Eric Evans and Bob Donchez Plug Their Ears, Refuse to Learn About Saving Bethlehem Residents Money

Lynn Olanoff says Eric Evans won’t even consider John Callahan’s plan to save Bethlehem residents $200 a year on their garbage bills:

Bethlehem City Council President Eric Evans said he won’t be calling hearings to consider bids for a single garbage hauler.

With a majority of council members opposed to switching the city’s garbage system, Evans said he doesn’t see a point in considering the bids.

“The question becomes the purpose of it if there are not four interested,” he said. “I don’t know why it would make sense.”

Evans’ refusal to hold hearings outraged Mayor John Callahan, who said the bids low prices are worthy of consideration. The city has received single hauler bids that range from $137 and $209 a year while an average resident pays $340 a year for private garbage collection, officials have said.

“I don’t remember …. when city council has refused to hold hearings on an issue this big,” Callahan said. “I think that’s incredibly disrespectful to the residents of the city of Bethlehem.”

This is why people need to dump Eric Evans in the primary this May. Palmer Township showed how the debate over a decision like this should go down. They compared all the different options and then chose the one that delivered the cheapest and best service to residents. That was a single hauler with automated collection. They didn’t care that some people would come with a bunch of stupid drama. They knew what was best because they studied it, and they picked the best option anyway.

By contrast, Eric Evans knows that these bids show a single hauler would be cheaper and offer more comprehensive service, but he and Bob Donchez, Dave DiGi and Jean Belinski want to cover their eyes and plug their ears and pretend not to know that it’s cheaper. This has to be the most juvenile thing I’ve ever heard.

This is why you can’t trust Bob Donchez when he says he wants to study how best to run the city government. When the results come in, and the cheapest best choices turn out to be even moderately difficult politically, he chickens out.

Now if you count the votes, you see that the election of even one more supporter of a single hauler will put this over the line next year. Eric Evans is really just pushing off the inevitable. When Jean Belinski gets replaced by Steve Melnick, and some other even moderately mature and sensible people replace Dave DiGi and the winner of the Donchez/Reynolds primary, then the single hauler plan is going to win 4-3, or 5-2.

The people who want Bethlehem residents to keep paying an additional $200 a year to keep their city stinkier and dirtier than it has to be are going to lose this argument next year. So why don’t they just give up now?


  1. Evans was the only one interviewed here. Donchez had nothing to do with Evans refusal. He only stated that for the time he was opposed to switching the hauler system and voted against the change. As did Willie Reynolds btw. Why isn’t his name in your title? He was also opposed to the single hauler system

  2. Kelly

    Truth is the article makes it clear that Mr. Reynolds is keeping his commitment to listen to the deal with the actual numbers while Mr. Donchez remains quite. Perhaps it is because he received campaign contributions from the independent haulers and it more important to keep contributors happy than act in the best interest of the city. He claims to be different and he really is the same old type of pol.

  3. It should be discussed! Period. Evans’ inflexibility is troubling.
    Kelly, Evans doesn’t wipe his ass without Donchez’s approval. Donchez was interviewed and remained against it. He has been telling Evans to not bring it up. Some leadership.

  4. Agree with Jim, now that part of the deal is identified, it should be discussed.

    But Jon again is wrong – he does not know that the savings will be$200 per homeowner because the city has not settled on the admin fee (which was the whole point of this, they need the cash) and what the recycling fee should be.

    Jon, please stop making shit up and make people put the actual deal on the table before a vote takes place.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Cool straw man John. Who is arguing that they should take a vote before knowing all the details?

      • You.

        • “The people who want Bethlehem residents to keep paying an additional $200 a year to keep their city stinkier and dirtier than it has to be are going to lose this argument next year. So why don’t they just give up now?”

          Where does that say to get the whole deal on the table and then decide?

