Cincinnati, OH

"Rumpke Township": township owned due to indebted candidates

The Cincinnati Post

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With all the money Rumpke donated to a quorum of township trustees, you may as well call it Rumpke TownshipThe Cincinnati Post, 2021

Novice candidate, Cathy Ulrich, recruited to unseat incumbent "Raj" Rajagopal, won her race handily. Dan Unger, another incumbent, secured his second term in the election. Both were the endorsed Republicans, as determined by the Colerain Central Committee who sought the ousting of Rajagopal in a vendetta and to regain township political control. Instead, Rumpke beat them all out.

The definitive cause for the win may never be known, however, the infusion of cash hauled in by Rumpke, the landfill owner located in the township, into the election made a significant impact. The sums of money donated were unprecedented. Bill Rumpke, CEO of the company, donated $16K into the election. Residents were inundated with at least 5 rounds of flyers, several huge highway signs were squeezed into store frontages, and literally, thousands of yard signs littered the 2-mile main drag that splits the township in two.

While the Rumpke corporation and family have donated over $200K in the last few years to various local, county, and state campaigns, spending $16K in a trustee race was a new record. Previously, the largest donation to a Colerain Township race was $1.4K to the Ritter campaign. Ulrich received $8K in June shortly after taking the endorsement from Rajagopal. Unger got his lick in late August, almost as an afterthought. Neither of the other 2 candidates, Rajagopal or Klosterman, received a dime.

Rajagopal killed his chances at cashing in on the trash headquarters located in the township when he testified in an Ohio EPA public hearing regarding Rumpke's most recent expansion, in opposition to the expansion. Unger, in an interview shortly after receiving the donation stated that he'd "never oppose Rumpke," claiming that he was hamstrung by the recent Consent Agreement. Unger knows his claims to be required to remain silent as Rumpke pursues its ever-continuing expansions, is false. The Consent Agreement only prevents formal opposition against Rumpke before the Ohio EPA related to permits. Ulrich has a close personal relationship with the Rumpke family. Several Rumpkes are members of St. John's Parish on Dry Ridge Road, several went to school with her at McAuley. Ulrich had no qualms in singing Rumpke's praises when interviewed. She appeared to contend that because she can't smell the offensive odors from her residence, it was not an issue.

However, the main impetus to Rumpke's generosity likely lies in the fact the Rajagopal sits on the Hamilton County Solid Waste Policy Committee. Rumpke wants whoever represents townships on this committee to work in its favor. The committee has currently voted to undertake rulemaking pertaining to the landfill and hauling industry. Rumpke vehemently opposes any rules being promulgated that regulate its business in Hamilton County.

Over the last 4 years, the Southwest Ohio Regional Air Quality management program has logged over 1,000 offensive odor complaints against Rumpke. The township nor health department has issued a single citation for odor violations in its history. The township refuses to take actions against Rumpke related to dozens of complaints for cracked foundations, walls, and driveways alleged to have been caused by the incessant and prolonged blasting associated with its newest expansion. Furthermore, the township refuses to enforce financial penalties against Rumpke for poor service issues as provided for in their trash-hauling contract.

By replacing Rajagopal with a friendlier option, either Unger or Ulrich, Rumpke has could cause to believe that the township will continue to permit these violations and it seeks to assure a vote against enacting the rulemaking powers of the county.

It won't work.

What Rumpke doesn't understand is that the power lies with the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. They have unilateral authority to act, with or without, the vote of the committee or the ratification of the townships and cities within the county jurisdiction. They have exclusive domain on rules created to rein in Rumpke's carte blanche landfill operations.

Regardless, Rumpke now has 2 trustees indebted to it for their positions on the board of trustees. Ipso facto, Rumpke controls Colerain Township.

They may as well call it, Rumpke Township.

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