When autumn leaves refuse to leave – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

When autumn leaves refuse to leave

Written November 22nd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

This just in, a small item from the Department of Petty Annoyances. As you can see, Republic Services has come by and emptied the yard debris bin, as it does in Albany, without fail, every other week.

Nice. And very much appreciated. But then you get a closer look and find:

The cart is only half empty. Or still half full, if you’re on that side of the great half-empty/half-full divide.

So if you were hoping to get rid of the rest of the accumulated pile of leaves in the back yard during this coming two weeks before the next visit of the yard debris truck, you’re out of luck. That pile is not going to fit, again.

Maybe this is your own fault. Maybe you packed those leaves in there too tight. And maybe on the day you did the first batch, there might have been a little moisture in the air. So when you pounded on the second batch on top, to make more room, the lower batch became a solid mass.

Too solid, anyway, to easily slip out when the mighty mechanical arm hefted the cart to the top of the truck and turned it upside down.

Republic Services is a company known for its faithful and reliable service all year round. And maybe it won’t mind a small suggestion: During the leaf-pick-up season, when the city urges us to put leaves in the carts instead of piling them up in the streets, how about giving those carts a couple of extra shakes? (hh)

11 responses to “When autumn leaves refuse to leave”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    This is a franchised monopoly. Neither Republic or the City has any incentive to satisfy the customer.

    A captive customer can’t pick up the phone and contract with a competing garbage collector when the leaves don’t get pickup up.

    The only thing that matters to the city is the quid pro quo – a monthly check for 6% of Republic’s receipts in exchange for the monopoly privilege.

    And according to the budget, the city expects to reap about $556,000 from Republic this fiscal year (the reality is this is a tax that the customer pays).

    And the leftist in me can’t resist pointing out that Republic is a selfish, greedy corporation addicted to obscene profits, so no one should feel sorry for them. Their annual revenues are about ~$9,000,000 under this monopoly. A good deal, if you can get it.

  2. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    Hasso writes, with earnesty: “Republic Services is a company known for its faithful and reliable service all year round. And maybe it won’t mind a small suggestion: During the leaf-pick-up season, when the city urges us to put leaves in the carts instead of piling them up in the streets, how about giving those carts a couple of extra shakes? (hh)”

    Perhaps the City could demand better performance from the monopoly-holding vendor. After all, the citizens of Albany – through their elected representatives – granted the vendor a monopoly. As a result, rate payers are entitled to a level of service consummate with the exceptional financial reward the vendor reaps.

    Don’t take my word for it. Below is copy and pasted from Republic Services 2018 Annual Report.

    “2018 achievements include double-digit growth in earnings and free cash flow per share, an over $200 million investment in value-enhancing acquisitions and an increased return on invested capital. We achieved our EPS guidance and exceeded our free cash flow guidance, demonstrating the underlying strength of the solid waste business. We continued to invest in our business and capitalized on trends to drive both price and volume growth while strengthening our market position. Financial highlights included $2.2 billion of cash flow from operations in 2018 and $1.2 billion of adjusted free cash flow, which was a 26 percent increase
    over the prior year. Positive momentum throughout the year resulted in adjusted EBITDA of $2.8 billion and adjusted EBITDA margin of 28.0 percent.

    Don’t get me wrong. It is more than likely that my 401K portfolio owns Republic Services shares and I am sharing in the company’s success.

    No…the problem is in the process that grants monopolistic contracts to vendors Hering names in this article…vendors that appear not to meet the basic contractual agreement…to effectively pick-up the trash.

    Looking at Republic Services own P&L from Q2, 2019 – just in the dividends and share buyback programs.

    “Republic Services returned $213 million to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the reported quarter.

    The company repurchased 1.1 million shares at an aggregate cost of $91.9 million and at average cost of $82.67 per share during the reported quarter. As of Jun 30, 2019, the company had $900.7 million available under its share repurchase authorization.”

    Based on these outstanding profitability numbers, it seems only proper that the Republic Truck give Albany’s Yard Waste Cans an extra shake. Perhaps City Moms and Pops could rap a few knuckles the next time the monopoly comes up for grabs. Competition makes America great.

  3. thomas cordier says:

    I have a long pile of leaves in front of my home in the street for them to remove. I fill (tamp full) several yard debris containers–empty near the street curb in a line to allow traffic to pass—waiting for pick up

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Hey you two…probably 60% of the world DOESN’T have reliable curb side garbage pickup! Live with it.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Is reliable curb side garbage pickup possible without a government tax and monopoly? Of course it is.

      I’ve lived in places where I had a choice of competing trash haulers. The service was always outstanding.

      Garbage pickup is not a public good.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      This is good. Because the rest of the world has poor-to-no garbage pick-up, and because I pay $42/month for mediocre garbage-hauling, I should be pleased and just shut my mouth. I would have except that the City swallowed Republic’s claim…from Republic’s own website…

      ”Whether you have known us for years, or are just getting to know us, you can always be assured that we will perform as promised.”

  5. Cap says:

    I, too, had half a bin of compacted leaves left in my yard waste bin. I loosened the mass of leaves with a broom handle and then dumped them onto the street for the city’s “petite” bulldozer to scoop up.

    It does no good, Hasso, to request that Republic’s truck’s robot arm give the yard waste bins an extra couple shakes. The robots are programmed to do the least.

    This is another example (altho small one in the greater scheme of things) of how AI and computers have ruined the world.

  6. centrist says:

    Such angst over a 1st world irritation.
    JH and GS appear to require an onerous process that prevents resolution, but assigns blame.
    Note to self — stop reading their stuff

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Correct. Hasso created the commentary, posted a question therein, succinctly answered his own question, and then opened it for further discussion… Who knew there could be such angst over a simple situation. LOL

    • My Real Name John Hartman says:

      The reason the vendor doesn’t now do the job it promised to do when the vendor was initially sprinkling dollar sign fairy tales in order to secure the monopoly, is likely due to a couple of things:

      First, the Albany electorate is semi-comatose when it comes to demanding real performance from our elected officialdom. I include myself in this group of laggards, sluggish and too lethargic to leave the couch, never mind run for political office…to rattle the windows and shake down the walls. And with mail-in ballots, somnolence is made more soothing.

      Second, the Albany electorate may have been lulled into a stupor of sorts… a dreamy fugue fueled by the siren song – the City Hall prospect of a better life.

      More likely, it was a coalescence of both. You be the judge!!!

  7. Donna Clem says:

    We compost our leaves over here on the farm – -great for next years garden spot.
    And we do not have garbage pickup.


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