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STATUS

LAWSUIT-1:  Unlawful Denial of
Referendum on ORD 18-39.

Documents to Download
Various Information
Problems?
What are some of the problems that have been identified?
Questions?
FAQ Page 
Trash Cart Mandate
How many carts?
At what cost?
Can I share or opt out?
Community News
Trash-related resources.  Community input & feedback.  Miscellaneous links. 
Real-Life Examples
Financial & Space Implications
Send Comments
to City Council.  Links to the most-recent version of Ordinance language.

   

  

STATUS

Petition "Trashed" - Lawsuit Launching

  • In this, as with most litigation, some information must remain confidential.  Details will be released from time to time.  [see Documents to Download]

  • According to Saint Paul's City Charter, the people shall have the right, via petitions, to require (new) ordinances to be submitted to a vote (see Sec. 8.05 - Referendum);

  • This right to petition and require a vote:

    • is NOT preempted by MN Statutes 115A.94, or 443.28, and 

    • is NOT an unconstitutional contract impairment, and

    • does NOT conflict with public policy.


   

HOW MANY SIGNATURES do we have?

We circulated TWO petitions and 6,200+ residents signed BOTH petitions.

But, the City Council says signatures do not matter.

   

City officials and haulers have been working overtime

to enforce (& invent) oppressive garbage rules

and circumvent a referendum.

   

We (say we) hear you;
BUT, our City Attorney says
you're stuck
with our mistakes.

   

Pioneer Press - 11/10/2018

   

Minnesota's Senator Amy Klobuchar, on September 28, 2018, was not talking about the organized collection of our household trash.  Her underlying message can, however, be applied to local policy-makers.  Senator Klobuchar's closing words to the Senate Judiciary Committee ring all too true in Washington, DC, and in St. Paul, MN:

"I come from a state that believes in process..."

"Right now, the way this process is run, we're not running it like We the people.  It's being run like We the ruling party."

   

PLEASE:  Contact Elected Officials.  

Give your opinion of St. Paul's new garbage program and the process by which it has been "rolled out."  Explain how the program, as currently designed, affects you, your family, and/or your neighbors.

 

Honest input can highlight the depth of citizens' disappointment, frustration and more. 

  • On November 14, 2018, the City Council's resolution chose an unfortunate course into the future. 

    • Over the coming months and years, the City Council's vote will cost thousands of targeted garbage customers Millions of dollars in oppressive fees for "empty" trash carts and unnecessary "service." 

    • There is no easy path out of this city-created mess. 

    • The City can choose to create a better future by honoring the best interests of all the people. 

    • Thousands of garbage customers hope they will.

  • Let's start running this like We the people.

   

Detailed Answers

Referendum Update

Trash Ordinance 18-40

        On Wednesday, October 10 we were notified that 5,071 of the signatures we submitted in support this petition are valid.  This means that we succeeded in obtaining the number of signatures required to hold a  referendum on this ordinance.  News reports stating that the city council is planning to repeal this ordinance appear to be supported by the council's  Resolution 18-1760.

Trash Ordinance 18-39

        On Thursday, November 1 we were notified that 5,541 of the signatures we submitted in support of this petition are valid.  This means that we succeeded in obtaining the number of signatures required to hold a  referendum on this ordinance.  On Wednesday 11/14/2018, City Council members voted to find this petition "Sufficient" BUT "Not Appropriate."   

ORDINANCE #

18-40

Precludes sharing & opt-out (plus other details).

Amends existing Chapter 357 which has allowed sharing & opt-out for many years...

18-39

This "Main" Ordinance
creates new Chapter 220.

Rules, prices, etc. for entire program; including NO sharing & NO opt-out

This chart data was updated as of: 10/18/2018 20:30 11/14/2018 22:00

PETITION SIGNATURES:     Minimum REQUIRED

  Per City Charter Sec. 8.02(1)

4,932 4,932

We (city officials) say we hear you;  

BUT, 

Our City Attorney says you're stuck with our mistakes.

  

Resolution 18-1922 (discussed and adopted on Wednesday, 11/14/2018) says "the Petition for a referendum of Ord 18-39 is legally sufficient but that the subject matter is not appropriate to submit to the electorate.

  • RESOLVED, that the City Council hereby adopts the report of the Ramsey County Elections Manager and finds that the Petition is sufficient to satisfy the minimum signature requirements under City Charter Chapter 8; and be it

  • FURTHER RESOLVED, based upon the legal opinion of the City Attorney, the City Council finds that the provision of the City Charter allowing referendum for the subject matter of the Petition 

    • is preempted by Minnesota Statutes §§ 443.28 and 115A.94, 

    • is an unconstitutional interference with the Agreement between the City and the Consortium, and 

    • conflicts with state public policy; and be it

  • FINALLY RESOLVED that, based on these findings, the City Clerk is hereby directed not to submit Ord. 18-39 as a ballot question to the County Auditor for placement on the ballot for the next election.

