In his debut book, Varnadore painstakingly documents, with all the rigor of an investigative journalist, the way in which his once thriving landfill business in Arkansas was decimated by politicized regulation. The author starts by describing the origin of his business, which, ironically, was created in response to a local politician’s request. Meeting a demand for more capacity, Varnadore’s landfill quickly flowered into a lucrative venture. As a mark of its burgeoning success, state representatives from Pennsylvania contacted Varnadore to begin sending their own trash to his landfill since they were unable to locate more dumping space in their own state. However, his expanding business threatened the monopoly another company, Waste Management, had on landfill prices, and then-Gov. Bill Clinton, a major recipient of campaign financing from that company, pushed new regulations that limited the amount of garbage any company could import into the state. This effectively ran Varnadore’s company into bankruptcy. Some of the anecdotes related are extraordinary; after Varnadore caught up to Gov. Clinton to plead his case, the future president experienced a meltdown: “ ‘You’re interrupting my day!’ He turned to me and screamed, not a yell but a scream, in my face as if he was having a temper tantrum. Clinton’s nose was less than an inch from my face and he was screaming, ‘You’re interrupting my day!’ ” Varnadore’s lawyers argued, to no avail, that such legislation was both unconstitutional and economically unwise; apparently, it even created serious ecological challenges since Waste Management was a less-than-green company. The author accurately describes this work as a “scrapbook” since it includes numerous photocopies of newspapers articles covering his travails, letters to and from political functionaries, and official documents that catalog both his financial and legal woes. While the story itself is too small in scope to appeal to every reader, the microcosmic lessons about the often craven nature of politics are compelling and transcend Varnadore’s pitiable plight.
A snapshot of political corruption, including a moral indictment of Clinton pre–White House.