Monday, January 28, 2019

NorCo Council Adopts NonBinding Plastic Straw and Bag Ban

Northampton County Council member Tara Zrinski wants all county municipalities to ban the use of plastic straws and bags.  She thinks the best way to make that happen is by having Northampton County Council adopt a non-binding, meaningless resolution. It was tabled last year, but she brought it up again at Council's January 24 meeting.

The arguments from the public were hardly what I'd call compelling. Bethlehem resident Peg Church spoke of a blue whale that had ingested 30 tons of plastic before going tets up. This is bullshit. I've read of a whale with 20 pounds of plastic, but there's a pretty big difference between 20 pounds and 30 tons. She also spoke of a sea turtle with a plastic stray lodged in its nose. Finally, she pointed out that in a recent trip to Scotland, she did not see one plastic bag. She does not know the answer, but "a resolution is as good as anything."

She was joined by a kayaker who complained about all the plastic he sees while paddling the Lehigh River. There was also a gentleman who for some reason discussed edible drinking bottles.

There are several problems with Zrinski's resolution. First, it was never vetted by a Council Committee, which is the norm. Second, it is essentially identical to one tabled in December. Zrinski dishonestly or mistakenly suggested her previous proposal was an ordinance. Third, it is nonbinding, meaning it means nothing. Fourth, no municipality I know of looks to Northampton County Council for guidance on anything. Fifth, the research cited in the resolution is flawed. Some of it, I kid you not, comes from a 10 year old's school project.

I agree that plastic pollution is a serious problem, but an unenforceable plastic straw ban is a joke mostly designed to make Zrinski and her followers feel like they've accomplished something while the world still goes to hell. They can pat themselves on the back while whales still die. What is a solution, here in the Lehigh Valley, is periodic sweeps along the waterways to pick up plastic. Open space money could be used for this and pay people with limited incomes, but we'd rather spend that money to preserve undevelopable swamps and cliffs.

Aside from Zrinski, I doubt any member of Council thinks this accomplishes anything. But it passed 6-2-1. The two No votes came from Matt Dietz and Peg Ferraro. John Cusick voted "present." The Democrats voted Yes, mostly because they fear a primary challenge from environmentalists.

Bill McGee was a bit miffed that Cusick voted "present." But his own vote was cowardly. A real ban, which is what Zrinski wants, would ruin small businesses. But McGee, like his fellow Democrats, is more interested in appeasing zealots than in doing what is in the best interests of the county.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Serious question, is Zirinski a bit kooky? Over this past year she comes off like a person with a screw or two loose.

Anonymous said...

Appease the regressive progressives or die.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

Same old stupid thinking, dont ban inanimate objects, ban the behavior of people who through their garbage everywhere. Litter is worse than I have seen in years. Litter laws are not enforced and many people dont even know there are such laws. Littering was addressed in the 70's with great success, but it has become an increasing problem. Give this women a badge and send her out fining people that litter.

Anonymous said...

From the original post:

"She thinks the best way to make that happen is by having Northampton County Council adopt a non-binding, meaningless resolution."

Except it's not meaningless.

While local municipalities "don't look to county council for guidance on anything", the resolution will nonetheless be used by activists to pressure and bully local municipalities into (at best) passing similar "meaningless" resolutions, or (at worst) passing ordinances that actually ban plastic straws and bags.

This "meaningless" resolution will also be used by activists to pressure and bully neighboring counties to pass similar (meaningless) resolutions, which will then be used to justify action at the state level.


If Council is unwilling to pass a binding resolution, they should not have passed a non-binding one. It is a prime example of either political cowardice or political duplicity on the part of those who voted for it. They either didn't want to face the heat for voting against it, or they knew what it would be ultimately used for and they support an actual ban.

And if Council doesn't actually have the authority to enact a ban themselves, it's not in their jurisdiction and they should be concentrating on things that are. Maybe things are great at Gracedale right now, but I seem to have read somewhere that they aren't.

These types of resolutions are used by small-minded, unethical politicians to whip up their base and keep voters distracted from the failures of those same politicians on the matters they were elected to handle.

Anonymous said...

A county that can't run a nursing home is better off tilting at windmills and pretending to have done something ... anything.

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"Some of it, I kid you not, comes from a 10 year old's school project."


That is (almost) correct. It was actually a 9-year-old in Vermont that came up with a figure of 500 million plastic straws being used in the United States PER DAY. It was a totally fabricated number, but I can forgive an 9-year-old for exaggeration.

What I can't forgive is a media that spread that lie without checking it, and politicians who are either too unethical or too stupid to admit that it's wrong.

We live in a country of about 327 million people. This includes infants. 500 million straws per day means that every person (including those infants) are using 1.5 straws per day. That's obviously not happening.

Adults that believe that "statistic" need to have their stupidity pointed out. If any of those same adults are also politicians, they need to be swiftly booted from office.

If they can't handle basic math on straws, imagine what that same level of knowledge looks like when it's at work on a municipal, state or federal budget.

Actually, that likely explains a lot.

Anonymous said...

America is not the source of plastic pollution in the world's oceans. China, other Asian nations, many African countries, and other third world states continue to allow waste to flow, or be dumped into the oceans. Travel overseas and see the piles of trash on beaches, roads...everywhere. Then come back here and continue to virtue signal about straws.

Anonymous said...

Much ado..about nothing! Move on folks..

Anonymous said...

Are these council members just a different kind of stupid? So they spent our tax dollars to draft an ordinance the is comparable to poop. Sick Sick Sick. Instead of worrying about the whales and turtles perhaps maybe McClure and this bunch of stupids should worry about the elderly being neglected and abused at Gracedale? One thing for sure McClure is union owned. How to these county union employee's sleep at night with that report?

Anonymous said...

I looked into the center of the straw and saw Zirinski's brain..... nothing straight thru-

Anonymous said...

The Gracedale report is disturbing. We can do better and must. Lehigh county doing it right..we need to do likewise.

Anonymous said...

The headline in next months' Express- Times leaps out at you: "Police seize huge amount of Plastic Straws and Bags during traffic stop on Route 22".

Anonymous said...

What else are people supposed to use to snort their favorite chemical.

Anonymous said...

I guess the key word is "meaningless". Why are folks so upset over a resolution that is meaningless? It took probably all of five minutes to accomplish the vote and, again the key word is 'MEANINGLESS'. BIG DEAL.

Anonymous said...

That even five minutes was spent on something meaningless is outrageous, considering the poor care and abuse at Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

The executives appointments to the LV Planning Commission are BS. He chose not to reappoint the sitting Vice Chairman. Obviously partisan politics!

E Mest said...

We live in a throw away society! Everything anymore is made to throw out including appliances, furniture, and yes plastic. That is why we have recycling events. I’m not happy about this throwaway epidemic at all. You use to be able to buy things that last and there were repairmen to fix any small problems. Much cheaper than buying new. I blame this on the big lot companies that are actually selling lower grade items. It pays to shop local with a reputable mom and pop store, you are actually getting quality! Being said, our throw away society needs to start somewhere. Plastic straws is somewhere. But where except our wildlife. An important thing in the chain. I do know that the state of Hawaii has banned all plastic bags at stores. On a recent visit there, I learned that people complained at first at having to carry a permanent bag into buy groceries into the store. Now they get it, and understand it. I recently stopped at Maiers bread store outside of Easton and was pleasantly surprised that as of a certain date in January, they will be going bagless! Giving their customers notice! Personally, I think all grocery stores should do the same thing as a start in preserving our Earth. I’ve been carrying my own bags into the grocery store for years. Love doing my small part. I also shop mom and pop stores. You see, I am proud to say, I’ve learned from my environmental science son!

sezary said...

What a waste of time. Thank you Matt and Peg for your no votes.

Sandra Weiss said...

Is this allthey have to do??? I too am more concerned over the whole Gracdale thing. What about all of the grocery stores in the area? Are we going to create the Plastic Police?
Utter nonsense !!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:30 (Eliane), I have no problem with a business making this decision. I have a big problem when a government insists it do so, or instructs it what price it must charge. I have an even bigger problem when this supposed solution does nothing to stop plastic pollution. The best way to do that is by picking up the litter, especially along the streams. Plastic straws are only a minute part of plastic pollution.

What troubles me the most is that when Zrinski pollutes Council with meaningless resolutions, it distracts them from keeping an eye on core county functions like Gracedale. The news about Gracedale is bad, and is the first bad news there in several years. It deserved more than five minutes of Council's time. I also really do not care for the way it was downplayed by the interim administrator. I believe that the report is based on isolated incidents and is not a pattern. But this needs to be vetted thoroughly, not swept under the rug. I say this because I respect what the employees at Gracedale do, and know they are very caring people who even take residents home with them. So that is not the issue. So how can Gracedale do so badly in this survey when Cedarbrook does so well? We need to find out.

If not addressed immediately, the census at Gracedaleis going to drop. When that happens, reimbursements will drop and it will go into the red.

Anonymous said...

“If there appears to be a problem, appear to have a solution.”

Anonymous said...

Oh I heard the next ordinance is to ban the private sale of beanie babies in the courthouse and county owned property. Some humans have been found to be full of crap and got elected- Others have become incestuous with these furry creatures of yesterday-

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:28 said:

"I guess the key word is "meaningless". Why are folks so upset over a resolution that is meaningless? It took probably all of five minutes to accomplish the vote and, again the key word is 'MEANINGLESS'. BIG DEAL."


As stated previously, it's a "Big Deal" because it will be used by the fringe activists to bully other governmental entities into similar resolutions or policies. NorCo Council's vote will be presented by those fringe activists as anything but meaningless. Other bodies seeing NorCo's "meaningless" resolution will assume that it wasn't "meaningless" (because what serious legislative body would waste time on something that is "meaningless"), and that there is actual governmental support for what is stated in the resolution.

