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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Carving out a niche for private enterprise

In this excerpt, Poole reflects on some of his political successes after he had established himself as a successful businessman, including leadership in at least one trade association. As he considers this position, he recalls the slow growth of privatization in a state that was reluctant to cede control of its business to outside interests.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Let me ask you this, two questions. One is did this acquaintanceship with Jim Hunt matter in a substantive way over the years to the businesses' fortunes or just it was a helpful thing in the background? LP: You know I guess, if I had to list it in the debits and credits, I have served as a resource to Governor Hunt to a much greater extent than I have, I've never--I don't recall asking him a favor. I have warned him about legislation that was really bad. I have tried to alert him that while you gain a lot of authority over garbage, it's one of those things that you've got to be careful what you wish for. Wishing yourself into a position of authority over garbage can have both its upside and downside. I've tried to offer some advice. I've served on a number of study commissions in the state. I served on North Carolina Energy Development Authority, which was to investigate ways to convert garbage into energy through incineration. I've got to turn to those three pieces of legislation. They became somewhat of a milestone for our national trade association. It came to light. I didn't think much about it, but the trade association thought that was absolutely wonderful. So I was elected to the board of directors of the trade association. Later elected to last vice chairman, they used a rotation system, last chair, fifth chair, and fourth chair. So anyway, and ultimately became the chairman of the NSWMA, which is National Solid Waste Management Association, which later during my reign really was changed to Environmental Industry Associations. It was completely reorganized. So I served for two years as the spokesman of a national trade association. That got me to Federal, to the Federal level. Actually I testified in both the House and the Senate on various environmental laws. During my term as chairman in the first year, as I recall, there were about 880 pieces of state legislation that were up for passage in the various state legislatures. It was a time of--this was 1991-92. It was a time of massive amounts of state legislation. Some of which were good and some of which were bad. Some of which were absolutely adverse to the private sector. In the early '90s the private sector was probably doing maybe sixty percent of the function on a national basis and about forty was still done by cities. The privatization movement was still continuing. The industry was still continuing to consolidate. In other words we started in business in 1970, there were about 1400 such companies as ours. So at some moment in time we were number 1400 in the pecking order. I'm not sure what year, but I think we made the top one hundred in '92 or '93.