Mauldin’s Regressive Garbage Tax Just a Scam to Encourage Illegal Dumping

So you’re a city council member of a small town in a red state that is seeing record population growth but dismal unemployment numbers and you’re desperate to find funding for city services. You can’t simply raise taxes because people are moving into the area specifically to escape the high taxes of the northeast, and a sudden announcement of tax increases may spook the unsettled newcomers into picking up and heading further south. Quite a pickle, wouldn’t you say?

But then inspiration strikes! All these Yankee carpetbaggers from up north are “green” so what if you create a tax that seems like it’s designed to not just raise money but help save poor old mother earth? After all, we’ve all seen Dances with Space Wolves, I mean Avatar. Planet good, humans bad and everybody wants to help the good planet by punishing people for being people, right?

What if you force residents to buy special trash bags that go for $2 a pop manufactured by a local company who may or may not have an in with government officials and whose business model is based on lobbying for corporatist policies? Why, the city could save a bundle and inflict a tax on residents that we northerners/hippies/suckers will be glad to pay, right?

Wrong:

A new solid-waste reduction program that the city of Mauldin is considering to bring in more revenue to its cash-strapped budget for next year could generate more than $585,000 and save the city in landfill costs but would have residents footing the bill.

City residents were critical, and some, outraged, by the “pay as you throw” program, which requires some households to purchase a special trash bag that costs about $2 a bag and is only manufactured by WasteZero, a company based in Murrells Inlet.

“We’re giving up our freedom as citizens of Mauldin. We’ll no longer have a choice. We’re being mandated and told that we absolutely have to buy this bag,” resident Dan Herren said.

Joe Morris, vice president of business development for WasteZero, said the PAYT program would double Mauldin’s current 11 percent recycling rate and save the city at least $160,000 in landfill costs.

“By charging for each bag of trash, citizens will be encouraged to recycle more. It is fair and encourages everybody to do the right thing,” Morris said in a presentation to city officials and residents last week.

Actually Joe Morris is wrong. Not only is it not “fair” to charge people per bag of garbage (a policy that punishes poor people), but all it will do is encourage non-compliance. I’m not poor (and I’m getting the paunch to prove it) but I’ll be damned if I’m going to start paying $8-10 a week for the privilege of throwing out my garbage.

As the economy tanks even further, and unemployment has again gone up “unexpectedly,” more people are eating at home, gardening, and doing a host of other things that help tighten belts but do sometimes fatten up the garbage cans. We do these things because money is tight, not because we’re saving up our money to hand over to some company with a  lobbyist who can convince politicians to adopt European style corporatism.

Poor people can’t afford to have the city force them to buy cheap $2 garbage bags. Hell, those of us who aren’t quite poor yet can’t afford that. Bags will be overfilled and more importantly people will resort to dumping garbage to avoid the expense. But that’s the plan isn’t it?

Imagine you’re on the council. Maybe a couple of your colleagues are so out of touch with reality as to think this plan makes sense. But you know that with our incredibly high unemployment and poverty numbers there are going to be a lot of people looking to dodge this. And fines for littering in this state can be anywhere from $200-$1000+ with community service tacked on for good measure.

If the people pay the fine your empty coffers start to fill up, if they can’t pay maybe you can tack on more community service and make up for the inevitable layoffs city government will need to make in the next couple of years.

It’s a win-win! And a scam. Mauldin is coming up short and looking to make a quick buck. But rather than taking an honest, hard look at how to get more taxpayers into Mauldin they are promoting a program that they know will lead to criminality. Criminality which is profitable for the city.

I have a better idea than this garbage bag scheme. Let’s cut the city council budget, and make it a volunteer only position. In 2009 the city council spent $3,000 just on mobile phones, $1,000 on business cards and laid $27,000 on one law firm.

In total the city council spent $124,319.58 in 2009. Granted, this is a bit less than the $160,000 Joe Morris of Waste Zero says we’ll save by giving his company a 15% cut of the half million dollars they expect to raise on the garbage bag program. The cash strapped city won’t have to split the revenue from fines levied against the people who run afoul of this new program. So cutting the council budget would only benefit we taxpayers, and who wants that?

Sounds like there are other ways to make up for budget shortfalls in Mauldin besides a regressive tax designed to encourage people to break the law so Mauldin can collect some sweet, sweet fine money. Too bad there aren’t better people on the council who want to find them.

Greenville Ex-Cop Matthew Scott Jowers Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Charges

Matthew Scott Jowers Pleads Guilty

The news reports make it sound like Jowers and his compatriots were either too high strung for the job or just weren’t prepared to deal with the people you meet while on patrol but Jowers has pleaded guilty to depriving a man of his civil rights after roughing up an intoxicated homeless man.

From WYFF:

GREENVILLE, S.C. — One of four former Greenville police officers accused of improperly handling a homeless man in their custody has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of deprivation of civil rights.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said that prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Matthew Scott Jowers.

