Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Public weighs in on proposed Waste Management no-bid contract

On January 29th, Mayor Peyton spammed Jacksonville with an E-mail trying to garner support for his proposed no-bid contract for Waste Management to run Trail Ridge Landfill.  I thought it would be interesting to examine the public’s response since the Mayor sent out his letter. 

So today, we examine Council President Ronnie Fussell’s E-mail Inbox.  Posted after the break are the E-mails the Council President has received both against and in support of the no-bid contract since January 29th.  I have abbreviated people’s names to just their initials, but if you wish to verify the accuracy of the quotes below, you can access Council President Fussell’s E-mail from City Council’s website at www.coj.net.

Dear Mr. Fussell,

 As a long-time citizen of this community, I am concerned with Mayor Peyton’s desire to give a 35 year no-bid contract to Waste Management.  The City’s own procurement policy is to obtain bids for most goods and services and there should be no exception here.  I understand that you have also expressed this concern to the mayor and I applaud you for doing so. 
Although there may be short-term benefits to an agreement with Waste Management, including fee reductions and landfill closure fee savings,  I would question the long-term benefits of a no-bid contract, especially when that term is 35 years.  That is an eternity in this high-tech world and the citizens of Jacksonville should not be encumbered by a contract limited to today’s technology.  We also should not be held hostage by Waste Management’s threats of litigation.
I would ask that you and the other council members listen to your constituents and vote to put this contract out to bid.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter.
Sincerely yours,


Dear Mayor Peyton and Councilmen Fussell and Shad,

As a concerned taxpayer, citizen, & member of the Jacksonville Ethics Commission, I am opposed to the no bid contract being discussed for Waste Management.  I question the transparency of a proposal that cannot allow opposing views to be voiced to the public.  I too would  appreciate the same opportunity afforded to Ms. Wiles– to be “walked through the whole business deal” including the white board clear picture of why we should support the contract extension with Waste Management.  How can citizens fully understand such a complicated and enormously expensive proposal without having full disclosure of Both Sides of the issue.

Mayor Peyton, your actions and inability to tolerate opposing views or consider competitive bids on this matter leads me to question your credibility on this issue specifically & on transparency in general. 



It’s really that simple and it’s the law. Just put the contract out for bid.

What’s the harm? There is none…that’s the crime in all of this.

We elected you to do the right, best things for this city. By simply rubber-stamping this contract with no scrutiny or bidding, you’re not doing the work of the people — except for maybe a handful of influential people who are frightening others away from the lawful, appropriate review and scrutiny of this deal.

Remember the sunshine. That’s where ALL of this needs to be. Vote to open the contract for bid. If Waste Management wins legitimately, congratulations. If someone else does, congratulations them. 

Say yes to civic responsibility and accountability with OUR tax money — vote to OPEN THE BIDDING PROCESS.


Trust in government at all levels is near zero. This includes Jacksonville and the growing mystery as to why the Waste Management landfill contract is not being put out to competitive bid.
As reported in the TU, Mafia like strong arm tactics are being used by the Mayor to smother dissent over this issue. Very unusual tactic, even for a politician.  Where is the City’s General Counsel office on this issue now.  At one point, I thought they argued that the City must award the contract to Waste Management – if so, what legal incompetence was involved for that to happen. 
With the Shipyards, Courthouse and IT contract debacles in mind, the City Council must demand a competitive bid for this huge contract which, on an annual basis, represents 2% of the City budget by itself.  Even if it turns out the Mayor is right on this, requiring a competitive bid process will help restore some level of credibility to local government.
PS- if anyone has a copy of the Mayor’s blast e mail on this topic to help clarify his position, it would be appreciated.
Dear Council Members:

I am contacting you in reference to the current issue with Waste Management, and the fact that Mayor Peyton wants to push through a no-bid contract. This goes against city policy of requiring bids for contracts.

This would award Waste Management a $750-million contract to Waste Management to operate the city’s Trail Ridge Landfill for the next 40 years. How in good judgment, could anyone find this acceptable?  How is it reasonable to lock the city into such a contract, and not accept bids from other companies? How can anyone accept that this is the best deal, when other bids have not been taken? It is known that at least one other company wants to bid for the contract.

Technology is evolving that will make landfills obsolete, and approving this no-bid contract, would leave Jacksonville without reasonable alternatives. Companies are already building plants that can convert up to 90 percent of municipal waste into ethanol. That technology will certainly be perfected before this contract would run out. Trail Ridge is not expected to reach its capacity for another 7 years,which allows a long time in which other bids can be taken and the best priced contract awarded.

There is also a great concern that the mayor has been pushing much too hard for this no-bid contract to be approved, one should ask them self, why?  If this is such a wonderful deal, then why does the mayor fear allowing the appropriate procedure to be followed and accept bids? If this proposed contract with Waste Management, (though as ridiculous as it is with a 35 year deal) turns out to be the most cost effective, then so be it…but how could anyone make a solid and educated decision, when there are no bids to base it upon.

As city council members, you have been elected to serve the citizens of Jacksonville, and it is your responsibility to do so in our best interest. To approve such a contract, without accepting bids from other companies is not in our best interest. There is an easy resolution, do the right thing and allow for open bidding of this contract.

Thank you,

Mr. Fussel,

I would like to get a copy of the proposed Trail Ridge landfill contract 
under consideration by the City Council.  This contract has been in the 
news recently since it could be approved without a bidding process.  Is 
it one of the files at 

Thank you for your assistance. 


I encourage you and the entire city council to vote no on extending the citys garbage contract with WASTE MANAGEMENT for 35 years.

There is no way you can predict what will be availiable for garbage disposal in the next 35 years.The contract should be put out for bid to see if there is a better deal for the city from another waste disposal company.Whatever contract that the city sign with any disposal company sould be for less than 35 years.I suggest the contract that the city sign should renegotiated every 10 years.
The city does not have a good history of past contracts that have not worked out in the best interest for the city or the taxpayers.
Mayor Peyton and Council President Fussel,
Lost in the debate over the selection of a landfill vendor is why the city is investing $750M in landfills at all. Two key points:
1. The city should invest money in reducing waste which would save landfill costs in the long run. The city could partner with an organization like RecycleBank (recyclebank.com) which offers incentives for recycling, to increase recycling rates….recycle more types of plastic (instead of just 1 and 2) and more types of paper (like paperboard)…hold more e-waste and hazardous waste collection events and have more permanent sites to drop off hazardous waste…charge based on the amount of garbage people throw out (people would buy city garbage bags, which would be the only thing the city collects)…pick up food waste along with yard waste, make compost, and sell it or give it to residents for free (as San Francisco does)…recycle plastic diapers like Santa Clarita, CA…recruit a company like Terracycle, that turns garbage into saleable products, to open a plant here (thus adding jobs as well)…these are just a few examples, the point is $750M is way too much to invest in a landfill for a city our size with so many other pressing needs. Our priorities are way out of place. Let’s invest in reducing garbage, recycling (and maybe profiting from it), and our community instead of just a huge garbage pit.
2. The city should manage the landfill inhouse. This would reduce the major conflicts of interest, lobbying, threats of lawsuits, and huge controversies over this issue while being cheaper overall, since the city doesn’t have expenses over and above the cost of the service like a private contractor does (examples include taxes, lobbyists fees, and profits to private investors). Many cities operate their own landfills.

Thank you for your time,


bid the contract. no one doing business with the coj should get a free ride for 35yrs





It has always been my experience that if an organization contructs its contract proposal properly so as to ensure a very comprehensive set of services it expects and then puts the proposal out for bid that the best price will be achieved.  In dealing with public services I, as a public citizen, would expect my representative government to follow such a bidding process.  Yes, I know that the lowest bidder is not always the best to be awarded the contract but neither is the highest bidder.  In accepting bids the contracting party should research the prospective bidders to determine their performance track record.  Those that do not come up to standard should not be allowed to submit a bid. 

In conclusion, I personally think the contract for the landfill operation should be placed out for bid using the accepted procedure outlined above.


Keep Waste Management – If you get someone cheaper, well it will reflect on the services 

They do a great job!



Mayor –
I disagree strongly with your position.  It flies in the face of standard, ethical contracting practices.  It smells so much of a “sweetheart” deal with your buddy that any argument you make is ludicrous.
I especially object to your characterization of the opponents to your sweetheart deal as follows: “Opponents of this deal have chosen to focus on the politics and personalities of this debate, rather than the undeniable financial benefits to the taxpayer.”  Boy, you sure have a lot of nerve!  Couldn’t it be that opponents such as myself have some legitemate concerns and valid reasons?
You should be ashamed to try to shove this bad deal down our throats!


Trail Ridge

Stay the course on this issue, please.   



The very essence of government in the sunshine is to provide the tax paying residents with an open view of government interactions.  To not put a contract of this magnitude out for bid is to insure that the current status quo is never challenged to do better, for less money in a competitive business environment.

