Wednesday, May 9, 2012
In the article it is reported:
If you got ticketed for a first-time trash violation, you might have already received good news in the mail.
According to Health Director James Morin, 118 such residents will get refunds of their fines and/or letters this week informing them they don’t have to pay if they haven’t yet had hearings. That does not apply to 30 or so multiple-ticket recipients, who are still on the hook for the second or later fines.
Well, it looks like our beloved Caesar Chris Clark has finally realized that he has tied an albatross around the necks of his council cronies running for reelection. In typical craven fashion he has sent his Board of Health acolyte Jim Morin out to a hostile audience of landlords to make this announcement, thus allowing himself to save face.
It was only a shade over a month ago that he was defending the policy in the pages of the Worcester Telegram.
In an April 7 article titled, "Southbridge chief says relax trash law" it was noted, "But Town Manager Christopher Clark said the program is having a desired impact.... 'The $250 is a steep fine,” Mr. Clark said. “I also know that once they get a $250 fine, you accomplish the change in behavior that's being sought.'... Mr. Clark said he would have preferred to implement the so-called SMART Cart program, an acronym for the state's Save Money and Reduce Trash initiative that limits households to setting out 40 gallons of trash a week."
So now we are left to conclude that several motives were at play. The first was to intimidate residents to a point where they would accept the SMART program as an alternative to the risk of being fined. Alternatively, it was a draconian fund raising measure that ran into a full-throated public outcry. Finally it was a simple ploy to intimidate residents that could conceivably have been used as a punitive measure.
Whether one or all of the above, it became clear that this was one bridge too far for residents who have seen ever-increasing property tax rates, spiraling water and sewer rates and the loss of any breathing room in the town's debt capacity.
With a town election on the horizon risking the seats of three (now down to two) incumbents that could conceivably lose his compliant majority on the town council it was time to back off.
I hope the voters will see through the transparency of this belated attempt at damage control. There has already been far too much damage in too many other areas.