All Politics is Local

City declines Benton’s offer to include his photo in garbage bills

Those little slips of paper you toss (into your recycling bin) when you open your garbage and recycling bill? You’ll never look at them the same way again, once you read how much thought goes into them. The drama!

This blog post was prompted by queries we’ve received about the Don Benton inserts that periodically come with Waste Connections billing statements. Waste Connections lets the county and the city of Vancouver include the inserts, but only residents in unincorporated Clark County get the Benton inserts.

Which makes sense, as he’s the director of Clark County Environmental Services. The city of Vancouver doesn’t have such a department, and the responsibilities are handled by the city’s public works department. As such, environmentally friendly reminders about recycling, etc., come from Public Works Director BrianĀ Carlson. But Carlson doesn’t put his name on the inserts, much less his face.

Even though it makes sense that county messages go to unincorporated residents and city messages go to city residents, Benton has tried repeatedly to get his inserts into bills that go to city residents, according to emails between Benton and Carlson. And Carlson has said no.

Before I share their exchanges, here’s two Benton inserts (front and back) followed by two city inserts.

BentonCC3

BentonCC4

BentonCC1

 

BentonCC2

And city inserts —

Carlson2

Carlson1

Carlson3

Carlson4

Last year, this was the proposed “recycling refresher” message that Benton suggested be included in all city and county bills. It was signed by Benton.

jointrecyclingmsg

In a Sept. 23, 2013, email, Carlson wrote to Benton that he didn’t have a problem with the message, but he thought it should be either unsigned or signed “Your city, county and Waste Connections solid waste team.”

Benton responded that since the county is the lead agency on the countywide regional solid waste program, he should have his name on the message.

Then this email was sent to Waste Connections from a county employee:

Bentonface

Carlson said the city would do its own message, which resulted in this email from Benton:

Bentonresponse

Undeterred, Benton asked Carlson again this year to include a message from him in city bills.

Bentonrequest

Here’s Carlson’s response, which was so long IĀ couldn’t fit it on one page.

Carlsonresponse1

Carlsonresponse2

 

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.