In November 2019, St. Paul, Minn., voters approved the continuation of a controversial trash collection system in the city. And as many strong opinions emerged from both sides of the aisle, the vote also drew “big money,” according to the Pioneer Press.
Labor unions, small businesses and grassroots donors spent upwards of $30,000 on each side to get out the vote for the November 2019 ballot. New campaign finance reports show that in late October and early November, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, AFSCME Council 5’s People’s Fund and Teamsters Local 120 each donated between $3,000 and $5,000 to the “Vote Yes” campaign. Opponents also spent roughly $33,000, though the majority went toward legal fees.
St. Paul residents used to be able to choose which trash company they wanted to use and negotiate their own rates. The city ended up switching to organized pickup with flat rates in an effort to reduce truck traffic on residential streets. After numerous arguments over the future of the city’s trash collection system, the matter went to the state Supreme Court, which ordered on August 22 that the issue be put to voters during a citywide referendum on November 5.
Pioneer Press has more:
St. Paul’s public referendum on organized trash collection drew strong opinions all around. It also drew money — labor unions, small businesses and grassroots donors spent upwards of $30,000 on each side to get out the vote for the November ballot.
A trash company also got involved, effectively matching “Yes for St. Paul” contributions dollar for dollar. In early October, Republic Services of Crestwood, Ill., contributed $28,000 to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a conservative advocacy organization that supported organized collection, for online advertising. Republic paid $2,000 to Golnik Strategies of St. Paul for consulting services.
New campaign finance reports on file with Ramsey County Elections shed fresh light on the bruising battle on the November 2019 ballot. On Election Day, St. Paul voters overwhelmingly voted to keep the city’s year-old system of trash collection intact, with a final vote of 63 percent to 37 percent.