Some real facts about mandatory trash, recycling

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By Ben Carlson

Column as I see ’em …
I was off hunting deer last week and had no intention of climbing out of my tree stand to respond to a letter to the editor in last week’s paper from David Steedly.
But that doesn’t mean I’m letting that letter go unanswered.
Steedly, a member of the county’s environmental committee, thought it necessary to “provide some factual information” to clear up an editorial I wrote the previous week.
While I appreciate his effort to recap the minutiae of how the county got sucked into the endless pit of money that government-run recycling will almost certainly be, having a different opinion hardly qualifies as correcting my facts, nor does it give license to misstate what I wrote or provide misleading and inaccurate information of his own.
Just to let you know, Mr. Steedly, the county has ended carpet recycling, although it may return down the road. Also, you claim that the operating budget for recycling “is expected to remain at less than $100,000 a year,” which completely ignores the $30,000 in annual debt service it will cost taxpayers to pay for the new recycling building.
I could go on, but why quibble over facts, eh?
I would have appreciated even more, though, had he argued against my actual premise that mandatory trash and recycling will do more to keep our garbage out of the landfill than anything being proposed by Steedly or the environmental committee.
He didn’t because he can’t and knows it.
Anderson County has a genuine trash problem that has nothing to do with recycling, and no state grant, building or drop-off bin at Walmart or anywhere else will fix it.
That problem is rooted in the simple fact that a full one-third of Anderson County households don’t even have their trash collected — never mind recyclables.
That trash is ending up being illegally thrown in business Dumpsters, along the sides of back roads or burned in toxic haze of illegal smoke.
The only solution to fixing that problem is to have mandatory pickup of trash, and I defy Steedly or any other member of the committee to tell me why I’m wrong.

Speaking of a toxic haze …
State Auditor Adam Edelen grabbed headlines across Kentucky this week promoting his efforts to bring under control “shadow governments,” his catchy term to describe independent taxing districts such as library, health and fire.
Edelen has worked over the past year to point out the frequency with which these districts don’t follow state statutes governing audits and other financial reporting — work that should have been performed decades ago.
He certainly earns many kudos here for that effort, and it appears state officials are going to work toward making sure these districts tow the line.
That’s all well and fine but all the audits and financial oversight in the world will mean nothing unless the General Assembly grows a pair and tackles the real issue involving these districts, which is the lack of accountability to voters.
Those appointed to these boards never stand election, but are allowed to spend tax dollars with relative impunity. They never stand election but create million-dollar budgets that no elected official anywhere has to approve. They never stand election but can buy and sell property without public hearings — a power that not even those elected to city council, fiscal court or school board possess.
They are so unaccountable that even their appointments to the boards that operate these districts is a sham in that the judge-executive who appoints them really doesn’t, and does not have the legal ability to appoint anyone other than those recommended by the taxing district’s existing board.
There’s a reason, folks, that Anderson County’s independent taxing districts — health, library and fire — all have rates that have increased between 100 and 1,000 percent more than those run by elected officials, and it isn’t because they’re doing such a wonderful job.
Instead it’s because, every two years or four, they don’t have ask the people whose money they’re spending to allow them to continue doing so.
Edelen has opened the door to this version of Pandora’s Box; let’s home other state officials tear it off its hinges and fix what really needs to be fixed.

Speaking needing to be fixed, last week’s column about constables struck a nerve with police agencies statewide, and from what I can tell they all agreed that constables should go the way of the dodo bird.
Boyd County Sheriff Terry Keelin called and said he loved the column but wished I’d taken it a step further.
He said in Kentucky, anyone can be elected sheriff even if they have no police training or certification. Same goes with jailer, which is a peace officer and has the power to arrest like any other cop. He said both should be certified police officers, and he’s right.
A person cannot run for county attorney or judge without being an attorney, and those running for PVA or circuit clerk must first pass a test.
To allow a non-cop to be the top cop in the county is lunacy, and while the legislature is busy doing away with constables, it should fix that problem, too.