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Palm Coast Accepts Garbage Hauling Bids But Doesn’t Open Them Publicly

| December 16, 2011

Inside scoop. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast  Purchasing Director Brian Rothwell held a bid opening this afternoon for the city’s next garbage contract, valued around $35 million over the next five years. It was not quite a bid opening. The names of the four companies submitting a bid were announced, along with those submitting no-bid letters, but the actual bids were not disclosed. Rothwell told those submitting bids that the material would be analyzed and a recommendation made to the city council within 30 days.

The method surprised garbage haulers and others—present and not present—given the controversy the garbage contract process received since fall when City Manager Jim Landon recommended to the council that the city renew its contract with Waste Pro, its present hauler, for an additional five years, and skip a bidding process. A public outcry ensued, and both manager and council reversed, opting for a request for proposal, though the RFP was written in such a way as to clearly favor Waste Pro.

Those bids were due at 2 p.m. today at the city’s offices. The submissions were stamped in, but their bottom lines not revealed.

“I don’t think that was a real smart thing to do considering the tremendous amount of public uproar in the way this thing has been handled until now,” Bill McGuire, one of two council members elected in November, said. The garbage issue and the attempt to renew Waste Pro’s contract without bids had been a recurring concern of voters during the campaign, McGuire said, in large part because of the apparent lack of transparency. “I’d have thought they’d have known to put everything on the table.”

McGuire was equally surprised to learn of the bid opening from a reporter. He’d spoken with Landon this morning. The subject did not come up. “I didn’t know it was happening today or I’d have made a point of being there,” he said.

Jason DeLorenzo, the other newly minted council members, also didn’t know about the bid opening, but said the documents would be public records anyway. He said he was interested in knowing how bids are opened customarily at the city. “It would have been nice for them to open them immediately so everybody would have had the opportunity to see them immediately,” DeLorenzo said.

The city did not act improperly or illegally: Florida law allows municipalities to open bids’ bottom lines privately. “They didn’t do anything wrong,” said Perry Mitrano, a 30-year professional of the garbage hauling industry who happens to be Bunnell’s solid waste director. He was at the bid opening as an interested resident and a follower of the industry, and because he knows most of the players involved. “But in reality as a resident and an industry professional, how does that look?” Mitrano said of Palm Coast’s decision.

Rothwell declined to speak about the bid opening to a reporter, forwarding an email inquiry to Virginia Smith, the city clerk, who wrote on Friday morning: “The City Attorney advised several months ago, when the law changed, effective in June 2011, any RFP/bid documents relating to any submittals are exempt from Public Records temporarily, until the notice of intended decision or 30 days after opening, whichever is earlier.” Smith cited the relevant law exempting the records (available here).

The exemption does not bar cities from opening the bids the day they’re submitted, but merely allows cities, if they so choose, to keep the bids from public view.

Four companies submitted proposals: Waste Pro, Advanced Disposal of Jacksonville, Waste Management (the nation’s largest waste hauler) and Texas-based WCA Waste Corp. Three companies submitted no-bid statements, a polite way of declining to bid that also at times offers the companies a chance to explain why they didn’t bid. The method leaves the door open for long-shot cases when the bid process might be altered. The three companies were Republic—the nation’s second-largest hauler, which had been among the three companies responding to the city’s original request for information last summer—Broward-based Choice Environmental Services, and Veolia Environmental Services, a global company headquartered in France that just last week announced plans to sell its American operation.

McGuire noted the withdrawal of three qualified companies and said it would bother him if the withdrawals were the result of not wanting to contend with a process so narrowly tailored to fit the incumbent company as to make it a waste of time to bid. The city administration made no secret of its desire to stick with Waste Pro, citing a good working relationship and a working hauling system that would be upset, and would have to sustain a period of re-adjustments, should the contractor change. Landon told the council that even if the city stayed with Waste Pro, there would likely be savings in the next contract.

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32 Responses for “Palm Coast Accepts Garbage Hauling Bids But Doesn’t Open Them Publicly”

  1. PJ says:

    WOW “Very Transparent!”