Additionally, I have never heard of any company or enterprise giving any business enterprise a publicly financed contract lasting 35 years.  This would seemingly lock you into a long term relationship that could not be changed given any number of circumstances; market changes, technology advances (perhaps by a competitor), future financial constraints, changing demand, etc.

Contracts can be framed in order to avoid getting just the cheapest entity to prevail and instead wording to not compromise the quality and experience of those companies responding.

This landfill contract should absolutely be an RFP to keep the City on the cutting edge of technology while demanding current best practices and competent stewardship of taxpayer dollars.


landfill bid

I am a concerned citizen. Will someone please tell me simply and succinctly the opposition to having the landfill contract put up for bid? Thank you


Mr Fussell,

Thank you for being in the forefront of demanding full disclosure and discussion regarding waste disposal.  No doubt you are bombarded with stuff, but I thought you might find the attached communication interesting.  I probably agree with Ron less frequently than I agree, but am grateful that he is airing this issue.



—– Forwarded Message —-

Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 4:39:57 PM
Subject: Waste mismanagement


     You’re right on keeping the focus on the irregular Waste Management contract proposal.  Thank you.  I know a bit about local government and also about the engineering of waste disposal.  Jacksonville, like most cities/counties, is in the stone age regarding this technology.  This is their sad fate since they have no ability to establish capital fund accounts for future projects.  These days taxpayers are unlikely to support bond issues because they simply don’t believe public officials are telling them the truth.  Enter smoke and mirrors stuff!
     It turns out that there is much modern technology coming forward to deal creatively with garbage.  Only one of those is the production of ethanol and such from waste.  Higher tech stuff is out there.  Is it possible that our leadership is not aware of the geoplasma project Jacoby Energy is building in St Lucie, FL??  A Jacoby company, Geoplasma, Inc. is building the $450M plant with their own $$$.  The technology was developed by NASA to deal with the intense heat conditions of reentry.  In the commercial application garbage or any semi-combustible waste is incinerated at super temperatures, producing very clean synthesized gas and very small residue.  The gas can be used directly in electric power generating turbines to feed the grid.  The minimal and non-toxic residue is useful as road building material.  The garbage evaporates 100%, thus eliminating the need and absurd cost of establishing, maintaining and remediating landfills.
     Jacksonville, in light of the huge financial commitment the politicians are hellbent to make, would be wise to be looking at a wiser way to commit the taxpayers $$$.  By the time this proposed contract comes to an end all cities/counties with progressive leadership will have done everything feasible to distance themselves from the outdated and wasteful technology Jacksonville seems locked into.
Good luck and best wishes,         

How can a no-bid contract possibly be justified?  Let’s look at what the marketplace has to offer!  PLEASE. 

A.W. and M.W.

Council Members,

Please vote for a competitive bid on the Trail Ridge/Waste Management Contract.

Thank you.

Best Regards,


Council President Fussell,

Mayor Peyton sent me an e-mail telling me all the wonderful things he had negotiated with the landfill contractor.  I told him to bid the contract–He does work for me!

Please get the e-mails sent to Mayor Peyton about the issue and use them to stop this waste of Taxpayer Assets.

This is a sweetheart deal and needs to be stopped.



Council President Fussell….I totaly support your position that the City of Jacksonville would be better served if the contract to manage the landfill was put out to bid.  I cannot understand the rational behind a 35 year contrat for any service that is provided to any city nationwide.  I understand the need to prepare for the future, but this is a bit too far for this type of service.  Please remain steadfast in your position on this issue.
Dear Mayor Peyton:
If the deal with Waste Management is so good, it should be able to withstand the rigors of competition.  As a former business person, you should appreciate the value of competitive bidding whereby the best deal for the customer is found by shopping around.  As you know, it is the taxpayers of Duval County who are the customers here and they should be getting the best deal which comes from healthy competition between rivals.  I’m not really sure why you are unwilling to allow your favored deal to be put to this test if it is truly in the best interests of the citizens of Duval County.  It seems there is an inordinate amount of time being spent trying to justify the no bid option when letting an RFP on the deal would be so much more transparent.  Again, if the Waste Management is the best deal, it seems to me it would win the day.

