Garbage in, Garbage out: The trouble with keeping yer lies straight….. A River Birch contract evaluation update.

The old adage about the trouble with keeping lies straight came to mind yesterday as I read Paul Rioux’s T-P story on River Birch’s much ballyhooed contract evaluation performed by the rent an economist at Loren C. Scott and Associates.  Being a blog moderator has its advantages, especially when the ol’ memory bank is functioning on a high level and within 5 minutes I had 2 of our old posts on the yet to be released, Parish commissioned River Birch contract evaluation up and on Ready Five when life intervened and I was called to Buzzard’s Roost unexpectedly. That’s OK because our regular commenters have great memories too but before we get to that we must visit with Paul’s story and one particular excerpt which is most topical:

With a tipping fee of $20.66 per ton and an additional cost of $4.89 per ton to maintain its dump, the parish spent an estimated $6.5 million to dispose of 255,000 tons of trash in 2009, according to the study.

If the River Birch contract had been in effect, the parish would have paid a tipping fee of $19.22 per ton and no overhead costs for a total of $4.9 million, leaving a savings of $1.6 million, the study concluded.

Obviously I was not the only member of the Slabbed Nation that immediately saw the problem here as Telemachus’ comment on our last Paul Rioux River Birch post nailed it:

Council Chairman Tom Capella said he expects the council will approve the deal.

“I haven’t heard of any pushback on this by council members,” he said. “I think we’re all pretty excited when we can save the taxpayers money.”

Councilman Chris Roberts said he plans to vote for the contract.

“Based on the projected savings, I think it’s kind of hard not to support this,” he said.

River Birch would be paid a tipping fee of $21.50 per cubic yard for household garbage, Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson said.

That’s nearly 5 percent more than the $20.50 tipping fee the parish currently pays Waste Management to run the parish dump.

– 06.24.09 TP

Yep folks, what we have here is the ol’ moving price, one designed to meet the self serving needs of the double dealing parties involved with the River Birch contracting process. It also illustrates the problem with telling lies and then trying to keep those lies straight, especially in a criminal enterprise with multiple co conspirators.  It just so happens that I have a fair amount of professional training in this area due to my occupation so at this point I think we should visit with Sunstreeks over at Hubpages for some insight:

Be your own lie detector test so to speak.

Clues To Watch For

    •Avoiding eye contact is a huge giveaway!
    •Watch their body language. Do they fidget, or seem oddly distracted by something else?
    •Do they have trouble remembering details?
    •Do they avoid your questions about the topic and continue to speak, or do they answer questions fast and then try to move on to something else as quick as possible
    •Do you have a intuitive feeling that something about their story just isn’t right.

The third bullet point applies here for certain along with the last. It is not lost on anyone here in the Slabbed Nation that an RFP for woody waste disposal morphed mid-stream into a comprehensive waste disposal bid designed so that only one vender could win in River Birch. And for those involved in this criminal conspiracy that are still left in the Parish Government the depth of the attempted deception is revealed with each gyration.  Such was the case with Loren Scott and his study on the River Birch deal as one more whopper floated to the surface of the Jefferson Parish cesspool.

Telling the truth is far easier by contrast, especially when multiple people are involved in a cooperative endeavor.  People tend to remember the truth and the fact lies are contrived is what makes them hard to remember down the line. So with all that said, let’s visit with those old T-P stories on the River Birch Landfill that I previously highlighted here and here. We’ll begin with Paul Rioux’s story circa June 2009:

Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, who negotiated the landmark deal, said the parish recently applied to the state Department of Environmental Quality to renew its permit for the dump through 2019.

“It’s our intention to keep the permit in place while the dump is closed,” he said. “All indications are that we will get a permit for at least the next 10 years.”

But he said there is no guarantee the state will keep renewing the permit through 2035, when the parish would be able to reopen the dump under the terms of the new River Birch contract.

River Birch will be paid a tipping fee of $21.50 per cubic yard for household garbage from unicorporated areas of the parish and Jean Lafitte.

And to hammer the point about this discrepancy home we have this:

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?

There is a perception in certain circles that Nowdy and I’s purpose for blogging on the Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal is to help Anne Marie Vandenweghe pursue either some sort of personal vendetta and/or her lawsuit against the Parish.  Frankly I don’t remember exactly when we first made contact with Team AMV but I do know it was after January 31 of this year.  If you read the above I think it is clear Anne Marie doesn’t need anyone’s help exposing the racketeers in Parish government. I feel safe in saying she was and is despised by the power brokers in Parish government because she was a long time Aaron Broussard partisan swimming in a pool full of Tim Coulon, Gretna mentality political hacks in folks like Tom Wilkinson, Tim Whitmer, Chris Roberts, Byron Lee, Deano Bonano and Peggy Barton. She was assigned to handle public records because the powers that be thought she could do no damage to them in the position of handling public records requests. Such has proven to be the mother of miscalculations IMHO.

