Flow blow: Wasteworks may seek trash monopoly

rswa-kruegerRSWA lawyer Kurt Krueger defined "flow-control" for Board members at their September 22 meeting.
FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

Rivanna Solid Waste Authority director Tom Frederick has long contended that the Authority’s now $20 million RICO lawsuit against Peter Van der Linde has nothing to do with the competing trash facility the private businessperson opened last December, an $11 million Materials Recovery Facility that quickly captured the local market for construction debris and commingled recyclables. But on the eve of Van der Linde's opening of an expansion that would also take household trash for recycling–- a move that could potentially siphon off the Authority’s remaining revenue stream–- the Authority is now discussing an option that could put the recycling entrepreneur out of business.

“If they hand over Ivy to Waste Management, Allied, or some other big company with a flow-control guarantee,” says Van der Linde, “I’m doomed.”

Unaware of flow-control? Don’t worry, several Board members, including City Councilor David Brown, weren’t initially clear on the concept either.

However, according to Van der Linde, who attended the RSWA Board’s September 22 meeting, flow-control is even more heavy-handed than the Authority’s lawsuit, which alleges that he and his employees conspired in the past to bilk the Authority out of millions in tipping fees.

Flow-control would let government decree where all trash is taken. Flow-control could even make it illegal for anyone from the county or the city to bring their trash to Van der Linde, as it would force haulers to use a government-approved facility.

If it may sound un-American, the practice was actually upheld in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court. In United Haulers v. Oneida-Herkimer, the six-Justice majority condoned flow-control for publicly-owned facilities because it allows government to ensure, thanks to the steady flow of tipping fees, that trash collection and recycling follow all regulations–- instead of getting left to the whims of the marketplace.

Not all the Justices tremble before the whims of the marketplace. Samuel Alito, who was joined by John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy, slammed the ruling for its "economic protectionism," maintaining there was no real difference between it and an earlier ruling, C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Clarkstown in 1994, which did not make the private/public distinction and held that flow-control laws "discriminated against interstate commerce."

However, some legal observers believe the current Supreme Court ruling does not adequately define "publicly-owned," an omission that could leave the law open to interpretation

“Questions will come up, for example, when the facility is publicly owned and privately operated,” said Barry Shanoff, outside legal counsel for the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), after the 2007 ruling. “As a result of this decision, we're going to see all sorts of flow-control scenarios unfold.”

At Tuesday’s trash meeting, just such a scenario unfolded, as RSWA Board members discussed the possibility of adopting a flow-control ordinance with a publicly-owned, but privately built and operated facility at what used to be called the Ivy Landfill.

This public/private "hybrid," as Authority lawyer Kurt Krueger referred to it, would be a way to fund a new facility, and as Krueger explained, might also allow the Authority to enforce flow-control under the new law.

County Supervisor Ken Boyd–- a Republican who, during the meeting, called himself a “free market kind of guy”–- raised the idea of privatizing Ivy, but said he hoped a new facility would be a “market-driven thing” and that they “wouldn’t have to dictate where the trash goes.”

However, Krueger quickly pointed out that there wouldn’t be much of an incentive for any firm to respond to an RFP if it weren't accompanied by a flow-control ordinance. When board member Brown asked if two RFPs could be issued, one with a flow-control ordinance and one without, Krueger sounded amused.

“You could," Krueger responded, "but I’m not sure what the response would be.”

City public works director Judy Mueller, who first uttered the words “flow-control” at the meeting, seemed to concur that companies would balk at an RFP without flow-control. “They’d want to know what kind of quantities they would get," said Mueller. "That’s the key.”

“So not many people would go for the no flow-control option,” noted Boyd.

“That way," said Board member Mark Graham, highlighting the benefits of a flow-control ordinance, " you’re sure of your market before you make an investment."

While enacting a flow-control ordinance would require approval from both area governments, and considerable discussion from the public, the trash Board’s new “shift in direction,” as Boyd characterized it, appears to have laid the ground work.

