Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Mr. Dooley . . . .

April 18, 2008
Honorable Charles Dooley
St. Louis County Executive
41 S. Central Avenue
Clayton, MO 63105

Dear Mr. Dooley:

On April 7, 2008, the Office of Attorney General of Missouri (in response to our request for a formal opinion) issued its advisory opinion that the St. Louis County Trash and Collection Recycling program is operating in violation of state statute requiring a two-year waiting period before it can be implemented.

Rather than attempting compliance or cooperation with state law, St. Louis County chief Counsel Redington immediately responded with a letter incorrectly stating that the County program was based soundly on the County’s home rule charter powers and asserted that the following was the finding of the Attorney General:

“What the Attorney General did not say was that the notification requirements of Section 260.217 RSMO applied specifically to St. Louis County in light of our status as a charter county.”
The Attorney General’s opinion was that the St. Louis County Trash Collection and Recycling program is subject to the state statute’s requirements. The charter county argument was simply discussed in Footnote 2, and not fully accepted as the official advisory opinion of the Attorney General.

The governing state statute at issue was adopted by the Missouri Legislature regarding business regulation of the trash industry to ensure that, through a two-year waiting period, any displacement of a competitive trash hauling system by a monopoly was warranted and thoroughly planned. The public outcry rising from St. Louis County’s going forward in imposing this monopoly illustrates the wisdom of the statute’s waiting period.

Instead, your County Counselor responds asserting that the state law does not apply and (inaccurately) that the Attorney General agrees with her position.

The Attorney General’s opinion is only the latest red flag indicating the County Trash District Monopoly and its related guidelines are a mistake. The discriminatory "opt-out” program (allowing only organized subdivisions to opt out of the monopoly districts) featured everchanging and elaborate opt-out standards created by bureaucrats without any basis in law. Yet,about 28,000 households opted-out of your program. This is hardly an indicator of broad popular support.

In South St. Louis, where the bulk of the monopoly districts would be located, nearly every elected political official, including candidates for both state and local office from both parties, have denounced the St. Louis County Trash Collection and Recycling.

From our constituents and from citizens throughout St. Louis County comes rising outrage over the County’s trash plan implementation. People suddenly have huge 64 gallon recycling containers that they neither wanted nor asked for delivered to them at public expense. The mandatory recycling effort moves forward without any concern over its negative impact on voluntary recycling/fund-raising programs for schools, churches, scout troops and other charities.

Even worse, your County Minimum Service Standards are resulting in surging increases of up to 40 percent in trash costs for citizens throughout St. Louis County. Those rate increases are falling most heavily on those least able to pay. (Exhibit – protest from Florissant Mayor)

What St. Louis County bureaucrats have done is to create a de facto county trash tax without the vote of the people by imposing mandatory standards on the haulers. The costs of maintaining these standards are put onto the citizens. This is incredibly poor public policy when County residents are reeling from skyrocketing property tax assessments.

There is still time to allow the people’s elected representatives reason through this issue. You still have the opportunity to turn away from this program. If you choose to discontinue the current program, we will work with you at the state level to move towards an orderly and successful transition.

However, if the County Counselor’s letter represents the final word, then St. Louis County will have set itself on a collision course with state government in ignoring a state statute regulating business in Missouri. Any further actions implementing the St. Louis County Trash Collection and Recycling plan can only move forward by knowingly disregarding state law.

Continuing in this costly, vastly unpopular and unlawful program would smack of governmental arrogance and ratchet-up opposition even further. We ask you to acknowledge the aforementioned concerns without delay to deter any further conflict and controversy.

Yours truly,

Dooley's Response:


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    The only way that St. Louis County would even consider honoring the State Statute, is if, someone, a group, a municipality, or an industry group, files a lawsuit challenging St. Louis County vs the State of Missouri.

    St. Louis County is thumbing its nose at State law.

    It will take the courts to make St. Louis County comply.

  2. Glenn2:03 PM

    This is interesting. Your commenting that the state will do nothing unless a citizen or municipality files a law suit? That's strange. When someone is dealing in drugs, it doesn't take a citizen to file a law suit to get it stopped.

    If a state law is being broken, the state should take action. This is a lot of bull.

  3. Anonymous6:32 PM

    If the people who supposely sign/sent this letter mean what they say, then they should have the state challenge STL County in court to stop the program until it is fully review in the courts. But I fear thees "officials" are just looking for votes. Ron

  4. Anonymous7:30 AM

    It is simply Politics as usual. Lots of smoke and no fire.

    The State is not looking for a fight with St. Louis County, and won't pick one.

    If some third party don't take up the issue in court, St. Louis County wins.

  5. Hmm. There's a section of the County Charter that says -
    "as the voters therein by a majority of those voting thereon may approve, etc." It's specifically talking about "refuse collection and disposal" along with some other things.

    County Charter, Article II, County Council, Section 2.180, Number 24.