Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Mayor Peyton Desperate

Mayor Peyton is desperately trying to ensure his buddy, Paul Harden, gets the proposed no-bid contract for Waste Management to run the Trail Ridge Landfill through City Council.  The proposed contract expands the current landfill considerably and would provide for Waste Management to run the entire site.  Now the Mayor is saying, and more importantly agreeing with Paul Harden and Waste Management, that the contract is just an extension of the existing contract to run the Trail Ridge Landfill – and therefore, it can’t be put out to bid.

HA!  What a joke.

At least as recently as October 18, 2008 (and for many years before that), it was and has been the City’s position that the current landfill agreement only covers 144 acres and expires in 5-7 years when the 144 acres is filled.  [Times-Union]

I guess Peyton will do anything for his good buddy Paul Harden.  Even to the point of flipping his position to avoid having to put the contract out to bid and sending out letters in his own defense to anyone who has ever written him.

What does the Mayor take us citizens and City Council members for?  A bunch of dummies?


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

Weighing in on Waste Management no bid contract – again

The bill for the no-bid contract to run Trail Ridge Landfill that the Mayor wants to give to his buddy Paul Harden and Waste Management will be up for consideration in Council Committees next week.  Jacksonville Politics has posted on this issue numerous times and why it is such a bad deal for the citizens of Jacksonville (just search Waste Management in the upper right hand side our page) as has the Times Union and Ron Littlepage.  Littlepage takes on the City Council, the Mayor, and Paul Harden again today in his column.

According to Littlepage

A poll conducted earlier this week asked respondents if they approved of Mayor John Peyton’s plan to award the lucrative, 35-year contract to Waste Management without allowing other companies to submit bids that some argue could save taxpayers at least $100 million.

The answer wasn’t just no. It was heck no.

Eighty-seven percent said the bid process should be open to other companies.

In the polling business, that’s a huge number.

The poll also contained a message for City Council members who might be considering future political careers.

Asked if they would vote for a council member in a future election if that council member supported the no-bid contract, 60 percent of the respondents said they would be less likely to vote for that candidate.

Read the rest of the column here.

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

Quick….name 2 City Council members

According to the JCCI report released yesterday, only 27% of Jacksonville’s citizens can name 2 City Council members.  And only 26% of them feel like they can influence local government.  Just another testament to the average citizen’s view that many of our Council members live in ivory towers and the citizens’ feelings of powerlessness to change Jacksonville for the better. 

Of course, what else would one expect when citizens continually see special deals given for special friends over the past year or so – like Scott Teagle (ProLogics) and Sheila Green (GreenBean Corporate Solutions) – and the grand jury investigations into both the Mayor’s administration and Council members. 

The sad part is that even after all of that, people like the Mayor’s good buddy, Paul Harden, continue to get special deals – i.e., the Waste Management no-bid contract to run Trail Ridge Landfill that is up for City Council consideration next week.  Couple that with the Jacksonville Journey requirements that eliminate most small non-profits from participating and the City’s high crime rate and you have one big depressing mess.

But our government was not the only low point in the report.

According to the Times Union,

– Only 31 percent of Duval County residents said they were satisfied with public education, a drop from 34 percent in 2007.

– Building permits throughout Northeast Florida dropped by about 3,000 in 2007 – even before the housing market tanked.

– The number of food stamp recipients in Northeast Florida grew by about 13,000 in 2008.

– Only 50 percent of Duval County residents feel safe walking alone at night in their neighborhoods, down from 58 percent in 2007.

– Sixty percent of Duval County residents reported racism is a problem.

– In Duval County, there were 334 newly reported HIV cases, 240 of them in the black population, and a more than 10 percent jump in documented sexually transmitted diseases throughout Northeast Florida.

There were some bright spots in the report, however.

– More third- and 10th-graders are reading at grade level, according to FCAT scores released by the state in May.

– Northeast Florida’s graduation rate increased by about 3 percent as the Duval County dropout rate decreased by about 2 percent.

– Cargo tonnage showed slight growth at Jaxport.

– Cigarette sales figures, compared to the population, show a drop of 10 packs per person throughout Northeast Florida.

