Got Sewage?

30 08 2012

St. Louis Composting’s Patrick Geraty hooks up with a national syndicate that peddles sewage. 

by Bill Newmann

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle 

I have learned in the past that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you can be on the menu,” says Patrick Geraty, owner of St. Louis Composting Inc., the region’s largest commercial composter.

Geraty made the revealing comment to the board of directors of the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) late last year.  As part of his pitch to gain a board seat, Geraty also proposed adopting an advertising blitz similar to the now-famous mantra: “Got Milk?

The St. Louis businessman’s proposition is part of a recurring public relations barrage aimed at cleaning up an industry image sullied by its involvement in the toxic waste trade.

Geraty now dines at both the tables of the USCC and its governmental counterpart, the Missouri Solid Waste Advisory Board. The private and public agencies regulate wood waste – St. Louis Composting’s main raw material. But they also regulate another waste that’s being incorporated into compost with increasing frequency: sewage sludge.

Sewage sludge is raw sewage minus water. Raw sewage is everything that gets flushed down toilets and drains, including household, industrial, and medical wastes. Water-treatment plants collect raw sewage, and their main goal is to recover as much clean water as possible for reuse. The leftovers form a concentrated, toxic stew.

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You’ve Got Trash!

20 08 2012

A millionaire landlord from Ladue ditches the city’s refuse service in favor of Allied Waste. There’s only one problem: the private company isn’t picking up the trash. 

“They need to get them cans out of the alley,” said the city worker, who sat behind the wheel of the big orange trash truck. The “cans” to which he referred are the blue dumpsters that now compete not only for space but also business with the St. Louis Refuse Division.

Allied Waste’s neglected dumpsters behind 6325 Sutherland Ave.

Two years ago, the city began charging property owners for trash pick up. The fee is $11 a month per unit. That amounts to $462 a year in additional expenses for the owners of four-family apartments. Under the ordinance, property owners can cancel the service if they show proof that they are having a private company haul the trash instead of using the city service.

After permitting private trash pick up, the law stipulates that the city will “inspect the property thereafter to confirm that the waste in fact is being collected.” But that’s not what’s happening in the 6300 block of Sutherland Avenue in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood, where trash has been accumulating for months. Plastic bags of rotting garbage have been festering all summer. The trash is now overflowing and spilling into the alley.

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Blight Me!

7 08 2012
Taking care of business: A politically-connected rehabber scores a 10-year property tax break by expanding his law offices.   
Joseph V. Neill’s law office on Hampton Avenue in June 2011. In May, 16th-Ward Ald. Donna Baringer called for the property to be blighted, making it eligible for a 10-year tax abatement.

by Will Delaney

Attorney Joseph V. Neill, a member of the St. Louis police pension board appointed by Mayor Francis Slay, will receive up to a 10-year tax abatement for rehabbing his law office on Hampton Avenue, according to a bill filed in the Board of Aldermen.

“Blighted.”

On May 22, an ordinance introduced  by 16th-Ward Ald. Donna Baringer blighted Neill’s property, thereby creating a redevelopment area.  Under the law, blighting the property for redevelopment is in the  “interest of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the people of the city.”

In this case, blighting is also in the interest of the property owner,  JVN & Company, a limited liability corporation set up by Neill in 2009, which also includes four other attorneys that practice law at 5201 Hampton.

Baringer defends her legislation by saying that it is for the common good.

“The 16th Ward’s business district is 50 years old and in need of assistance for the deteriorating buildings,” Baringer told the Journal of Decomposition. “Joe Neill  has been active in our neighborhood for many years and is liked and respected. I took this piece of legislation before the St. Louis [Hills] Neighborhood Association before introducing it, and they had voted in favor of it.”

Records on file with the St. Louis Assessor’s Office  show JVN & Company  paid $7,440.33 in annual property taxes in November 2011. Under the terms of the proposed abatement, the commercial property will be frozen at its pre-improved assessed value  of  $84,100 for the next decade.  

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