IT'S NOT AS visible as the tons of glass and metal that are heaved, stashed, trashed or otherwise jettisoned throughout the city, but there's a lot of cash being spread around these days by big-industry groups opposing the litter reduction/bottle deposit bill that will be on the city ballot in November. At last official count, organizations that thrive on the throwaway container business had raised about $1 million to attract support for their efforts to defeat the bottle bill. Twenty million nickels is a hefty deposit, pitted against less than $50,000 raised by the committee seeking votes for the measure. The result is an advertising blitz of exaggerated claims, along with payments to well-connected "consultants" to push the industry line. Will money talk louder than common sense?

Opponents of Initiative 28, organized under the deceptive name of "Clean Capital City Committee," have been picking their beneficiaries carefully. Much of their money has been going to a variety of politically active people, groups and churches in the District -- including relatives of at least two D.C. Council members. Harry Thomas Jr., son of council member Harry Thomas, and Daria Winter, member of the D.C. Democratic Committee and daughter-in-law of council member Nadine Winter, have received money for services to the campaign; and $58,000 was paid to a firm partially owned by Phinis Jones, a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, before the firm was dismissed, according to the industry group.

There's nothing wrong with buying the services of politically prominent people, or with peppering the city with propaganda. But there's also nothing wrong with rejecting this hype, which would have D.C. residents believe that passage of the bottle bill would bring vermin, higher prices and terrible shopping burdens for city dwellers. Smart shoppers know better. So do taxpayers whose dollars are used to collect trash and clean up litter, as well as those who are ready to see what a deposit law might accomplish. Their votes will be essential if Initiative 28 is to be given a chance.