Marijuana, a state lottery and getting rid of idiots
You get to vote
Plus: Fayetteville’s mayoral candidates on the future of recycling
The future of recycling
Fayetteville’s mayoral candidate were asked to describe their vision for the future of Fayetteville’s waste reduction with particular attention to glass recycling, here’s what they had to say.
Commercial recycling starts with changing the narrative. So much of today’s language is about thinking “out of the box.” Commercial recycling starts with “thinking in the box.” To do that we have to educate businesses and individuals to address both recycling and waste reduction. These are two very different efforts. Waste reduction starts prior to recycling and it will have to be at the foundation of any commercial recycling program, including dealing with glass. One of the better commercial recycling programs, I believe, is located in Austin, Texas.
That effort starts initially with a free waste assessment provided by the city along with complimentary office paper recycling bins. The next step is to provide customers with waste reduction tip sheets, which are targeted to different types of business. For restaurants the tip sheet includes front and back of house suggestions, tips for employees and customers and the bar. These include placing rubber mats around bus and dishwashing stations to reduce breakage of glass to having employees use permanent-ware mugs or cups for their personal drinks.
Any glass recycling program will likely have to rely on the assistance of private waste services companies to achieve the desired goals. To be effective this program will need the support of the owners of bars and restaurants, which means involving them in the decisions and details of the program as stakeholders; the education of these stakeholders of the benefits, economic and ecological; and the educating suppliers and customers.
It can be done if there is a will to do it. I believe that will exists currently.
I want to move Fayetteville closer to becoming a zero-waste city. That is probably an impossible goal, but the harder we work to achieve that goal, the closer we will come. We have developed a very good residential recycling and green waste composting program, but there is much more we need to do.
My ideal program accommodates all residential, commercial, and apartment applications. We must recycle construction and demolition debris for several reasons, among which is that C & D recycling is important when seeking L.E.E.D. certification.
My ideal program would decrease our carbon footprint, and need little or no subsidy. My administration proposed buying a good used rock crusher to recycle the mountains of used concrete we store. This would have reduced our need for crushed limestone trucked from strip-mines while re-using a wasted resource. Unfortunately, a majority of the Council voted against this proposal.
Recycling is not free. About $2.40 of our monthly solid waste bill subsidizes our recycling program. We make money on some materials and lose on others, such as glass. We ship our glass to a facility in Oklahoma and the revenue from the sale offsets the shipping costs, but not collection. One of the best things to do with our glass would be to use it locally. A glass crusher would crush and tumble it (which dulls the edges) into base material for our trails, sidewalks, and roads or for “glasphalt”.
We are awaiting the results of the R.W. Beck study, which will give us the information we need to design a comprehensive recycling program that will work best for Fayetteville. I am open to any idea that actually increases recycling and reuse while reducing costs. One company has located in Fayetteville from Europe, and another is considering coming here, that will turn much of our solid waste into useful products such as ethanol or building materials.
Any recycling program I would support, either publicly or privately operated, would have to be open for public inspection and verification at any time, just as our current program is.
Simply stated, my vision is a citywide commercial recycling program with the glass being used as material replacing gravel in our roads, trails and parking lots. I envision that Fayetteville plan and aggressively move forward over a two-year phase-in to establish a commercial recycling program. In year one, the bars and restaurants would be offered a pick-up plan much like the current cardboard program. It would be initiated in one ward at a time. In that same year we would begin planning, educating and recruiting for the conversion of apartments. In year two, I envision a conversion in which apartments in one ward at a time are offered the opportunity to participate. The program will be monitored by a private volunteer group such as Net Impact to measure the growth, acceptance or problems. Monitoring will enable us to alter our program or our education to increase its effectiveness. In subsequent years we will do an annual evaluation and report to the citizens, hold hearings and attempt to recruit additional properties and restaurants.
I have a three-part vision for commercial glass recycling from apartments, condominiums, bars, restaurants and festivals:
1. Learning from the Green Heart Initiative we found that it is convenient to establish a joint use or central bin for a commercial area, That joint use container is more economical in terms of both recycler and hauler access. It is highly economical in terms of pick-up, one pick up per area. This format also reduces space usage and enables users to put the smaller bin in a less conspicuous space. The important factor we learned in GHI in establishing a commercial project is education and ownership. (Editor’s note: The Green Heart Initiative is a commercial recycling pilot program that Eilers organized this spring with a group of Fayetteville business owners).