    ● "SUBMITTED" to City Clerk

    ● "CERTIFIED" as Valid

 

    ● "SUFFICIENT" by Council resolution -- But

    ● "NOT APPROPRIATE" by Council resolution

5,919   689 Pages

5,071

 

10/17/2018
RES 18-1760

6,469   755 Pages

5,541

 

11/14/2018
RES
18-1922

DATES

The 45-day count-down clock starts ticking on the day an ordinance is published.

Adopted 08/08/2018
Published 08/13/2018
Adopted 09/05/2018
Published 09/10/2018

    ● Deliver signed petitions to County Elections office

      If FEWER than ~5,000 signatures, this petition FAILS

-- DELIVERED --
September 27, 2018

-- CERTIFIED --
October 8, 2018

-- SUFFICIENT --
October 17, 2018

-- DELIVERED --
October 16, 2018

-- CERTIFIED --
October 31, 2018

-- SUFFICIENT --
November 14, 2018

-- NOT APPROPRIATE --
November 14, 2018
   

Ramsey County's Elections Manager (under contract with the City) has verified and accepted/rejected every signature.  The final count of valid (accepted) signatures has been reported to the City Council. 

Final Result  

Saint Paul's City Charter (Sec. 8.05 - Referendum) states that this ordinance "shall be suspended in its operation as soon as the petition is found sufficient."

Sec. 8.05 goes on to say, "If the ordinance...is not thereafter entirely repealed, it shall be placed on the ballot at the next election, or at a special election called for that purpose, as the council shall determine. The ordinance...shall not become operative until a majority of those voting on the ordinance...vote in its favor."

  

Status as of 11/14/2018:

ORD 18-40 -- Petition with 5,071 valid signatures was submitted on 09/27/2018 and found "sufficient" on 10/17/2018 ---> Operation of ORD 18-40 is suspended.  City Council requested the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance to repeal 18-40.  Next? -- If repealed (sometime later), a referendum on 18-40 will not be necessary.  And then? -- Council's choice.

ORD 18-39 -- Petition with 5,541 valid signatures was submitted on 10/16/2018.  Certified by elections manager on 10/31/2018 as having more than the required minimum number of valid signatures.  On Wed, 11/14/2018, the Council voted (via Resolution 18-1922) that our petition on ORD 18-39 is: 

Sufficient, BUT

Not Appropriate to submit to the electorate. (i.e., the City says that the trash program & the Contract continue as-is) 

  • In order to enforce our right to vote on St. Paul's new trash plan, our only remedy is to sue the City. See our attorney's Letter to City of St. Paul, 01/09/2019.

  • Will you help by Donating to our Legal Fund?

18-40
   

-- Report 10/08/18 --

Resolution 18-1760 [text] as adopted on 10/17/2018:

Finds that our petition on ORD 18-40 is Sufficient (i.e., ORD 18-40 is suspended); and 

Requests that the City Attorney prepare an ordinance (#18-xx) for the Council to (sometime later) repeal ORD 18-40. 

18-39

   

-- Report 10/31/18 --

Resolution 18-1922 --- On 11/14/2018, City Council voted that our petition on ORD 18-39 is:

Sufficient    BUT

Not Appropriate  (i.e., the City says the trash program & the Contract continue as-is.)

Note:   If you care about what happens, please contact elected officials.

  • In order to enforce our right to vote on St. Paul's new trash plan, our only remedy is to sue the City.

  • Will you help by Donating to our Legal Fund?

The outcome of our petition on ORD 18-39 does not match what happened earlier on ORD 18-40.

Stay tuned!        And, please contact elected officials.

Visit our FAQ page.

   

And then what?   A City official explained: "...The adoption of the ordinance simply allows the City to implement the contract..."   In other words, without an operative garbage ordinance the City is not allowed to implement its garbage Contract.  Saint Paul's City Charter (Sec. 8.05 - Referendum) states that the ordinance "shall be suspended in its operation as soon as the petition is found sufficient."  THUS, because the petition on ORD 18-39 has been found sufficient:

  • The City must suspend ORD 18-39 and implementation of the Contract.  Households should follow "last year's" garbage rules:

    • "Temporarily" for as long as ORD 18-39 remains suspended in its operation (pending a citywide vote); or 

    • "Permanently" if ORD 18-39 is rejected by voters or is entirely repealed and not replaced.

