John Callahan Not Backing Down on Single Trash Hauler Plan

Solid political strategy from John Callahan- bid out the contract to get the actual numbers, offer seniors an additional $70 discount, insist on passing all the savings back to residents instead of taking the $500,000 fee for the city budget:

A day after Bethlehem City Council axed his proposal to for a citywide trash hauler from next year’s budget, Mayor John Callahan said he will move ahead to bid out the contract and could have a proposal before council as early as February.

He said he is following cues from Monday’s council meeting, when members said they wanted hard numbers, options for a senior citizen discount and more time to consider the matter.

And now that hauling is not part of the budget, Callahan suggested that council could decide to pass all of the savings on to residents instead of collecting fees to fatten city coffers. His administration, which calculated the hauling service would bring $500,000 into next year’s budget, also argued that a single hauler would save the average household $110, clean up the city and cut down on the number of trash trucks rolling through a neighborhood on any given day […]

He said Tuesday the city could negotiate a special senior citizen discount of an additional $70.

Showing seniors that they’ll save more money under the single hauler plan, and then buying them off with an additional discount blows up the political coalition that keeps the haulers in business. Plenty of dead-enders will of course refuse to believe they’ll save money even in the face of hard evidence, but the proof of savings plus the special senior discount should suffice to deactivate a large segment of the plan’s opponents.

This is exactly the kind of political imagination I am hoping to see from Mayor Callahan in the County Executive campaign.

(Thanks: Nicole Radzievich)


  1. Ah, so now he’s willing to talk about it instead of cram it through, and all of a sudden now there’s more $$ to play around with (so in effect he was not getting the best deal before, but now he is?), and all of a sudden he’s openly admitting to bribing voters to get what he wants?

    And this is all fine with you?

    Politics Geeting style.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      I would’ve preferred he do it Abe Lincoln style and not tell Council about the higher EIT collections until after they’d voted for single hauler. The higher tax receipts took the pressure off of them to quickly approve the thing in the budget vote.

      Nothing wrong with cramming it through if you can. It’s not like this hasn’t been tediously debated for decades. There’s nothing left to discuss. The only question left is whether you can get a majority of Council votes for it.

      Now that EIT collections cover more of the budget gap and have allowed for a smaller tax increase than expected, that $500K the city was going to pocket from the single hauler is now available to offer seniors a discount. That’s not a “bribe” that’s a way to give everyone the deal they want. It’s a win-win. Seniors get the same discount the haulers were giving them and everybody else gets low rates too. Nothing shady about giving people a good deal.

  2. I would have preferred he do it the adult way and tell everyone two months ago that this was potentially coming, sit down with haulers and get concrete ideas ahead of time, be able to talk factually about potential savings, address questions with facts, etc.

    Instead we get it half-assed.

    In the private sector Callahan would be fired for incompetence like this. Yet you laud him for his half-assed approach.

    I’ll never understand your childlike fascination with politicians.

  3. John,

    This was not done in secret. See below article from October 2!

    Also, council was apparently told about this in private meetings with the mayor in early October.

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