Editorial: Bristol doesn't treat everyone the same

Posted 7/25/19

There are areas of life, and organizations in our society, where inequities are tolerated, even encouraged. Coaches give star athletes more playing time. Business owners promote their highest …

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Editorial: Bristol doesn't treat everyone the same

Posted

There are areas of life, and organizations in our society, where inequities are tolerated, even encouraged. Coaches give star athletes more playing time. Business owners promote their highest performers (or sometimes their favorites). Politicians listen most closely to their biggest supporters.

Municipal government should not be a place for inequities. Local government works best when all are treated the same — when homeowners pay taxes at the same rate, developers adhere to the same zoning requirements, and children receive the same educational services.

That has not been the case in municipal waste collection for a couple of generations. For decades, Bristol has operated a very generous trash and recycling system, providing curbside service to scores of businesses — and not to others.

From one perspective, it’s a great thing. That little boost lowers expenses for some struggling, small businesses, or it simply makes it easier to keep a small shop running smoothly. It’s been a great little perk to a cadre of small businesses for a very long time.

From another perspective, it’s blatantly unfair. Those not receiving the same perk have a legitimate gripe if they resent the inequitable treatment.

Inequity is not the reason the town is contemplating how to stop commercial waste service. The real reason is to save money, as Bristol is sending too much trash to the Central Landfill and paying a steep price to do so.

Yet as it works through the “how” part, it has the opportunity to level the playing field and treat all businesses the same. Ultimately, that will be the right outcome.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.