Solid Waste Landfill Crisis

Abstract

This is a short, nontechnical case about a local official trying to site a landfill. Although written about Eastern Europe, the case might as well take place in the United States. The case primarily illustrates the role, skills, and patience required of public leaders who seek to resolve such issues. The case also illustrates problems communities and public managers face in the newly democratized countries of Central and Eastern Europe. By examining the story of a city government in Poland facing widespread community resistance to its landfill siting plans, students grapple with the notion of collective good vs. individual or neighborhood interests. Class discussion can focus on strategies for building community consensus around controversial issues, while analyzing the costs (to public leaders and institutions) of simply using government power to force community acquiescence. The case can be taught very effectively in one to two hours. It is suitable for U.S. or Eastern European audiences and would be excellent in a basic course about consensus building or environmental policy and management.

This case was written by Piotr Obraniak, who teaches negotiation and public relations at the Higher School of Local Government and Public Administration in Lodz, Poland. His other activities include working with Polish government agencies to design recruitment and training programs for public officials. Professor Obraniak researched and wrote this case as part of the 1994-95 Case Project for Central and Eastern Europe, a faculty and curriculum development initiative conducted by the Cascade Center for Public Service and funded by the Institute for Local Government and Public Service in Budapest, Hungary. The case was supervised by John Boehrer and Jon Brock.

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