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Richard’s Disposal again fails to...

Richard’s Disposal again fails to win Jackson City Council approval

By: Sarah Ulmer - April 13, 2023
Richard's Disposal trash truck in City of Jackson

FILE - A Richard's Disposal rear loading trash truck rolls through a downtown Jackson, Miss., neighborhood on Oct. 7, 2022. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and the Jackson City Council have been feuding over the garbage contract for the city of 150,000 residents. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday, March 9, 2023, that the mayor did not have the power to veto the council's rejection of a contract for Richard's Disposal. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File - Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The stalemate over Mayor Lumumba’s preferred trash collector continues as the city council and the mayor head back to court.

The Jackson City Council met on Wednesday to once again consider a possible solution for garbage pickup in the capital city. Currently, residents are in the second week without trash collection service at their homes.

All of the options presented at the meeting failed to receive a positive vote of the city council.

“I think it is fair to say this is a disappointing day,” said Mayor Chokwe Lumumba in a press conference following the meeting. “The people of Jackson have been failed today.”

Watch the City Council meeting here.

Six of the city’s seven city council members appeared for the meeting along with Mayor Lumumba. Councilman Kenneth Stokes was no present.  

The first resolution, supported by the Mayor, was to implement a 90-day agreement with any solid waste company that is already registered with MDEQ. This would allow a temporary contract to be issued for garbage pickup in the city. It would also trigger a new RFP process as the city sought to find a long-term provider. The resolution recommended that a third-party evaluator be brought into the RFP process to consider the submitted proposals.

Mayor Lumumba, echoed by city legal counsel, maintained that Richard’s Disposal was the only company capable of providing this service at this time. He said the company would not consider a short-term contract with the city.

Council votes against amendment to extend for 12-months

Councilman Brian Grizzell offered an amendment to the resolution that would have increased the proposed agreement from 90-days to 12-months. He said the city has been informed that Richard’s Disposal is ready to get back to work today and would do so for a one-year agreement, as other court proceedings move through the process.

Jackson City Councilman Brian Grizzell

Richard’s has filed a separate lawsuit against the city regarding the original contract, the legality of which remains in question. A majority on the city council maintains that that contract was invalid.

“I’m just encouraging all of my colleagues to lay their egos to the side. Our citizens, our businesses, our schools, do not deserve to be inconvenienced any further over garbage,” said Councilman Grizzell.

The amendment was voted down twice by a split vote of 3-3 with Councilwomen Virgi Lindsay and Angelique Lee joining Councilman Grizzell in voting yes. Councilmen Ashby Foote, Vernon Hartley and Aaron Banks voted no both times.

RELATED: No solution yet: Jackson Mayor provides update on garbage situation

Ultimately, the 90-day contract resolution also failed.

Other resolutions offered would encourage the city of Jackson to provide its own waste collection service in regulation with MDEQ, continuing the local state of emergency, and approving an emergency one-year contract with Richard’s Disposal.

Council votes against emergency contract with Richard’s Disposal

Prior to taking up the emergency contract resolution, the city council broke for an executive session where it is understood that members spoke with representatives from Richard’s Disposal.

When the council returned, they addressed the resolution to approve a one-year emergency contract with the company which failed, indicating negotiations did not go well.

“I just want to say for the record I don’t see this vote going well,” said Councilwoman Lee prior to the vote. “I have to look at Pastor Henley who has a church in ward and tell you ‘I’m sorry.'”

These resolutions are not legally binding, only recommendations on actions to take and an outward display of position.

Councilman Foote points to original action by Mayor as reason for the current situation

Councilman Foote, one of the dissenting votes on the original Richard’s contracts in 2022, maintained that the current situation all stems from illegal action taken by the mayor.

Jackson City Councilman Ashby Foote

“The Council has spent over $200,000 on outside counsel over the past year and a half. Why? Because of the mayor’s illegal actions back in March of 2022 when he abandoned the Solid Waste Collection RFP and gave Richard’s Disposal the notice to proceed without a valid contract,” said Foote in a statement.

Foote said officials were aware that the Richard’s emergency contract would expire on March 31st. He believes the Mayor intentionally waited until the final days of that time period to bring the contract to the council.

“The mayor waited 48-hours to bring a contract to the city council that he had known about for a year and knew full well he might not have the votes,” said Foote. “It is either failing to plan or planning to fail.”

Foote said it is the desire of the council to fix the situation, which will now heavily rely on the results of Monday’s hearing with Special Judge H. David Clark in the Hinds Chancery Court.

Foote said there is no appetite for a 12-month contract with Richard’s among the city council members who have voted no consistently. He told Magnolia Tribune that the Mayor’s preferred vendor, Richard’s, has been unable to get four votes for over a year, yet the Mayor keeps bringing them back. Foote noted that in the previous RFP process, Richard’s scored the lowest on the subjective and technical part of the RFP by a sizeable margin when compared to the other vendors being considered.

Foote indicated that Monday’s hearing could change matters, but not to what extent.

Mayor points to racist intent as to why Richard’s is not being awarded a contract

Lumumba called the continued disagreement amongst himself and city council members a personal attack. He insinuated that the council had racial motives in not hiring Richard’s Disposal because it is a black owned business.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

“This has been personal. It hasn’t been what’s best for the residents of Jackson. It hasn’t been what is the lowest, what provides us the best, it’s been about ‘I don’t like you,’” said Lumumba in reference to the council’s mindset.

Watch the Mayor’s press conference here.

Lumumba said provisions could have been added to revoke any further contract with Richard’s if the court’s rule in the city council’s favor. He said he believes the court process will take longer than expected and is not the best route for the city.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: