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Well that was fun, huh? All that mudslinging and legal wrangling over the trash fee only to result in…a trash fee? It would appear that the trash fee opponents got what they wanted as all reports say they’ve claimed victory. But what was really won? Frankly, I haven’t a clue.

This blog, I hope was clear, opposed the trash fee on principle. However I know that the alternative is continuous fiscal malaise and I pray to the almighty that one day the city will have the financial wherewithal to discontinue the fee. Therefore, I have found that accepting it is the only solution in the short-term.

So the question really is, what did these righteously indignant (sarcasm) property owners including Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera really accomplish? The city will be able to implement the fee this summer. It will be no less, but unlikely more, than $90. Documentation of alternative service, as necessitated by state environmental law, will be necessary for the city to accept a resident’s non-pickup of garbage; most citizens will be hard pressed to find a cheaper alternative to the city’s pickup, however. The agreement makes no mention of the “taxing” nature of the fee, which the plaintiffs complained about first. Given Judge Constance Sweeney’s focus on the intimidatory nature of the fee, in violation of Emerson College v. City of Boston, the plaintiffs probably realized their original argument was legally dubious. Sweeney was hopefully aware of the potential statewide implications of her ruling and encouraged a settlement. The city did knock down some of the barriers to utilizing private hauling, but by and large the fee stands.

The cynic would have thought that Coakley-Rivera’s actions were part of an elaborate attention-getting plot in preparation for a mayoral run. However, she has dismissed getting into the race being a witness in the Ward-Representation lawsuit. In addition, Coakley-Rivera does not need to manufacture events to get attention. She is, mostly for the good, I’d like to think, a well-known figure citywide.

So, for now, I urge the Control Board, whether in its last throes of life or simply as Churchill said the “end of the beginning,” and Executive Director Puccia to find alternatives to the fee, or at least form a long-term plan that allows it to be phased out in due time.