October 27, 2019
Soucheray: St. Paul residents are being misled about trash-collection vote> Joe Soucheray October 5, 2019 at 8:18 AM Pioneer Press Columnist
The mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter, is threatening the city’s taxpayers with a 22 percent property tax levy in the event a November ballot referendum ends the city’s involvement with trash hauling. He thinks he’ll need the money to pay the haulers. Don’t fall for it.
The contract is invalid and the mayor’s threat that the city will need the money collected by the levy is simply not true. The entire contract with a consortium of haulers is 52 pages of whereas after whereas after whereas, the bludgeoning boilerplate that gets hammered out at God knows what hourly fee.
13.6 Force Majeure
"The city, the Consortium and the Consortium members shall not be held responsible for performance if its performance is prevented by acts or events beyond the party’s reasonable control, including, but not limited to: severe weather and storms, earthquake or other natural occurrences, strikes and other labor unrest, power failures, electrical power surges or current fluctuations, nuclear or other civil military emergencies, or legislative, judicial or executive acts (each of the forgoing, a “Force Majeure Event”). The time period for the performance in question shall be extended for only the actual amount of time said party is so delayed."
You’re off the hook, Mayor. How could you not know this? This is your get-out-of-jail-free card. This takes the city out from under the deal. There already has been judicial action to constitute Force Majeure, the ruling by Ramsey County District Judge Leonardo Castro last May that the issue should have been on the ballot in the first place. He put the measure on hold. That’s judicial action.
Patty Hartmann, a lawyer running for the Ward 3 council seat and whose election would fall under the rubric of a welcome return to common sense, if not an outright miracle, has written on her campaign’s website that “if the majority of the voters in the November 5 election vote ‘NO’ — opting to get rid of the city’s mandatory trash plan — there will be NO enforceable obligation for the city to pay the haulers any money for unpaid trash invoices.”
I have not heard this from the mayor’s office or any sitting council members. They appear instead to be digging in their heels to defend a failed ordinance because it signals their virtue that they intend to save the Earth from a climate catastrophe.
Hartmann additionally wrote, “When the parties to the contract have no obligation to perform the contract, there is nothing to fulfill. In other words, the City’s contract with the haulers provides a defense to any claim it would owe the haulers any payment, should the referendum ‘NO’ vote prevail. So, the City’s claim that if the ordinance is voted down, it would still have a duty to ‘fulfill’ the contract — and potentially owe the haulers $27 million — is baseless.”
Hartmann also points out that the city claiming it wants to await the Minnesota Supreme Court opinion, in order to know what the impact of the “Force Majeure” clause will be, is a red herring. The only issue the Supreme Court needs to address is the issue on appeal, i.e. why our citizens have a right to a referendum. And that’s already been ruled favorably.
Here, here. This cannot be denied. Any threat to raise your taxes to pay for four more years of city-run trash hauling cannot be supported. It’s baseless.
Why, Hartmann was asked, do you think the city continues to believe otherwise?
“Good question,” Hartmann said. “Desperation? They seem to have a hard time correcting mistakes.”
Vote however you want, but a “no” vote cannot possibly result in additional property taxes. The sensible thing to do is vote no and either return to a private system or prepare a new ordinance that is more accommodating than the current plan. The residents of a fourplex, for example, should not be required to each pay for a bin if one will do.
The mayor is misleading us, which is a kind way to say it.”
(10-27-19 from Bill Hosko: Joe needs to write a follow-up piece soon being City Hall (definitely) and his parent paper (seemingly) remain firmly on the YES side of things...)