Committee formed to review waste hauler contract negotiations

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 7, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A three-person committee has been formed to review the circumstances which led up to the approval of Rizzo Environmental being selected as the Macomb Township waste hauler.

During the supervisor comments section of the Nov. 21 Board of Trustees meeting, Supervisor Janet Dunn requested to form a committee made up of members who had no involvement in the 2015 waste hauling contract negotiations.

Township Treasurer Karen Goodhue, Trustee Nancy Nevers and newly-elected Trustee Tim Bussineau will make up the committee.

“What we want to do is look into the process of what went on in that bid process and come away with some answers,” Nevers said. “I haven’t been a part of this process at all, so I want to get back to square one and see how this all went down.”

The committee was formed following the Oct. 25 arrest of former township Trustee Clifford Freitas. An FBI complaint states that Freitas received a bribe for his help in providing Rizzo with bid information from competing waste hauling companies.

“I think we have to just bring about complete transparency,” Bussineau said. “Any deal made on behalf of the township should not be made by a lone trustee in an attorney’s office.”

The process for selecting Rizzo as the waste hauler began with the formation of a waste hauler committee Feb. 25, 2015. Former clerk Michael Koehs, and trustees Dino Bucci and Roger Krzeminski were on that committee.

That committee met seven times beginning March 16, and concluding June 30. On May 12, the committee was scheduled to hold a final review for a request for proposals of the waste contract. The request was sent out shortly thereafter.

“I’d like to know who was involved in the negotiations for the bid process, the parameters of the RFP and whether there were minutes taken. That’s not part of the protocol, but I’m hoping minutes were taken,” Nevers said. “I’d like to know what was discussed and analyzed for the RFP, so we can compare apples to apples.”

The bids began to be reviewed in mid-June and were eventually all rejected by the board July 22, citing concern over pricing for seniors.

The board then sent out a new RFP in late July, and those proposals were due in early August. The FBI complaint states that on Aug. 24, Freitas informed a Rizzo principal what amount the vendor should bid in order to obtain the waste hauling service contract.

The four companies that were competing for the contract were Rizzo, Emterra Environmental USA, Advanced Disposal and Waste Management.

Rizzo wound up being selected as the waste hauler Sept. 23, the same day that federal authorities allege a recorded conversation revealed that Freitas was aware of the conflict of interest involved with his work related to the waste contract.

“It’s definitely no secret that there was something that happened with that bid process, something that should not have happened and something that was not completely transparent,” Bussineau said. “My purpose on the committee, and I hope it’s all of theirs, is to try to figure out exactly what happened.”

Nevers echoed Bussineau’s desire for transparency, but clarified the township isn’t currently looking to change waste haulers.

“We’re happy with the actual bid and price, but we want to see what the process was to clarify that, and go from there,” Nevers said. “We all thought this was business as usual, perfectly legitimate, and come to find out, Rizzo had some of the advanced bid numbers. No one has been tried or convicted or anything, but allegations have been made, so we want to look into that.”

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