Paul Quinn President, Regional Chamber Prez Ask Council to Delay Vote on Flow Control

Categories: City Hall
president-sorrell.jpg
Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell
Anyone who's even glanced Unfair Park in the last few months knows by now that City Manager Mary Suhm and Mary Nix, head of Sanitation Services, are hoping that the city council will vote tomorrow on a proposal that will force all solid-waste haulers to dump their trash at the McCommas Bluff Landfill. That's the so-called flow control proposal -- the "green path from trash to treasure," the city calls it, insisting that the garbage can be recycled as energy and sold for profit. Which it already does, thanks to a deal with T. Boone Pickens.

But City Hall's facing stiff opposition to the proposal -- not just from waste-haulers, who point out in emails to media that the city has been lowering projected revenues with each new PowerPoint, but from folks who live and learn near the landfill off Simpson Stuart Road. Already there's been one protest from students who attend Paul Quinn College. And tomorrow, before the vote, there will be another -- this one attended by the university's president, Michael Sorrell, who has sent out an email to friends and supporters encouraging their attendance as well.

That email follows. So too does my brief conversation with Sorrell, who said, moments ago, that he's not necessarily opposed to flow control. He simply doesn't understand why the city's in such a big rush to rubber-stamp the proposal when there remain so many questions concerning its long-term impact -- both financially and on the area around the landfill, including the Highland Hills neighborhood.

And as Rudy noted this morning, behind the scenes there are some folks are pushing -- hard -- to back-burner flow control for as long as possible. Matter of fact, just moments ago we just received a letter from Dallas Regional Chamber President and CEO Jim Oberwetter in which he asks Mayor Mike Rawlings to slow his flow control roll. (It follows.)  This morning, I sent Nix emails asking: What's the rush, really? I will update when she responds.

[Update at 2:26 p.m.: Nix responds by saying that "council began considering this topic well over a year ago. It does not appear that there is any unusual timetable in the works to bring a flow control ordinance to Council for their vote. They've heard three separate briefings on the topic since June 1; they have had any number of meetings with staff, community and the waste industry; they have been updated by memo twice in this month. It appears they are ready to consider the item." And Paula Blackmon, Rawlings's chief of staff, says that the mayor supports the flow control ordinance.]

Says Sorrell, "Seriously, the irony of this is they want us to have the largest garbage dump in the Southwest within a mile and a half" of Paul Quinn, "and we don't have a grocery store within six miles? Is that really where we live today?"

What is it you're ultimately hoping will result from tomorrow's protest at City Hall?

All we are saying is: Let's study the issue. There's nothing controversial about that. [He laughs.] All we're saying is flow control may be a good idea or it may not be a good idea, we just don't know. I am very, very proud of our students for standing up for what they believe in, and they have asked us to support them, and we will. And our board agrees: We wish the city would slow down. The reality of the situation is this: This could be a mistake that we can never undo. And I just that's an awfully heavy burden to assume without thoroughly vetting it.

What are your thoughts on the so-called Southeast Oak Cliff Stimulus Fund, which the council would also vote on tomorrow. Seems rather vague -- the promise of no more than $1 million annually for an allotted period of time that'll go ... where, exactly?

I think without adequate study, which allows you to ascertain what is the right path to take at the McCommas landfill, we have no way of predicting that what the city suggests is sufficient for a stimulus fund or equity investment or whatever it's being called. Let's say the city offers $1 million a year, and there are some hurdles you have to get to to reach $1 million, and they cap it at 20 years. Let's really think about this. Suppose the landfill never makes the objectives the city sets forth. If they don't reach those objectives, the community isn't better off than it was before, except you have the largest garbage dump in the Southwest down the street.

Let's say it hits a home run and makes $30 million a year. And we're going to get no more than $1 million? That's not going to build a grocery store. That's not going to do significant infrastructure improvement. This is not how public policy is supposed to work. You're supposed to do analysis and engage the community fully before doing this.

