Following is the text of a letter faxed by the Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government to Parish President John Young and the Parish Council this weekend:
Honorable John F. Young, Jr.
Joseph S. Yenni Building, 10th Floor
Jefferson, LA 70123
SUBJECT: CFGG urges the immediate cancelation of the River Birch landfill contract
Dear President Young:
Citizens for Good Government wants to thank you for your decision to make public the Postlethwaite & Netterville financial analysis of the River Birch landfill contract. This just-released report was of particular interest to us, since we have been demanding for some time that our Jefferson Parish government cancel the tainted River Birch landfill contract.
We have contended that this contract should have been terminated by our government earlier this year when it canceled other contracts with connections to ex-CAO Tim Whitmer. Since the Postlethwaite & Netterville study indicates that the 25-year River Birch contract would cost Jefferson Parish as much as $39 million more than continuing to use Jefferson’s own landfill, we believe that this is the final, conclusive reason justifying our demand for the immediate termination of this contract.
Everything about the River Birch landfill contract is suspect, starting with the way the proposal to dispose of “woody waste” somehow morphed into a request to handle all household garbage for a period of 25 years. Also suspect was the selection process awarding the contract to River Birch using an illegally-constituted evaluation committee. The membership of the committee violated the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, since the purchasing department and the requesting Environmental Department were not represented as voting members of the committee.
Furthermore, the negotiation of the River Birch contract was also suspect. The Times-Picayune reported that the River Birch deal was negotiated for Jefferson Parish by the discredited former CAO Tim Whitmer and Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson without consulting “any outside analysts with expertise in engineering, municipal waste or finance.”
The Postlethwaite & Netterville study not only provided documentation that the River Birch contract would cost the citizens of Jefferson substantially more than continuing to use the Parish-owned landfill, but in a section of the report entitled, “Other Matters for Consideration,” the report provided numerous reasons why a lengthy 25-year contract is undesirable. For example, the commitment of the Parish to a 25-year contract does not permit us to take advantage of the potential cost savings as a result of new technology which might become available. And if the Jefferson Parish landfill is closed for 25 years, the Parish may not be able to obtain the required permits to reopen it after this lengthy closure. Even if it could be reopened, the costs to reopen Jefferson’s landfill would be substantial.
The citizens of Jefferson Parish should not be burdened with this tainted 25-year contract, which will last far beyond the tenure of all of the current Council members who voted to award this contract to River Birch. Furthermore, there is even great uncertainty about the validity of the contract, since, for one thing, it is currently under criminal investigation by the federal government.
We believe that there are so many compelling reasons for canceling the River Birch landfill contract that it is imperative that it be terminated immediately. President Young, we urge you to take the necessary action to bring about the cancelation of the River Birch landfill contract NOW.
Chairman, Citizens for Good Government
Vice-Chairman, Citizens for Good Government