Fighting back

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

Good for John Holland. The owner of Holland Enterprises-a landfill operation in Driver-isn’t going to roll over on an alleged monopoly created by the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) and Bay Disposal Inc. to dispose of construction waste.

On Monday, Holland filed a $20 million suit, alleging that SPSA and Bay struck an illegal pricing deal in 2003 which allows for the disposal of construction waste at rates much lower than small, private sector enterprises such as Holland’s can charge.

Holland alleges that in October 2003, SPSA struck a deal that gives Bay Disposal a &uot;sweetheart rate that SPA refused to give any other company,&uot; and one which is nearly $2 to as mush as $5 below what private landfill operators can afford to give.

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If what he alleges is true, we hope Holland gets what’s coming to him – money lost because of the arrangement and a level playing field in the future.

We harbor basic philosophical

reservations about public entities competing in the private sector. It’s not a level playing field to begin with and what invariably happens is that small customers end up subsidizing &uot;deals&uot; struck with big users.

Take a look at the U.S. Post Office. It’s in bed with large, commercial (junk) mailers, offering them steeply discounted rates and making up their losses on the backs of citizens through first class stamps, or newspapers and other periodicals which are competitors for preprinted advertising materials.

We don’t know enough about the details of this matter to offer an informed opinion about who is right, but it’s good to see that Holland isn’t going to take it laying down. We hope his suit serves as a warning to other public entities dabbling in areas where they probably have no business.