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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stop phone book dumping now!

Finally the Oregon Legislature is talking about doing something sensible about the piles of unwanted phone books that get dumped on everyone's doorsteps by several pushers every year. They're considering a bill that would require that residents affirmatively say they want a particular directory before the publisher can have it left, like a present from an unleashed dog, on their front porches.

And of course, the lobbyist weasels are working hard to derail the idea. Somebody named the Yellow Pages Association from Berkeley Heights, N.J. is in Salem pushing the lawmakers to kill this perfectly sensible measure. "Think of the senior citizens!" They'll burn for that one.

This is where we find out whether the politicians who talk "green" at every town hall meeting really mean what they say. Keep an eye on Democrats like State Senator Ginny Burdick and Governor Ted along with the usual crew from the other side of the aisle. These folks rarely meet a corporate lobbyist they don't like.

And where is Metro? Where is the Portland City Council? Why aren't they, our waste disposal overlords, out in front on this? Off to Brussels, I guess.

If there was ever a "call or write your legislator" moment, this is it. The bill is House Bill 3477, and any legislator who votes against it ought to have a darn good explanation.

As it stands, the bill already has a big loophole in it:

(2) A person may not distribute a hard copy of a telephone directory to another person at the other person's residence in this state unless specifically requested by the other person to do so. A request under this subsection may be made in writing or submitted using the Internet.

(3) Subsection (2) of this section does not apply to telephone directories that are made available electronically or on the Internet.

As I'm reading that language, so long as the publisher also puts the directory on the internet, anyone can still dump a hard copy of it on your doorstep without your asking. The folks in Salem ought to get rid of that exception. Unlike the cell-phone-driving rules, get it right the first time.

Comments (13)

Hopefully the intent of 3) is to clarify that the publication of an electronic directory does not violate the law--but the language makes it look like hardcopy versions of electronic directories are exempt.

Of course--online directories are searchable in numerous ways besides last name, first name--so one could counter that a physical hardcopy that doesn't offer the same capability, doesn't qualify for the exception.

One other question--one of the leading publishers of print directories are telephone companies. Does the law contain any exemption for telcos who distribute directories for their subscribers (including language such as declaring that subscribers have to opt-out rather than opt-in)? This COULD be a way for Qwest and Verizon to kneecap the competition.

Cradle to cradle is the answer. You can distribute as many free phone books in Oregon as you want, as long as you pay the State recycling fee of $5 each in advance. Otherwise, penalty of $50 per instance.

These lawmakers make me ill. Collective courage of a banana slug.

I think if they are going to do this, they should expand it to political junk-mail advertising and political robocalling too.

That's the junk I would really like to stop.

I'd fine with it being an opt-out rather than an opt-in. People seem to have figured out the national no-call list, which is opt-out, and I think they'd be able to figure this one out as well.

What is the enforcement mechanism? These things just show up, is there a fine for dleivering to someone who didn't opt in? How many people are going to bother reporting it.

The bottom line is as long as there are advertizers willing to pay to get in these things they will be distributed.

How about expanding the Bottle Bill to include--cigarette butts?

Smokers have to pay a 10c deposit on each cigarette butt they purchase--a pack of 20 incurs a $2.00 deposit; a carton incurs--you can do the math. Also applies to filters sold separately at smoke shopes.

Bring the butts back in for recycling, you get your deposit back. Throw the butt out on the highway--you don't.

A few issues--right now, cans sold in Oregon have codes and such stamped on them by the bottler; so out-of-state cans cannot be redeemed in the state. Not sure how that would work for cigarette butts--such an identification mark would have to be difficult to forge, inexpensive to produce, and able to survive the heat involved with smoking. In addition, unlike pop which is bottled locally; cigarette packs are produced out of state and shipped in. But still--the "bottle bill" concept can be usefully applied to many sorts of waste products.

Just a thought.

Verizon's contractor is by far the worst at dumping unwanted phone books. If you receive an unwanted Verizon telephone book, or see any phone books being dumped you can contact:

Premier Delivery Service, Inc.
2006 48th Avenue Ct E
Fife, WA 98424-2653
(253) 896-0100
(253) 720-8444

Premier is the company hired by Verizon to dump these books. Such a waste.

Why not just fine phone book distributors for littering? Or anyone else who deposits literature on my doorstop or under my windshield wipers?

If you want to send me literature, pay the postage and put it in my mailbox. Or ring my doorbell, and see if I accept it. It's illegal for someone to let their dog take a dump on my lawn; why should it be legal to drop an advertisement for their lawncare services?

Companies that have leathlets distributed door to door, the Oregonian that pays people to drop off unsolicited abbreviated papers once a week, and phone book publishers who do the same at least twice a year must pay these distributors a "by the doorstep" fee and a small one at that. They come through in the wee hours like a cyclone, tossing the stuff quickly before anyone can come out and complain.

When my neighbor confronted one of the Oregonian drop-and-run deliverers after trying fruitlessly to get it to stop by calling the distributor and the Oregonian itself, the results were less than satisfying. He tossed the paper at their feet and said, "Please take this away. I've asked again and again and I don't want to receive it." The deliverer yelled, "I'm not picking that up!" and ran away.

Such a waste. Almost all of stuff delivered to my apartment complex goes directly into the recycling bin after being left out littering the landscape for several days. The only positive thing to come out of it is that I haven't had to buy any plastic bags to pick up dog poop in a very long time.

I recommend contacting Yellow Pages Associaton, the organization that is lobbying against this bill directly - a list of executives and their email addresses can be found here:


Opt-out would not help me much. As an apartment manager on Hawthorne (with the relatively high level of turnover on studio apartments), I'd still be recycling over 300 books per year.

It sound like a ban on loopholes of all kinds is the real solution.

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