There are no simple answers when it comes to River Birch but I’ll lend some insight as it pertains to Waste Management’s contract, in a humble attempt to give the Slabb Nation’s musings on matters of Jefferson Parish garbage some illumination as I take a stab at answering FifthCircuitJoke’s question:
“I’m still trying to figure out why the biggest Waste Haulers in the Country have all left the New Orleans Metro Area…”
I am going to tell you a story….my honest opinion that I think answers the most simple and obvious question: Why is Waste Management abandoning contractual territory it previously coveted and fought political battles over? Your query is in fact a clue to the volatile origins of ‘River Birch II’; a criminal conspiracy originated by Heebe/Ward to establish a landfill monopoly with the compliance of corrupt Elected and Appointed Jefferson Parish Officials.
Waste Management, a large publicly traded national and international corporation, maximizes profits more efficiently by the utilization of resources through an applied economic concept of vertical integration. In other words, it is more advantageous (profitable) for Waste Management to own the landfill that it has contracted to haul waste to; then offset landfill expenses with monies received from a methane recovery contractor to burn off the waste in the landfill. This ‘formula’ has been implemented by Waste Management throughout the US, citing examples such as the:
Southern Alleghenies Landfill is located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania near the Town of Davidsville. The landfill is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc. (Waste Management). The project was purchased by Leaf LFG US Investments, Inc. in November 2008.
Shade Landfill Methane Recovery Project
Shade Landfill is located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania near the Town of Cairnbrook. The landfill is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc. (Waste Management). The project was purchased by Leaf LFG US Investments, Inc. in November 2008.
Laurel Highlands Landfill Methane Recovery Project
Laurel Highlands Landfill is located in Cambria County, Pennsylvania near the Town of Vintondale. The landfill is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc. (Waste Management). The project was purchased by Leaf LFG US Investments, Inc. in November 2008.
I particularly noted the above locations because in all three instances, Waste Management partnered with Keystone Renewable Energy, LLC, as they have in other similar projects. However Waste Management does not own the landfill it had contracted out to haul to, the Parish of Jefferson does. In fact Cytec Industries had negotiated a methane recovery contract with Jefferson Parish for methane recovery with proposed estimates of up to a Million Dollars a year towards a recurring ‘new’ revenue source.
River Birch on the other hand has contracted it methane recovery system with none other than, Keystone Renewable Energy, LLC:
Expected commissioning: 2010
The River Birch Landfill Methane Recovery Project is located in Waggaman, Louisiana on the River Birch Landfill owned and operated by River Birch, Inc. Keystone designed and is building this high-BTU project under contract to the owner. Compression and an Air Liquide-Medal Biogaz System will deliver 970 BTU gas to a local utility pipeline. The plant should be operational during the second quarter of 2010.
Peter Butler, Jr is a very connected lawyer. By blood, his father Peter Butler, Sr. clawed his way to influence within legal and political circles as Jefferson was evolving from the roots of a provincial ‘country’ Parish into the white flight suburban sprawl it is today. He grew up with Fred Heebe, Jr.; graduated law school (he also has a CPA) and clerked for Federal Judge Heebe, Sr. He has been law partners with Heebe Jr. and business associates as well. He is presently a partner in the Law Firm of Brazeale, Sache, and Wilson, New Orleans office. While Mike Foster was the Governor of Louisiana, his son and Butler’s partner in the Brazeale Law Firm, Murphy Foster IV, received a $100,000 fee to represent River Birch (Heebe, Ward) before the State DEQ which resulted in a successful maneuver to obtain the coveted permit to operate a landfill, ‘River Birch I’
Butler, Jr’s firm is also appointed Counsel for the West Jefferson Medical Center and it is widely and I think reliably rumored that he played an accommodating role in Wilkinson’s manipulation to hire Tim Coulon’s knee bender, Nancy Cassange (also Wilkinson’s sister-in-law) as Director of the Hospital at a salary of over $400,000 Dollars; a position she absolutely was and is not qualified to hold. Peter Butler, Jr., while counsel for the Hospital, ia alleged to have crafted an ethics opinion that facilitated then Chairman of the Board, Steve Theriot, to sell land adjoining the hospital. He has also held a position as special Asst. La. Atty General.
So, what does any and/or all of this mean as it concerns a possible answer to the question?
Well I have an opinion based upon what I know; have learned from research and reading; written about extensively here on Slabbed; and as important, a gut intuition that ‘sumthin’s not rite’ !
Let’s suppose that Waste Management, being confronted at the crossroads of an economic and political reality, was forced to formulate an exit strategy; to save face and not lose money. Waste Management’s dilemma: continue a hauling contract that produced marginal profit coupled with a non-ending assault by the very same people (JP Council and Administrative Officials) who awarded your contract now favoring another company (illegally) even before your contract had expired!
So you wait and see who fucks up…and voila!… none other than the corrupt, incompetent and now resigned Parish Attorney Wilkinson…advises the Council to file a spurious suit against you…now you know your going to get whole at the taxpayers’ expense. Why? Because Wilkinson is covering for River Birch, as he has been since 2004 when advising Council member Byron Lee et al, that the non-appropriations clause in the contract with Waste Management was an option to cancel the contract without harm to the Parish. It was this same contractual clause that Whitmer, with Wilkinson at his side, attempted to pursue in early 2009, but aborted in October 2009, when he became aware that he was now a target in a burgeoning Federal Investigation concerning corruption in Jefferson Parish. The irony is that Wilkinson had filed this ludicrous breach of contract suit against Waste Management in August of 2009 in the 24th JDC, only to have it transferred to Federal Court.
At first glance, Waste Management seems to have been rolling with flow in this lawsuit…OK, we want out of here anyway, so let’s play along…we have people on the inside (think Bobby Bourgeois, just let go last Thursday as a CAA), we’ll be made whole… BUT WHAT HAPPENS? The attorneys for Waste Management file a PRR for a copy of the contract between Jefferson Parish and River Birch in late August of 2009, and all hell breaks loose. By the middle of December 2009, Anne Marie Vandenweghe, APA in charge of Public Records, and in performance of her duty, is now in possession of FOUR separate JP/River Birch contracts as a result of PRRs requested by WM, the New Orleans metro media, the FBI and the US Attorney; contracts that Wilkinson specifically pointed out, were his business, and his alone! Four contracts, all different dates: one blank, one signed only by Councilman Capella, one hand written by Wilkinson (?), and one signed by Jim (Albert) Ward. So I ask, what alleged contract is the Council and the Administration referring to when passing resolutions to have the “contract” reviewed?
Apparently the Federal Investigation has put a fire under Waste Management’s ass, for whatever reason, as their posture today is a 180 from late August. Waste Management has even alleged that it has knowledge of corruptive influence on behalf of River Birch by certain Parish Officials. A settlement conference is set in Federal Court in February of 2011. All I will say is this: Wilkinson is toast!
I still have more questions than answers but I think this explains alot.
Slabbed commenter Whitmergate is a member of Citizens for Good Government.
Slabbed welcomes all points of view on the topics we cover. Our readers can submit guest columns to Sop whose contact information can be found here. While we allow anonymous comments on the blog, guest columnist must submit a verifiable name and contact information in order to be published.