– There was a slight decline in lung cancer deaths.

Here’s the complete report.

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

How to get on the City’s bid list

I notice people keep finding Jacksonville Politics’ website because they are searching the Internet using terms such as “how to get on bid list for landfills” or the like.  You know, that could be funny, if it weren’t so sad.

So, here’s the sad news for these folks:  there will be no bid list to get on for the City of Jacksonville’s Trail Ridge landfill, if the Mayor’s proposed no-bid contract with Waste Management to operate the Trail Ridge Landfill is approved by City Council.  The bill (2008-538) is on the assigned City Council committees’ agendas for hearings the first week of February.

Guess it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a local company, as long as you’re connected to Paul Harden.

P.S. We’ve posted on this travesty so many times, it’s easier for you to put “Waste Management” in the search box in the upper right hand corner of our page or click on the words “Waste Management” in this post, than it is for us to post all the links.

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

Another no bid contract to be considered by City Council

I was looking through the legislation to be introduced at the City Council meeting this Tuesday night, when I happened upon 2009-33.  This proposed legislation will raise the legal fees paid to outside counsel for the BJP eminent domain projects from $195 per hour to $ 285 per hour for partners,  from $165 per hour to $230 per hour for associates, and from $75 per hour to $125 per hour for paralegals. 

Whenever I see contracts being amended like this, and it doesn’t mention who the parties involved are, it always makes me wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. I was also curious as to why the City didn’t put it out to bid.  Surely they could get a better price for legal fees than this, couldn’t they?  And how would the City know they couldn’t get a better deal, if they never put it out to bid in the first place.  It sort of smelled like the Waste Management no-bid contract that we’ve posted about several times.

So I took a little closer look at the original legislation (2001-460) that approved the hiring of outside counsel to handle the City’s eminent domain cases for BJP projects.  And I bet you’ll never guess who was one of the outside counsels  that were hired pursuant to the legislation…..Paul Harden. 

Why am I not surprised?

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

Waste Management no-bid contract to be considered in February

As reported by Sherry Hall from the Mayor’s Office during City Council’s Rules Committee agenda meeting, the Waste Management no-bid contract to operate Trail Ridge Landfill is likely to be ready for consideration by City Council the first cycle of February.  Of course, the Mayor and his good buddy, Paul Harden, have already agreed to it.  The only thing standing in the way of this bad idea being approved is City Council members with a spine.  Of course, Tom Ingram and his client, Republic Services, are still out there to try to block it as well.

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

A great start for Jaxpolitics thanks to our readers

With 2008 on its way out, everyone is doing a story on their top stories and/or their online numbers.  So we thought we would jump in as well.

Jaxpolitics  began on November 1st, as a site to capture our observations and musings on state and local politics.  In the short time since we began, site views have increased from just over 1,000 views for the month of November to over 4,000 views so far this December (those numbers do not include views by the authors of the site).  That’s quite a feat considering we’re not linked to the Times Union, nor are we linked to Sayfie Review  (although, in all honesty, we would like to be….lol).

Definitely, the top story on Jaxpolitics since the inception of our site has been the election of Matt Shirk as Public Defender – with all of our Shirk posts added together getting nearly 900 views in the month of December alone.  Our November 27th post on considering changing Florida’s system of electing the public defender and state attorney, received over 250 views and is the most viewed post for Jaxpolitics.    Our next highest views went to our Mayport Cruise Terminal and Waste Management no bid contract posts.

On behalf of Jaxpolitics, we want to thank you for visiting our site and for providing comments and insight.  It’s been a great ride so far, and we hope it continues.  All of us here at Jaxpolitics wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , ,

Waste Management no bid contract: So who cares anyway?

So who cares about the Waste Management no-bid 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 contract.

1.  The Council Auditor has already said the rate the City has proposed to pay Waste Management is too high. In addition, the Council Auditor says the proposed contract extension should have more controls to ensure Waste Management doesn’t earn too much off the taxpayers. Here are the rest of the concerns the Council Auditor had.

So who cares anyway?

We all should care how the City government spends our hard-earned taxpaying dollars – especially if they are paying out more than necessary.  Those are our tax dollars -$14 million of them over the life of the contract that the Council Auditor says shouldn’t be paid to Waste Management.

