Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Does City Council have a spine?

Over the past several months, the Mayor and his administration have continued to negotiate a no-bid contract to operate Trail Ridge Landfill with Waste Management and their representative, Paul Harden (now a close advisor to the Mayor).  These controversial negotiations continue despite the past ethical debacles over no bid contacts to Peyton’s friends – Scott Teagle (ProLogic) and Sheila Green (GreenBean Corporate Solutions) – and the Mayor’s supposed ethics reform

While other companies have expressed an interest in operating the Trail Ridge landfill and have asserted they can do it for less money than what is being negotiated with Waste Management, and City Council continues to defer any hearings on the bill until the Council Auditor has the final proposed contract for review, the Mayor and his folks continue down the controversial path of a no-bid contract.

And why?  They are “quaking” at Paul Harden’s threat that Waste Management will file suit and litigate the right to operate the landfill until the cows come home.  Waste Management’s argument is that their original contract covered operation of the entire site, not just the current area permitted as a landfill.

At least one person, Dan Richardson, a former General Counsel of the City who had been retained by Republic Services to potentially fight the no bid contract, disputes Waste Management’s assertion and is on the record stating that the original contract only covered the area currently permitted.  And Dan should know – he was the City’s General Counsel when the original contract with Waste Management to operate Trail Ridge was negotiated.  

The Trail Ridge fiasco just continues to demonstrate everything that is wrong with Mayor Peyton and his administration:  an alleged illegal contract. squirrelly manuevering by the General Counsel to unceremoniously withdraw the waiver granted to Dan Richardson (so that he could represent Republic Services), and dogged determination to pursue a wrong-headed and potentially costly course of action despite City Council members’ admonition and numerous Ron Littlepage and Times Union editorials (here, here, here, here, and here) warning against the no bid contract.

The question now comes down to this:  Does City Council have a spine to stand up and just say no? Or will they continue to blindly follow Peyton down the garden path of giving money and contracts to his friends?


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