No doubt you have heard the news! The village won its case against Metro. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support. It's a new day for Croton--and we can all be proud. I released the following statement to the press. I take full responsibility for what I say here and I mean every word of it.
This is truly a great day for Croton. The court is to be commended for their decision. At the same time, Croton residents can be proud that they led the way in this absolute confirmation by the court of a municipality's home rule rights. We've not only helped ourselves but every other community across the state that finds itself facing rogue operations like Metro Enviro. Perhaps that's why former Mayor Elliottt's willingness to sell out the village last September-and by extension every other town in the state---remains so egregious.
But look at what it has taken to arrive at this point.
Few can deny that the battle was made all the more difficult by the inexplicable actions of the previous board. Indeed, for seven long years, under the direction of the then democratic majority, the operation was defended past all reason until almost the bitter end. That was one of the more troubling aspects of this sorry affair. Because nothing---not the alleged organized crime connections-not the endless violations-not the presence of the FBI or the damning reports of the federal monitor-without which the village would have had no real case--could dissuade them from their un-natural attachment
It was one thing to claim that the village had no legal options as Elliottt and former trustee Grant did in 1998. It was quite another to irrationally cling to such a questionable operation in the years that followed or to refuse to monitor it with any degree of sincerity, To be told, as residents were, meeting after meeting, that this was a wonderful, state of the art operation no matter what its latest offense happened to be. Or to claim that residents were being manipulated for the political gain of the local Republicans, even when most of the legitimate concerns being raised came from fellow Democrats. It has never made any sense, and it never will.
Seven years is a long time to reflect on what has been done to the community. Even more difficult to grasp, however, was the former mayor's embrace of so thoroughly a flawed settlement deal proposed by Metro Enviro in September of last year. Fortunately for Croton residents, people like David Goldman, Richard Pellicci, Robert Wintermeier, and many, many others took the proposed settlement apart and exposed it for the Elliottt-sponsored trash it was no pun intended. We should all be grateful for the intervention of our fellow citizens that night and in the many years that preceded it.
But perhaps resident Harold Sole said it best in a letter to the local newspaper: "A tawdry deal remains just that and still gives forth an offensive odor, even when covered with an ample supply of dollar bills. And the Metro Enviro arrangement has always been a tawdry deal."
In the end, Croton residents have sent a message that's loud, clear and unmistakable. After seventy-five plus years, we will no longer be a regional trash can. Nor will we do to landfill communities in Ohio-where most of this debris ends up-what was done to Croton when our own landfill was in operation. Communities such as Warren, Ohio are even now suffering from the ill effects of hydrogen sulfide gas, a by-product of the pre-processed demolition waste that is shipped to their state from facilities like Metro Enviro. I urge residents to contact Debbie Roth of Our Lives Count to understand the consequences of such operations at www.ourlivescount.org.
We've also sent a message to our elected officials by way of the recent election. If you choose to ignore the health, safety and environmental violations committed by such facilities---if you hypocritically insist that you are still a champion of all causes "green" while placing the welfare of your constituents at genuine risk---if you break your promise to monitor or fine these operations when they've broken the rules---you might as well stay home. Because you will be held accountable. And if you're foolish enough to run for office anyway, there will ultimately be no place for you at the dais.
But on a personal level, as we all initially struggled not to impugn the previous board's motives, it was not the threats, the money, or the hypocrisy that I found so galling. It was instead the perpetual insistence that Metro Enviro was too complex an issue for the average person to grasp that was so utterly disturbing. This pattern of arrogance and "we know best" elitism is far too often the direct result of officials who become entrenched in their positions. And that was surely the case here in Croton. Worse still, residents who exposed the environmental, health and safety risks of this operation were seldom thanked and essentially told to get out of town by these same officials.
The fact is that Metro Enviro has never been a complex issue. It has always been a simple matter of right and wrong. But for whatever reason the previous board so thoroughly championed the cause of this questionable operation and the men who ran the till, it now matters very little. They, like Metro Enviro, no longer hold a seat at the table. And it is my hope, in the absence of an apology to the residents of Croton, that they never again will. Former citizen monitor and Democrat Michelle Celarier said it best: "Any elected official who isn't outraged by all this has no business holding public office." Indeed.
In the last two years, critics of Metro Enviro have often been accused of dividing this village. The fact is that the community was never divided on Metro Enviro. And the administration knew it. In the fall of last year, when it attempted through third parties to circulate a petition asking residents to support a settlement, the best they could muster was 20 signatures. Those signatures came largely from die hard supporters, village employees and their families. Such desperation to keep the facility here at all costs will always remain suspect. But it wasn't simply a matter of mindless community opposition; our concerns were-and remain-legitimate. The record-and the court's decision-makes it so.
I imagine that former mayor Elliottt and X-Trustee Grant will no doubt find some way to re-write their shameful place in this affair. Most of the residents I know, however, have already hit the "No Sale" button. And while it took longer for some residents to see the damage than others, it is now universally accepted that there was always something terribly wrong with this picture. Too much has happened and far too many questions remain unanswered, whether now important or not. Why was it necessary for Croton residents to engage in such a long and costly fight? Why didn't the board monitor the operation both pre-and-post violations? Why were Metro Enviro's representatives treated with deference, while residents who dared to ask one question too many were publicly pilloried instead? We will never know.
However all that is now past. Residents can take comfort in the knowledge that Metro Enviro's champions-like Metro Enviro itself---are but a bad memory, devoutly to be forgotten. We can all be proud of a job well done. Croton residents have spent many thousands of dollars in foil requests, copies, flyers, phone calls and newspaper ads. We've held garage sales to raise money, given up dinners out, and spent countless hours away from our families and our jobs. But its been worth it. Because its just not enough to "luv" the place you call home; sometimes you have to be willing to fight to preserve what is good.
Woe to the next waste outfit that again mistakes this village for a regional trash can. Or the next elected official that chooses to defend facilities like Metro Enviro over the health, safety and welfare of residents and the environment. Shame on them all.