2.  As has been pointed out previously in the press, the Waste Management contract does not meet City’s requirements for an exemption from the procurement process, and should be put out to bid.

So who cares anyway?

We all should care when our City officials do not follow the laws and rules that are in place. In addition, following the laws and rules by putting the contract out to bid could result in greater savings of taxpayer dollars.

3.  As far as Waste Management living up to what they say they will do (as Renfro states in his post), I note that in paragraph 3.7.1 of the original contract (at the bottom of page 42), the City disputes $1.1 million in costs incurred by Waste Management for a landfill gas field project – the original contract language says the cost were incurred without the City’s permission. In addition, the City is agreeing to dismiss any lawsuits they have against Waste Management for noise. And let’s not forget that in 2003, Waste Management agreed to repay the City $888,000 (the amount the City would have received in tipping fees) for disposing of trash in Georgia rather than the Trail Ridge Landfill in violation of its contract with the City.

So who cares anyway?

We all should care that the City wants to enter into a no-bid contract with a company that evidently does things without the City’s permission, a company that evidently refuses to abide by City laws and regulations to the extent that the City is compelled to file lawsuits against them, a company that evidently thinks nothing of violating contracts it has with the City.

So in answer to your question, Renfro: “So who cares anyway?”

I do.  In fact, we all should.

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

You think Illinois is bad?

With House Speaker Ray Sansom’s sweetheart deal, House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands’ donations for legislative committee appointments, an ongoing FBI investigation into Jaxport, a grand jury investigation into the Duval County Courthouse, Mayor John Peyton’s no-bid contracts to friends Scott Teagle (Prologic), Shelia Green (GreenBean Corporate Solutions), and Paul Harden (Waste Management), and certain City Council members inability to comply with the Sunshine Laws, this seemed like a timely and appropriate article from the St. Pete Times:

Florida wears U.S. corruption crown

By Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

Tired of seeing Florida constantly at the bottom of national rankings? Take heart. The Department of Justice says we’re No. 1 in one category: corruption.

Compiling federal corruption convictions over the past decade, Florida topped every other state with 824 convictions of local, state and federal officials — even Rod Blagojevich’s Illinois and even Louisiana, where politicians are said to be so crooked they are screwed into the ground at burial.

Of course, Florida is more populous than all but three other states, so perhaps a fairer way to look at it would be per capita corruption cases. In that case, North Dakota can take a bow as numero uno, and Florida ranks a mere 11th. Rest assured we have strong potential to move up the list.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mayor evidently just doesn’t get it

Council President Ronnie Fussell held his closed door meeting with City officials and the Council Auditor’s Office  yesterday on the no-bid Waste Management contract to operate the Trail Ridge Landfill.   The Council Auditor has made 5 recommendations for changes to the contract:

– Lower the base rate per paid to Waste Management from $10.21 to $9.76 per ton of trash moved. Auditors said that the city’s agreement to provide fuel for landfill operations should have resulted in the lower amount. The difference between the two amounts is about $14 million over the life of the contract.
– The annual rate increase should be capped at 3.55 percent. As it is now, the per-ton fee paid to Waste Management will increase annually at a rate equal to 70 percent of inflation. Auditors worried that one year of abnormal inflation would drastically and unfairly cause the contract amounts to skyrocket.
– Require a periodic review of the contract, perhaps every five to 10 years, to allow rates to be adjusted lower if Waste Management is making excessive profits.
– Delete the purchase option that allows Waste Management to buy the landfill and a new site from the city if the contract is terminated without cause. Auditors say these assets are too valuable to be sold for any reason.
– Delete the requirement for the city to pay Waste Management for recyclable materials removed from the site. Auditors said it was unfair for the city to pay for trash that isn’t actually dumped into the landfill.

Council President Fussell is on record saying the contract should be put out to bid.  After the meeting yesterday, he says he still hasn’t seen anything that would make him change his mind.

The Mayor’s Office response?  They are going to meet with the Council Auditor to show them where they are wrong. lol.   Well, at least Paul Harden doesn’t have the Council Auditor in is hip pocket.

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

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