Mayor cannot create ‘false’ urgency to award contract

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A major waste hauling company is seeking an injunction to stop Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba from awarding a one-year emergency contract to its competitor.

Waste Management filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court on Friday seeking an injunction against the mayor’s declaration of emergency and asking the court to require the mayor to enforce his October request for proposals.

“The mayor’s actions are arbitrary and capricious and he cannot, in bad faith, create a ‘false’ emergency. Mississippi law defines an emergency as “an unforeseen event or combination of circumstances that calls for immediate action or remedy; a pressing necessity,” the lawyers for Waste Management wrote. “There is no urgency and the mayor’s actions are not in accordance with (state law).”

Earlier this month, the mayor issued an emergency statement regarding garbage collection and announced in his proclamation that he would enter into a one-year emergency contract with Richard’s Disposal to continue residential garbage collection. from April 1, 2022.

The mayor issued the emergency declaration after council twice denied his request to bring Richard in and after council removed an item from its agenda to consider Richard again at another council meeting. advice.

Council last week voted to maintain the mayor’s state of emergency but removed references to Richard. In its place, the board voted to add a line saying Jackson would continue to use Waste Management, its current supplier.

Waste management lawyers said after council twice rejected Richard’s claim, the administration should have entered into talks with their client.

Instead, the mayor refused, intentionally creating the current emergency. “The request for proposals was dated October 2021 and the mayor’s office has now had months to complete this process. However, because the city council did not approve of the mayor’s preferred supplier, the mayor slowed down this process and refused to negotiate with other suppliers,” they wrote. “Clearly, the circumstances of this self-created ’emergency’ caused by the mayor’s delay are not an emergency.”

The city issued a request for proposals in October after talks to create a new waste hauling company broke down. The mayor had hoped to use FCC’s environmental services, but the council twice rejected that proposal.

Richard’s received the highest score among companies responding to the October request for proposals (RFP) for twice-weekly collections requiring customers to have a 96-gallon garbage cart.

Waste Management received the second highest score for this option and the highest score for bi-weekly pickups with no cart requirement.

“The mayor is trying to circumvent the intent of the law by trying to enforce a one-year contract after the city council rejected his recommendation,” the lawyers added.

Waste Management is asking the court to follow the RFP law, which they say would require the city to enter into talks with the second-highest scorer. The company is also seeking, among other things, an injunction prohibiting the mayor from declaring a state of emergency, a request for a declaratory judgment.

Lumumba discussed the lawsuit at a press conference on Monday and likes the City’s chances. “We have faced a national company before. We are 1-0 and I like our chances,” he said. “That’s what I would say to that.”

The case was initially assigned to Judge Winston Kidd. On Monday, Kidd recused himself in the case.

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