2. The bins must be secured with a combination lock to protect against outsider contamination. Participants with the combination are expected to police and maintain the system. It is part of their ownership commitment.
3. A critical component for successful recycling commercial glass is local use of the resource. There must be a local glass crusher or other program to keep the product local. Hauling the glass to Okmulgee, Oklahoma is expensive and environmentally harmful since it is a 14-hour trip with a maximum load of less than 20 tons.
The programs that GHI used as background were Austin, Texas and Springfield, Missouri.
I have a vision of recycling glass in a manner of speaking. Mine is a much different perspective based off the fact that I am not much into the “green” movement as it were. All garbage will have to be dealt with due to the massive volume that the human race produces and will continue to produce. The fact my preferred solution helps the “green” ideal is merely a bonus. I hear many ideas on the subject based around a single wavelength without dealing with the oncoming problem as a whole. In one example, I’ve heard a person speak about how glass can be crushed into a pulp and used as material in street concrete, saving us money on certain aspects of that material. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it leaves out so much more in the arena of untapped potential. Then there have been suggestions that we start city ordinances to “make people recycle.” They’ve went as far as to say that fines should be administered for those who don’t comply. This turns others off from the initial cause and can even alienate them. Forcing businesses and bars to do this does not behoove us. It has and will be suggested that we use, and this is the favorite word among the elected and running alike, “incentives.” So it’s come to this: bribery. And again, this is not tackling the problem as a whole, but just one minor section.
My answer for dealing with glass is the same as dealing with all garbage. This concept is known as Landfill Recycling. This is not a new concept, and it’s rising in popularity. The basic premise is that all garbage, no matter the composition, is able to be broke down into its basic components. There are no exemptions. Metals, chemicals, plastics, glass, biodegradable material, etc. can be returned to their simpler forms and reestablished in any way that we see fit, which also includes what has been previously suggested from others in minor ways. This also covers several bases. We no longer require recycling trucks or a center that specifically deals with only this. That is money saved right away. The jobs with recycling would be reapplied to the new facility. There is no call for incentives when everyone’s sending it to the same place. We also cut back on social alienation because this would no longer be a forced issue with extra ordinances.
As for now, there are leaps and bounds being made that will eventually mean the end of burying our garbage, or burning it for energy. In the decades to come, as our technology and efficiency increase, this may even become a profitable venture. If we are going to commit to recycling, then we need to tackle it all the way, not as a short-term solution. Is there anything similar in our city’s size and population? No, most cities employing these relatively new methods are larger, such as Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. However, we do have the population we need to employ this plan as a group effort with the cities of Northwest Arkansas in a joint venture. By including them in this effort, everyone wins. The Landfill Recycling facility is my solution to not just the aforementioned bottles, but to all of our needs in dealing with all garbage.
Through an effective public information and communication program, I will work to increase participation in our residential recycling program and extend collection to commercial establishments and apartment complexes.
We are currently conducting a study of how best to accomplish this, a study which I supported and will make sure that the recommendations are implemented instead of forgotten after all the press conferences.
I would like to apply for grant funds to purchase a glass crusher so that we can more efficiently expand our current residential recycling program to include bars, restaurants and other commercial glass waste streams. Currently, all recycled glass must be driven to a glass processor in Oklahoma before it goes to market. By using a glass crusher locally, we can save fuel consumed in transporting the glass out of state and reduce our waste stream while also increasing the value of this product by processing it ourselves.
I would also like to expand our waste reduction education program into area schools and offer a light bulb exchange program so students can exchange an incandescent light for a compact fluorescent to use at home.
We can certainly learn from the experiences of similar size cities that are far ahead of Fayetteville in their recycling programs. In the future we can adapt the best waste reduction and recycling management practices without having to reinvent the wheel or hire expensive consultants.