“In all fairness to Tom [Frederick], he only has 24 hours in a day,” said Mueller in the final minute of the 10-minute discussion, “and there are a lot of things on his plate. I’d like to ask the board to give us a few thousand dollars to get some outside help to get this RFP together.”

So will the RFP include a flow-control ordinance? Apparently, we won't know until it is written and presented to the Board.

"I do not believe the Board directed the staff on the specifics of how to write the RFP," says Frederick, who did not rule out the possibility of adopting a flow-control ordinance.

Ironically, as the Authority struggles to survive, the man they’re suing appears to be thriving. So far.

“I’ll be hauling one hundred percent of my stuff there,” says trash hauler Frank McCauley, eagerly anticipating the open-any-day-now household trash facility. “Peter’s facility is changing the landscape of the trash hauling business.”

Gene Ware, who says Van der Linde has made it possible for Time Disposal to offer curbside recycling, says he’s seen a “tremendous” increase in the number of his customers recycling.

While Ware says Time hasn’t decided yet about taking household trash to Van der Linde, he suggests that the big factor is tipping fees, which typically start at $62 at the current government-approved facilities.

"It’s economics for us,” says Ware. “If he’s $44 a ton”Š.”

Of course, if the Authority succeeds in getting a flow-control ordinance passed, it won’t much matter what innovations Van der Linde unleashes.

“Residents and businesses should prepare themselves for dramatic price increases,” according to the general counsel of the National Solid Wastes Management Authority in a 2007 trade magazine story. “Flow control creates a local waste monopoly insulated from free-market competition.”

“Obviously, no one is going to go near this thing without flow-control,” says Van der Linde. “They are really turning back the hands of time if they decide to do this.”

Related stories:

February 14, 2008Coming soon! van der Linde's amazing recycling machine

July 17, 2008Single-streamin': Why not try private sector recycling machine?

April 2, 2009What a Waste: Is the trash Authority going obsolete?

April 20, 2009Wasted revenue? Authority realized in 2005 station didn’t track origins

May 29, 2009Recycle this! Van der Linde steps up tone

August 17, 2009Trash talkin’: Waste war could decide the future

August 17, 2009 Don Van der Linde? Wasteworks Whacks Recycler with RICO

Updated 9/29/2009 2:43pm

74 comments

This reminds me of playing basketball with other kids when I was 9. If you're going to lose you change the rules so that you can win! I figured that out and I don't charge $515 an hour. I love that my County tax dollars are going towards this junk (pun intended). RWSA is a disgrace. I'm sure they'll just change the rules to make being a disgrace a good thing.

LOVE the "DUMP RSWA" sign idea!

It really be cool if the lawyers name was Freddy

The lawsuit went from 3 to 11.

Have you seen Chevy's new logo.

"May the best car win"

That comes to mind when I read this.

This is incredible. And ridiculous.

Lest anyone have a misunderstanding of just who these folks are:
The current board consists of:

* Michael Gaffney, Chairman
* Mark B. Graham, P.E., Director of Community Development, Albemarle County
* Judith Mueller, Director of Public Works, City of Charlottesville
* Gary O'Connell, City Manager
* Robert Tucker, County Executive
* David Brown, Charlottesville City Councilor
* Ken Boyd, Albemarle County Supervisor
from: http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/Rivanna_Solid_Waste_Autho...
These are mostly the same people selling us down the river with the Ragged Mountain Dam. They should be mocked and sneered at when seen in public.
Van der Linde, on the other hand is exactly the kind of person we need on a board like RSWA, assuming we need one at all. Despite the vast difference in resources, he's creatively solving our area's trash and recycling problems and we're suing him for it. He makes our bureaucrat filled board look like a bunch of r@tards. And rightly so.

