Monday, July 29, 2013

The Blade's blue bag blight

Why isn't this litter?

These bags are delivered every weekend and remain on sidewalks for a period of time before finally being disposed of.

Actually, 'delivered' is not correct. They are tossed from a vehicle and only make it to the pubic sidewalk or sometimes a couple of feet into a yard. Zoom in on the picture and you'll see where they tend to land.

Toledo Municipal Code 963.15, which mirrors state law, says this is illegal:

963.15. Littering from vehicles.

(a) No person, while the operator of or passenger in a vehicle, shall deposit litter upon any public place or private premises.

But Maggie, you say, it's The Blade, the local daily newspaper.

Except it's not. According to The Blade's web site, these blue bags are distributed only to homes that do NOT subscribe to The Blade, and they do NOT contain the newspaper. In fact, this is what is inside:

They're filled with flyers for various stores (most of which are available at the store when you walk in the door) and, in only one of the last 10 that I've received, some coupons. Pretty much, it's garbage unless you happen to *want* what is inside - and I don't.

If you're not a subscriber to the daily paper, why in the world would they insist upon littering your property with unsolicited ads? Or even think that you might want this blight? And apparently, from the number that litter the streets in our neighborhoods, there are a lot of non-subscribers.

I've called and asked to have this litter stopped only to be told that it isn't litter and while they'd pass along the request, it probably wouldn't stop.

And why isn't it considered litter by The Blade?

Because Toledo Municipal Code contains an exemption for newspapers under the handbill definition.

963.18. Handbills.

(a) Public Places.
No person shall deposit or unlawfully sell any handbill in or upon any public place. Provided, however, that it shall not be unlawful on any public place for any person to hand out or distribute without charge to the receiver, any handbill to any person willing to accept it.

(b) Private Premises.
No person shall deposit or unlawfully distribute any handbill in or upon private premises, except by handing or transmitting any such handbill directly to the occupant of such private premises. Provided, however, that in case of private premises which are not posted against the receiving of handbills or similar material, such person, unless requested by anyone upon such premises not to do so may securely place any such handbill in such a manner as to prevent such handbill from being deposited by the elements upon any public place or private premises, except mailboxes may not be so used when prohibited by federal postal law or regulations.

(1) Exemption for newspapers and political literature.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to distribution upon private premises only of newspapers or political literature; except that newspapers and political literature shall be placed in such a manner as to prevent their being carried or deposited by the elements upon any public place or private premises.

Except there isn't a newspaper in the packet.

So it appears this qualifies under the definition of litter, not handbills. It's tossed primarily upon the public sidewalks and sometimes onto private property from a vehicle and contains unsolicited advertisements that most people would consider the equivalent of junk mail, to be thrown away usually without even looking twice.

It seems like it violates the law - now all I need is a police officer to write the ticket.


Timothy W Higgins said...


As you probably know, subscription revenues nowhere approach the cost of producing a daily newspaper. Advertising revenues are the only thing that allow the Blade to deliver a product at the exorbitant prices they charge for the lousy market penetration they retain in their given market.

Realizing this some years back, many newspapers (including the Blade) added a TMC (Total Market Package) product as an additional revenue sources to compete with direct mail products that could deliver far greater market penetration.

Since these are not only delivered once a week only to non-subscribers, without news content, and could well be using an alternate carrier system of non-Blade employees (to control costs); this might make them an even more egregious code offense.

James said...

I've seen these blue bags delivered to vacant homes in my Toledo neighborhood. Now that's "market penetration" at it's finest!

Bonnie E said...

I actually was successful in stopping the delivery of these blue bags. For a few months. Now they have resumed. My initial contact was Dick Fuller at the Blade. It took several emails but they did stop...However, this morning there is the dreaded blue bag in our driveway again. Mr Fuller assures me delivery will, once again, cease. What a frustrating situation !

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