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More bad press for Waste Management no-bid contract

Is it just me, or does the Mayor’s Office just not get it? 

Repeated bad press has appeared about the folly of entering into a no-bid contract with Waste Management to operate the Trail Ridge landfill, yet the Mayor presses on.  This time, Folio has written a piece on this bad idea – wondering what’s behind this controversial contract and raising some new issues.

Is it just about friends and money?  Folio seems to think so.  Well, so much for the Mayor’s promise in August of 2007 to raise the bar after the Teagle and GreenBean mess that was the subject of a State Attorney investigation and even an FBI inquiry. But Folio raises new issues as well.

Republic Services would like the opportunity to bid on the landfill contract and has hired an attorney to represent them.  If you recall, Republic tried to hire the City’s former general counsel, Dan Richardson, who had negotiated the original landfill contract with Waste Management.  But the General Counsel’s Office pulled the  waiver they had given Mr. Richardson, just as soon as he was quoted saying that it was not the intent of the original contract with Waste Management to cover the entire Trail Ridge site, only the operating portion of the landfill.  Republic has now hired Tom Ingram, a well respected attorney at the law firm of Pappas Metcalf Jenks & Miller.

According to the Folio article, Mr. Ingram has raised new concerns surrounding the no-bid contract.  His concerns center around the Mayor’s attempted use of an exemption clause found in the City’s procurement code.  The exemption allows the city to waive bid requirements IF a piece of legislation authorizes the waiver AND sets aside money for the contract.  It seems that General Counsel’s Office put together a two page list of contracts where the City has availed itself of the exemption provision of the procurement code.  Every single one of the contracts on this two-page list appropriated money, unlike the proposed no-bid contract for the Trail Ridge landfill. 

Mr. Ingram’s position is that without appropriating money, the no bid contract doesn’t qualify for the exemption in the procurement code.  It’s entirely another matter as to whether or not the exemption is good public policy in the first place. I (and many others) would argue that it isn’t.  Folio asserts that the city’s use of the exemption is the sort of fact that Mr. Ingram is likely to bring up in his client’s lawsuit against the city, should the City Council approve the no-bid contract. 

Mr. Ingram also questions whether the City can legally waive the purchasing code in order to award the contract to a specific contractor.  It seems that the First District Court of Appeals ruled in 1992 that the city can’t waive code in order to help a particular recipient get a contract.  In that case, the court ruled such a waiver “would render the competitive bidding process a nullity.”  Interestingly enough, the case in which this ruling was made stemmed from a lawsuit over the City’s original contract with Waste Management, according to Folio.

As previously noted, Council President Fussell has scheduled a meeting on December 4th with city representatives to discuss the no-bid contract.   Unfortunately, the meeting is not public since apparently no other council members were invited. 

Business as usual for this administration.

A final question to ponder: 

How many of us would be okay with the City awarding a contract to a company to build the courthouse (a project half the price of the landfill agreement) without putting it out to bid?

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Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Sam Williams says:

    I think the question should be what would happen if our current waste servicer leaves. Will Republic be better? Will our trash get picked up on time? Will we have to worry about debris lining our street? I haven’t even thought about my trash until this issue has come up. Which is the way I want it. Yes, we take for granted that we can put our garbage in the can and not worry about where it goes, but that is one of the great things about living in America. If i have to add trash to my worry list then there’s a real problem with our system. I say let’s just keep it the way it is. Quit trying to rock the boat.

  2. spidey says:

    You must not be from around Jacksonville, Sam, or you would know that Waste Management does not pick up residential trash. That is handled by the City of Jacksonville’s Solid Waste folks, Advanced Waste, Waste Pro, and Southland Waste. That information is confirmed on the City of Jacksonville’s website.

    Now Waste Management may have commerical accounts – you know, the dumpsters behind the shopping malls and strip centers. But that’s a private enterprise that has nothing to do with the City’s contract to operate the Trail Ridge Landfill.

    So no worries about trash pickup or rocking the boat here. Why not let Republic have a try at running the landfill? Maybe they can run it cheaper than Waste Management…they have said they can. But how will you ever find out if you don’t put the contract out to bid?