Reality Check, This is not about people (including myself) "not liking" Szakos personally, as you imply. I don't know Szakos personally.
I'm just watching her closely and while doing so, I'm seeing some strange action. I don't vote with or sign with any party. Szakos is a candidate, man! She put herself in the news. She is messing up so much it is funny and sad.

plop (aka ???!!) you need to check yourself. Your histrionics and paranoia schtick are getting tiresome. Nobody is trying to shut anybody up. Problem is, you guys are shooting at the wrong person.

You don't like Szakos? Fine, don't vote for her. But gunning for her like a pack of 4th grade girls in a school bathroom is really weird, and a touch obsessive.

My God, Fenwick scored ten times better than Szakos during the Fry Springs event. No one can argue that! She talked in circles the whole time. I say, let Fenwick and Co. dredge. My $ and yours will be saved.

We must have been at different events. Fenwick came across as an angry simpleton to many in the room and he totally blew it on the RWSA question. Not ready for prime time.

I meant RSWA

You are speaking of one question.
Kristen Szakos presented herself poorly for most of the event and you know it. No feather in the cap on this night.

???!!-- boy, are you confused. Your logic is all over th place. Do you not read The Hook and this blog? Since you are apparently the last one to know, I'll explain. Lots of people are upset at the way Gary O has represented the city on the RWSA board. People are upset with him for other reasons as well, but let's just use this as a current and particularly glaring example.

Are you saying that the citizens of Charlottesville now have to use restraint in criticizing the City Manager's job performance because he possesses special legal rights the rest of us don't? You'd better call the media and Rob Schilling too, because I don't think they got that memo.

Your use of the odd phrase "telling tales" to describe a simple statement makes it all the easier to identify you. Very few people speak in a vernacular reminiscent of a schoolmarm from Little House on the Prairie. Or maybe it's reminding me of Patty McCormick in The Bad Seed.

How can Mr. Free Enterprise himself, Ken Boyd let this happen ?
Isn't it time we show these people the exit and help Mr. Krueger find a new job for $515 an hour somewhere else ? Can't wait for this public hearing! And golly, Frederick and Mueller need more money to run Van der Linde out of business than their measeley salaries--maybe we should hold a fundraiser.

Lord help us poor Fluvanna County residents that live along Route 250 west of Zions Crossroads. Van der Linde officials graciously agreed to ban their owned trucks from using Route 250 via SUP requirement unless service is required in using Route 250. They have kept their promise and we very, very much appreciate it! However, if Van der Linde goes out of business and BFI takes over we will hear and see their trucks along with 50 million other big and loud haulers on Route 250 in Fluvanna County. Along with the trucks, once again, you will see an overwhelming amount of trash along the road along with safety issues, noise, and road deterioration. The ones using the BFI facility at Zions Crossroads use Route 250 in Fluvanna County exclusively. Flow control my foot as far as liter control along the Route 250 corridor in Fluvanna County is concerned. Taking I-64 at Zions Crossroads works just as well. Get with the program BFI!!

Peter van der Linde and Dave McNair will be on the Schilling Show next week on Wednesday at 1 PM. The shows airs on WINA on AM 1070. It should be a very informative show. If you miss it, you will be able to listen to a podcasts on http://www.wina.com/pages/3063561.php? .

Reality Check, What is your beef? Fess up.
Someone bothering you?
You need help.

@Let's get serious, your posts are devoid of information, just opinion.

Ditto!
Let's get Serious, Maybe you are tired???

I will vote for any candidate that will come out AGAINST flow control (and I do vote). I agree with RC, this is obviously just an idea created in a dark back room with a group of lawyers trying to figure out a way to exact a personal vendetta against a man that is doing good for our community. I am in absolute disbelieve that our money goes to fight something that is so easily seen as a good thing. Recycling without having to separate! A machine the does all of this for us! One container! What is wrong with these people. This is an outrage. Flow control will do nothing but stop innovation and drive up our bills. There is simply no reason for the RSWA to be in the trash/recycling business anymore. Sick Sick Sick.