    Gee thanks…………………………………..

  2. roco says:

    Who ever is awarded the bid must maintain the same three day pick up schedule. Without this type of schedule the will become a garbage dump itself when people leave their garbage sit around rotting or it’s thrown off the side of the road or into a vacant lot…

  3. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    I would have liked to see , the same questions asked of Mr. Netts and Mr.Lewis, the Mayor and Vice-Mayor. I wonder, if the way this went down, was a set -up, hoping that the 2 junior Council members, would say something inappropriate, and disqualify them from voting on the issue, when the supposed “recommendation”, is presented..Looks like the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”…has a new version in Palm Coast.. “If you don’t ask me, I won’t tell you”…Come on, we need better communications, and the Council needs to step up, and represent the people, by being more specific to the City Manager, of what they want, not what he wants.

    • Linda Hansen says:

      I am still waiting for a response from the City Attorney about whether or not Mr. DeLorenzo may have any input on this at all.

      He represents Waste Pro.

      Is this to be the new bidding process in Palm Coast, to get around the special business interests of our Council members?

      This is not good government and you know it.

    • RaulTroche says:

      I know from other places I have lived that there is often corruption in contract awards for trash services. I am getting to where I really have lost trust in our mayor and especially our city manager, Landon. I do feel that Bill McGuire is trying to do the right thing but they are pulling the wool over not only his eyes but the citizens too. I believe that these people in these trust positions who are lying should be held more accountable and if caught in corruption and cheating the public for their own gain that they should be held even more accountable than the average citizen. In such cases they should not only be jailed but stripped of all there assets and those assets given to the city to pay off the debts they have gotten us into.

  4. Kendall says:

    We need new city management. Desperately.

    Ok new guys on the council……….. why push to make it happen? Now is your chance to show us you are going to be different.

  5. Anon says:

    When the bid issue was first reported I predicted that the way this issue would unfold is exactly the way it has unfolded. The citizens demanded an open bid so the city management gave the citizens what they asked for, an open bid.

    This is an obvious sham.
    Let me attempt to interpret what has, or is happening.

    For those who believe the town manager operates on his own agenda, he does, in part.
    However, as reported here on Flagler Live the mayor is on record as saying that the town manager does exactly as the town council directs him to do. And that the council members meet with him weekly.
    If this is true then the town council, the ones who seem to be silent, are behind this so called open bid and they are in accord with the town managers actions.

    The town manager is serving as the crash dummy while the town councilors who are silent stand in the background winking and nodding.

    The driver in this scenario is which company will pay the most money, ( fee) back to the city. The management does not want to give the contract to the lowest bidder that would decrease the amount of money paid back to the city. The city is in a cash crisis, they raised the real estate tax rate over the past couple of years, they were / are trying to tax the citizens for use of public parks. Any means to generate $ is being explored.

    One solution is to increase efficiencies in the operation of the city government and another is to reduce the size of the government. Don’t nickel and dime the citizens at every opportunity.

    There are some who bought the argument that even though the real estate tax rate increased, your real estate taxes are the same or less. Ask those who are advancing that argument are they going to reduce the tax rate when real estate values begin to increase?

  6. Sue says:

    What are they thinking! This is public record regardless of the results ….I guess they want to put off the results for now but they will eventually have to make them public…at any rate at a bid opening the results should be posted for all to see…when are “they” going to learn that they represent the tax payers?

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      When only 10% of the voters show up for an election, why should they need to feel they represent us? They KNOW we can’t vote them out. Get used to much more of the same.

      Nobody in this town cares. The entire economy is based on things like this.

      Hear that sound? It’s the sound of elected officials sucking at the public trough.

  7. Doug Chozianin says:



    • Beach Babe says:

      One of those Council members represents at least TWO of those bidding companies. Don’t count on him to help you bring this to the light of day.

  8. Dan Bozza says:

    Once again our totally befuddled city manager insists upon doing his tiresome imitation of the Great Houdini. Remember his failure of the illusion about having the cash to pay for a new city hall and then the startling revelation that we don’t have anywhere near enough cash to build a one car garage let alone a new city hall.

