New No-Bid Contract For Landfill Ignores Citizens Concerns

Posted in Take Action, Landfill, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Williamson County at 10:21 am by wcnews

The draft contract released last week by the county has now had time to be perused by the groups opposing, the now years long negotiations, of a new landfill contract. An analysis of the new draft contract and a list of 14 key problems with the new contract can be found here.

On Tuesday, July 31, 2007, Williamson County posted a draft Operating Contract with Waste Management for the Wilco landfill. In response to the recent pressure on the county in favor of a 30-day period for the public to review the contract, the county provided half a loaf, allowing about 13 days before the actual vote (on August 14) and about 6 days before the first opportunity for public input at the commissioners court podium. The contract can be downloaded from the main page at the county’s website: www.wilco.org

Unfortunately, the draft contract does not come close to addressing the many concerns that have been raised by Williamson County residents, and in some ways the draft contract is WORSE than the EXISTING contract.

The Texas Campaign for the Environment has a Take Action! page setup. The best action to take is to familiarize yourself with this issue using the links above and come to tomorrow’s Commissioners Court Meeting and voice you concerns. Here’s tomorrow’s agenda [.PDF], Item #52. Here’s the details about the meeting:

Concerned Williamson County residents should attend the August 7th meeting of the County Commissioners Court to show their opposition to the draft contract. The meeting starts at 9:30 am at 310 S.E. Inner Loop. You can make a comment or just come and show that you are opposed to this stinky deal.

Tessa Moll has an article up on this at the TDP, County sticks with Waste Management. While it goes through much of the same stuff already mentioned above, particularly about citizens concerns about the landfill being ignored, she does remind us of how this bad deal came about.

Despite the more than yearlong renegotiations, the county is still under the previous contract with Waste Management and could not simply break that agreement without facing litigation from the country’s largest waste disposal corporation, Ackley said.

“Everyone thinks we can just put this out for RFP [request for proposal] or request bids,” he said. “We can’t do that because there is a contract now, and if we try to do that, the county’s going to get sued.”

A lawsuit against the county could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the life of the landfill, according to Ackley.

The county is using as it’s excuse, for not opening the contract up to bidding, the horrible contract former Commissioner Frankie Limmer originally negotiated for the county. They purport they can’t open the contract for bids as long as it’s still under contract with WMI. Since neither party has violated the terms, all they can do is renegotiate, and take whatever concessions WMI is willing to give them. The Hutto Citizens Group has knocked down that claim [.PDF]. WMI has graciously allowed the county to renegotiate the contract, and thrown the county a bone or two, and now the citizens of Williamson County are expected to accept this as a much better and done deal.

It would seem the county would have used the threat of opening up the contract for bidding as a bargaining tool for much better contract consideration. As the people’s representatives they should have tried to present their constituents case and not been so adversarial with them. The county seems to be on much friendlier terms with WMI than with their own constituents. It almost seems as if the county is using WMI’s line of reasoning not to open the contract up for bidding, instead of challenging them. I wonder which lawyers are telling the county this, and if that may be something that contributed to Jana Duty filing her brief with the AG? Calling WMI’s bluff, opening this contract up for bidding, would be the right thing to do.

It appears that the Commissioners are afraid to make the corporation mad. Our elected officials would rather keep us in a bad deal for 40 years and please a corporation and instead disappoint and incense their constituents. We’ve got more elected officials in Williamson County than these. It’s always seemed a little curious that all through this process Sen. Steve Ogden, and State Representatives Mike Krusee and Dan Gattis, Jr, (County Judge Dan Gattis, Sr. son, if you didn’t already know), have been non-existent. Their absence makes it appear like they’ve ceded this issue to the local “Mayberry Machiavellis” here in Williamson County to take care of this issue and don’t want to sully their reputations with this issue.

No matter whether they believe there’s a legal issue with this contract or the myriad of reasons there could be for these elected officials for siding with a corporation over their constituents it’s hard to deny the fact that ALL the elected representatives in our county are Republicans. That they side with business and corporations over their constituents is is a well-known, well-won, and well-deserved stereotype of the Republican Party.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » More Problems At The WCRAS said,

    August 6, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    […] will be on the Commissioners agenda tomorrow morning. Not only can a citizen come speak out about the landfill, they can also voice their concerns about the animal shelter as […]

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