Why is Van der Linde being sued? Where are the details about what he did wrong? I'm curious. It just seems like this article is very lopsided.

RC, Sorry your nerve was pressed. Szakos is yaking too much and making a fool of herself in public. Such is not Fenwick's fault nor mine.Did you go to the forum last night? Szakos presented herself as a nervous,needy teenager. I agree, there is plenty of blame to cast upon those in office, but the sad reality, Szakos is presenting herself pitifully. Why should we heap on false praise? Norris is also losing points for playing the big brother protective role for her. The well deserved criticism has nothing to do with Fenwick. You can stay embarrassed, I will be more embarrassed if she is elected! RC, Szakos spouted off inappropriately before the wrong group. More to come. And What's done is done.

Reality check is trying to shut some people up. My guess, they won't buy it. I hope all the facts come out for all to hear.

"How does she know this? Who is spilling the beans to her? "

Uhm... Mover@, do you really not realize that most of what happens in public as far as our local government (or government in general) goes is only the tip of the iceberg? She talks to the people who really call the shots in the local Democratic party. She wouldn't be where she is otherwise. Running her mouth like that probably won't be too pleasing to them though if it's for real.

The horrible RSWA situation was encouraged by C Council. We need a real change in this setup asap. Our city is being sold down the river and the BIG DEMS are leading the way.

When is the next forum and where and sponsored by whom?

Dirt about Gary O'Connell's insubordination has been in public for quite some time. Council gave him instrusction in his performance on RWSA in a Council meeting. Video is archived on the City's website. O'Connell proceeds to email RWSA board members to ignore what they had heard were the wishes of Council because Council didn't put it in writing and Lynch and Hamilton would be coming off of Council the next month (January).
Also, he has overseen so many projects with overruns, the City had to hire a private company to come in to oversee the Mall's rebricking. Do we need more?

Let's get serious OR Reality Check can't take it that Fenwick presents himself better than Szakos can. Why is this the fault of Fenwick or anyone else?

Peter van der Linde was on the Coy Barefoot show. Listen: http://www.cvillepodcast.com/2009/10/02/charlottesville-right-now-peter-...

Gary O'Connell is no where near retirement age. He hasn't hit 60 even and I don't know of any early-retirement plan for City Hall, just the school system.
@Mike, no, I'm not Rob Schilling. He's the one that could stand sitting on Council listening politely to a bunch of nuts. I'm the who would sit there quietly, but my face would be projecting "Oh, sit down you fool and shut up. I don't want to waste my limited brain power absorbing your mess."
Betty Mooney could be on the list. She uses the necessary tact that I have stopped bothering with. With me, the thinner the hair, the thinner the patience. Thanks, though. I firmly believe that Reality Check could become a good councilor. What about Downing Smith and Colette Hall? The make great watchers and don't appear to be "pack driven." Of course, there's a lot of mundane duties and financial stuff that most of our Councilors have not shown interest in. That's why we have so many AUTHORITES. Past Councilors passed the buck. Hopefully the current ones will reverse their direction and not support the proposed regional transit/transportation authority that is being strongly pushed by the County. I think Norris has been snowed by them on this issue.

In the link above, Coy Barefoot offers a beginning plan of action.

RSWA still needs that extra $14/ton to pay for its old landfill cleanup problems. They need an RFP for find someone who is willing to collect it. BFI was willing and Allied has it in its contract now. We're talking millions. van der Linde operation threatens that of Allied and they're not sure if he will be on their team. Boyd unwittingly opened the door by saying publicly he was interested at looking at privatizing that operation. Thant gave the other board members and staff enough time to come up with flow control, which is pretty much the relationship RWSA has with Allied now, a monopoly on that $14/ton. With Brown, O'Connell and Mueller in favor, it's a shoo-in. This is why we sholdn't have any more AUTHORITIES.

