Honestly, the Dallas City Council spent the morning arguing about plastic grocery bags, what City Councilman Dwaine Caraway calls “single use” bags, even though myself and everyone I know uses them over & over to hold garbage or dog doo.
We now have joined 150 other U.S. cities as Dallas retailers will have to charge customers who want a plastic bag “an environmental fee” of five cents per bag. They will keep 10 percent of that money. The money raised from the fees, that is, the other 90% of all those nickels, will help fund enforcement and education efforts that are expected to cost the city around $250,000 and “necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.”
So what if everyone starts using the bags they keep in their car for groceries, and the city doesn’t collect $250K to cover this? Let me guess: tax increase.
Oh and retailers who still hand out bags have to keep inventory of them and register the number with the city. That makes no sense, just another burden for the retailers who will pass it along to the consumer.
Who voted for this lunacy? Well, it was, as I told you, Dwaine Caraway’s baby from the get-go. And there was discussion that it might not even be legal because as I told you, the attorney general is already looking at whether city bans on plastic bags are in compliance with the state’s health and safety laws. A specific section of the Texas Health and Safety Code says that a municipal district may not pass legislative restrictions or charge fees relating to the consumption of a “container or package” for waste management purposes. Some of our smarter Council peeps brought that up today.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to weigh in on the legality of bag bans, following a request by state Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton on behalf of the Texas Retailers Association. Jerry Allen asked Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst if the state allows bag bans.
“We are ready to defend that position,” Ernst said. “If it’s the will of the council to pass the ordinance, we’ll defend that as a legal action by the city.”
Sure he is ready, as long as the City is footing the legal bill.
The vote was 8 to 6. Vonciel Jones Hill was not there to vote, according to Robert Wilonsky. Jennifer Staubach gates is clearly a clairvoyant, and Jerry Allen was not a happy camper:
“Rick Callahan called it a “government intrusion.” Jennifer Staubach Gates said it wouldn’t do any good, because in five years the reusable bags supported by the environmentalists will end up in landfills too. And Jerry Allen said the three options being considered by council, including a full-out ban, represented “a lack of clear conviction,” which he found disappointing.”
My trusty councilman, Lee Kleinman, is my new hero, though I suspect he’s going to get some grief from this little speech on how people should try a little personal responsibility:
What he means, I think, is that we don’t have a problem with grocery bag litter (or any litter) in District 11. We somehow manage to be grown ups and recycle and re-use our bags and they do not end up in the creek behind Mr. Kleinman’s house or even our alleys. We even recycle Orange Crush cans! Lee is right: his job is to focus on and represent his district, and he did that today just fine. Thank you, sir. I’m going to order you this tee shirt:
Finally, I love me some Rick Callahan, who happens to be in real estate. Callahan brought in a 3 month’s collection of trash — not one plastic bag in there.
Why don’t we start enforcing existing city laws instead of making new ones that will be impossible to enforce? Sometimes the City of Dallas makes me want to shoot myself. Or move.