But, the contract was signed many months ago.  Carts are here now.  Isn't it too late to change the program?  We say, NO, it is not too late.  In the rush to organize household trash, the City of St. Paul (and Bloomington) argued that MN Statute 115A.94 preempts citizens' rights to "interfere" with the City's trash plans via petitions.  As we see it, that anti-voter thinking was overruled in June 2018 by the MN Supreme Court.  

  • NOVEMBER 2017:  St. Paul's oppressive and financially-skewed Contract was signed -- bolstered, apparently, by trial and appellate court decisions, the cities of Bloomington and St. Paul were confident that MN Statute 115A.94 preempts citizens' rights to interfere, via petitions, with a City's organized trash plans. 

  • MAY 2018:  Affected St. Paul households received initial program details. 

  • JUNE 2018:  The MN Supreme Court reversed lower court decisions regarding preemption via MN Statute 115A.94.  See RECENT NEWS, below.  

  • JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2018:  New trash ordinances drafted, introduced and adopted. 

  • AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2018:  Delivery of trash carts and initial bills.

  • SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2018:  St. Paul voters filed petitions for referendums on new ordinances 18-40 & 18-39. 

  • OCTOBER 2018:  Petition on ORD 18-40 found, by resolution, to be sufficient, thereby suspending ORD 18-40 in its operation.

  • NOVEMBER 2018:  Petition on ORD 18-39 found legally sufficient, but not appropriate to submit to the electorate.

  • JANUARY 2019:  In order to enforce our right to vote on St. Paul's new trash plan (ORD 18-39), our only remedy is to sue the City.  Petitioners have retained Greg Joseph, the same attorney who successfully defeated the pre-emption claim on behalf of residents in Bloomington, MN. [see Letter, 01/09/2019]

  • ...stay tuned for updates...

Adoption of the garbage ordinances simply allows the City to implement the contract.

  • Recent News (MN Supreme Court, June 20, 2018 - below) indicates that: 

    • St. Paul did it "backwards."

    • MN Statute 115A.94 provides guidance, but it does not preempt St. Paul voters' rights to bring petitions.  Instead, these new garbage ordinances are legislative acts that establish a policy or law.

    • Public scrutiny of final language, public testimony, and formal adoption of ordinances should have happened FIRST.

    • NOT ten months AFTER the badly-designed contract was signed. 

According to Saint Paul's City Charter, the people shall have the right, via petitions, to:

  • Require (new) ordinances to be submitted to a vote (see Sec. 8.05 - Referendum);

    • This is what our petitions call for, and this is what our lawsuit aims to enforce.

    • As we see it, this right to petition and require a vote:

      • existed long before St. Paul's garbage contract was signed, 

      • is NOT preempted by MN Statute 115A.94, and 

      • should not be brushed aside by hasty publicity plus an onslaught of garbage carts. 

    • RECENT NEWS (June 20, 2018) - Seven months after St. Paul signed its garbage contract:

      • MN High Court Rules for Citizens Fighting Bloomington on Garbage 

      • Jennissen v. City of Bloomington 

      • The City of Bloomington declined to place a proposed amendment on a ballot on the ground that MN Statute 115A.94...preempted the "field" of regulation of the process by which a city organizes waste collection.

      • The Supreme Court disagreed.  As explained here, the unanimous 6-0 ruling upholds the standing of citizens in home rule charter cities (e.g., St. Paul) to bring petitions and place legislation on the ballot apart from and in opposition to the city council.

      • See our attorney's Letter to City of St. Paul, 01/09/2019.

St. Paul's new Garbage Program:

  • Creates an unfair and skewed financial structure that severely overcharges and intentionally targets "low waste" and multi-family households...while handing modest price increases/decreases to many single-family properties.  (See Real-Life Examples)

  • Forces thousands of targeted households to pay monthly charges to haulers for thousands of empty, unwanted and unnecessary trash carts.

  • Hands Millions of "excess" dollars each year to: 

    • Haulers (@ 62.25%) who, while receiving additional cash, will save (but not share) real dollars via increased efficiency

    • Ramsey County (@28%) & the State of MN (@9.75%) who will assess fees.  Fees that are not based on volume or weight of what is actually hauled; but instead, fees that are based on St. Paul's mandated PRICES -- Prices that include the cost of those thousands of aggravating empty trash carts.

  • Favors the city, the haulers, the county, and the state ... over, and at the expense of, "the People." 

We urge voters to contact elected officials now, and in a future referendum to reject the disputed ordinances -- after which the Haulers and City can try again to negotiate terms that  Make the Program FAIR TO ALL

  

     

This petition drive is a first step toward
achieving these GOALS:

  • Ability to Opt Out
  • Ability to Share Containers
  • Reduce Excessive Price Increases
  • Reduce Excessive Space Requirements
  • Make the Program FAIR TO ALL
Real-Life Examples
Financial & Space Implications
Then What?

Petitions now.  What's next?