          • John, all the other costs combined can’t cost $200. They don’t now, with the more expensive plans. The savings are clearly going to be there, he’s saying it’s time to move forward.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            It’s been obvious for decades that single hauler will be cheaper. Now all that’s left to do is pick which plan sounds best, based on the bids.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          Learn to read. I’m arguing for them to debate the proposals on the merits with all the bid information.

          • Jon you’re not advocating a debate, you’re advocating that the decision be made without all the details. It’s classic political wonk bullshit. You also need to remember that citizens can certainly decide to pay more for something – happens all the time. Cost and your perceived other benefits are not the deciding factors, they are only some of the factors to consider.

            Rich I don’t know that anyone has seen the bids – what are the terms and conditions? What are the ways the haulers can increase costs? What piece is the city going to add on? What’s the recycling going to cost? What about cutting the seniors who don’t need the level of service contemplated a break? What about analyzing the political contributions of the bidders so that we make sure this isn’t more slimy than it has to be?

            There are alot of unanswered questions – let’s get them answered by all means. Jon doesn’t want answers, he wants his decision to be chosen – which leads me to wonder what his real angle is? Why don’t you want details Jon, what are you afraid of? Or what are you hiding?

            Bobby they’re going to take a fee, guaranteed. Bethlehem, like almost all cities, has a pension deficit they need to deal with. Use the tax increase to fund the pension shortfall and the fee for whatever else they need.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            John, you’re grasping man. The whole point of this post is that I want them to look at the details. I don’t want them to shut down the debate before they see the bid details. I think there should be a debate over which bid is best. The one thing that we know is not the best option, not even a kind of good option, is the current market design. That option is something mature and reasonable people can rule out immediately.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            And no, as the Palmer decision process showed, there is no factor to consider other than costs. Certainly not sentimental arguments that don’t understand the economics.

          • Very glad the people in Emmaus ignored you when the topic of selling their water dept. came up a few years ago. Following you would have put them at the mercy of Ed Pawlowski and his water sale.

            There are always factors to consider other than cost. Example – your entire craft brewing industry would just go away if the only factor you had was cost. You’re willing to pay more for what you want, and that’s your right. Taxpayers are no different.

            Stop it already with this stuff.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            The only factors in this particular debate are cost and level of service. People want their garbage to go away, and they want to pay a fair price for it. We know that single hauler is the best option. The economy of scale in this business is real. If you want to be a know-nothing and deny it, be my guest, but you’re only doing damage to your own credibility. Sentimental concerns about trash traditions have no business being taken seriously by elected officials.

          • So now there’s another factor to consider in addition to cost? That was a quick realization you were wrong, normally takes like a year or 18mos for you.

            We know single hauler is the cheapest option. On level of service, it’ll depend on who you are and what your requirements are.

            I don’t give a rats ass about sentiment. I care about politicians doing what the electorate wants instead of “we know better so fuck you.” You don’t – you’re a rabid elitist who doesn’t want anyone making decisions except for elites like yourself.

            Connecticut man. They need you in the worst way.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            But the whole point of a representative democracy is that the politicians should make the decisions because they know better than the man on the street. Politicians should do what their read of the evidence says is the best option, not what the man on the street says.

          • And any politician who acts without listening will be an ex-politician pretty quickly. And as you know the most important thing to a politician is getting re-elected.

            Now you apply that to this matter, where residents can be put into two camps – those who want to keep what they have, and those who don’t care what decision is made. Politicians know they’ll lose votes if they vote for one hauler, and they’ll gain nothing if they don’t.

            It is everyone’s right to spend more for what they want, and to direct their politicians to do the same. But if you truly believe cost is the only consideration, well then start drinking Natty Light.

  5. There is no need for an administrative fee any more, City Council decided to raise taxes instead. It is a great thing we are paying higher taxes and double for our trash because some City Council members are running for elections. That seems like real leadership to me. The article made it quite clear the low bid for trash was 137 add recycling fee of 60.00 you get 197.00. Seems like a good deal to me. Really hard for the administration to add any additional fees. I did not realize we elected 7 members of Council to make decisions based on the number of people who attend a meeting. Residents need to email City Council members and get them to change their mind.