Thank you,


Bravo to you for opposing Peyton

We, all of us retiree club members and sister club members, are so proud of you for your opposition to Peyton’s deal with Waste Management. FAIR IS FAIR!!! ANY GOVERNMENTAL CONTRACT SHOULD BE PUT OUT FOR BIDS!!! Why is Peyton so set on this particular contract???? COULD DADDY HAVE A CONTRACT TO SUPPLY FUEL,ETC. OR A REAL ESTATE DEAL IN THE FUTURE???? Thank you for having a BACKBONE and standing up for what is RIGHT—ALL CONTRACTS NEED TO BE PUT OUT FOR BIDS!! IF THE COUNCIL MEMBERS DO NOT STAND UP AGAINST THIS OUTRAGE—WE WILL CERTAINLY STAND TOGETHER TO KICK THEM OUT OF OFFICE. WE ARE SICK OF BACK ROOM DEALS.



I feel that it is totally irresponsible to sign a 35-year, no-bid contract with any firm for any service.  Who has any idea what the future may bring in the waste-management field?  Certainly not politicians!  If the cost is reasonable, why should it not be put out for bids?  To commit the city to a contract for 35 years seems to be the height of folly.


I strongly recommend awarding the contract for the Trailridge Landfill Project to Waste Management.

1. They offer the latest advances in landfill technology.
2. They are dedicated environmental stewards.
3. Their renewable energy projects saves over 14 million barrels of  oil per year.
4. They recycle enough paper each year to save 14 million trees.
5. Their waste collections helps power over 1 million homes annually.
6. Their landfills provide over 17,000 acres of wildlife habitat.
7. They are well respected and number 1 in their field.
8..Most importantly it is the best economic opportunity for Jacksonville.   

If the Waste Management deal is such a great contract, it will hold up under competitive bidding. 



i am writing in protest of the “no bid” process for the landfill.   Why would you want a contract for the next 35 years? Technology is changing so fast, and we do not want to saddle  ourselves with outdated ways to dispose of waste. I am urging to put this out for bids!

As President of the council, you should believe in the Bidding process which is the normal way to do business.  My husband worked  for the JEA and I can tell you they had to bid on everything!  Stand 
Tall we are all counting on you!



The following is verbatim from my post to a Times-Union’s discussion on this

Submitted by waiting on Wed. 2/4/2009 at 9:23 pm

It seems that Mayor Peyton has something to hide. Why else would he be trying to suppress a competitive bid process?

Republic needs to put a bid on the public table, if they believe that they can do better than Waste Management. Mayor Peyton has forced this into an open bidding process, rather than a sealed bid process.

We have Waste Management’s offer; now let’s see Republic’s; and anyone else that wants to enter one. We have an opening bid of 750 million over a period of 35 years. (Which is too long a period.) Now let’s hear from the competition.

I am sure that Republic, and anyone else that is seriously interested, can offer a variety of pricing packages that they can stand behind, many of which could reach the same 35 year period. That is roughly 21.5 million per year for 35 years.

Build in incentives for extracting energy from the waste.


Mr. Fussel,

I would like to get a copy of the proposed Trail Ridge landfill contract under consideration by the City Council.  This contract has been in the news recently since it could be approved without a bidding process.  Is it one of the files at http://citycirc.coj.net/coj/COJbillDetail.asp?F=2008-0538\Substitutes

Thank you for your assistance.


Please bid the contract to operate the city’s landfill. How can you be certain, Mayor Peyton, that the price cannot be matched unless you bid it?


I can only think of one instance where awarding a contract directly to a company (without competitive bidding) would benefit anyone. The landfill contract needs to be opened up to the competitive bidding process or one would have to conclude that someone is getting a sweetheart deal and it isn’t the taxpayers.

We deserve the  best services for  least amount of  money.  

PLEASE VOTE TO ACCEPT THE CONTRACT WITH WASTE MGMT, unless you can guarantee a greater net savings.

I recieved a letter from Mayor Peyton and I concur with his findings.

As a business owner and land & building owner, I believe the BID process to be too costly.

Thanks for your service,


As a taxpayer, I endorse the proposed extension of the current contract


Mayor –

I disagree strongly with your position.  It flies in the face of standard, ethical contracting practices.  It smells so much of a “sweetheart” deal with your buddy that any argument you make is ludicrous.
I especially object to your characterization of the opponents to your sweetheart deal as follows: “Opponents of this deal have chosen to focus on the politics and personalities of this debate, rather than the undeniable financial benefits to the taxpayer.”  Boy, you sure have a lot of nerve!  Couldn’t it be that opponents such as myself have some legitemate concerns and valid reasons?
You should be ashamed to try to shove this bad deal down our throats!



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  1. […] Mr. Fussell’s e-mails from citizens, which was discussed here yesterday, is relatively polite, Mayor Peyton is taking quite a pounding over his dictatorial ambitions. […]

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