    By the way, there is no love lost between Waste Managmement and Republic Services. Just this past summer, Waste Management made several hostile bids to buy out Republic and break up a merger they had with Allied Waste. Republic’s Board of Directors rejected them each time and confirmed the company’s merger with Allied Waste, making them at least equal in size to Waste Management. Here’s the confirmation for that: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/08/11/daily72.html?ana=from_rss

  3. Sam Williams says:

    You hit my point exactly. I don’t know who picks up the trash. And I would like to not have to worry about it. The luxury of paying taxes is that my garbage is picked up. I don’t have to worry about it. It’s a service that all municipalies should provide. It’s like flushing the toilet. Does one really care who runs the waste water treatment plant? Personally, I don’t. I just want it to work.

    One of the problems people, government, businesses have is the idea of change is good. It’s not necessarily so. What’s wrong with the way things currently stand? And why should we punish a company when all they have done is their job.

    I never thought I would be having a discussion about my trash, but there’s a first for everything.

  4. g8rluvr says:

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with Waste Management continuing to run Trail Ridge. But they need to follow the legal process in the Ordinance Code. Since as Mr. Ingram has pointed out the contract does not meet the exemption requirements in the Ordinance Code,that means the contract should go out to bid.

  5. Sam Williams says:

    Let’s say the contract went out to bid and another company got the bid. The price might be cheaper. They might do a better job. What if they don’t do a better job? What are we willing to sacrifice to make test this question? What do we know about Waste Management? What do we know about Republic? The questions we should be asking ourselves is why do we want change for the sake a change? And what is wrong with what we have?

    The Mayor is catching a lot of flack on this issue. Whether you voted for him or not, he’s still the mayor. Let’s allow him to do his job.

  6. gatorblue says:

    The Mayor is catching a lot of flack on this issue. Whether you voted for him or not, he’s still the mayor. Let’s allow him to do his job.

    Let’s say the contract went out to bid and another company got the bid. The price might be cheaper. They might do a better job. What if they don’t do a better job? What are we willing to sacrifice to make test this question? What do we know about Waste Management? What do we know about Republic? The questions we should be asking ourselves is why do we want change for the sake a change? And what is wrong with what we have?

    The Mayor is catching a lot of flack on this issue. Whether you voted for him or not, he’s still the mayor. Let’s allow him to do his job.

    So, is it the Mayor’s job to award no-bid contracts? Somehow I must have missed that in his job description.

    This isn’t about who voted for the Mayor or not. This is about the Mayor trying to force thru an exception to the City’s Procurement Process and award a contract to an ally (Waste Management is represented by a close ally of the Mayor’s) instead of adhering to the standard norms that are required in the City ordinance.

    Is this Jacksonville or Chicago?

  7. Renfro says:

    I might be a little late to the game, but if I remember right back in 1991 Waste Management saved out butt when it came to the trash problem Jacksonville was facing. I’ve been a resident of Jacksonville for over 25 years and never once has Waste Management not lived up to what they said they were going to do. If I am right, and the city decides to go with another company to operate the landfill, then the city is on the hook for $300 million in closure fees. I think that is worth keeping the contract where it is. Who really cares about this any way…just the waste companies.

  8. […] contract anyway other than the waste companies? That’s a question that was recently posed here by Renfro, a commenter to one of our previous posts about the Waste Management no-bid […]

  9. steven says:

    IT COMES DOWN TO WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. AND I THINK WE ALL KNOW IT IS TO PUT IT OUT FOR BID. THERE IS TO MUCH CORRUPTION IN DUVAL, AND CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR ARE NOT GOING TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT, THE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE HEARD.

  10. Philip says:

    WHAT….????

    MY BACKSIDE….!?!

    Look out TAXPAYERS…!?!

    Has ANYONE informed you of the PLASMA Converters from http://www.startech.net that will CLOSE Landfills…!?!?!

    Check out where these are being installed or CALL the COmpany…!!!!

    This is nothing but a RUSH to lock in Campaign STASH FUNDS at our expense…!!!

    OUR Trash is ENERGY to be SOLD back through the POWER GRID to generate TAX REVENUE…!!!

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