  6. For what it’s worth, I addressed Council on this this last night and asked that they put it on the agenda for a future meeting. A few people spoke with me about it after the meeting, though I’m not sure what impact it will have, but at least it’s on the record.

  7. Todd

    I appreciate your speaking up. I have sent numerous e-mails to council trying to get them to have a meeting. It is important that we get the message out. I don’t know about you, but I sure would like to save a couple hundred dollars a year and improve our neighborhoods at the same time. I am really disappointed in all the candidates running for office right now. We really need stronger candidates willing to stand up to about 60 people and do the right thing for 72,000.

  8. Jon sez: “We know that single hauler is the best option.”

    We do? really?

    If managed well, having individual haulers makes sense, especially if there are reasons why “one size fits all” may be a negative. What about people who have a nickel’s worth if garbage? Shouls they be fofrced to pay that same as the guy with 5 bucks-worth of garbage? There is something in this for someone (single hauler) and that someone is the city.


    • Jon Geeting says:

      Yes, we do. On every metric it is cheaper and more comprehensive for most residents.

      • Marco, you need to prostrate yourself to the Elites. They know better than you.

        Of course, what their metrics don’t factor in is what people want, and recognition that it’s ok to want something that is more expensive.

        Case in point – Elites’ love of craft beers despite how expensive they are. They want what they want despite price.

        You as part of the unwashed masses aren’t allowed to make such decisions.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          The huge and obvious difference is that with the multi-hauler system you’re paying more for worse service. It’s not like paying more for a better service/product at all. It’s just straight getting ripped off.

          • So following your logic I should never shop at a local store, I should always shop at big box retailers because I’ll pay a cheaper price and avoid getting “ripped off?”

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Cold economic logic would say you should always go where you’ll get the cheapest price. Of course there are complicating factors. Maybe when you factor in the price of gas to get to the cheaper big box store it’s not worth it. You might have sentimental reasons for not wanting the independent pharmacy in your neighborhood to fall to Walgreens, in which case you should keep shopping there.

            But there’s nothing actually wrong with Walgreens, and in the case of a quasi-municipal service like trash hauling, you definitely want to go with the cheaper, better value. Some people want to argue that the city should endure these inefficiencies and higher prices for sentimental reasons, but they have the worse side of the argument. There’s no good reason most people should keep paying more for worse service and a dirtier city when an obviously better option is available.

          • What about the logic of wanting to support local businesses and people? That’s not sentimental, that’s sound economic thought, and it works.

            The city should do what’s in its best aggregate interests. Your continued inability to look at more than one issue at a time clouds your judgment and results in the tragic mistakes you’d make if it were your choice.

            Learn to think Jon. Learn to challenge, to question, and to question some more. Learn to see that there are interrelations between topics. Nothing is stand-alone.

            You’ve got potential, but you’re not realizing it by keeping things so surface-level.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            “The city should do what’s in its best aggregate interests” – I agree completely and that’s why I support the single hauler plan.

  9. Maybe you want to actually think that through first. You’ve made no aggregate case argument at all. This is just another example of how you loathe small businesses and want to see them destroyed.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Huh? Go back and read every post I’ve written on this. They’re all about doing whats in the city’s best interest in the aggregate. Cheaper for most residents, more comprehensive service, enables cost savings in recycling and compost center, cleaner neighborhoods with less truck traffic, fewer people free-riding by dumping household trash in dumpsters.

      • And every post you’ve written is as an elitist telling people what’s good for them and ignoring that people might for their own reasons want something else.

        Connecticut man. They need you in the worst way.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          The job of an elected representative is to know what policies are best for everyone. Obviously. That is the definition of representative government.

          • Put in term limits and you can get what you want. But since a politician’s #1 focus is getting re-elected, it’s not that simple.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            You’re trolling this discussion into theory land. This is a post about a specific proposal. The question is, is this proposal cheaper and better than what most residents have now? The answer is definitely yes. We see that from the bids. We see that because everybody else uses this approach and pays less, gets more than Bethlehem. For some reason you can’t handle that I’m right about this, and are grasping for reasons why the opponents have the better argument. They just don’t.

