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What’s Wrong With Bloomsbury?

Tiny Boro Balks at Recycling – Are Republicans Ginning Up Faux Controversies?

Or After Denying Global Warming, is Recycling Next on the Hit List?

File this under “A” for Absurd.

First it was the “Rats in Raritan” - where Town officials refused to adopt a DEP required ordinance to assure that garbage dumpsters have lids so that rats, vermin, and leachate don’t become local public health and water quality problems. They called it an unfunded state mandate.

Shortly after this controversy emerged, Governor Christie appeared for a Town Hall meeting in Raritan, which prompted us to write about the larger political and policy context of the Raritan Revolt in  Gov. Christie Joins Rats in Raritan (No Joke) 

Did the people of upscale suburban Raritan Township really oppose efforts to control rats? Or was this a political stunt?

Now, the tiny Borough of Bloomsbury, less than 1 square mile and population of 881 - which surely must make it a prime target for consolidation reform –  won’t adopt a DEP recycling ordinance, also using the same bogus rhetoric of “state mandate“. (see Hunterdon County Democrat story:  Bloomsbury mayor calls mandatory recycling rules ‘absurd’ and ‘unreasonable’ as officials criticize Hunterdon County, state)

BLOOMSBURY — Borough Council members postponed a vote on the state-mandated recycling ordinance at their Tuesday meeting after expressing objections to the garbage inspections and fines that the ordinance would authorize.

“Obviously, this is not a popular ordinance. The state has come out with its recycling goals, and they’re hard goals,” said Mayor Mark Peck. “The state is threatening us with $3,000 fines a day if we don’t adopt an ordinance that meets their goals

Recycling has been mandatory at the municipal level in New Jersey for 23 years – the law was passed in 1987. Recycling enjoys widespread public support, which helps NJ lead the nation in recycling goals and rates achieved. Recycling is as close to political motherhood and apple pie as it gets.

The passage of New Jersey’s mandatory recycling legislation in April, 1987 was a major milestone in our state’s solid waste management history and helped establish New Jersey as a leader in this field. The “New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act” (Recycling Act), N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.11 et seq., set forth an ambitious program that reshaped at least one aspect of the everyday lives of state residents, businesses and institutions. Among other things, the Recycling Act required New Jersey’s twenty-one counties to develop recycling plans that mandated the recycling of at least three designated recyclable materials, in addition to leaves. County recycling plans were also required to designate the strategy to be utilized for the collection, marketing and disposition of designated recyclable materials. Other provisions of the Recycling Act required municipalities to adopt an ordinance based upon their county’s recycling plan.

So, I smell a rat – this appears to be a manufactured controversy.

Is this a TSA “porno-scanner” like set up to generate astro-turf political support for further attacks on government, especially DEP and environmental programs?

Senator Michael Doherty - global warming denier and right wing republican

Senator Michael Doherty - global warming denier and right wing republican

Are Town officials looking out for the best interests of their residents or playing state level politics?  (like Ocean County Republicans)

Both Raritan and Bloomsbury just happen to be located in the 23rd legislative District, home of fellow Gov. Christie global warming denier, Republican Senator Michael Doherty.

Is right wing Republican leadership ginning up these kind of bogus local disputes? 

The press and residents of Bloomsbury should be asking local officials these hard questions.

(ps - yes, the title of this post is a riff on Thomas Frank’s wonderful book “What’s the mattter with Kansas?”) 

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  1. michele mcbride
    November 28th, 2010 at 09:32 | #1

    You got it right, Wolfe – political grandstanding. I was glad to see that most of the on line comments for the Bloomsbury article reflected a respect for recycling efforts. You could certainly also have included the Clinton Township tree ordinance flap in this article. Great piece!

  2. Bill Wolfe
    November 28th, 2010 at 12:52 | #2

    @michele mcbride
    Thanks Michele – I was unaware of the Clinton tree ordinance flap – can you give me details or a link? I’ll include that in an update.

    Or feel free to discuss here in comments.


  3. scott olson
  4. michele mcbride
    December 1st, 2010 at 11:20 | #4

    Thanks, Scott, for the references! Our tree ordinance works well in Union Township, although blood was spilled in the process. Certainly, we got off easy compared to what CT is putting their environmental commission through.

  1. June 12th, 2015 at 15:40 | #1
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