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Letters to the Editor Aug. 5, 2014

Privatizing Solid Waste Authority is misled idea

I have been watching with increasing concern as Gitlin, Wilson and Sullivan pursue their ideological agenda at the Del Norte Solid Waste Authority. It has become clear that these three have a preconceived “solution” to a “problem” they have largely created and that they intend to impose their solution on the people of Del Norte County.

Gitlin, Wilson and Sullivan believe privatizing the Solid Waste Authority’s functions would save money and improve services. As a university trained economist, I’ve examined their claim from that perspective. Here is what I found:

The debate among economists over whether privatization delivers the benefits claimed by its proponents is ongoing. Most case studies of actual privatization experiments, however, concluded that privatized government services cost more when the cost of overseeing private contractors is figured in. For those interested, Cornell University has an excellent annotated summary of the issue available on-line at this link:  www.mildredwarner.org/restructuring/privatization.

The reason privatized services usually end up costing more is that markets for what economists call “public goods” do not function well. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where there are typically few qualified firms competing for contracts offered by governments. Under these circumstances, contractors can initially bid low, then raise prices over time because local governments have few if any options to switch to other contractors. This situation can lead to cronyism and outright corruption.

If Gitlin, Wilson and Sullivan are successful in privatizing Del Norte Solid Waste Authority services, I predict it will end up costing taxpayers more; wages of those doing the actual work will go down but the total cost will grow.

Why take the risk? Del Norte already has high quality solid waste and recycling services at a reasonable cost. We should not risk higher costs and deteriorating services so that Gitlin, Wilson and Sullivan can actualize their personal, ideological beliefs.  

Felice Pace,

Klamath

U.S. not secure until its borders are controlled

This is in response to the letter titled “Uncontrolled borders leave country a mess” (July 19) written by Joe Thomas of Brookings.

In his letter he asks what country would be so asinine as to let in a whole bunch of people with no background check. He also asks what country would be stupid enough to let people come in who are undocumented and unaccounted for.

Was he really talking about Iraq, or was it a sarcastic slam aimed at our own government and the so-called way they control our borders? Were it not for his reference to Iraq I would have thought he was describing our borders here in the United States. And John Kerry should look at our own borders here at home before pointing his finger at other countries.

Our borders here in the United States are far from secure, and it’s only getting worse.

Every day a human flood crosses the United States border, and the Americans who are angry about it have every right to be, for several reasons, a couple of which are listed below:

1. Illegals take jobs from Americans.

2. They receive benefits that should only be for Americans.

Our borders need to be secured, and the river of undocumented aliens needs to stop.

Jill Bausch, 

Crescent City

Waste Board crumbling without solid leadership

It’s been a year now since the Solid Waste Authority Board got rid of the agency’s award-winning director. Letting one key position sit open, board members Roger Gitlin, Mike Sullivan and Mary Wilson — plus Rich Enea — have spent this past year trying to dismantle and wreck a cost-effective system. They may do it yet.

Our transfer station has the lowest rates in the region, lower than Curry and Humboldt counties. The R3 Constultants report said that the agency is effective and that staff are qualified and productive. The board has yet to find a substantial problem. This system is not broken and doesn’t need fixing. But the board members I mention all have their personal agendas and do not represent the public. In fact, they ignore the public. I have attended two major public meetings with 25–30 people each time supporting the agency and recycling. These numbers probably represent the opinions of hundreds of other people who stayed home.

A full year later, it is disturbing to see staff documenting all the things that are not getting done. No one on the board responds to this growing list. They let the boat drift closer to the rocks. Although to be fair, city members Rick Holley and Ron Gastineau have made it clear that they want to fill the vacant position and get on with business.

I attend some Solid Waste meetings, and I take my trash to our transfer station. I do not make much money, but I find it affordable. Because I can first drop off recycling, brush and other household items for free or reduced rates, I know this system is designed to reduce what I pay for garbage disposal.

The authority and transfer station staff are doing an amazing job. However, I feel that the majority of the board is intentionally destroying this agency. They are ruining one of the few things that actually work well in this county.

Mary Beth Sampson, 

 

Crescent City

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