Gary residents haul trash to city hall

July 20, 2009 3:02:30 PM PDT
Trash is piling up, and angry residents are taking their fight, and their garbage, to city hall.A private company hired last fall stopped pick-ups after a judge ruled the contract still needs city council approval.

As the trash piles up, some residents are calling on people to dump their garbage at city hall.

Gary residents were talking loudly Monday about the way the garbage was being handled, or not being handled, in the city. A loud confrontation took place Monday morning at city hall on the steps, showing the emotion involved.

Residents were in the face of the mayor, blaming him for trying to ram an independent agency down the city's throat.

"If we cannot, in our own community, provide for garbage collection, why do we need government? Why do we pay taxes? We can't forget that collecting garbage is a basic service and function of government," said Douglas Grimes of the Miller Citizens Corp.

The trash hauling controversy actually started 10 months ago when Mayor Rudy Clay declared the city unable to collect garbage and hired a company, Allied Waste, to do so privately. That move meant residents would have to begin to pay a $12 per month collection fee.

"I'm mad that they misrepresented us by saying that we weren't doing our jobs and that's the reason why they had to go to privatization. It's a lie. That's the only way you can explain it. It's a lie," said former city garbage collector Carl Johnson.

After lawsuits were filed, a judge ruled the city council never approved the ordinance that created the Allied Waste contract. So, collection had to stop.

Allied's contract would have the city pay them more than $5 million per year.

"It boils down to finance, economics, efficiency, money, budget cuts. We are not the only city in America that has a problem with our budget," said Clay.

"The mayor went forward with the privatization without any ok from the [city] council. So, what he did was, he laid off the workers, he did something with the trucks, before he knew that the council was going to vote for it. He put the cart before the horse," city council member Ragan Hatcher said.

The battle was set to go to the Gary City Council Tuesday where officials were expected to examine the controversial ordinance.

Meanwhile, the trash continues to pile up.


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