Judge Gattis Changes Landfill Vote, Again - UPDATED

Posted in Commissioners Court, Bad Government Republicans, Landfill, Williamson County at 3:52 pm by wcnews

While this it’s right to change the vote back to the original date, the date shouldn’t have been changed in the first place, and the judge’s actions are becoming ridiculous. AAS has the story, Williamson County won’t vote on landfill contract Tuesday; hearing to expand landfill starts. (Link above is cached, original article. Click here for the updated AAS article).

A hearing on whether to expand the Williamson County landfill began Monday with County Judge Dan A. Gattis declaring that a rival landfill owner was at the root of citizen concerns against the expansion.

Gattis also said he would postpone a vote on a revised contract with the county’s landfill operator until next week.


When asked under oath in the state office of administrative hearings who has been the main proponent voicing concerns about the landfill, Gattis replied, “Mr. Bob Gregory.”

Gregory owns Travis County waste company Texas Disposal Systems Inc. He is a party in the hearings opposing the expansion through a separate real estate company that owns land within a mile of the Williamson County landfill.

Gattis’ position that the furor over the landfill was a “whipped” up by a rival of Waste Management (WMI) is laughable. This was a big issue during last year’s campaign and all the candidates know it. None of them complained about Mr. Gregory or TDS then. They all said they would fix this, and thus far haven’t come up with a contract that does. Whether it was Mr. Gregory who initially brought this to the community’s attention is a moot point. It’s there now and the judge and commissioners, as the county’s elected official have to deal with it. After all , that’s what they were elected to do.

Another sticking point has been whether the county is the sole owner of the landfill and whether that will be reflected in the contract. Gattis says…er…maybe.

Gattis also declared that the county is the sole owner of the landfill and its permit, a sticking point with groups opposing the landfill who want Waste Management of Texas’ name taken off the expansion permit application. Waste Management is the private company that has run the landfill for 20 years.

Gattis said he’d have no objection to the company’s name being taken off the application if officials at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality requested it. In the past, county officials have refused to remove the company’s name.

In other words not if the citizens want it, but if the TCEQ tells reguests it. As Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, makes clear, the votes been delayed and that’s a good thing.

Amid vocal citizen dissent, the commissioners were to vote on the new contract Tuesday, but Gattis said Monday morning that he will delay the vote by a week because the county did not get the contract revisions finished in time for citizens to review it.

“There were a lot of citizen comments, and we take those very seriously,” Gattis said, explaining that he and attorneys spent 10 hours going through citizen complaints about the draft contract.

“That is at least fair of him,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.

“This is very good news for us that they’re putting it off a little bit because we were feeling it was very unfair for them to change the vote,” Schneider said. Last week, Gattis said the vote would be pushed up a week to allow more time for budget discussions Aug. 28.

Schneider said the latest draft of the contract was out of step with citizen concerns on at least one point. She said the length of the contract was extended from 40 years with five-year renewals to 40 years with 10-year renewals.

“If they were trying to be responsive to citizen comment, that wasn’t responsive,” she said.

There will still be a hearing on the contract tomorrow, so be sure and show up and let the court know what you think. You can call as well.

Dan Gattis, Sr., County Judge (943-1550)

Comm. Pct. 1 Lisa Birkman (733-5380)

Comm. Pct. 2 Cynthia Long (260-4280)

Comm. Pct. 3 Valerie Covey (943-3370)

Comm. Pct. 4 Ron Morrison (238-2111)

[UPDATE]: Information received via email:

What Lorenz missed is that after Gattis made his statement about Bob Gregory being the major proponent opposing the landfill expansion, under direct examination, Marisa Pirales, attorney for the Hutto Citizens Group and Heritage on the San Gabriel Homeownwers Association, cross-examined the judge and got him to admit:

1. Orlynn Evans, head of the Mount Hutto Aware Citizens, has been the most longstanding proponent for finding a solution for the landfill problems.
2. Evans and his organization are not a front for anyone else, including Gregory.

Somehow, this information didn’t make it into the article.

Also, under cross examinaton in the SOAH hearing on Monday, Roy J. Murray, the owner of the Houston engineering firm that prepared the landfill permit expansion application, admitted that Waste Management, Inc. told him to insert the extra pages into the application which made Waste Management a co-applicant with the county. Asked if the county approved this co-application step, Murray said that the county didn’t comment on that aspect of the application before it was submitted.

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