JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – More fireworks erupted at a special Jackson City Council meeting on Thursday when members voted to maintain the mayor’s state of emergency on trash pickups, but canceled a provision of the emergency ordinance that would have allowed him to hire Richard’s elimination.
The council initially voted to remove the mayor’s declaration of emergency, with the city attorney accepting the decision, saying the emergency no longer existed because an emergency contract was in place.
However, after council members realized that the decision would have allowed Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba to go ahead with hiring Richard to a one-year contract, the council voted narrowly to amend the order to remove references to Richard’s contract and vote again.
The modified version, which included keeping the current waste hauler in place for another year, was approved by a 4-3 vote.
Councilors Ashby Foote, Aaron Banks, Vernon Hartley and Kenneth Stokes voted in favor of the amended ordinance. Council members Virgi Lindsay, Angelique Lee and Brian Grizzell were opposed.
Banks said he wasn’t going to vote on an order that would allow Richard’s contract to go forward because he hadn’t seen the contract.
Lumumba signed an emergency declaration on garbage collection on February 10. He announced the statement a week later and said in it that he would use Richard for a year to provide emergency collection services.
The statement did not include a cost for that agreement, and the administration has yet to provide a copy of the contract or equal opportunity plan to council members.
WLBT filed an open registration request for a copy of the contract. However, the request has not yet been fulfilled.
“It’s irresponsible for me to blindly vote on an award that I don’t know what it will cost,” Banks said. “I can’t vote on numbers I can’t see.”
Banks also pointed out that declaring an emergency would set a bad precedent.
Before the mayor’s state of emergency was declared, the council twice rejected his offer to bring in Richard.
“What worries me is that the precedent is being set where the council vote can be circumvented by declaring an emergency,” he said.
Martin also pointed to precedent, saying the council agreed last September that only the mayor could make and negotiate contracts.
A memo from attorney Roy Campbell confirms Martin’s claims.
Recently, the board approved the appointment of independent counsel to determine if Martin had a conflict of interest in suggesting that the board approve Richard’s contract.
In a Feb. 10 memo, Campbell told the board that Martin “has demonstrated no conflict of interest.”
He also said that the city’s governing authorities consist of the mayor and council, but only the mayor can negotiate and recommend a contract for approval. Campbell went on to say that the council did not even have the authority to call on its own independent legal representation.
The banks also questioned whether the current provider would be better placed to provide emergency pickups, as they are already located here, already have trucks here and have already mobilized.
Jackson is currently in a six-month emergency deal with Waste Management. The city entered into the contract on September 30, after talks to bring in a new waste hauler broke down.
The deal expires March 31.
“We have a current supplier picking up waste at the moment. I think the emergency means you have trash piled up and piled up,” he said. “You made a contract with someone who has no trucks here, who has no building here and who has nothing right now, and the mayor says there is an emergency.”
Alvin Richard, the founder of New Orleans-based Richard’s Disposal, sent a letter to the city in January saying the board needed to approve the deal that month so he could step up when the Waste contract Management has expired.
Ward 3 Councilor Kenneth Stokes and Ward 5 Councilor Vernon Hartley, meanwhile, said they feared the mayor’s emergency order could lead to legal action.
In a Feb. 18 letter to the board, Waste Management attorney Chase Bryan said the company was willing to “pursue all available remedies” allowed by state law if the mayor continues to overturn the bidding process.
Requests for Proposals are Requests for Proposals. A Request for Proposals is issued by a city seeking professional services, such as waste transportation.
Jackson released a new Tender for Tenders in October. Three businesses responded to the request and were invited to submit proposals to provide once-weekly and twice-weekly pickups, with and without garbage carts.
Richard’s received the highest score for the twice-weekly option with carts. Waste Management received the second highest score in the proposal evaluation process.
Bryan said the mayor should have entered into negotiations with his client after the council turned down Richard’s.
“Mrs. Martin, throughout this process you have provided guidance and advice on the (legal) threat from Richard’s Disposal… My concern is that we have not heard any concerns of legal threat from any of the nation’s largest waste haulers, and an international waste hauler,” Hartley said. “Yet a company bidding out of Louisiana, which owns some of Louisiana’s waste, presents all types of legal harm to the town.”
Hartley was talking to the city attorney, Catoria Martin.
Martin told the board that Waste Management had no footing to stand on.
“The only cause of action for suppliers is a one-lose-supplier exceptions bill,” she said. “Waste management has not lost yet. So if you look at my legal advice posted there…in my opinion (Waste Management) has no claim against the city.
“If the board votes to authorize a contract with Richard’s Disposal, then Waste Management would have the right to appeal through an Exceptions Bill.”
Dr Safiya Omari, chief of staff to the mayor, said some council members were doing all they could to keep waste management in place.
“When you talk about affordability, the tender results showed Richard to be the lowest bidder. They won the auction. It’s a fact. You can shake your head, but it’s a fact,” she said. “The bottom line here is maybe you’re not trying to fight the mayor, but you’re trying to subvert the bidding process…the procurement process itself, which we went through, for which you received legal advice… so I don’t know of any other way to see this.
The next waste transportation contract would be for six years, with four one-year extensions. Over the life of the contract, Richard would cost about $12 million less than the next lowest bidder.
“You voted not to continue the emergency, then you realized it wouldn’t get you your way…which was to have Waste Management there. Then you made another amendment “, she added. “You understood that this amendment would not work … then you started to go through the document making changes.
The council approved the initial ordinance removing the state of emergency by a 4-1-2 vote. Banks and Hartley abstained, while Stokes voted against.
Banks then moved a motion to change the order, putting the emergency back in place and removing language related to Richard’s contract. The amendment and the revised decree were approved by 4 votes against 3.
Stokes attempted to question as Omari spoke.
“I have to. You keep talking and we’re fed up and fed up…I’m a city councilor. Nobody elected you for (expletive),” he said.
“Stop,” said Council Speaker Lindsay, banging her gavel. “Enough. Enough. We’re not going to do that.
“That’s the kind of disrespect…” Omari said.
“You talk to counselors like us boys,” Stokes said. “You were not elected.
“Stop. Please everyone,” Lindsay said. “This is not good for our city. It’s not good for anyone. »
Martin informed council that the vote amounted to recommending that the mayor opt for Waste Management over Richard. “The board has agreed through its minutes that (it) does not have the authority to negotiate contractual agreements,” she said, referring to the minutes of the board meeting of the September 30, 2021. “The mayor has full discretion over which supplier he can negotiate an emergency agreement with. He chose to negotiate with Richard’s Disposal.
After the meeting, Lindsay said she feared the vote would open the city up to potential litigation.
“The intent of the amendment made by Mr Banks today was to delete Richard’s disposal contract, an emergency contract signed by the Mayor, and to insert that we are using our current supplier during this period “, she said. “I’m going to have to get legal advice on what this all means and where we are.”
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