And this brings us to John Young, who is a goofball in his own right.  Yeah, IMHO he is cleaner than the rest of the bunch but that is akin to being the cleanest pig in the pig pen.  He took office and immediately whipped out the tried and true mandatory resignation spiel though not to specifically rid the Parish of Ms Vandenweghe (IMHO) though that was the practical impact.  If Young had gotten any good advice or possessed any business sense he would have spoken to her before he was elected, moved her office next to his after he was elected and made sure she felt welcome at the Yenni Building.  The fictitious Michael Corleone sums up my logic best:

There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Unfortunately for the Parish and Mr Young, what’s done can not be undone and for all practical purposes Young has lost control of the narrative as a result.  I’m not suggesting AMV would have rolled over in exchange for a penthouse suite office and continued employment, far from it in fact.  But when the shit hits the fan Mr Young has lost the opportunity to be by her side when the politicians and those that pay them face the coming day of reckoning. In fact he’ll be remembered as the politician that fired a whistleblower; one who blew the lid off the cesspool of corruption that is Jefferson Parish Government.

Now, before our gentle readers flood my inbox with tales of Anne Marie’s sordid past I’ll disclose the criteria I use to judge potential sources as the folks that speak with us share a common trait:  The ability to shoot straight and capacity for self honesty.  To paraphrase one of my first communications with Team AMV, it began with a preface along the lines of: There is lots of things in my past that I am not proud of but I believe in redemption…… After hearing what she had to say we signed on to cover it, well aware of the dangers reporting this story entailed. I mention this because I feel a disturbance in the force as we’ve added additional players to the cyber playing field. I alluded to it earlier this month in a post but was wrong about the paymaster.

When folks with means like Team Ward/Heebe/River Birch get their asses in a criminal crack, often a multi pronged strategy is used to exact their asses from said crack.  Dr Death Ana Pou is an example of the successful use of a public relations firm to massage public opinion as she skated on the deaths of her patients at Memorial Hospital after Katrina.  Team River Birch is employing similar tactics IMHO and that garbage in, garbage out economic study of the River Birch contract by Dr. Loren is an example of the coming PR blitz.  Unfortunately for Team River Birch, I come from the land of bullshit and spin in the financial blogosphere, where it often seems the shills out number would be investors.

This has already gotten nasty folks.  Val Bracy was fired by Team Benson, for example, in a move that I and (many other observers) think was directly related to her hard hitting reporting on the Jefferson Parish beat.  Not surprisingly I received an email from a reader several months back which detailed the myriad of ways station owner Tom Benson has business ties with some of the River Birch players. (To my knowledge he is not involved in this scandal).  And some of the more recent comments here, while heavy on criticism are also awfully light on specifics. I look forward to crossing swords with the shills because in matters that interest me, especially when my money is on the line like on the stock message boards they truly do call me the assassin, especially when paid shills try to fleece or mislead people.

In the meantime we have lots more to roll out. Remember, we’ll not be posting anything that I feel will hurt or hinder the ongoing grand jury investigation but with the revelations of this past week here on Slabbed I think my confidence on this topic through time is coming into sharper focus for everyone.

I have a request for our readers.  The praise we get for our body of work is part of what keeps Nowdy and I going since we do this endeavor called Slabbed without benefit of salary. That said we could not have done nearly as good a job on this topic without the beat reporting of  folks like Paul Rioux, Rich Rainey, Paul Purpura and the departed Val Bracy. For our readers that also comment on the T-P, tell the beat reporters you appreciate their work, I know we do here at Slabbed. (Ashton Phelps Jr and some of the T-P editors deserve all the criticism that comes their way OTOH)

Finally, for press and enthusiastic commenters alike no URL is necessary when you mention us. One word sums us up: Slabbed or at most the Slabbed Blog.

Our local governments should not be the enemy of the citizens it governs.  The residents of Bell California reached the inflection point and re-took their renegade city government from the self serving criminals that were running it. It is at this point that I’d also like to point out what happened to the CPAs that were complicit in Bell California and the Rosilyn School Distrcit Scandal as justice demands that all that were complicit be called to account. We are a community of Slabbers that are pissed off and not taking the corruption anymore.  Hear us roar!


8 thoughts on “Garbage in, Garbage out: The trouble with keeping yer lies straight….. A River Birch contract evaluation update.”