          • I wil repeat this again since your memory is faulty (or you’re just making shit up again, either one). I haven’t disagreed with any of those points. What I will continue to stand on is a citizen’s right to be heard and a politician’s obligation to listen to that citizen. I will also stand on a citizen’s right to want something that costs more. There is nothing at all wrong with that view.

            I will also continue to remind you that the only reason this is on the table is the city needs the admin revenue. None of the other stuff you mention has anything to do with why it’s an option now. Not cleaner streets, less noise, etc. Money only. Period.

            So it’s real simple – my view is it’s Bethlehem’s decision and the polticians have a responsibility to listen to its citizens. Your view is to tell the citizens to fuck off and just take it because you know better.

            Then you go into theory land about politicians doing “what’s best” and ignoring the electorate in the process, and ignoring their #1 objective, which is of course re-election.

            So who’s in lala land?

          • Jon Geeting says:

            You’re in lala land. Here is a proposal that you agree would be better on the merits. But you’re against just passing the thing on the strength of the plan because of process objections. People have been heard. The arguments have all been made. For decades. Now it’s time to tally it all up and pass the plan that’s more right than the other.

          • Jon it was already decided. In December Bethlehem City Council voted 4-3 against a single hauler plan.

            The vote was taken. You lost.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            The vote was about whether to include the revenues in the budget. That lost. The vote on the bids has yet to happen. And there’ll be another vote next year when new people are on Council. There will keep being votes until we win.

  10. You’re not “we” here Jon. You have no standing.

    My hope here is that Bethlehem residents win as it’s their city.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Me too, and they’ll win if their representatives pass the plan that’ll provide most better service and save more money.

      • No – they’ll win if the decision is in the best interests of the city, its residents and its businesses.

        Completely different point than you’re making. Sometimes what’s in their best interests costs more.

        Given your proclivity for recommending massive, bone-crushing tax increases pretty much every day, and government’s inherent inability to function economically, you should be very familiar with recommending solutions that cost more.

        • Please explain how spending more money for a dirtier city is in anyone’s best interest.

          • Jeez…

            For about the 100th time, I am not against single hauler.

            I am for the stakeholders of the city of Bethlehem (which do not include Jon or me) to make their own determination on what is best, and for non-stakeholders to accept that decision.

  11. City Council voted not to include it in the budget. As someone who lives in Bethlehem and attends council meetings and has spoken on record at council meetings about the issue, I’m a stakeholder. I believe it’s in the city at large’s best interest to at least officially discuss the issue now that bids have come in.

    • Then I would suggest you continue to make your voice known and make sure others who feel the same way make their voices known too.

      Jon fails to accept a basic principle that politicians’ #1 objective is to get re-elected. In cases like this where there are citizens on both sides of the fence, the voices that re the most consistent and heard will carry a lot of weight.

      • Jon Geeting says:

        Getting reelected is one thing politicians want, but some people are genuinely motivated to make their city a better place, or are motivated by ideology, aspiration to higher office, etc. Voting for a single hauler isn’t going to get anyone kicked out of office. Within a month of getting the service, people will love it, and love that they’re saving money. They don’t know it now, but they’ll appreciate it soon after. And then it will be a selling point for those politicians when they run for reelection or other offices. They’ll be able to say, “I reorganized Bethlehem’s garbage service and got our residents better service for less money.”

        • There’s that “policy class/no real world experience” talking again.

          Man you really need to get out of the basement and spend time with real living people.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            Look at what happened when Hanover switched. Bernie had a great post on the Hanover supervisors laughing at this “debate” in Bethlehem. Everybody who’s made the switch says the same thing. There’s some dead-ender opposition at first, and then once people get used to it they love it. That’s as real world as it gets.

Speak Your Mind