Lumumba says High Court decision ‘fundamentally changes nothing’

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 2:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba says the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a lower court’s ruling against him “fundamentally changes nothing” in the city’s ongoing dispute over who will haul residents’ garbage.

Meanwhile, he says that “no valid negotiations are taking place with any third-party vendor” to continue trash collections after April 1.

“While I respectfully disagree with the court’s decision, it fundamentally changes nothing,” he said, adding that it is “neither surprising nor material.”

Last week, justices upheld a lower court’s decision saying that the mayor could not veto a negative vote of the Jackson City Council.

The council filed suit against the mayor in Hinds County Chancery Court last spring after Lumumba vetoed its decision to reject a one-year emergency contract with Richard’s Disposal.

The mayor says he disagrees with the high court’s ruling but said it does not invalidate the city’s current trash RFP, nor will it stop Richard’s from fulfilling its current one-year agreement.

Richard’s took over residential collections on April 1. The contract was slated to run until March 31 of this year.

A federal settlement between the council and Richard’s stated if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the council, the New Orleans-based firm would stay on until the end of the month in which the ruling was handed down.

[Council announces settlement with Richard’s Disposal; trash pickup will continue in Jackson]

“Coincidentally, the court reached its decision this month... the same month that Richard’s emergency contract was set to expire anyway,” Lumumba said.

As for the RFP, the mayor says that is still in full force.

An RFP is a request for proposals. Cities issue these requests when seeking professional services, such as solid waste collections.

Jackson issued an RFP in October 2021 for trash-hauling services. Three companies responded, including Richard’s and Waste Management, the company that previously held a contract with the city.

Lumumba said under the terms of that RFP a company that receives the highest score during the evaluation process must walk away from the city voluntarily before the mayor can bring a second vendor to the council for consideration.

Richard’s received the highest score among proposals submitted for one of the twice-weekly options firms could respond to.

“Absent a bonafide legal dispute per the RFP, we are legally bound to not move to a new vendor,” he said.

The council, however, has urged the mayor to move forward with the RFP, after it has rejected Richard’s on multiple occasions.

It also has filed a separate suit in chancery court seeking the judge’s permission to choose a firm if the mayor refuses to bring forward another contractor option.

Typically, the city’s executive is required to bring contracts to the council for consideration. However, the council argues that if the mayor refuses to do so, they, as the city’s legislative body, have the right to act.

Said Lumumba, “Neither the expiration of Richard’s emergency contract nor the court’s ruling invalidate the active RFP bid, which will ultimately determine trash pickup in the city.”

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