The DISGRACE is on our political leaders! Perhaps the law allows county/city government to direct all solid wast to a governmentally owned facility for purposes of health, safety and welfare. But, that does NOT appear to be the case here in Albemarle County.

The Supreme Court opinion contains this quote;
ââ?¬Å?There is no reason to step in and hand local busi-
nesses a victory they could not obtain through the po-
litical process.” Ante, at 11, 13.

The law assumes that THE PEOPLE elect good and fair public officials. Maybe we need new people in office who respect our land and will encourage recycling. People who respect the people and their money. People who encourage innovation and private enterprise.

Mr. Van Der Linde seems to be doing more for the health, safety and welfare of this community that RSWA. If our elected officials have a different opinion then they should make their case for the people to consider. Silence in intolerable and the public deserves better. Hiding behind high dollar attorneys should not be tolerated!

It also sets up a perfect scenario where a company might pay board members for their vote to award the contract. This scenario may induce some members to favor this method.

It seems to me that if they institute flow control then they need to reimburse van der linde for his losses since they effectivly eminent domained his business and condemned it.

Everyone needs to realize that this is a ploy that waste Management lobbyists are fighting for nationwide in order to get more business at a higher price. This is not just a local issue.

Next up is requiring all homeowners and businesses to recycle nearly everything. In some counties around the country they are fining busineses by going through their dumpster and finding a plastic bottle or a newspaper. Imagine having to have different trash cans for plastic, paper, newspaper, glass, foodstuffs, metal, and misc at EVERY DESK at EVERY OFFICE or get fined THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

Just like the oil companies quietly lobby against global warming the WASTE companies lobby with misleading facts about recycling.

as with any of this.....follow the money.

@Mike, City Council hires and fires the City Manager. The City Manager hires and fires everybody else. It's funny but Overrun O'Connell has been doing an unsatisfactory job for over a decade and most of that time Council has consistently given him a raise around September. He may not have gotten one last year and I haven't read where Council is discussing his evaluation this Fall.

There needs to be a serious edge to all of this. As in "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore" edge. Civility and politeness will only be used against us by the tottering tyrants to shove what we do not want down our throats and shove it elsewhere, because Tom Frederick and his civil thugs act as if they are in control here. But, first, as Howard pointed out, you gotta get mad! I'm not speaking of violence, but I am speaking of a clear and active demonstration of the electorate to forcefully remind all local elected officials that we taxpayers are in charge of how our money is spent. It is time to rise up and rid ourselves of this miscreant miasma, NOW!

Anyone up for printing up some Dump RWSA/RSWA yard signs? I can't think of a clever way to put it, and that hardly rolls off the tongue but I'd sure like to be able to put one in my yard! This shxt is getting ridiculous? What next?

RC, you're so right, if this is such a great idea why didn't they think of it 10 years ago. Totally transparent --a way to destroy Van der Linde. I'm for yard signs, petitions, voting for Fenwick, and anything else we can do to get rid of the RSWA/RWSA, and the officials that have their name on the lawsuit against this private businessman.

Best idea I've heard in a long, long time.

DUMP RSWA!!!

Someone please print them signs up! I'd gladly give a donation to whatever group does to get one and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

A monopoly is only legal if the government has got it and not a local citizen.

This is more unAmerican then a buldozer running over an apple pie.

Like a non-fat cheeseburger.

Do we live in Chicago now?

Elect Bob Fenwick !

Rob Schilling just announced that Dave McNair and Peter van der Linde will be on an upcoming Schilling Show, but he didn't say when. Dave?

Szakos has been heard,observed to say(within public areas),that she believes O'Connell will be "going" soon. There are reliable witnesses to her comment. How does she know this? Who is spilling the beans to her? Does Szakos make unwise,impulsive statements? The answer is yes. Loose lips? The answer is yes. This is very dangerous behavior for an elected official or candidate.

They always claim it's his stellar financial management and AAA bond rating. Who wouldn't be able to get that with all the money floating around Charlottesville --this year may be a different story.

