashes that douse each vehicle with 55 gallons of water.

Yet amid all this caution, the new council did act decisively on the garbage disposals, banning the professional installation of these evil devices to prevent food and grease from clogging city sewer pipes and causing overflows.

A fine goal, but not exactly the best timing, when we're all taking spit baths amid talk of higher water rates.

The ban, which covers disposals in new homes and the replacement of existing disposals, starts Monday.

Of course, it may turn into a one-day moratorium. Council member Philip Isley, who was absent for the disposal vote, has promised to revisit the issue at next Tuesday's meeting. And on WPTF's "Bill LuMaye Show" on Monday night, Mayor Charles Meeker downplayed the ban and its impact.

He told one caller that the ban is essentially unenforceable. Besides, he said, it's really just a guideline.

Guideline?

Huh?

With a $25,000 per day fine attached?

I give the mayor props for facing the critics on-air.

The show was a whole lot easier to listen to than the greener-than-thou talk of council members following last week's vote.

From now on, the council would be well-advised to do its own homework rather than blindly agreeing to city staff who didn't bother to advertise the ordinance because the city advertised it the last time the council took it up.

In 1999.

For the council's information:

In 1997, Rudy Giuliani lifted a ban on disposals in New York City after an environmental study showed it wasn't worth the toll on landfills.

Japan, meanwhile, subsidizes special disposals to recycle raw garbage into compost. One Japanese town requires its residents to sort garbage into 44 categories.

Come to think of it, forget I mentioned that.

Raleigh's new council needs to finds its bearings -- and reassess the darn disposal ordinance.

Yes, that's D as in Darn.

And D as in Disposal.

Otherwise our groovy council members are going to one day find themselves in another new political position.

That would be D as in Done.

Or Defeated.

ruth.sheehan@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4828

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