The county has changed it’s opinion and now says the 2003 landfill contract is invalid. It appears the county would have to put the landfill contract out for bid, which would spur a lawsuit from Waste Management (WMI), before the judge would have jurisdiction to rule on the case, via the AAS.
State District Judge Burt Carnes, however, said Thursday that he probably has no jurisdiction in the matter.
Although county commissioners and other officials have said that the 2003 contract is valid, attorneys representing the county wrote the opposite in a revised version of its lawsuit against the company.
At issue is whether county commissioners erred in awarding a no-bid contract to Waste Management in 2003.
Carnes said Thursday during a pretrial hearing that he did not think he had jurisdiction over the issue because the conflict has not “ripened” into an actual court case.
Carnes asked why commissioners haven’t put the contract out to bid if they believe the 2003 contract is void. If Waste Management sued for breach of contract, he said, there would be sufficient conflict for him to rule on.
County Commissioner Ron Morrison, whose precinct includes the landfill, said the commissioners want the judge to decide because they’ve received conflicting legal advice. County attorneys told them the contract is valid, he said, but outside counsel hired by the commissioners â€” against the wishes of the county attorney â€” told the commissioners that the contract is void.
Putting the contract out to bid “may be what we have to do,” Morrison said. “But we didn’t know.”
None of the other county commissioners would comment Thursday on the validity of the landfill contract.
Carnes asked both parties to provide briefs by Oct. 26 to prove that there is a substantial controversy and not merely a hypothetical situation.
The judge is telling the county he can’t rule until the contract is broken. Morrison seems to be saying the county doesn’t want to break the contract until we know we can’t be sued, they want someone else to make the decision. Well Mr. Morrison, you and your four cohorts on the court we’re elected to make decisions like this. I’m sure you are all well aware of the people’s thinking on this.
Unfortunately this court has been tasked withe cleaning up several messes left by the previous court. Also unfortunate is the fact that they’re going to have to force a lawsuit to make sure the right thing is done. This is exactly why we have civil courts, to settle differences of opinion. It’s a tough decision, but it’s the right decision, and one that those on the court were elected to make. And if the people are for it than what could possibly be holding them back?