Council Candidates condemn RSWA lawsuit
While our elected officials continue to support the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s $20 million RICO lawsuit against recycling entrepreneur Peter Van der Linde, two candidates seeking office are now speaking out against it.
Wednesday night, at the Free Enterprise Forum’s candidate forum at Burley Middle School, Independent City Council candidate Bob Fenwick, who says he is “appalled” by the lawsuit, called out Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris on the issue. While the Hook was not present at the forum, Fenwick summarized his statements after the meeting.
“As a citizen of the City of Charlottesville and not as a candidate I'm calling on Mayor Dave Norris tonight to strongly and publicly repudiate this lawsuit,” Fenwick said. “ And I don't want to hear any baloney about the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority being an independent agency or 'I can't comment because this matter is in litigation'.”
Norris has refused to comment specifically on the lawsuit, calling it “inappropriate” to do so. Other leaders, however, have expressed their support, including County supe Ken Boyd and Councilor David Brown, who, in the interest of greater transparency, were appointed to the RSWA’s Board in April.
Brown, according to an email obtained by the Hook, says that he believes that Van der Linde is not being truthful, and therefore supports the lawsuit.
And Boyd, during a recent call-in to Rob Schilling’s radio show, criticized the assumption that the RSWA is suing Van der Linde to shut him down, insisting that the lawsuit has “absolutely nothing” to do with the RSWA’s current survival plan–privatizing the Ivy transfer station–which recently involved a discussion on adopting a flow control ordinance, which would essentially give the Authority monopoly control over trash collection and put Van der Linde out of business.
“They are two entirely separate items,” Boyd said, pointing out that the lawsuit concerns events that happened before Van der Linde opened his $11 million recycling facility.
However, Fenwick and Democratic City Council candidate Kristen Szakos don't appear to believe that. Earlier this week, Szakos, who mentions that her father-in-law was a private trash hauler who was put out of business by city government in Pennsylvania, told the Hook that she was “very concerned” about the way Mr. Van der Linde has been treated by the RSWA.
“His innovative, comprehensive approach to recycling is just the sort of thing we should be encouraging, not crushing,” she said.
“If the city has information justifying this lawsuit, release it,” Fenwick continued. “ I do not want my tax money or my water fees to go to attacking this private enterprise. And when Dave Norris repudiates this lawsuit the Free Enterprise Forum should be standing right next to him. Is the Free Enterprise Forum for free enterprise or not? How can the city call itself 'business friendly' with an action such as this?”
The Free Enterprise Forum’s executive director Neil Williamson declined to respond to Fenwick’s comments, saying “we do not have any comment on any ongoing RSWA litigation.” However, Williamson did have plenty to say about the RSWA's flow control discussion on Coy Barefoot's radio show yesterday, reporting that RSWA director Tom Frederick had appeared before the County Supes to explain that a flow control ordinance was not presently being pursued.
Asked to respond to Fenwick, Norris did not speak directly about the lawsuit or Fenwick, choosing instead to tout the city’s expansion of its recycling programs in the last three years–but he did express support for collaborating with Van der Linde.
“I believe I am the only City Council candidate who has toured Mr. Van der Linde's facility in Zion's Crossroads,” said Norris, “ and I have spoken repeatedly since then of the exciting opportunities that could be available to broaden our region's recycling efforts by collaborating with an existing, privately-run Materials Recovery Facility rather than RWSA starting one of its own.”
Waste story archives
October 18, 2009–Blow to the flow? RSWA, Boyd distancing from monopoly talk
October 1, 2009–Lawyers, Trash, and Money
September 28, 2009–Flow blow: Wasteworks may seek trash monopoly
August 17, 2009–Trash talkin': Waste war could decide the future
August 17, 2009–Don Van der Linde? Wasteworks whacks recycler with RICO
May 29, 2009–Recycle this! Van der Linde steps up tone
May 19, 2009–Dire words for Waste Authority
April 2, 2009–What a Waste: Is the trash Authority going obsolete?
February 14, 2008–Coming soon! van der Linde's amazing recycling machine