Finally, a long-term contract to Richard’s Disposal: 4-3 vote prevailed over the antics and dysfunction of City Council

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba

By Christopher Young,
Contributing Writer,

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes at council meeting March 19, 2024. PHOTOs BY CHRIS YOUNG

After years without a long-term solid waste collection and hauling contract, Jackson City Council voted 4-3 at Tuesday’s special meeting for the city to execute a contract with Richard’s Disposal, Inc. – the firm that has been providing our garbage collections services for the last two years.
There is an amendment to remove carts from the contract, which was put forth by Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote, which could potentially reduce the contract amount by roughly $4.3 million. That will have to be negotiated between Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Richard’s Disposal, but the six-year contract will proceed on April 1, 2024.
Numerous other amendments were made by Ward 3 Councilman Stokes, and all of them failed. One was to simply replace Richards name in the contract and replace it with National Collection Services (owned by Jackson businessman Lee Bush, Sr.), another was to adjust the term of the contract to coincide with the current mayor and councilmembers’ terms in office, another was to scratch through the monthly price of the contract and replace it with a lower price, and finally, to award the low-bidder the contract and make Richard’s their sub-contractor – all failed.
Voting in favor of the long-term contract with Richard’s Disposal, as amended, were Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee, Ward 4 Councilman Brian Grizzell, Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks and Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay. Voting against the contract were Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes, and Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley.
Early in the process, City Attorney Drew Martin, in this position for just over 30 days, indicated that National Collection Services (NCS) did not meet the qualifications put forth in the Request for Proposal, leaving Richard’s Disposal as the only bidder who met the qualifications. Some members of the council questioned how this could have happened, and eventually the mayor provided evidence, in the form of a handout received by The Mississippi Link newspaper, that NCS did not submit the materials required to meet the qualifications.
Councilman Hartley complained that a “lack of competition drives our ability to get the lowest price.” Councilman Foote also seemed concerned about the price of the contract and folded that mindset into his amendment to remove the carts from the contract, “There are tens of thousands of carts already in the city, not getting more can be a big savings for many people already struggling with a high bill.” Our readers will recall that these two councilmembers, as well as Councilman Stokes, have always been staunch supporters of Waste Management, whose exorbitant prices over the years are the very reason Mayor Lumumba issued a new RFP two and half years ago.
Richard’s 2021 bid was $765,000 per month. Their current contract under emergency circumstances is $808,000, and their bid for the long-term contract is $891,000. The 2021 Waste Management bid was $1,116,720. These folks didn’t seem to care about the price when Waste Management had the contract, yet now it’s of great concern to them.
When Mayor Lumumba reminds them of this, the subject seems to get changed quickly. Perhaps these three councilmen don’t have enough regard for the citizens they are charged with serving. Perhaps they don’t think the taxpayers see clearly what’s going on. Using the numbers above, provided by the mayor’s office, The City of Jackson has saved nearly $8 million by contracting with Richard’s instead of Waste Management over the last two years.
Councilman Foote asked the City Attorney how many times Richard’s has sued the City of Jackson. The answer was that Richard’s has sued once over not being paid for their services. The other two legal matters were Richard’s appealing decisions of the City Council. Foote posited, “The precedent is that is you get Jackson tangled up in the legal system, then you have a better chance of doing business with them … I think that is an adversarial setup that is detrimental to future long-term relationships with the business community. gotta give Mr., Richard’s and his legal team credit … got us tied in knots … I find it very troubling.”
Attorney Martin responded that the law allows that when someone who is dealing with the City and is dealt with unfairly to have legal remedy.” Foote hammered on, “We’ve got to get out of this loop of being tied up in grievances and spending money on legal fees…it undermines the confidence of other businesses that want to do business with Jackson … that’s why the top-tier garbage companies did not participate in the RFP.”
Obviously, Foote does not think Richard’s is a top-tier company and had no hesitation sharing that as Mr. Richard’s sat ten feet in front of him.
Part-way through the 40-item agenda, the council voted unanimously on a proclamation for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

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