Waste Pro Is *Big* Mad with us
Well – it happened (again). Waste Pro seems to know they can’t beat us on the roads of Santa Rosa County – so they have decided to take us somewhere where they think their size and money give them a competitive advantage – to court. (You can view their entire court filing here >>> Waste Pro Lawsuit) While that might have been cause for apprehension the first time around, we know that their lawyers’ arguments are like their trucks this summer – swarming with with flies and filled with hot garbage (thanks to their once-per-week pickup).
What their lawsuit really reveals is a company desperate to maintain a lucrative monopoly, a monopoly that was improperly granted at your expense. But we want you to understand the issue so you can make your own decisions. So as we walk you through the matter, we thought why not have a little fun along the way?!
A sweetheart deal for stinky business
As we may have mentioned in the last year or so, it sometimes seems like Waste Pro has some friends in high places. After all, they were granted not one, but two sweetheart deals in the last year when they (thought) they were given exclusive reign over trash in north and south Santa Rosa County and then enjoyed a lack of oversight of the contract granting said sweetheart deals
Well, it turns out that this is America (see attached picture for proof) and one cannot just take away people’s rights to choose whom they do business with on a whim. The County has to follow these things called ‘rules’ (maybe billion-dollar companies aren’t familiar with them) when they go about entering into monopoly contracts.
We’d like to first direct your attention to a long and boring stack of paper called the Santa Rosa County Purchasing Manual. This painfully boring, but still very important, document outlines one of the main reasons we believe we should have the opportunity to earn the business of the fine citizens of South Santa Rosa County. .
Ok, so this gets a little… intense, but we need to walk you through it in order to show you what is going on. We’ll got step by step here.
Step 1: Ethics.
In the purchasing manual referenced above, the County establishes a procurement ethics policy. Compared to the purchasing manual, the ethics policy is mighty brief. Here it is:
Santa Rosa County is committed to a procurement process which fosters fair and open
competition, is conducted under the highest ethical standards, and enjoys the complete confidence of the public. To achieve these purposes, the County subscribes to the following code of ethics:
- The County will avoid unfair practices by granting all competitive respondents equal consideration as required by State, Federal, and County regulations.
- The County will conduct business in good faith; demanding honesty and ethical practices from all participants in the purchasing process.
- The County will promote positive respondent and CONTRACTOR relationships by affording respondent representatives courteous, fair, and ethical treatment.
- The County will make every reasonable effort to negotiate equitable and mutually agreeable settlements of controversies with a respondent.
The County will avoid involvement in any transactions or activities that could be considered to be a conflict between personal interest and the interest of the County.
The County’s policy makes it clear that they not only want to avoid impropriety and corruption – they want to avoid even the appearance that impropriety and corruption are or could be happening.
That brings us to the next important section, 11.01. 11.01 builds on the ethics outlined in 7.01. It requires that the county “provide all vendors (that means companies like Adams Sanitation and Waste Pro), …, with a fair and impartial opportunity in which to compete for the County’s business.” By their own admission in the purchasing policy, they are required to give all vendors at least the opportunity to apply for the county’s business. And this isn’t for the benefit of the vendors, it is to protect you as a taxpayer. The rule ensures that you receive the best value when the government spends your money.
At this point we have established three things:
- The County will conduct itself ethically.
- The County will give all qualified (read: not convicted of certain crimes) vendors a chance to compete for the contract.
- The County will bid out any and all contracts (at least those worth more than $35,000).
So what in the world gives Adams Sanitation the idea that they have the right to compete in the South End?
(next slide 🙂 )
The most important part, section 24.01.
The ringer of our argument is section 24.01 of the purchasing manual which states:
Except as herein provided, it shall be a violation of board policy for any officer, employee or agent of the board to order the purchase of any commodities, equipment or services or to make any contract within the purview of this Manual other than through the guidelines established in this Manual. Any purchase order or contract made contrary to the provisions herein shall be considered to be an ultra vires act, shall not be approved, and the County shall not be bound thereby.
Waste Pro’s so-called contract with the County is in direct violation of its own purchasing policies, which were created to avoid actual or perceived impropriety and corruption by employees of the county with taxpayer money. The consequence of violating this policy is that the contract IS VOID.
So ask yourself, if the county has established that it will act ethically, give everyone a chance to compete for a contract and will bid out all contracts worth more than $35,000 – wouldn’t it also make sense that if they violated these rules, the contract wouldn’t be valid by the nature of their own purchasing policy?
So what gives?
How could the County, which requires a competitive bidding process for a trash contract, not request bids and then just hand over the franchise to a single company? Inquiring minds would love to know, but answers seem hard to find.
. Earlier this year, Waste Pro made substantive changes to the way they do business with their captive customers in South Santa Rosa County. When they agreed to their (very not legal) sweetheart deal to receive the exclusive right to service the North art of the County (a deal Adams Sanitation was able to overturn), they requested another concession. Waste Prodemanded from the County that they be able to change the service and price in their totally separate franchise in the south part of the County. This is why Waste Pro stopped picking up trash twice weekly, ditched included recycling, and increased prices on its unsuspecting customers.
Well gee, that stinks (both literally and figuratively) for the customers in the south end, but what does it have to do with whether or not Adams should be able to provide service downsouth? Well, when Waste Pro asked to substantially change their contract terms in the south end, the Santa Rosa County Purchasing policy requires the County to put the contract back out for bid. Guess what they definitely did not do?
That’s right, they didn’t put the contract back out for bid.
Therefore, their contract in the South County is no longer valid – and the County must either open up the South to competition or conduct a true competitive bidding process for thefranchise area, if there actually is a franchise area….
Right then, on to our next point – Why it’s so important to mail stuff on time.
