Two local groups opposing county’s ‘magic carpet’ ride

By BURKE WASSON

It’s a good thing some south county citizens are standing up to county government. But to have any real effect whatsoever, it’s going to take many.

In the past few weeks, two groups have formed to oppose two of the county’s latest schemes that leave south county at a disadvantage.

Citizens Against Trashy Government is on a quest to fight the county’s planned trash districts in unincorporated areas as well as the construction of a trash-transfer station in Oakville.

Being that the county’s solid-waste plans for 2008 would result in higher trash bills, small waste haulers going out of business and no freedom of choice for residents to pick their own haulers, scores of south county residents can sense a mighty stench coming in 2008. And if you live near Baumgartner Road in Oakville, Fred Weber Inc.’s waste station could make that stench all too real.

Citizens Against Prop M aims to oppose a countywide half-cent sales-tax increase proposal on Feb. 5 that would provide more than $75 million annually, which would be split to extend the Metro line to Westport and Florissant, provide additional maintenance funds and — you guessed it — leave south county out of the loop.

Why should south county vote for this attempt to pay for their neighbors’ convenience to the west and north? Just consider this gem from County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls — “You don’t have to have the train come to you. You could go to the train.”

Considering that Metro’s own schedule anticipates a weekday bus commute of 45 minutes from Oakville to Shrewsbury and Mapquest calculates a 39-minute drive up Interstate 255/270 to Florissant — more than 15 miles past Shrewsbury — who is Earls kidding? Tack on an extra 20 minutes driving north on I-270 due to rerouting from next year’s Interstate 64/Highway 40 closure, and you would still arrive in Florissant quicker than taking the bus in Oakville, hopping on the train at Shrewsbury and riding to Florissant.

To County Executive Charlie Dooley, the estimated two years of work on Highway 40 is a “critical” reason why voters should approve the sales-tax increase to expand the Metro line to Westport and Florissant. But considering that county officials estimate that those Metro extensions wouldn’t be done until 2013 at the soonest and work on I-64 is expected to be finished by 2010, how does Dooley propose using those extra funds to ease I-64 congestion? Magic carpets?

In the world of Charlie Dooley, where facts are roadblocks and “moving forward” comes with a bypass around south county, nothing is certain and your money is always needed in greater and greater amounts.

If 2007 has taught us nothing else, it’s that county government is incompetent.

Want more proof? When recently asked about County Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Darin Cline’s 15-videos-a-day habit on YouTube.com during working hours, Earls told KSDK-TV, “I find YouTube like eating peanuts. Once you get started, you just can’t quit.”

Earls’ incredulous take on Cline’s lazy habits rewarded with a $120,000 salary squeezed straight from the taxpayers’ trough should be taken to heart by those in south county as a reminder of county government’s own incompetence and a refrain to rally around when times get tough.

If citizens are truly serious about organizing against county plans, as Earls said, “Once you get started, you just can’t quit.”