Another government breakdown in Flint, Michigan

Things aren’t getting any better in Flint, Michigan these days, and for once we’re not talking about the lead in the water. It’s not even the presence of Michael Moore. No, this time the trouble is with trash. You see, the contract the city has with their current waste disposal company has expired and Mayor Karen Weaver is at loggerheads with the city council over how to proceed. She would like to move to a new provider who is offering a better rate while the council wants to stick with the status quo, paying roughly two million more per year for their services. (Washington Post)

Still stocking bottled water after the city’s lead contamination crisis, Flint residents are now being forced to store something else in their homes — their trash.

The city announced Saturday that it will suspend trash pickup indefinitely beginning Monday while a judge works out a weeks-old disagreement between city officials. The disruption in services is the result of a battle between the mayor and the city council over which company to grant the city’s trash contract to after the most recent one expired Friday.

In June, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver recommended the city award the contract to Rizzo Environmental Services instead of continuing to work with the more expensive Republic Services. Weeks later, the council voted 8-1 against her recommendation and instead decided to renew the city’s contract with Republic.

The mayor made her recommendation of Rizzo Environmental Services but the city council voted against her choice. She then vetoed their vote, but the council overrode the veto. At that point they seemed to be confused over who had the final say and now the matter has gone to court for a determination. In the meantime, the citizens of Flint weren’t having their trash picked up. Much like the water situation, I’m sure somebody is looking for a Republican to blame, but both the Mayor and the majority on the council are all Democrats. Oh well… I’m sure somebody will figure out a way to pin this one on the Governor as well. But I smell more to the garbage in this story than first meets the eye. (Pun intended)

So the Mayor and the city council are fighting over a garbage pickup contract. Perhaps I’m just suspicious by nature, but that immediately got me to thinking. Anyone who grew up in New York or New Jersey knows that when you hear about a waste management contract dispute, the first thing that comes to mind is an unholy alliance between Democrats and organized crime. I realize that sounds harsh and I’m not trying to slander anyone here, but we are talking about a corrupt and dangerous group of people. (And those Mafia guys are no angels either. #Rimshot) With that in mind, I decided to check into this Republic Services waste disposal company to see if they happened to be involved in any sort of political activity.

Their president turns out to be Don Slager. Coincidentally enough he’s a donor to one Political Action Committee, which (also coincidentally, I’m sure) has the exact same name: Republic Services. Don’s donations are regular, if not massive. And who does this PAC give their money to? Well, like many businesses, they spread it around to interests from both parties. But the top recipient by far has a name which might be near and dear to the hearts of Flint’s elected legislators – Democratic Municipal Officials

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the Mayor wanted to shift to Rizzo Environmental. Their bid would save the city a couple million per year right up front, so good for her! Is Rizzo into anything politically? With just a cursory investigation that’s tough to say. It’s a company with a website which doesn’t even have an “about” page listing any person of authority in charge of it. Even Bloomberg Business has a profile of them which simply states that, “Rizzo Environmental Services, Inc. does not have any Key Executives recorded.” They were formally known as C&R Maintenance Inc. until 2012, but I didn’t come up with anything under that name either.

In any event, it’s a hot time in Flint Michigan. We’ll be waiting to see how they resolve this little dispute and who comes out on top.