    Am I the only one that hears the oft repeated line, “Where Are The Clowns” from Stephen Sondheim’s great song Send in the Clowns every time our city manager and the mayor are involved with anything to do with a great deal of money?

    Here in Palm Coast we don’t have to ask! They incessantly show up whenever there are very important decisions that must be made! I think it’s time for a recall of the mayor!!

  9. It is No Secret says:

    Landon must go. Makes exceedingly too much money for this type of nonsense.

  10. SAW says:

    Landon is not the boss he works under the elected officials , it’s the mayor and commission who are the problem.

  11. PJ says:

    I can’t wait to say this any longer.

    How do we know there is no bait and switch with the closed and sealed bid documents?

    With all the nosense on this bid, how can we believe that these bids are not going sit out in a room for a document to be replaced?

    Can someone explain their process on who attends the openining of the bid documents?

    Oh let’s ask Landon (It’s whom ever he wants!)

    It all seems so ego inspired by Landon.

    I’m sure the staff was scripted before they had the opening. just by the way Rothwell pushed away the reporters and defered them to the city clerk is likely a Landon ego control measure.

    The City council should review this city managers contract. Find themselves a real businessman or woman that is not a city manager but a person who understand big business not big ego manager government.

    This continues to turn my stomach and we can only hope that the new members of the board run this city manager out of town.

    P.S. Did I mention that you can get a great CEO or CFO for about 150k……………..

  12. Gia says:

    There is nothing wrong with Landon, the man is doing is job.

  13. roco says:

    Gia, now we know his wifes name. It’s a pretty name but choice has a lot to be desired..

  14. Dorothea says:

    How many of you ceaseless complainers are bashing local government for not providing a business friendly environment? Here we have a local business (Wastepro) that hires local employees and provides a service with few glitches. Perhaps you weren’t here when previous waste haulters were unable to pick up your garbage on the appointed day, while their employees were forced to seek shade under their broken down trucks. No little wonder businesses shy away from establishing themselves in Flagler County when its citizenry would selfishly sell them out to save a couple of bucks. Go for it, put sixty people out of work and bring in a business that will bring jobs to another county.

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      I don’t think this is about complaints, Dorothea. It is about an open bidding process which is NOT OPEN.

      Anybody know if Wastepro hires locally? I heard they use day workers so they don’t have to pay benefits. This true? Anybody know? Anybody work for Wastepro?

      Flaglerlive, we owe you on this one. Would have slipped us by, which was the intent, wasn’t it?

      Slippery, slippery, slippery!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Dorothea says:

        @Oneof the 10%. Wastepro has a facility located in Bunnell and they hire locally. They have full time employees who receive employee benefits. In addition, they also hire day workers, but the majority of workers are local and regular employees. Truck drivers require a CDL and aren’t likely to be found in the day labor pool.

  15. Doug Chozianin says:

    Is “Gia” Jim Landon’s pen name???

  16. PJ says:

    Hello 10%whovoted and Dorethea,

    first of all it’s not about Wastepro or anyone else who gets the contract this is what those companies do and they all can do a good job.

    It’s about the way this contract was rolled out. The city had a lack of information. They limited the suggestions of (GET THIS) the two largest companies in the industry. The suggestions were given by Waste Management and Republic Waste but not taken by the city committee.

    Here is the (REALLY BIG ISSUE) Landon does not want to lose any of the 10% franchise fee. This loss if the bids were too low could produce hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Oh did I mention it is our money Landon is taking. You see the 10% franchise TAX is just that A TAX passed on to you and I.

    There is not an incentive for Landon-economics does not short change the city but only you and I, the average snook by his likley opinion to get railed for the money. It is a pass through by Wastepro or who ever gets the contract.

    When Landon started here there were millions of dollars in surplus but since then were low on funds. Blame the economy but here is the question I leave you both with.

    If Landon was such a great manager why did he not plan to manage with less money sooner know that the down turn in the housing market will reduce taxes? We pay this guy 200kper year!!!!