Thanks C'ville Eye. I know that the City Council hires the City Manager and assumed that meant they could fire him as well with I assume as well some limitations on being able to do that and avoid paying a fortune in legal fees(not that wasting money on such things seems to be a problem around here). I wonder if there is a process that citizens can be more directly involved in to remove him.

Norris is fairly weak in his nice guy role, Brown is far worse, practically an O'Connell puppet, Holly Edward recently proved she doesn't have what it takes to stand up to RWSA even when she thinks they are wrong, and the other two don't seem like boat rockers to me. That means O'Connell isn't going any time soon without another approach. I was just hoping there was something we could try directly.

****Wow, it's really kind of depressing to mentally go over the list of City Councilors. I'm about as far from a Republican as you can get, but I'm starting to think I need to contribute to them locally just to force the other side to run better candidates. Szakos substituted for Talliaferro makes the list even less impressive.

mover2, you say that Szakos is "behaving badly" yet you offer nothing as an example. When I hear a statement like "behaving badly" I think of crass and boorish behavior. Her stating that O'Connell might be leaving is neither.

Plop, if you personally witnessed her "spreading this all over town", then why didn't you act like an adult and ask her about it directly, instead of spreading innuendo on the internet? Are you perhaps prone to juvenile hysteria and exaggeration, and so this is your preferred method of communication?

If you feel she's not a good debater, then say so. If you don't like her policies, then state clear reasons why, and back them up with fact, not innuendo. By the way, you can be a mediocre debater, and still be a good legislator. Anyone can have an off night or two. I give people the benefit of the doubt, even people on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Szakos is not a friend of mine, and I disagree with her on a few of the issues. However, any time I've spent around her (alone or in a group, or when she's addressing an audience) she has been unfailingly polite, thoughtful, and genuinely interested in the people with whom she is conversing. I've never heard her say a mean or gossipy thing about anyone, even though she could have easily gotten away with doing so.

To All: Many people are upset with Gary O'Connell for many reasons, the latest being what's happening with the RWSA and RSWA. You'd have to be living under a rock to not know this. As many of you have read on this blog and others, city councilors have been coming under fire for not getting rid of him. His job performance and future retirement are topics of discussion many places, and by MANY people. This is a good time for ALL OF US to be discussing what we do and don't want in a future city manager. To single out one person's (Szakos) comments on the subject for censure is ridiculous.

Hmm, Szakos herself "spreading rumors" about Gary. It seems she would strive to set a higher standard in this regard. It is not up to the posters to tip a hat. Reality Check, do you have a medical license that qualifies you to dianose dysfuntional disorders via the internet? Your silliness is a joke. Lastly,Szakos' mentor is Dave, you know the one who caves to most everyone and especially the county. Szakos is tied to his side, and follows him like a puppy. Come to the next forum and you will get the picture. A hopeless situation.

Gary O'Connell also has legal rights as far as his job performance goes. I think it is smart for us all to remember that. I believe anyone (including paid officials or candidates), telling tales concerning his work performance had better use restraint. The public expects better of our leaders. The public has ears and uses them.

Reality Check,why don't the "DEMMIES in control" fire him if he is so BAD or out of control? Instead, they tuck a tail and gossip,whisper,rant..as you are doing??? HINT HINT!!
OR, Why don't the local people rise up to demand accountability?
I welcome the public's critical eye in this regard. The prob.,it isn't the general public talking.
By the way, WE ALL know who you are!!! Have a problem with us knowing?
By the way, the other dummies in the city let Gary have his way with RWSA. GARY's WIN here! THE CITY GOV LET HIM DO IT!

Anyone who thinks Fenwick is capable of holding elected office should have heard his response to the RSWA question at the Fry's Spring candidate forum. It was painful to watch. Even Fenwick's supporters were embarrassed. That's the danger of having a one-issue candidate. He is absolutely out of his league.

