As towns merge, trash collection overlooked*
While most consolidating municipalities remember to combine all town departments, Princeton Township and Princeton Borough “inadvertently” fired the staffs of both town trash collection departments.
“Oops,” said former Borough mayor Yina Moore ’79, once she got out of bed and realized her trash was strewn across her lawn. “I thought the Township had that covered,” she added.
When reached via telephone, former Township mayor Chad Goerner explained that trash collection fell under footnote six, section 402.5 of page 810 of the consolidation agreement. “Obviously, the Borough has responsibility of sections 401.7 to 403.2, which include such essential functions of parking enforcement and trash collection,” he said. “Read the fucking paperwork.”
But a 12-hour investigation conducted by The Daily Princetonian, based on interviews with two dozen senior local officials and their University counterparts, casts doubt on these assertions. In fact, documents obtained by the ‘Prince’ under the Open Public Records Act show that the oversight could have been halted by University officials who were asked to review the consolidation plans with a 24-hour time window.
“It didn’t have the honor code written on it, so we didn’t touch it,” Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69, the main liaison with the municipalities, said. “Obviously, it is in our interest to ensure trash collection happens. We can’t have tour groups visiting campus and learning about our pioneering no-loan financial aid package and unparalleled undergraduate experience have to deal with [town] problems.”
“But, as I’m sure you can appreciate, we can’t compromise our academic integrity in the process,” he explained.
Consolidation, which has been alternatively been described as “hard,” “not fun” and having “lots of numbers,” came to a conclusion in late December when the Transition Task Force released its 1,408-page white paper detailing the agreement between the towns.
Experts on local government mergers said that they had never seen such a massive mistake in the history of public policy. Luckily, the Borough and Township did manage to consolidate leaf blowing services.
“Oh god, if it was our leaves, it would have been bad,” consolidation specialist Joseph Stefkizzle said. “At least it’s just our trash.”
The University has offered to take responsibility for the trash collection; like most things, University officials argued, the University can do it better than the towns. In response, both Moore and Goerner have personally offered to collect trash themselves.
“We will not give up more of our sovereignty,” Moore proclaimed. “First the Dinky, next PILOT, next the Lewis Center and now this?”
Locals demanded action. “There will be riots if this isn’t fixed,” said a local resident who also insisted that Princeton University is nothing without the town of Princeton.
Despite the error, no University students contacted for this article said they cared at all about the slipup.
“What is consolidation?” one student, who asked to remain anonymous discussing a matter so banal, said. “Is that about Bicker? Are eating clubs consolidating? Because then I’d care.”
“Why does the ‘Prince’ insist on covering this?” a second student said. “I want more about Bicker.”
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