    Let me give you the answer:

    His ego got in the way as he was too busy fluffing the council to keep his job looking good and get his raises…………………

    And the contract prices of bid will not go to the lowest bidder it is too much money to lose based on the franchise fee.

    Congratulations Wastepro on your new contract rduced by just one dollar or so!

    Ya’ll heard it hear first………………….

  17. Ralph Belcher says:

    Does the City of Palm Coast also draw an Electric Utility Franchise Fee? I’m thinking the City of Bunnell does. Hmm…

  18. Jersey Boy says:

    To those who have responded and believe that:

    This slanted, biased, imbalanced solicitation benefits the citizens
    This closed/no bid opening is fair and transparent.
    A largely silent town council best represents the citizen’s interests.

    Are probably those who still believe that:

    Oswald shot Kennedy.
    WMD’s will still be found in Iraq.
    Kim Kardashian married for love.
    A no bid contract benefits the purchaser of goods or services. (This is as close to a no bid contract as one can get)

  19. PJ says:


  20. jimmythebull says:

    how about taking bids on the city manager job?
    there are alot of people out of work who would do the job for 1/10 of what we are paying.

  21. palmcoaster says:

    The whole process looks rigged and has been rigged since back when the current Purchasing Director Brian R. a resident of Volusia, has been favoring our tax payers contracts to be assigned to our neighboring county and creating while doing so, jobs elsewhere instead of Palm Coast or Flagler. Meanwhile our county has the second highest unemployment rate in Florida. Furthermore they waste our barely earned taxes on these financially accommodating elite Economic Developments administrations.
    Our taxpayers largest contracts go elsewhere without even inviting local suppliers bidding or if presented to bid, are done in the same similar manner as this one rigged or baited. In this case we have no local suppliers for garbage haulers then if our city is not willing to supply its own, the bidders should present open information about how many workers serving, the 35 millions contract, reside in Palm Coast or at least Flagler County and also the competitiveness of the rate. On a case of same price quote and service, the one hauler that hires locally should be approved the contract. As simple and transparent as that.
    Hundreds of jobs will be created locally if the outsourcing of our tax paid contracts will be assigned locally other than using frivolous deceiving excuses to do otherwise. What happens is as usual, the individuals approving the scams get the benefits protected by these rigged Florida purchasing laws.
    I would advise to Mr. McGuire look into the public records of the City Purchasing Director “modus operandi” for assigned bid contracts and see for himself…watch your back while doing so and don’t give in to the “micromanagement” potential accusation, as you will be challenging the system.

  22. palmcoaster says:

    Regarding the suggestions here about replacing Landon…Let me refresh your memory about the fact that the one prior to him, Richard Kelton, was 10 times worst. Look at the county one, Mr. Coffey and his predecessor was worst. I can’t even bring myself to say hello to that guy when I see him at Publix!!

    These managers do as a good or bad job as the elected council or commissioners allow them to get away with. This is a real fact.
    Is like then, late Councilman Ralph Carter told me back when Kelton was the Manager. He said, ” you can’t even imagine the kind of pressures we are exposed too in our tenures as elected officials”, mentioning the fact that because they voted as we, the resident asked them, against the outrageous proposed development of the Old Hammock off the little overpass in Club House Drive, they were being harassed by the landowners law firm, into demanding individual interviews with each council member to explain to the lawyers why their opposing vote and that maybe could be individually legal consequences over that….? Mr. Carter and others on the council had to ask city attorney if they were protected as individuals and if they had to go to those demanded meetings. The answer was NO.
    My personal opinion is that Landon will do as good as work as we demand from him .Demand good work loud and clear in city council meetings or thru our elected ones if receptive in this council, or as last resource thru community media outlets like this one, that we are so fortunate to have now. If we do not get involved, afraid to be tagged as extreme, belligerent, sardonic, pugnacious, petulant and our hard acquired information as opinionated, negative, libel or unsubstantiated, then these scams draining our pockets will proceed with no change. Reason is that very few benefited, have very strong reasons to undermine the one’s against their special financial interest at play. Sure Landon doesn’t want to loose his job and we do not want to switch “a no so good known, for probably a worst one to be know”.

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