Photo: Trash collection in Belmont.
To the editor:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” This bit of wisdom from Daniel Patrick Moynihan is important, particularly during town elections. Paul Roberts submitted a letter to the editor to The Belmontonian that is all opinion. No facts. Belmont residents deserve to know the facts.
According to Paul, his candidate (Alexandra Ruban) was drawn into politics by the “… sneaking suspicion that something was amiss in the town’s relationship with its recycling contractor.” Alexandra “ … discovered that Belmont this year simply renewed its contract without soliciting bids from competing firms and that the Town had been doing this for more than a decade!” In other words, she suspects that Belmont has been wasting money because of malfeasance by town officials.
The head of the Department of Public Works negotiates all contracts. Therefore, this fabricated allegation is a slur on the reputation of two distinguished town employees: [current DPW chief] Jay Marcotte and his predecessor, Peter Castanino.
I will not remain silent when the work of these good men is subject to baseless allegations. Castanino devoted two decades of honorable service to the citizens of Belmont. He is one of the finest civil servants ever to serve our town.
Even in political campaigns, there is no room for this type of attack. I am reminded of a time when a Boston attorney challenged a politician with these words: “Have you no decency, sir?”
Let’s review the facts about this year’s contract extension.
- FACT: the two-year bridge contract did not exist when Roberts wrote his letter to the editor. It was considered by the Selectmen on Monday evening, March 7, and Alexandra (who opposed it) did not attend the meeting.
- FACT: when looking for cost savings for our taxpayers, it often is easier to get those savings from an existing contractor.
- FACT: the cost increase in this new contract was driven by a wage increase required by the State’s prevailing wage statute. The two-year extension is a good deal as a bridge to a new five-year contract. Doug Koplow, chair of the former Solid Waste/Recycling Committee testified on Monday night and concurred in this assessment.
Let’s review the previous decade. We achieved substantial savings. Belmont has done an excellent job of controlling costs. There have been two five-year contracts.
- FACT: the cost of solid waste and recycling has increased by 1.6 percent per year from FY ’05 through FY ’15. That is less than the annual increase in the town budget. That is good management for Belmont taxpayers.
- FACT: all contracts have been reviewed in public by the Warrant Committee and the Board of Selectmen.
Finally, citizens should understand that Alexandra knew most of these facts. Marcotte explained the history of solid waste and recycling contracts to her in a telephone conversation earlier this year. It appears that Alexandra ignored facts that did not fit her narrative. Governing requires an ability to listen and learn.
In an election year, facts matter. Civility matters. Character matters.
I urge you to re-elect Mark Paolillo as Selectman on April 5.
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3, former Chair of the School Committee, Warrant Committee, and Board of Selectmen