From the latest CFGG email blast:
At the March 16th Jefferson Parish Council meeting and the public hearing on River Birch which followed, the majority of Citizens for Good Government’s remarks were naturally about the River Birch contract. Even my 5-minute speech at the end of the Council meeting was about River Birch.
Since September 2010 Citizens for Good Government has been speaking out publicly against the 25-year River Birch landfill contract, which requires Jefferson Parish to close its very valuable landfill for 25 years. We believe that it was unconscionable for the Council to burden the citizens of Jefferson with a 25-year contract, which also removes our landfill as the only local competition for the River Birch Landfill for that period. We have repeatedly said that we believe that the River Birch Landfill contract is illegal, and that our Government should take formal action to cancel it.
At the Council meeting I said:
“This River Birch Landfill scandal is a sordid mess, with raids, the beginning of indictments, etc. Everything about this contract is suspect, starting with the way the RFP was modified contrary to its original purpose, the way the RFP was rushed through against the advice of our landfill professionals, and the way in which River Birch was selected for the Landfill contract based on the evaluations provided by an illegally-constituted evaluation committee with no expertise in engineering, municipal waste or finance.”
Then I indicated that we were very upset about a report from a reliable source that a representative of River Birch had met with at least one of the Councilmen recently. I briefly touched on this in my last update, and I am now going to provide more details, including transcribed remarks from the video replay of the Council meeting and public hearing. In my speech at the end of the Council meeting I said the following:
“Even today we are disturbed about reports that River Birch officials have recently lobbied our Councilmen. Is this true? I’d like to ask the Councilmen: Have representatives from River Birch come to your office and lobbied you? Because this is a very disturbing thing. Would any councilman like to admit to that?”
There was silence from the Councilmen until Councilman Lagasse said, “Nobody’s talked to me.”
I said, “OK. Nobody has talked to you. OK, cause we’ve heard this, and as I said this is second hand information, but from a reliable source.”
Then at the beginning of River Birch’s presentation at the public hearing by Dr. Loren Scott, Dr. Scott said:
“I had the opportunity to talk to a number of the council members. I think I was not able to talk to Mr. Congemi because I think you were ill at the time and Mrs. Hollis, you were not on the council at the time. But I had the chance to talk to you about the River Birch proposal, that one time, to share some data with you about it. You folks voted, the council voted unanimously at the time for this contract.”
So Dr. Scott lobbied our Councilmen before they voted favorably on the River Birch Landfill contract in June 2009. Did the Councilman speak to our landfill experts who work for Jefferson Parish and were opposed to this contract?
In any event, since I asked the Councilmen if River Birch had lobbied them RECENTLY, it CANNOT be concluded from the exchanges at the Council meeting and public hearing that Mr. Lagasse lied.
However, according to our reliable source, River Birch (not necessarily Dr. Scott) lobbied at least one Councilman recently. In order to get to the bottom of this, Citizens for Good Government has filed a Public Records Request for the following information from each Jefferson Parish Councilman for the period 2007 to the present:
1. The date(s) of any contact of the councilman with anyone representing River Birch Inc.
2. The date(s) of any face-to-face meeting of the councilman with anyone representing River Birch Inc.
3. Any emails or written documents to or from a River Birch representative.
We will let everyone know when we receive our response to this PRR.
Vice-Chairman, Citizens for Good Government