That nasty business again, about following your own rules (filing the ordinance with the Secretary of State)
If you’re reading this epoch of trashy goodness in order, then we’ve just finished talking about the importance of doing the right thing and following the rules. This means that the County needs to follow its own purchasing policy and allow companies to bid for the right to an exclusive trash franchise or allow all qualified haulers to have a permit.
It brings us to Ordinance 2011-12 – better known as the ordinance that gave us the ‘exclusive franchise agreements’ that were so badly botched creating the whole mess to begin with.
But there is another SNAFU that the County caused, which makes the contract invalid. (aside from the gross violation of the purchasing manual and common sense). According to both state law (and the very language of ordinance 2011-12), an ordinance passed by any County has to be filed with the State Secretary of State within 10 days in order for it to be valid. As you might have guessed from the way the County missed that FDOT road money deadline – they missed this one, too. The State of Florida made that deadline for a reason..As a consequence of not meeting the deadline, there is less money for roads in Santa Rosa County this coming year. Santa Rosa County now has to use this mistake as a learning experience as it moves forward.
Language in your ordinances matter.
If they didn’t, then none of the rules on the books matter – that, my friends, is the very definition of anarchy.
“But,” the cynics might say, “it’s just a procedural deadline they missed, what’s the big deal? For all intents and purposes, this is valid!”
We’d just say, ask FDOT if they are willing to give Santa Rosa County that road money they missed out on. Probably not. “The [law] dictates that you must be precise as the law is a precise endeavor.” Without meeting deadlines that are necessary for the continuation of society, we would see tasks get slower and slower, more corruption pervade our lives and lead to poorer outcomes for all. Yes, it is a small thing, but it is a crucial thing that invalidates this contract.
Nathan’s Experience as an elected official – Okaloosa’s Franchise Area
Since Waste Pro feels the need to fixate on Nathan Boyles, we will have to bring him up too, I guess. I mean he’s mentioned in the lawsuit at least a half-dozen times!
One major point that Waste Pro brings up is that Nathan is an elected official. It’s 100% true, Nathan has served the people of Okaloosa County since 2012 and even voted for a franchise agreement for Okaloosa County (although it happened so long ago, we can’t seem to find a link to a news article about it. Well, it’s either really old or it was so noncontroversial in Okaloosa County that no one bothered to write one. I guess that’s what happens when they are created correctly *shrug*).
Well, we think one thing that Waste Pro is trying to do with this part of the lawsuit is paint Nathan as a hypocrite. They claim that he [I’m paraphrasing here], “is a commissioner who voted for a franchise agreement in his own county.” Nathan never said he was against franchise agreements when based on valid ordinances and supported by fair and robust competition. Heck, we have a franchise agreement with the Town of Jay that has worked out pretty well! Of course, even the folks up in “little ole’” Jay knew that their citizens deserved competition and that’s why they competitively bid the franchise contract when ECUA pulled out on them (and in that competitive process Adams out-competed Waste Pro). Nathan’s just against shoddy, shady sweetheart deals between billion-dollar companies and local governments.
If the franchise was bid out fairly, like it’s supposed to be, and we lost – we’d be bummed, but we wouldn’t go home with our tail between our legs. After all, you can’t win ’em all. Earlier this year, we bid for a contract in Alabama, but didn’t get it. We lost, fair and square to a company who was better positioned to provide better value to the citizens in that community. We shook hands with the winner and tipped our hat to little Lockhart, Alabama for having the wherewithal to do it right.
So, if Waste Pro wants to clutch their pearls and act like we are acting in some unethical way, that is their business – but the fact of the matter is that they got a deal that violated policy and made an end run around ethical practices at the expense of the taxpayer. I guess we could be clutching our pearls, gasping and announcing to the gathered partygoers that we are disgusted, but we’ve got other stuff to do… like make fun of frivolous lawsuits filed in bad faith on behalf of billion-dollar companies.
Lol, they cited a Meme
Ok, so my mom probably told me at some point that my (🔥) meme-making skills would never be useful, BUT BOY WAS SHE WRONG. Easily everyone at Adams Sanitation’s favorite part of this lawsuit is that I, the marketing guy, had one of his memes cited in the lawsuit as ‘evidence.’
While I am going to take the time to thank the academy for this honor at some point (and will be bringing it up in just about every staff meeting until we are all retired) I think it’s also really important to point out… who am I kidding, does no one else think this is kind of amazing?
Honestly, they didn’t even pick the best one – and that is kind of bittersweet. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
More seriously, the fact that they cited a meme that makes fun of their attempt to crush dissent to their franchise and make us go away kind of makes our point that this lawsuit doesn’t hold any water.
Finally, we come to the appeal. This lawsuit doesn’t change anything, just like it didn’t change anything last time. We are planning on appealing the denial of our permit to serve the citizens of South Santa Rosa by the County Staff and fully expect the County Commissioners to do the right thing, like they did the last time they were put in this position.
If you want to help, click here and take 10 seconds to email your commissioners and let them know how many voters expect to see a just outcome to this situation that results in a free and competitive market
Christopher Saul is the Chief Marketing Officer for Adams Sanitation. When he isn’t slinging hot garbage from the keyboard – he is spending time with his family. He also likes to watch his SMU Mustangs play football and basketball.
Here in the Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County, in the Florida Panhandle, you can take all ammunition to a law enforcement office. This includes, the Crestview Police Department, Milton Police Department, Santa Rosa County Sheriffs Office and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. Guns that might be beyond repair due to a misfire, etc., can be taken there too.
What’s the latest with the Adams Sanitation Lawsuit Over South Santa Rosa Trash?
Many people are curious about what is going on in our fight to provide a twice-weekly trash pickup service to the people of South Santa Rosa County.