MN Supreme Court to Take Up Bloomington's Organized Trash

Gavel_law_background-close-up-court-1415558.jpgOn June 12, the MN Supreme Court will hear two points in final appeals of prior court decisions relating to organized trash collection in Bloomington. The hearing on June 12 at 9 a.m. at the Minnesota Judicial Center is open to the public.

It will also be streamed live at the state court's website CLICK HERE Click on the “Attending / Viewing Oral Arguments” tab, then “View Live Streaming Oral Arguments.” Instructions will be available on this page the morning of the arguments to walk through the process.

The coalition of Bloomington citizens are optimistic that they will prevail on both arguments. The people have the right to be heard on this issue, and hopefully justice will be served by forcing the City to place the question of organized collection of waste on the ballot this November.

The background:
In 2015, the Bloomington City Council approved a resolution to “organize” trash collection across the city. By voting to “organize” trash collection, the city council in essence eliminated the ability of Bloomington homeowners to contract for their garbage pick-up in favor of a trash collector selected by the city and accountable only to the city.

A coalition of Bloomington citizens petitioned to put this change to a vote in a referendum. The city refused. Over the last three years, the coalition has been fighting this refusal in the courts.

Atty. Greg Joseph, founding partner at Halper & Joseph in Waconia, has argued the case of the citizen coalition before the Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court. So far, the courts have sided with the citizens on every argument except one.

 

The most recent Court of Appeals opinion declared the citizens’ proposed Amendment to the Bloomington City Charter to be an “Improper Referendum,” and allowed the City of Bloomington to omit the measure from the ballot for this reason. The state Supreme Court has granted the citizens a hearing on this ruling on June 12.

The City of Bloomington has also contended that the Charter Amendment, signed by thousands of Bloomington voters, is “manifestly unconstitutional,” in that it supposedly impairs the City’s contract with the trash haulers. The Appeals Court ruled against the City on this contention. The Supreme Court granted Bloomington’s request to hear it one more time.

St. Paul had also directed the implementation of “organized” solid waste collection. Similar to Bloomington, the capital city denied the exercise of voter rights under its Charter. Both cities have provisions in their governing documents that define the voters as “co-equal” legislative bodies which only exclude very limited areas in rulemaking power. St. Paul seems intent on repeating every mistake that Bloomington has made, and a citizens’ group has resorted to litigation in that city as well.

Following arguments by Atty. Greg Joseph, a Ramsey County district judge last month directed St. Paul to put organized trash collection on a ballot  for voter approval. St. Paul is appealing that decision. Of note, since St. Paul opened negotiations with 15 haulers in 2016, roughly half have been lost through industry consolidation.

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