Monday, March 03, 2014

$5 Million and Growing for St. Louis County Trash Program

In his most recent “You Paid For It,”  Fox 2 News Investigative Reporter Elliott Davis reports on St. Louis County’s intentional noncompliance with a state statute that has the potential to cost county taxpayers $5.9 million, or even more.

The trash haulers lawsuit that originated in 2008 has worked its way all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court where the trash haulers won in 2013.  The case was remanded back to the Circuit Court to settle the only remaining issue, which is just how much the county will have to pay the three victorious haulers (American Eagle, Meridian and Waste
Charlie Dooley

 Management).  The county appealed the money judgment and thinks that it can also appeal the merits of the original case again.  However, Jane Dueker, the winning attorney for the trash haulers says that “the (Missouri) Supreme Court has determined that they (the county) did not give the proper notice, then in fact the only issue left is how much money they owe the trash haulers for wrongfully displacing them.”

When Elliott Davis asked St. Louis County Counselor Pat Redington why the county did not send the notice certified mail as required by state statute before taking away the trash haulers customers, she replied, “They all got it.  There’s no question that they got it.”  And, she added, “The only question is whether a letter telling the trash haulers about the program should have been sent by certified mail instead of regular mail.”

Dueker countered by stating that the whole issue could have been easily avoided if the county would have just complied with the law.  Dueker said, “Very easily.  They could have just given the notice.  It would have been real easy to just comply with the law.  They (the county) just said, oh, we don’t have to.”  I mean, that’s what they’ve always said, they’ve had that level of arrogance that they don’t have to comply with the law.” 

With regard to the pending judgment, Redington says that the taxpayers would only have to absorb $2 million dollars of the $5.9 million dollars judgment, since insurance would cover the rest.  However, the county’s insurance rates could be affected, especially since this issue could have been avoided by complying with the law.

Of the trash hauler’s judgment, Dueker said, “We initially got a judgment for $1.1 million.  The county appealed.  And, now that judgment is $5.9 million.  And, interest is running on that judgment currently.  We’re currently requesting about $8 million dollars.  And, so if the county appeals again, yes, that number could go up.”  

When asked about the handling of the case, Redington told Davis that she thought the county handled the case properly.  She said, “I think we did the case right.  I’m happy with the way we did the case.”  And, of course, why wouldn’t she and the rest of the Dooley administration be happy.  After all, they can’t be held personally accountable and it’s not their money at stake – it’s yours, the taxpayers.

If you would like to express your opinion about this issue to your St. Louis County officials who played a key role in establishing a trash program that will cost you millions, call or email the following officials, as they’re probably anxiously awaiting to hear from you.

 Charlie Dooley                                                   Garry Earls                                          Patricia Redington

St. Louis County Executive                           Chief Operating Officer                 St. Louis County Counselor

(314) 615-7016                                                   (314) 615-7016                                   (314) 615-7025                                

Click on the following link to watch the two minute and 42 second “You  Paid For It” video about the county administration’s bungling of the never-ending trash fiasco:


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