On Tuesday, Jowers admitted that on Sept. 13, 2009, “while acting under the color of law” he did “grab, push and improperly restrain a person in custody.”

Jowers claims that a drunken homeless guy was raising hell even after he was cuffed so Jowers slammed the man into the patrol car before placing him in the back. When the homeless man continued to raise hell (understandably after being roughed up) Jowers jumped in the back and throttled him.

Hey, we’ve all wanted to choke some of the drunks on the streets of Greenville but the police need to follow the law, not dispense street justice to someone who may or may not deserve it.

One of Jowers compatriots is expected to plead guilty pretty soon. In a move sure to make the local CopWatch goons swoon onto the patchouli and “fluid’ stained couches in Coffee Underground, Jowers was allowed to plead guilty without being indicted which means … something.

Technically, the officers are not indicted, they are pleading guilty to “information.”

I’m glad the reporters took the time to clear that up. But the result is that Jowers pleaded to a misdemeanor and faces a maximum of one year in jail.

On the other hand I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people saying that the homeless in downtown Greenville and some other areas are out of control and we shouldn’t “tie police officers hands.” I feel your pain but cops can’t be allowed to rough up any person who’s already been cuffed and controlled. That said, I have noticed a much more aggressive panhandling population around here. I would put forward that this is more due to the ever growing drug culture than homelessness, which is often a symptom of drug addiction or alcohol dependence.

Shenequa Goodwin Files False Rape Report, Police Say

Greenville police say Shenequa Goodwin had drunken sex with two men, then lied about being raped because she is engaged to be married and felt ashamed.  The 26-year-old Greenville woman is charged with filing a false report.

shenequa-goodwin-greenville-false-report
The police report states Goodwin, 26, called police and reported that after pulling into a gas station she was grabbed and forced into a vehicle.

Finally, Goodwin admitted that she was intoxicated and was not assaulted as she originally reported police said.

Goodwin told police she was driven to a house in a nearby neighborhood and sexually assaulted by two men while in the driveway.

Goodwin was intoxicated when she reported the assault and a written statement could not be taken, the report states.

A weekend duty detective met the officer taking the report and interviewed Goodwin at her home on S. Calhoun Street. During the lengthy interview, the report states Goodwin made numerous conflicting statements.

False accusations of rape are not a game or a harmless white lie to get you off the hook for cheating on your boyfriend.  False reports can destroy lives. Furthermore, they increase the likelihood that genuine assault victims will fail to come forward because they fear they will not be taken seriously.

And as Shenequa Goodwin has learned, false reports rarely end well for the complainant.

Death at Platinum Plus Still Under Investigation

Joseph M. Collura died of asphyxiation due to pressure on his neck, says Greenville County Deputy Coroner Tom Selfridge, but County deputies are still unsure exactly what happened to the 36-year-old father of two.

What they know is that Collura took his last breaths shortly after getting bounced from the Platinum Plus strip club Thursday night:

Bouncers had responded to an incident inside the nightclub and had taken Collura outside and left him there, according to Lt. Tim Ridgeway.

A short while later, a friend of the man noticed that he didn’t seem to be breathing while under the front-door awning, Ridgeway said.

Deputies were called to the club at 805 Frontage Road alongside Interstate 385 just before 9 p.m., Deputy Matthew Armstrong said. A deputy wrote in an incident report that the man had blood on his nose.

Collura was pronounced dead at Greenville Memorial Hospital just after 10 p.m.  Although the Coroner’s Office has identified asphyxiation as the cause of death, pending toxicology results may help shed additional light on the events leading up to Collura’s sudden death.

Investigators are conducting extensive interviews with Platinum Plus patrons and employees, and are reviewing surveillance video from the club.  No charges have been filed.

Joseph Collura leaves behind his wife of 12 years, Trina Skasko Collura, and two young daughters.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Collura Children Memorial Fund c/o SunTrust Bank, 1630 John B. White, Sr. Boulevard, Spartanburg, SC 29301.

Suspect Charged in Spartanburg Elevator Assault

Jimmy Edward Henderson of Lyman has been charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct after assaulting a woman on an elevator this afternoon.  In what appears to be a crime of opportunity, Henderson reportedly decided to help himself to a grope and possibly more when he thought no one else was around.  Fortunately, his target had other ideas.

Jimmy Henderson of GreerAccording to Spartanburg Public Safety, the incident occurred around 3:00 pm at the Spartanburg Surgery Center off Serpentine Drive.  A woman was inside a public elevator with a crowd of people, including Henderson.  Several people left, and the victim was left alone with the suspect.    “As soon as the doors closed, he started trying to get close to her, and started trying to touch her,” says Lt. Ron Cantrell with Spartanburg Public Safety.  “She successfully fought him off, and when the elevator doors opened on the 5th floor, she was able to escape.”

The victim correctly identified 46-year-old Henderson in a photo lineup.  He turned himself in at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Monday evening, and is being held at the Spartanburg County Detention Facility.

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