She was going to celebrate, dammit, and all the stares from the people still in the meeting or the folks outside hushing her were not going to quiet her.
She was there Tuesday night to see Casella get cast down once again, and when she left the room, she wanted to shout. She wanted to stomp and celebrate, but everyone people kept telling her to calm down. She puffed her chest out in defiance, like a 12-year-old school yard bully, and told them all where to go.
Still inside the City Council chambers, I was straining to follow the discussion. With the Casella matters dispensed with, councilors had moved on to a bigger topic — with $1.6 million in cuts expected this year, layoffs were certain. The city administrator was sketching out his plan for gentle layoffs and retirement buyouts to let his staff off easily.
But I couldn’t really hear what they were saying because of the woman’s squawking. I looked back, over my shoulder, out the door and caught her eye.
“You, in the red vest!” she yelled. “You! Got a problem with me? What’s your problem?”
Some of her friends led her away, out the doors and into the street, yelling like a drunk kicked out of a night club.
Here’s her problem: One note politics. Never trust candidates and politicians that are single noters. That guy you elected to deal with abortion? He may be crappy at balancing budgets. You’ll find your country in hock up to its eyeballs before you know it. The woman who only cares about better schools? She may have no skill for managing people and you’ll wind up with a bureaucratic nightmare and huge taxes.
There are lots of one-note political topics, but the display last night was all about Casella. The multi-state solid waste conglomerate has created a lot of enemies for the way it’s handled the landfills it operates near Bangor. It’s a mess, with trash blowing around neighbor’s yards, phantom odors and no end in sight.
When the company looked to take over management in Lewiston’s landfill two years ago, the city exploded. Casella was chased out of town and the councilors that negotiated with them were voted out of office.
Except Casella didn’t really leave. Their subsidiary, Pine Tree Waste, handles trash collection for both Lewiston and Auburn. And the company brings in 100 of tons of construction and demolition debris from Massachusetts and New Hampshire every year to another Lewiston-based subsidiary, KTI Biofuels. The stuff is sorted and shipped off to other places — wood to mills and electricity generating plants, everything else to landfills.
Casella offered to move Pine Tree Waste’s truck operation into Lewiston, ending KTI and the sorting of out-of-state debris there. But because of the experience at the company’s other landfills, nobody trusts them. Councilors voted them down.
That’s not good good enough for some. I had one of Casella’s Lewiston foes tell me that nothing else matter but chasing the company out of town once and for all. There are no other issues, as far as he’s concerned.
I understand zeal, but I think they miss a lot of things. The deal with Casella might have brought better recycling to the area. It might have kept out-of-state waste out of the city and it might have meant new revenue. Maybe you can’t negotiate with someone like Casella, but an automatic no based entirely on name recognition doesn’t help.