  1. Great post. You have hit the nail on the head that people are pissed and tired of, what seems like, the endless procession of scandals. While the MSM is somewhat slow or incomplete on their coverage, Slabbed has exposed things that may never have seen the light of day. Keep up the great work.

  2. I’ve also noticed the tipping price per ton of River Birch’s contract consistently shrink with each alleged independent study. All the while self-proclaiming good government councilmen’s noses grow longer as they all rant in a harmonious chorus….. ‘ how can we turn this cost saving deal down’.

    How low can tipping rates go between dueling garbage contractors go before it is suspected that to remain a profitable contract certain tricks and unethical things will likely arise after the approved contract is official. All in order to increase marginalized profits intentionally created to win approval of the original, under bid contract, such as :

    Several waste management company officials have shared with me one old trick in the industry is placing concrete building blocks inside garbage trucks.This technique increases the recorded weight approximately 500lbs/ truck on the truck scales prior to dumping a load in landfills. This became especially common in the Chicago area.

    Years ago a broad based conspiracy of New Orleans brake tag employees with cabbies and others was uncovered proving money sometimes makes honest intentioned employees do extracurricular activities for personal profit and benefit to others. Self admitted not too bright, garbage truck weigh masters have been known to make honest errors in recording true weights at landfills.

    Then there is the perpetual contract modifications which sympathetic Councils periodically feel compelled to make to increase a financially struggling company’s profit line which we have seen recently in Jefferson time and time again despite public outcry.

    Most telling though is that any Council that approves a 25 year contract with a company which is currently under vigorous federal raids, grand jury subpoenas and investigation has to be a well massaged and corrupted public body, plain and simple. Any other conclusion would make you either an imbecile worthy of mental confinement or the garbage operation itself .

  3. Ah CrystalClearCorruption – the weight and tipping problems has been solved in most areas of the country to prevent this corruption but not used at River Birch.

    The truck is weight and a Tracker Id is installed in the vehicle- Thats the trucks weight for everyload.

    The scales record the Lojack type tracker ID as they go over the scales. Gee no human error is possible. Also the same system records the weight of the truck on the way out.

    You for got the biggest fraud that used to be pulled – leaving the Garbage dump Filled and returning several hours later with a nice full load.

    Thats why you had multiple drivers shifts and some companies and a few spare trucks.

    You have to remember that each dual axel Packer Tandem truck could carry45,000 to 60,000 lbs of Garbage.

    And yes – I worked my way through college driving a garbage truck for Waste Management
    and spent my Saturdays earning overtime driving full trucks from Friday to the Dump!

  4. I did forget to mention that if the Idiots in Orleans Parish wanted to find the most Fraud all they have to do is look at what they got billed for dumping the Garbage. Loads per day per truck by each one of the Garbage companies.

    Considering they are paying with the dump fees and other fees its about 26 dollars a ton.

    A little math tells you that between 45,000 to 60,000 lbs of Garbage equals 22.5 to 30 tons
    so that’s 585.00 to 780.00 per truck.

    How many Garbage collection contractors in New Orleans? Its real easy to steal one truck a day a piece.

    Probably much more considering you were over billing for the number of houses you served –

    So the industry is pretty good at statistics. All you have to do is a simple formula when calculating the bids.

    Number of households you collect by number of days per week buy the average collection weight.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year.

    So now we have a simple math exercise – That the Crooks in Both Parish can not get around if somebody actually Goes Looking.

    Figure a family of 4 produces 100 pounds of Garbage a week.

    Now take the houses in the Contract’s and multiply it by the week.

    Then go to the Dump Records and match it up and based on a quick review of the articles on New Orleans and Jefferson Parish we have about 7 million dollars per year
    that lined someones pockets in collection vs dump.

    But hey I’m just A guy who understands Fraud – but a lousy accountant.

    But it sure would be nice if someone did a freedom of information request and Got copies of all the disposal companies contracts in Orleans and Jefferson Parish and took the number of houses billed for by the Collectors and compared it to the Amount of Trashed dumped by the collectors.

    Then look at the logs of the Dump to find out how many trucks made multiple round trips a day and the drivers of the truck.

    Funny thing about Garbage – you have all sorts of EPA Reports.

    But then you would have to have a US Attorney and people from the FBI who were not trying to make this corruption go away.

    1. What 5th circuit describes is what auditors call an analytical review, whereby common sense is wedded with basic math. It is a powerful auditing procedure, generally simple and most time effective.

      Here is a very recent example of how it was used here in Mississippi by a reputable CPA firm to uncover potential fraud.

      You really got to wonder what the private auditors that have audited Jefferson Parish were doing all these years.

      Great stuff 5th Circuit. There are several industries I know well – something tells me before we’re done with this topic we’ll all be experts in garbage.


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