Columbia Repeals Ban on Trash Roll Carts, Repeal of Ban on Dancing and Proms Is Next
Both Prohibition and the classic film Footloose (the original, obviously) teach us the lesson that banning popular things is generally poor policy (there are some exceptions, of course). Well, Footloose must have been entered at the last True-False film festival, because the Columbia City Council decided to heed this lesson and rescind the absurd ban on roll carts within the city of Columbia. Yes, the very same roll carts that are heavily used for trash service all around the nation.
Until the last city council meeting, roll carts were banned in Columbia due to a poorly constructed public referendum on the issue. Thankfully, the council has changed those rules and now can restore sanity to the current system by instituting roll carts at some point in the (hopefully near) future.
The current, byzantine system of using only city-authorized trash bags taken by hand to the curb for personal collection by city employees is as outdated as a police call box. In addition to changing this rule, Columbia should strongly consider privatizing the entire trash system and using roll carts and automated collection trucks. This will, of course, be opposed by those who view local government as a job program first and foremost. From a Columbia Missourian story (emphasis added):
Although privatizing trash collection would relieve the city of its issues, the waste division claims it would eliminate city jobs, involve a difficult transition and likely not improve residents’ fees or quality of service.
City governments exist to serve the public in the most efficient way possible, not to put as many people as possible on the public payroll. My beloved Uncle Leo, who was a Chicago precinct captain for many years, would have hated privatization and roll carts. The jobs were what mattered to Leo and the Chicago machine. But trash privatization and the automated roll cart system (yes, you do have to roll it out once a week, as I do) is the system that best serves Missouri communities. Columbia has taken a key step to get there. Here’s hoping it keeps going forward.