Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting at New Jerusalem (South)

Richard’s garbage truck Photo by Jackie Hampton

By Chris Young ,

Contributing Writer,

Richard’s garbage truck Photo by Jackie Hampton

There were over 100 in attendance at New Jerusalem Church (South Campus) on Raymond Road, Thursday, April 14 at 6 p.m. Mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, focused on the garbage contract as promised. Senior Pastor Dr. Dwayne K. Pickett Sr. provided an opening prayer.

The mayor shared he had used a blind scoring process which led to having four options covering one versus two pick-up days per week, and with or without bins. He sought council’s input at that juncture, which he was not required to do, and the options were reduced to two. Then he selected the lowest bid, which was $7.3M lower for the initial six years of the contract, and $12.2M lower if extension options are added – for a total of ten years. $102,000 lower each month. Once the name of that lowest bidder was revealed – the black contractor, Richard’s Disposal of New Orleans, the chaos began.

Two employees from Richard’s Disposal; Kimberly Muller, assistant chief marketing director and Darnell Randolph, operations manager, both spoke about transitioning into a new contract and doing their best to address the many bumps in the road that come with that. You can contact them using a new number for any questions or concerns – (769)-333-4222, and 311 gives them a daily pass down.

Mayor Lumumba stated that Richard’s is starting from scratch, because there was no turnover of information between companies. He also mentioned that each residence will receive a bin, and that the use of bins will reduce the stress on the workforce.

Questions were raised from the audience about cost, and Attorney Catoria Martin indicated a slight increase with the new contract of 64 cents per month, partly because of EPA requirements. She stated for a family of four, the combined water, sewer and solid waste collection will not exceed $100 per month. 

Hinds County Board of Supervisors President, Credell Calhoun, shared that the supervisors are working closely with the mayor to address infrastructure issues, and especially the water in South Jackson. He said, “Last year  parts of South Jackson were without water for four weeks, and that is just unacceptable because of the toilets.” 

The mayor brought up the $13M being allotted for a golf course. He said, “I’m for all of Jackson, not just parts of Jackson.” He said there was a Bill for $40M and another Bill for $25M for water issues and nothing happened. “The City requested $5.7M for the Jackson Police Department to help fight crime and received zero.” 

He continued, “The Legislature found money for a 10-hole golf course, a $10M parking garage in the Fondren area, a water tower for UMMC, a water tower for the fairgrounds – so this is what their decisions are and so I want you to be aware that if you are not at the table, you are likely on the menu.”

He warned that the next focus they have is privatizing the water system. “They are giving it to a company for them to run – don’t be tricked by that – I want you to know that isn’t about fixing anything, that’s about being able to change the rates and that’s about taking profits from the City.”

Long-time businessman Socrates Garrett came to the microphone and said, “We have to hold Richard’s responsible because this is an economic engine for the black community. When a black man is a million dollars a year lower and can’t win in an 85% black City, we got a real problem. We cannot allow that to happen. We ought to be marching in the streets, ought to be having a parade for Richard’s, ought to be out there when they are picking up trash and encouraging them, and do everything we can to support this mayor.”

Pastor Pickett closed the evening sharing that he tried to stay out of it ununtil ten sanitation workers from the previous trash collection company came to his church and told him about their working conditions. They told him about the loads they were required to carry and going to their supervisors to report the blood in their stools and asking for a break, only to be told to go back and finish another route because nobody else could come. “In all my effort to not want to get involved in politics I thought about the greatest mentor that I ever had and he died for sanitation workers in Memphis,” said Pickett.

He applauded Mayor Lumumba for his courage, then offered a closing prayer.

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