I believe in little steps that add up to a long journey, because one person or one city cannot solve the problems of generations in a day or a four-year term of office. However, the concept of thinking globally and acting locally will be effective if we develop the appropriate attitudes and behaviors.
For example, in my work at the university, I have implemented several small waste reduction measures for our office. We keep our bottles and cans in a separate bucket, save paper and ink cartridges by working off of our desktop and printing on both sides of the paper. We also collect used white paper in a 30 gallon container for recycling and although our office is only five people, if every small office did this, just think about how much usable material we could keep out of the landfill.
I want to expand the entire recycling program, not just glass, to everyone in city limits. I think it would be amazing to get bars and restaurants to recycle all the materials they can. With the glass, they could get a recycle bin and put the glass in it or collect it in a big trash can. The only downside would be the people who just use it for trash or don’t empty their bottles. I am trying to design a new type of recycle bin that will be a little taller but not as wide (for like apartments), right now I am not sure how much this would cost though.
Compiled by Melissa Terry.
Next week, a look at the Green Heart Initiative, which is scheduled to expire on Nov. 31.
The Ballot Issues
What about all those things on the ballot, that we’ve never heard about before—those ballot issues?
A couple of the five issues that will be addressed statewide are pretty cut and dried: Are you for or against a state lottery? In other words, do you want to buy lottery tickets at your nearest convenience store or keep driving to Missouri? Are you for or against allowing unmarried couples, both heterosexuals and homosexuals, to serve as foster parents and to adopt? Those are the easy ones. What about the other three?
Perhaps the most confusing is Referred Question No. 1, Arkansas Water, Waste Disposal, and Pollution Abatement Facilities Financing Act of 2007. The local political blog, The Iconoclast, says vote against it, citing that “In reality, it is a backdoor way for the East Arkansas Planters to drain the White River to irrigate crops, seeing as how they have depleted the aquifer.” The Iconoclast has succinct opinions on all the ballot issues, which you can find at: (http://jonah-tebbets.blogspot.com).
Most of the information below is provided by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Public Policy Center. For more information, including short video’s go to http://ppc.uaex.edu/ballot/default.htm.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1
An amendment concerning voting, qualifications of voters and election officers, and the time of holding general elections.
The Arkansas Constitution currently has archaic language such and “idot” and “insane” used to describe voter disqualification. The proposed act would change this and also the requirements for poll workers, so that more people would qualify to work the polls.
FOR means: The language would change.
AGAINST means: The language would not change.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2
An amendment providing that no legislative appropriation shall be for a period longer than one year, providing for fiscal legislative sessions, requiring the General Assembly to meet every year with regular sessions continuing to be held in odd-numbered years and fiscal sessions held in even-numbered years, unless the General Assembly votes to hold regular sessions in even-numbered years and fiscal sessions in odd-numbered years, and allowing the General Assembly to consider non-fiscal matters during a fiscal session upon approval of two-thirds of both houses.
Opposed by: Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation
Supporters Say: Lawmakers would have more control over the state budget and state agencies by reviewing their appropriations more frequently. A move to annual sessions would cut back on the frequency of special sessions, and would allow legislators to correct errors made in the previous session
Opponents Say: The current system is adequate and this would create a full time legislature and present an increased burden on taxpayers as well as a hardship on legislators with full-time jobs.
FOR means: The Arkansas General Assembly to meet annually.
AGAINST means: The Arkansas General Assembly would continue meet only in odd-numbered years.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3
(Establish a state lottery)
A constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to establish, operate, and regulate state lotteries to fund scholarships and grants for Arkansas citizens enrolled in certified two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Arkansas.