Reality Check, You're not making sense tonight. Your rantings and accusations are concerning. Please realize that the present City Council is ineffective in many many ways. Why bring on more of the same? It is obvious that is what you are pushing for.

Everyone out there who thinks that the RSWA just suddenly happened to realize that flow-control is a great idea, and that this has nothing at all to do with Mr Van der Linde's potentially successful facility, please raise your hands.

Yet another shameful episode from the RSWA/RWSA. Plain and simple... throw the bums out.

Vote for Fenwick. This article says flow control has to be approved by the city and county. Fenwick will vote against it.

It appears Mueller and gang were waiting for naive Ken Boyd to bring the subject up. The gang certainly has no desire to lose its power. Marionette Brown's comments are noticeably missing in theis article.
Kurt Krueger - as a legal advisor, why is he weighing-in on the RFP? He has no document to evaluate legally. Apparently, we are paying him $515 per hour to run the board, his employer. What a free-for-all.
Ken Boyd can forget about running for the 5th District's congressional seat. Too weak. Of course David Brown can forget about everything. He's a puppet.

Sorry that I don't know or even know where to look myself, but does anyone know what Charlottesville citizens can do to change our City Manager? There is so much wrong here that I don't see a solution other than making some big changes starting at the top and working down.

Mr./Mrs. Eye. Assuming you aren't Rob Schilling (hell even if you are) my current dream City Council has you, Bob Fenwick, and Peter Kleeman putting things back on track around here. Maybe Kevin Lynch would actually be able to do something useful rather than siting idly by with a pained look on his face with a group like that to work with. He doesn't quite make it onto my dream team though. Any others I'm overlooking?

"I’m the who would sit there quietly, but my face would be projecting ââ?¬Å?Oh, sit down you fool and shut up. I don’t want to waste my limited brain power absorbing your mess.”

Holy crap, so you're David Brown?!?!???!?!

From what I am observing, Bob Fenwick appears to be doing well. The lady appears to be encountering some difficulty. I'm not speaking of rumor, but of observed happenings throughout the community. Szakos' advocates must see that she improves and that she is accountable for her own mistakes. It is unfair for her supporters to cast blame for her flaws on Fenwick. She is a grown woman and she is responsible for her own actions. Fenwick can deal with RSWA. I don't believe Szakos can. I also respect Fenwick for holding firm with regard to the parkway. Ms Szakos will never stop the intrusion.

Reality check, No one (except you) suggested Gary O'connell made any comments himself about retiring. Szakos knows something about O'Connell because she is passing the word all over town. I suggest you ask her to give you the scoop directly.

Reality Check, The problem is Szakos is behaving so badly and folks are in shock at this point. Norris can't continue to prop her up. Have you talked with Szakos of late or listened to her speak? I would have to say, you appear clueless. Who is actually paranoid or in denial in this forum? Unsure it is the other posters.

I'm sure Szakos, aged 50, is aware that the public will evaluate her perception of her abilities and her shortcomings. Frankly, I see absolutely nothing that she brings to Council's table that is an attribute that I expect a person to have in order to deal with a $142M annual budget. And I will continue to say so until she can prove otherwise. So far, she is not running on financial issues, but social issues. We have had far too many of those on Councils past. That's why Gary O'Connell only allow them to play with about $5M a year. She would be hard pressed to find a $142M corporation that would accept her on its board, so I see no reason to put her on mine. Dave Norris won his election with about a 1500-vote margin, if I remember correctly, and I'm sure those voters will be glad to vote for her because they were social issue people. From what I've heard about her statements at the Fry's Spring Beach Club, she is totally unaware of the particulars of any of the City's issues, so I wonder where has she been all of this time.

@Mike, keep it coming!

