Why Willie Can’t Go Wobbly on the Single Trash Hauler Plan

Willie Reynolds hit all the right notes in his Mayoral announcement, but I thought this was a little off-message:

Reynolds has said he is humbled by Callahan’s past support, but that doesn’t mean he supports everything the mayor proposes.

He pointed out that he voted against Callahan’s proposal to include $500,000 for contract trash hauling in this year’s budget. Hiring one hauler to collect everyone’s trash has been a hot-button issue in a city where residents can pick their own hauler and fashion their own contract based on their needs.

Now, if you read carefully, Reynolds is leaving himself plenty of room to vote for the Callahan proposal. He told Lynn Olanoff that every idea has to be on the table, and in the graf above he’s only saying he disagreed with the inclusion of the $500,000 in the budget. This could easily be explained away as a disagreement about the wisdom of counting the garbage savings chickens before they’re hatched, rather than the merits of the single hauler plan.

Supporting the Callahan plan is the right move. If the message is that you’re the only guy willing to lead decisively in the face of tough choices, then I think this is the wrong issue to pander on.

Whatever you think about the merits of the single trash hauler plan, John Callahan is clearly the man showing real political leadership in this debate. He proposed an idea that he determined would save residents money, even though it would be unpopular with a vocal political minority of residents.

The politically easy thing to do on this issue is pander to the people making the biggest fuss, in this case the opponents, and avoid ruffling any feathers.

Showing decisive political leadership here means braving the fuss from the people with the worse side of the argument, and doing the best thing for most residents – saving people money and improving service quality, even when the politics are less than ideal.


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