Mitchell Could Pay If ABC Deal Falls Apart [OPINION]
A chilling warning from veteran City Councilor Brian Gomes to Mayor Jon Mitchell: "You mess with garbage, it could mean your office."
I don't believe Gomes' comment was intended as a threat, but Mitchell should consider what Gomes is saying if he is thinking about another term next year. I've seen this story play out in Fall River with slightly different circumstances and a different cast of characters.
There are certain things that taxpayers take quite seriously. Water, sewer and public safety are among them. But trash collection is sacred. People put their trash out once a week, and expect to come home to find that it has been picked up and their cans are neatly placed curbside in front of their house, just as they left them. Any deviation from that routine, and the natives get restless.
A move to pay-as-you-throw was a key issue in the recalling of former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan. The implementation of a monthly trash collection fee led to Mayor Sam Sutter's demise after only nine months. Trash issues are a serious concern for voters.
Mayor Jon Mitchell needs to tread carefully in the City's dealings with ABC. The company has been a part of the city for many decades and is generally appreciated for the job it has done in collecting trash for the last 15 years. People are happy with what has been happening. Upset the apple cart, and people are not happy anymore.
I am not taking sides in the trash war that has erupted between ABC and the Mitchell Administration, but from experience, I can tell you that this has the potential to get ugly. If the cost to the taxpayer increases substantially or trash goes uncollected for any length of time, the Administration will ultimately be blamed.
By the way, shame on the City Council for opting to sit this one out. Councilors, particularly those who represent the wards, will also be held accountable should garbage and fees begin to pile up.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.