Councilman Ashby Foote points to a scorecard for the RFP process when selecting a new city garbage contractor
After a hearing this morning, Jackson leaders agree to 12-month contract with Richard’s Disposal.
UPDATE April 17, 3:45 p.m.:
After the hearing on Monday recessed, Jackson city officials met on bequest of Judge David Clark to determine a solution for the ongoing garbage crisis.
Garbage trucks are expected to begin running by Wednesday, April 19. Richard’s Disposal will be releasing additional information on changes coming as they pick up the back-log of trash that has accumulated.
An agreement was met and officials determined they would approve a 12-month contract with Richard’s Disposal. A City Council meeting was set for 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday to vote on the remedied one-year contract with the company.
The cost with Richard’s is expected to be roughly $808,000 a month.
“We were trying to come up with a solution, at least for today. I think it was a real win win solution,” said Councilwoman Virgi Lindsey at a press conference after the announcement.
City officials will still be required to determine a long term contract with a vendor at some point prior to the termination of this contract with Richard’s.
“Today is a win for the people.” said Councilman Brian Grizzell. “I’m thankful to Judge Clark. He was very patient with us in helping us get to this point.”
Councilman Ashby Foote said the entire city must do a better job moving forward. He said primary services must be delivered in a timely manner as to not put citizens at risk.
On Monday, members of the Jackson City Council and Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, accompanied by their respective legal counsels, met in the Hinds County Chancery Court for an emergency hearing on issues surrounding the long-standing garbage dispute in Mississippi’s capital city.
The suit, filed by the City Council, was taken up by Special Appointed Judge David Clark. After nearly an hour and a half of information being shared by both parties, the judge ordered a recess until Tuesday pending closed door meetings Monday afternoon.
The dysfunction continues
Residents in the city have been without door-to-door trash pickup for over two weeks.
“This is a travesty. This is a great example of failure of leadership,” said Judge Clark regarding the situation “We aren’t going to fix this in a court of law, we’ll fix it at the ballot box.”
Clark repeated the need for “compromise” between the City Council and the Mayor amid the current environment of dysfunction that he said exists within the city government. He categorized this case as the city suing itself.
The lawsuit centers around whether or not the Mayor properly followed the RFP process and if the City Council can move forward to select a contractor without the Mayor bringing one forward.
RELATED: Richard’s Disposal again fails to win Jackson City Council approval
The Mayor’s defense argued that he followed the RFP process to the letter of the law. Councilman Ashby Foote said he did not agree with the statement by Lumumba’s attorneys.
“What’s wrong with the RFP? The Mayor didn’t follow the RFP,” said Councilman Foote to reporters after Monday’s hearing recessed. “I disagree with some of the comments the city attorney made.”
Foote went on to show a large printout of the scorecard for all vendors that submitted – FCC, Waste Management, and Richard’s Disposal. Scoring in the RFP process was based on several categories including innovative approach, plan for performing, experience in similar situations, qualifications of personnel, references and EBO.
According to the chart, FCC scored a 56.4, Richard’s Disposal a 46.8, and Waste Management a 57.4.
“It’s a cost benefit analysis. Best and lowest price. We are trying to look out for the citizens and get them the highest quality contractor at a good price,” said Foote.
The Mississippi constitution defines the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The lawsuit essentially requests that a temporary allowance be made to the council, a legislative body, for executive authority, in selecting a garbage contractor.
Attorney Anthony Scanlon, representing the City Council, argued that the Mayor did not uphold his official duties to present the “best and lowest” RFP bid. He said that left the City Council in a position to continually vote down the proposed contract.
They pointed to a recent Attorney General opinion that would allow legislative bodies to negotiate. However, the Judge pointed out the opinion also states that could encroach on the Mayor’s authority in an executive position.
“Wow, that’s coming in the back door,” Clark said. “Don’t do somebody else’s job. You’re doing your own job, don’t do somebody else’s.”
The Mayor’s defense maintains he followed the law
According to the Mayor’s attorney, Felicia Perkins, he did his duty by continuing negotiations with Richard’s Disposal, as well as the other vendors. She said in those conversations the other vendors indicated they would not honor the original bids due to inflationary costs.
RELATED: No solution yet: Jackson Mayor provides update on garbage situation
Richard’s Disposal’s RFP from October 2021 is still on the table. If a new RFP process is initiated, it is expected bid prices would be significantly higher due to the current economy.
At the most recent City Council meeting, members voted down several resolutions, two of which would have provided temporary contracts to Richard’s Disposal to continue picking up the city’s trash.
This is a developing story. Magnolia Tribune will continue to update as more information becomes available.