It is precisely how bad ideas become bad policy or bad laws.

Perhaps the real question is this: If it's just non-binding, and the end goal is not to actually implement the "solution" in the resolution, why do those sponsoring it want it passed so bad?

Council members should refuse to consider or vote on any resolution on policy not directly under county jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

Why do Leftists always want to ban things and take away our freedoms and choices?

Why not try something more creative?

My local Giant store offers reusable bags (for a price), allows people to bring their own reusable bags, or offers plastic and paper bags for free. It also actually offers a drop-off point for the plastic bags previously used in their stores. Those plastic bags are then recycled.

Coincidentally, I happened upon a park bench last month that was made out of the bags Giant had collected. It even had a marker on it explaining that it was made from plastic bags collected by Giant.

There it was, a beautiful and comfortable bench that Giant somehow managed to have made without a government mandate. They didn't have to inconvenience their customers, nor did government have to step in to my everyday life and tell me what type of bag I had to use (either directly or by telling Giant what type of bag they can offer me).

As an alternative, why not ask to get the plastic bags and straws included in the list of items recycled by local trash collectors? Or better yet, find other uses for used plastic bags and straws and create a market for them?

I guess that some people simply prefer telling others how to live their lives, and want to use government to force their lifestyle upon others who don't share their views.

It's all ironic, given that paper bags were previously driven out of stores by these same environmental groups, thus giving rise to the (now hated) plastic bag. Surely just another unintended consequence, right?

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Could you provide a link to the actual resolution?

Anonymous said...

Why in the blue hell don't these plastic bag panderers use them to cover there heads. Stick a few over one another to make sure the first one works properly and if the first dont work the others will cover for one another's deficiancies.
Make County Counsil Chambers great again?

Doc Rock said...

"Virtue signalling" is the centerpiece of "progressive" politics.

"We are better than you. Therefore you must heel to our authoritarian schemes."

Anonymous said...

Are we then to legislate that stores where clothing is sold to go back to paper bags or maybe we should just carry out our purchases in our arms??? If all you want to do is eliminate straws, why not eliminate the use of ALL plastic items, including milk bottles, soap detergent bottles , coffee cups, soda cups etc.

Morality and common sense would dictate that no garbage would be thrown and littered
along our roadways. But then, morality and common sense can not be legislated. This is why politicians feel the need to propose these senseless resolutions - to ONLY make themselves feel worthwhile.

"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Anonymous said...

Apparently the rest of county council can be lead around by the nose by this whacky-0. Between Zirinski and Hefner they are not representing the "Blue Wave" of woman power very well. More like the "not reedy for prime time" players. Maybe Peg should give them lessons on effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

She sees herself running for Congress.
Gotta build a base.

good intentions v unintended consequences said...

paper straws = more messes
more messes = more laundry
more laundry = more water and detergent and power
paper straws = environmentally unfriendly

and, as dr seuss taught us to ask, "who'll speak for the trees?"

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Zirinski is batshit crazy and Hefner is downright mean.

Did either of these power women show this much concern over Gracedale?

Why is there no review of what the hell is going on over their?

Anonymous said...

Feel for the other dems that are being dragged down by Zirinski's ego games. not

Anonymous said...

I need plastic bags to pick up after my dog....does an environmentalist have an alternative solution? Of course some of them have said we shouldn't own dogs. They seem radical and intolerant.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, this Wednesday the DaVincie people scored a "special meeting" with a county council committee to beg for more money. Why do they get a special meeting but not Gracedale? The Economic Development folks want this check sent fast!

Anonymous said...

Next time I use a plastic straw at the courthouse I won't throw it in the ocean.

Anonymous said...

That's the straw that broke the camel's back now trying to break the hump of the humpback whale? I didn't know Northampton county floated barges of garbage down the hudson? hahaha

Anonymous said...

We surely could use Ron Angle right now, to help us become great again. Maybe one day we could be like Lehigh County.

Anonymous said...

Straw stuck up the Turtles butt??

God Bless Tara Zirinski!

E Mest said...

Bernie, Agreed. Gracedale is the priority here. It certainly deserves Councils full attention. But I do believe we have a problem with the environment around us too. But taking care of our elders is first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:49 who is concerned about the dog poop, I think this video was made specifically for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiThSyPHKAo .

Anonymous said...

How many genders are there?

Anonymous said...

10:29, I know you're just making a dumb joke, but most LGBT activists who are not crazy would say that gender exists along a continuum and therefore claiming there is a specific number of genders is nonsensical. Conservative media outlets, of course, like to trot out obscure articles by kooks that say there are 27 or 34 or some other high number of preposterously specific genders, in order to make gender nonconforming people look like lunatics instead of just people trying to go about their business.