What a week for mid-Missouri politics. The two major issues on many Columbians’ minds are Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and trash collection, and in some wonderful way they seem to be connected.
There is no need to restate Akin's problems — his self-diagnosed oral ailment, which may prove fatal. His now internationally reported story is generating its own political black hole. Even his beloved tea party is pulling away from his campaign.
The other campaign driven by the anger of some residents of Columbia over the proposed new, advanced, money-saving, cleaner, safer garbage collection system might not have achieved the level of international interest as Akin, but it is certainly top news here.
Where is the connection? It is not that the anti-roller garbage container people are in support of Akin. That would, however, be one heck of a story. No. The connection is our need to find something, anything, to take our collective minds off of daily life and see others' problems as much bigger than our own. Or make them bigger than life.
The entertainment value of both stories cannot be underestimated. Watching and listening to my partner Kathy’s reactions while listening to a KBIA/NPR story concerning Akin took my own mind off my current problems. I smiled and laughed for the first time in weeks.
Even conservative Red Eye Radio’s Eric Harley and Gary McNamara (KFRU at midnight) had nothing good to say about Akin. Their own rants echoed those of the leadership of the Republican Party: Throw the bum out.
Where do you metaphorically throw someone out? In a garbage can. You thought I would never get here.
Why is the proposed trash collection system being swung at so hard by the opposition? Most likely the fear of change, or to start with the baseball theme, the change-up.
The arguments are as weak as a pitcher’s arm after the one-hundredth toss of the game. Somehow the new garbage collection system will be smelly, trash will be strewed over the city streets, the carts will be an eyesore, and little old ladies will be run over and crushed hauling the two-wheeled bins down their severely sloped driveways. Wow, better fear mongering than the presidential campaign’s arguments over Medicaid.
An aside, the little old lady argument is the same used by the National Rifle Association in its campaign to send the United States back in time to the Wild West. If that little old lady were packing her Colt .44, she would not have been mugged. If she had been drinking *Colt 45, the malt liquor, while carrying the gun, she might have actually shot the mugger.
Denver and other cities have used this trash collection system for decades without a single report of death by trash container. Trash went into the containers in secured environmentally incorrect plastic bags, so it was less likely that animals would break the trash bags open. When trash somehow misses the garbage truck, the driver takes the time to clean the mess.
The city already uses a trash container system for its commercial clients: Those beige trash bins found in most apartment complexes and businesses within the city limits. In my own apartment complex, the only trash seen on the ground is when a resident misses the container. At least in Denver, the commercial bins have been painted by local artists and grade-school children to look better.
It is nearly unbelievable that Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl is siding with the anti-trash containers. Let’s waste more of the city’s money to have yet another study, another delay and another meeting to appease a minority of slow-moving, anti-anything-new fun seekers.
It is Tuesday morning as I put this diatribe together. Akin has just announced on the "Mike Huckabee Show" what he will remain the GOP’s senatorial candidate for Missouri, and picking up the trash has been delayed until Sept. 17. The collective umpires of the GOP and Democrats have spoken, the anti-garbage can mob has another at-bat. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?
However, if the Missouri and national GOP leadership want to toss the bum out, the strike zone would be in one of the newfangled wheeled garbage containers and that little old lady could roll it to the curb for collection.