Supported by: HOPE for Arkansas, Arkansas AFL-CIO
Opposed by: Family Council Action Committee, Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, United Methodists Against Gambling
Some facts: State-run lotteries are the largest type of commercial gambling in the United States. Arkansas is one of eight states that currently does not have a lottery. Other states without a state lottery are: Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska and Utah. All but one of six states surrounding Arkansas offer a lottery.Supporters Say: Arkansans have purchased millions of dollars in lottery tickets in surrounding states and establishing a lottery could keep that money in Arkansas. The state also loses revenue from gasoline and convenience store sales purchased when lottery tickets are purchased out of state. The Missouri Lottery Commission estimates that it could lose more than $25 million in the first year if Arkansas implements lotteries. Arkansas ranks 49th of the 50 states in the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree and funding from a lottery could help that. Lottery-generated proceeds would exceed current scholarship aid provided by public colleges and universities and quadruple tuition assistance by Academic Challenge and Governor’s Scholars scholarships
Opponents Say: Lotteries represent a regressive tax and discriminates against those who come from low-income backgrounds who can least afford to invest in such things. Lottery sales are often disproportionally concentrated in low-income and minority communities. The measure would drain millions of dollars from the state because the state’s economy does not provide enough jobs for current college graduates. New graduates would have to move out of state for employment thus exporting our investment. The proposal could serve as a gateway for casino gambling and it places no limit on the number of lotteries that could be established.
FOR means: You support a state lottery.
AGAINST means: You do not support a state lottery.
Proposed Initiative Act No. 1
An act providing that an individual who is cohabitating outside of a valid marriage may not adopt or be a foster parent of a child less than 18 years old.
Supported by: Family Council Action Committee, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation
Opposed by: Arkansas Families First
Some facts: It would be illegal for any individual who is cohabitating with another individual outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors. This applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals and includes both public and private adoptions. Currently, the Department of Human Services bans all cohabitating adults, regardless of sexual orientation, from serving as foster parents. The proposed act, if passed, would supersede the Department of Human Services’ directive and add a regulation regarding adoption.
Supporters Say: The proposed act would not ban all single people from adopting or being foster parents, single individuals, without a live-in partner, would be free from the restrictions in the proposed initiated act. It would not reduce the number of foster and adoptive homes, but could possibly increase the number. The act is needed to protect the welfare of children, encourage more people to become foster parents by raising awareness of the need, and “Blunt the political agenda” of gay activists. (Exact quote by the Family Council Action Committee).
Opponents Say: The ballot initiative is detrimental to children in the adoption and foster care systems because it could shrink the pool of prospective parents. Decisions on who can or can’t adopt or serve as foster parents should be left up to those trained to do so, such as social workers and juvenile judges. It violates the state constitution because it discriminates against a class of people – those who are unmarried and cohabitating.
FOR means: Cohabiting individuals SHOULD NOT have the right to adopt children or serve as foster parents.
AGAINST means: Cohabiting individuals SHOULD have the right to adopt children or serve as foster parents.
Referred Question No. 1
Arkansas Water, Waste Disposal, and Pollution Abatement Facilities Financing Act of 2007
Supported by: Arkansans for Clean Water, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Arkansas Municipal League
Opposed by: Arkansas Wildlife Federation
Supporters Say: Investments in water supply, water quality protection and waste management are important to state’s future. Bond revenue is used to match federal grant funds, thus increasing the pool of funds available to Arkansas communities. There is more than $1 billion in current water and waste management project demand in Arkansas.
Opponents Say: Bond financing places debt burden on the state and undermines other infrastructure needs (a prime example of that is the need for road construction, and they think that these bonds might in fact be an impediment to new highway bonds). There are concerns about financing irrigation projects, such as the Grand Prairie. A $100 million limit is too generous for irrigation projects.
FOR means: You support allowing the state to pledge its future faith and credit as the basis for issuing new bonds to finance the development of water, waste disposal and pollution abatement facilities in Arkansas.
AGAINST means: You do not approve of issuance of new water, waste disposal and pollution abatement facilities bonds under the administrative guidance of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
The Marijuana issue
Fayetteville voters will be asked to vote on an initiative that would make adult marijuana possession a lower priority for police. Backers say that this would “more appropriately allocate important taxpayer resources” by allow police to use their discretion in ticketing and fining offenders, which would be a savings for law enforcement, prosecutors and courts and would encourage greater use of drug education. This initiative is sponsored by a coalition of local organizations including the OMNI Center, Washington County Green Party, NORML-UofA, and the Alliance for Drug Reform Policy in Arkansas.
FOR means: You’re in favor of making adult marijuana possession a low priority.
AGAINST means: You are against making adult marijuana possession a low priority.