I like Dave Norris, and was surprised to learn that he's got a masters degree in government, but when the City recently demanded greater representation on both the RWSA and RSWA boards because Gary O'Connell and Judy Mueller weren't on the same page as council, and was able to place a councilor on each board, who was selected? Brown on RSWA and Edwards on RWSA. These are some of the most powerful local entities, and rather than forcefully represent Charlottesville as its Mayor on each or either of them, Dave Norris left the hard work up to others who seem unequal to the task. Disappointing to say the least.
There are spots available on the Citizen's advisory board for RSWA. I'd encourage any city or county residents who are fed up with stories like this one to apply.

Mike, Sadly, it is completely true. If she denies her comment, and she may try to do so, then there are those who will call her down fast. She did what she did. Multiple members of the public heard her statements and documented the situation. Szakos or the Dems can't wiggle out. She was caught red handed.

"... paying a fortune in legal fees..." depends upon his employment contract. Another option is that Council can chastise his behavior in public. O'Connell and Mueller are appointed as representative of the City. Instead they actively serve as representatives of themselves, obviously operating and voting against the will of Council. Insubordination is often legitimate grounds for firing. Personally I think firing should be the last resort for disputes between managers and employees, but O'Connell's conduct has been pretty egregious, I think he should be given a warning that includes his infractions and, if he persists, he should be shown the door. I smell funk and I smell Mueller, Brown and O'Connell working behind the backs of the rest of Council to come up with this flow control idea.
"...AAA bond rating..." That's because we stash 10% of our annual budgets to an account that is non-expendable. That's over $14M just sitting there. He also gets staff to fill out a bunch of qustionnaires to win awards which makes everyone think that he must be doing a superior job.
"...the other two don’t seem like boat rockers to me..." and they owe O'Connell for the best retirement benefits in the State, according to Blake Caravati.
"...just to force the other side to run better candidates..." We had a Republican on Council who frequently called O'Connell, but in putting the Party above good government, the Democrats on Council spent their time trying to discredit Rob Schilling rather than insisting upon better performance from the staff. They got rid of him and have exposed the skeleton of our local government in the worst kind of way.
"...Dave Norris left the hard work up to others..." he serves on the Housing Authority and spent about four years trying to chase the former ex. dir. out of town. When she finnaly left, the housing authority has had F ratings (troubled site) ever since and lost its ability to even apply for grants from HUD. He may have a degree in Government but he skipped over the chapters in management.
"...she believes O’Connell will be ââ?¬Å?going” soon." Sounds to me the plan is to spread the rumor within earshot of O'Connell that the Edwards, Szakos, Norris voting block will kick him out if he keeps not putting the $$$$M they want for low-income housing. It's just a ploy. Don't count on it. None of the three has experience in firing anyone and don't know how to go about it.

Went to the candidate's gathering last evening, Fry Spring's beach club. I was totally impressed with Bob Fenwick and he surely won my vote. He was confident and reassuring, yet he adequately addressed the questions. Szakos left me scratching my head as she visably struggled for answers. The Mayor tried to help her during the speeches, but she continued to fumble.Fenwick will listen to the people. Szakos will listen to the Dems.

As the drift goes, Szakos is now in trouble. She has brought on the crossing of a legal line in speaking of the city plan for Gary O's job. Of course she is learning it all from the inside.Poor judgement indeed.

The free market responds. Dump RSWA bumperstickers now available here:

http://www.zazzle.com/dump_rswa_bumper_sticker-128212924501142953

and on www.schillingshow.com

Thanks to Dave McNair for his fearless coverage of this issue.

There's been talk in town for several years that Gary O'Connell is nearing retirement. This isn't news to anyone. One could hardly be surprised, considering his enormous pension package. Perhaps Gary himself has made idle comments about retiring.

If Bob Fenwick is half the candidate you claim he is, then you're not helping him any by rumor-mongering in this manner. It smells of desperation and bullying.

I'm pro-dredging and anti-MCP, and I'm embarrassed at the way some of you are foaming at the mouth. Save your ire for the elected and hired officials who got us into this mess in the first place.