Matt Driscoll

Are recycling drop-off sites teeming with ‘trouble-seeking humans’? TNT columnist investigates

Columnist shrugs off verbal abuse, contests reader’s view of needle exchange program

News columnist Matt Driscoll responds to reader mail, shrugging off verbal abuse and contesting one writer's view of the needle exchange program in September's edition of "You Rip, I Respond."
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News columnist Matt Driscoll responds to reader mail, shrugging off verbal abuse and contesting one writer's view of the needle exchange program in September's edition of "You Rip, I Respond."

It’s time, once again, for my monthly, “You rip, I respond,” column.

You know how it works: Folks write or call, and I respond. Then hilarity and an occasional expletive ensues.

I hope you enjoy.

I’ve lived in areas with all types of drop-off recycling sites. They are messy and attract trouble-seeking humans. With all the tweakers and such around the City of Destiny I have a feeling that the drop off areas will be less than stellar. I will not nor will I allow any family members to use these unmanned drop off sites. ... Curbside my glass or in the trash bin it goes. Absolutely no if, and or buts - Anonymous

First of all, anonymous, thanks for reaching out. Good hearing from you, as always.

I’m going to have to disagree with your characterization of glass recycling drop-off sites and the City of Destiny as a whole. I think it’s off base.

Seeing as this is Pierce County — and more than 20 glass recycling drop off sites throughout the county — I’ve also encountered a few in my time. I’ve never had an issue with a “trouble-seeking human,” or any of the other various ne’er do wells you describe.

But, that’s just my experience. And if we’ve learned anything, hopefully it’s the risk of making broad-brush generalizations based on our own limited worldview. (See what I did there?)

So, I reached out to the county, just to bounce your assessment off them.

“We receive few complaints about glass recycling centers. When we have it is typically about noise from folks loading glass into the receptacles,” said Libby Catalinich, a spokeswoman for the county.

“The last complaint was from many years ago,” Catalinich added.

The county’s glass recycling drop off sites are privately maintained, by contractors like Murrey’s Disposal. Murrey doesn’t manage all of the county’s glass drop off sites, but it does manage the majority of them, according to district manager Josh Metcalf.

Metcalf told me problems at the drop-off sites Murrey maintains have been few and far between, and the handful of problems they have had over the years are largely related to illegal dumping — which he accurately described as a problem throughout the county, not just at drop-off sites.

Asked specifically about “trouble-seeking humans,” Metcalf laughed before saying it’s never been an issue.

Good to know.

Like anything, glass drop-off sites could attract problems, Metcalf said, but there are ways to prevent it. Some of those things include making sure access is controlled by fences and signs with clear hours of operation, and locating the sites in places where problems would be less likely to occur — like city halls and fire stations.

If Tacoma does move forward with its proposed recycling changes — including glass recycling drop off sites — I’m fairly confident the city will take similar measures.

As to the larger question, obviously, anonymous, you do you. No one can force you to collect your glass recycling and drop it off. I would urge you to reconsider, but it sounds like your mind is made up.

Interestingly, according to Lewis Griffith, Tacoma’s Solid Waste Management division manager, only about 25 percent of current garbage and recycling customers utilize curbside glass pickup.

So, either way, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Oh! It’s Trump’s fault? I’d say Obama moved race relations back 50 years. (Expletive) Criminal! What (expletive) you sell! YOU’RE LIKE A SNAKE OIL HUCKSTER FULL OF (Expletive)! - Gary

Hi, Gary. This is nonsense.

Gary’s email came in response to a column I wrote about in early June about some recently discovered essays from Jason Lee Middle School’s class of 1969.

I interviewed one of the essays’ authors, Tony Herrera, who is now 64 and returned to Jason Lee this month to be part of an event unveiling the unearthed essays to the public.

One of the essays Herrera contributed, 50 years ago now, was about how “the world would be a better place if we just treat each other right,” in his words.

At the time, Herrera wrote his essay in response to events like the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Watts riots in Los Angeles, the Mother’s Day riot in Tacoma in 1969, and the violence that rocked the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

When I spoke to Herrera, he said the message is just as important now as it was then.

“(Trump) is sowing seeds of discontent among the people. That’s my opinion,” Herrera told me. “He’s stirring up racism, in my mind.”

I think Herrera is right, and I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. And I expect it to get worse before it gets better, especially as the Trump reelection machine cranks up.

Time to rethink your position on the homeless as L.A. (and) Seattle enter the next phase which will be the plague and other 12th Century diseases breeding in the streets. The urban dictionary needs to be updated to include words which are more correct.

A homeless person is someone in short-term transition who (because of) an unfortunate event is homeless — Katrina storm, divorce, sickness, (etc). The chronically unemployed, drug addicts, mentally ill, bums, hobos, tramps, (and) the town drunk … are a different problem and need to be recognized as such. — Frank

Hi, Frank.

Huh. I guess I’m happy to know we have arbiters, such as yourself, who can tell us who is worthy of help, human compassion and basic decency and who is not.

May you never fall on hard times or make a bad decision, Frank.

As a lifelong Puyallup resident I just wanted to write to say thank you. The Clean up Puyallup folks ARE repugnant! I’ve taken down my Facebook page and no longer participate on the social media site Nextdoor because it literally makes me sick to hear people in my community talk about our homeless population like there are a disease. ... They honestly think the homeless folks are coming from other places. While volunteering at the local food bank I crossed paths with many folks I have known locally that have become homeless. People I went to school with, worked with, or people my father or grandmother know as they too are lifelong Puyallup residents. Again, thank you. It needed to be said. — L

I appreciate it, L, at least in part because your email gives me an opportunity to show that there are voices in Puyallup beyond the loud, incoherent ones.

Please know: Having grown up in Puyallup myself, I sincerely wish it didn’t need to be said.

Matt Driscoll is a reporter and The News Tribune’s metro news columnist. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Driscoll lives in Central Tacoma with his wife and three children. He’s passionate about the City of Destiny and strives to tell stories that might otherwise go untold.
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