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Here Are the NYC Electeds Who Take Campaign Money From Trash Carters

Sanitation Salvage owner Steven Squitieri, second from left, with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and then-Assembly member Mark Gjonaj in 2016. Photo: Ruben Diaz Jr./Flickr

The campaign to reduce dangerous trash carting traffic is coming to a head.

On one side are officials and advocates concerned with the disproportionate harm the industry causes in poor neighborhoods and its disregard for the safety of employees and the public, which made waste carters mile-for-mile the number one killer of city pedestrians.

Private trash haulers have killed at least 16 people walking and biking in NYC since 2012, according to data tracked by Streetsblog. But some electeds are less worried about the industry’s safety record than sparing waste haulers the effort of reforming their operations.

Last week 13 council members voted against Intro. 157-C, a.k.a. the Waste Equity Bill, which aims to lighten the burden of transfer stations on neighborhoods that, combined, process 75 percent of the city’s garbage. The bill dates to the Bloomberg administration's 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan, and cleared the council only after multiple attempts. It was stalled in committee last December when Council Member I. Daneek Miller pulled his support.

Separately, the city Sanitation Department is developing a zone-based system to reduce the number of miles driven by carting employees. Under pressure from carting companies, City Hall has signaled it may water down those reforms by allowing multiple companies to serve each zone, rather than designating a single carter per area as originally proposed.

Officials who accept campaign contributions from the carting industry don't necessarily vote the way companies would like them to. But at least four council members who take money from waste haulers -- Miller, Robert Cornegy, Fernando Cabrera, and Mark Gjonaj -- voted against Intro. 157-C.

Gjonaj, who according to campaign finance records has collected at least $16,200 from carters since his first state Assembly run in 2012, has also publicly sided with Sanitation Salvage over people killed by the company's drivers.

Against that backdrop, below are current city officials who have received donations from waste carting companies, company owners, and employees since the 2009 campaign cycle.

Note that these totals are limited to the 20 largest carters as identified by Transform Don’t Trash NYC, and don't include contributions from hundreds of smaller carting companies (except for Gjonaj, whose total includes $2,500 from two smaller companies).

Also: Of the $87,025 tallied here, $72,715 went to politicians in the Bronx, one of the boroughs where people suffer disproportionately from the effects of truck traffic.

Here's the list:

    • Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx borough president: $51,590. About $43,000 came from the Squitieri family, which owns Sanitation Salvage, and a company-approved sham union.
    • Mark Gjonaj, Bronx council member/state Assembly member: $16,200 since his first Assembly run in 2012, including $9,450 from the Squitieris.
    • Bill de Blasio, mayor/public advocate: $7,400. Of that amount, $6,900 came from the Squitieri family.
    • Fernando Cabrera, Bronx council member: $2,000. All from Sanitation Salvage owner Steven Squitieri July 2017.
    • I. Daneek Miller, Queens council member: $1,750. All from Royal Waste owners and executives in September 2017.
    • Melinda Katz, Queens borough president/council member: $1,500.
    • Ritchie Torres, Bronx council member: $1,175, including $925 from the Squitieris and a Sanitation Salvage supervisor.
    • Peter Koo, Queens council member: $1,000. All of it came from Crown Container owners in July 2017.
    • Rafael Salamanca Jr., Bronx council member: $1,000. All from Steven Squitieri in August 2017.
    • Robert Cornegy Jr., Brooklyn council member: $750. All from Royal Waste executives in August 2017.
    • Vanessa Gibson, Bronx council member: $750. All from the Squitieris in 2013, when Gibson, a former Assembly member, first ran for council.
    • Tish James, public advocate: $650.
    • Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens council member: $600. All from Boro-Wide Recycling for the 2017 election cycle.
    • Ben Kallos, Manhattan council member: $250.
    • Antonio Reynoso, Brooklyn council member: $250.
    • Scott Stringer, then-Manhattan borough president: $50.

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