In Bloomington, trash as a symbol of freedom

It’s “trash day” in my neighborhood. Just before sunrise, the first of a dozen private trash trucks works my street. The assault on the senses — not to mention the pavement, which I was assessed $2,000 to have repaved a couple of years ago — is relentless.

This should, apparently, stir my patriotic passion and fill me with pride because nothing says “America” like a trash truck in the morning.

That’s the takeaway from Star Tribune reporter John Reinan’s article today, detailing familiar themes as Bloomington considers something a little more efficient — one trash hauler.

Residents are opposing the idea by a 2-to-1 margin. Because freedom.

“Another government power grab in order to dictate behavior!” wrote Ed Hafemann. “Middle class and fed up with GOVERNMENT taking away my money and taking away my CHOICE to choose the best economic choice for me!!!!!!!” wrote Jeanne Benick.

“You, in your immense brilliancy, have just chosen to take my choice away,” one resident said at a meeting on the subject last week, where he was told the average household would pay less for trash removal under the single-hauler plan.

For sure, it’s a bit complicated. First, there’s the impact on local businesses (there are still a few) and a question of competition. But Americans seem to embrace their trash hauler like the flag itself.

This isn’t the first time the rhetoric has gotten heated over trash.

In 2011, sections of Maplewood seemed ready to secede from the union over the issue when the city awarded a contract to just one company.

It was the first time in more than 20 years that a city made such a revolutionary move in the trash business.

The City Council member who pushed the initiative was voted out of office and when the single-hauler program began a year later, officials noted no other community was considering following suit, for fear of political challenge.

A year later, the Pollution Control Agency estimated that the move saved Maplewood $1.1 million.

Consider it the price of freedom.