The battle over the city’s $24.5 million trash contract will continue in the form of dueling legal appeals.
The City Council voted Thursday to appeal a court ruling that the city violated its own policy in awarding contracts when it gave the lucrative deal to Consolidated Disposal Services, a company that was not the lowest responsible bidder for the job. It is the second appeal in the case, which was filed by a group of residents seeking to nullify the contract. The plaintiffs, calling themselves Citizens for a Fair Trash Contract have already appealed the judge’s decision to dismiss allegations of corruption against Mayor Kenneth Stephens, and Council members Marilynn Poe and Troy Edgar for their role in awarding the contract.
While the city is appealing the ruling, officials will reach out to the plaintiffs and try to find a middle ground, said Edgar. Otherwise, the appeals could drag on for years, he said.
“We all think we are right. Whether we are right or not, the community deserves better,” said Edgar. “Going about it unilaterally doesn’t seem like it’s in the best interests of the city. If we can use this opportunity to heal things that are much deeper than a lawsuit, I say, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Filed on the cusp of the 2010 City Council election, Edgar has contended that the suit is politically motivated and reflects deeper politics rifts on the city council, which tends to be divided with Councilman Warren Kusumoto and Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia squaring off against the other three on many major issues.
However, in a letter to the mayor earlier this week, Kusumoto seemed to hint that the council’s decision to appeal the lawsuit was, in itself, a political move.
“…the Council Majority has the appearance of a Conflict of Interest on determining the best course of action…” because of the corruption allegations under appeal, he wrote in the letter.
Kusumoto recused himself from the city’s legal negotiations, noting, “I have consistently been the minority viewpoint, so my vote is easily overcome by the Council Majority.”
If the city had chosen not to appeal the lawsuit, the council could have opted to revise the city policy or rebid the trash contract.