And I hear people say this is just Paul Quinn College. No, it isn't. When my students organized a town hall this summer there were 250 people, and they weren't for it. And there's a petition out there with more than 700 names. Clearly, the community isn't for it.

What would you like the council to say tomorrow?

Here's what we would like to hear the council say: We are going to appoint a citizen-led committee, give them six to eight months to come back with a recommendation for the best option of the transition of the McCommas Bluff Landfill. What will maximize revenues and what will create the best opportunity for sustainable economic development in Highland Hills. And what's so controversial about that?Oberwetter Letter to Rawlings Concerning Flow ControlAnd this is Sorrell's email that went out today:
Dear Friends of the Quinnite Nation:

I hope all is well.

My proudest moment as a college president occurred last Wednesday, September 21st. That was the day when almost 100 Paul Quinn College students stood up for themselves and the people of Highland Hills in protest of the city's unwillingness to appoint a citizen-led committee to study and identify a plan for the McCommas Bluff Landfill. The students and the Highland Hills community seek a plan that will 1) maximize revenues to the city and 2) create the best vehicle for short and long-term economic development along the I-45 corridor and the Highland Hills neighborhood.

The students of the Quinnite Nation created the "I Am Not Trash" movement and organized this demonstration to show Dallas that there are college-age voting citizens who are unafraid to show servant leadership on difficult and complex municipal matters. Our students (and I) don't understand how anyone can make such an important decision without understanding every aspect of the policy change and without intimately involving the affected constituents in the decision-making process. To us, this isn't only about flow control, this is about respect, leadership, and vision. This type of decision-making is how the Highland Hills neighborhood wound up being 1.5 miles from a garbage dump, but over six miles from a quality, full-service grocery store. Southern Dallas deserves a plan for how it will be developed over the course of the next 50 years. Dallas deserves advocates who will approach problem-solving through careful study and an appreciation of all sides of policy decisions -- including the future costs. Simply put, we all deserve better than this.

The students of Paul Quinn College have asked us to join them tomorrow- September 28th- at 8:00am, at Dallas City Hall (1500 Marilla Street) as they continue their objection to this ill-formulated plan. I am hoping that you, your friends, family members and colleagues will stand with us from 8:00am to noon (or any part of that time) to show the city that a hurried decision is a mistake. Let's take the time to fully understand the price we are being asked to pay for becoming the largest garbage dump in the Southwest.

At Paul Quinn College, we are proud of our students and that we don't need to accept any monetary incentives to influence our beliefs.

Please respond to this email if you will be able to join us. Also, feel free to circulate this email to anyone you feel may be interested in supporting our students.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you,

Michael

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16 comments
Church Lady
Church Lady

Mr. Wilonsky,Thank you for your reporting on this vital issue.Live near the landfill,please more info on Organic Energy Corp andT. Adkins role in drowning my neighborhood in TRASH!

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Why are my tax dollars going to send city employees to Europe right before the city manager starts laying people off again? Why can't Mary Nix answer a simple question? Why is the landfill coming up $5 million dollar short of its budget projections? Why is the mayor in such a hurry to pass flow control? Does't the community get a voice in how much garbage they have to accept? Is the city really going to let an unknown company with unproven technology tie up its waste stream for 20 years? No matter how the vote goes today flow control will be a topic of investigative reports and media coverage for the next couple of years.  People voting for it will have their names attached to the outcome. They don't have the secure pensions that will allow the two Mary's to fade into the sunset. It will be Mayor Rawling's boondoggle.  

Angrycitizen
Angrycitizen

According to city council members the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, one of the area's most respected business organizations, has now asked the Dallas City Council to delay a vote o flow control until "careful study of the presented a available options is undertaken and completed.

I am sure Mayor Rawlings will heed the advice of these respected business leaders who have evaluated the available information and decided this is an issue that deserves more study. The artificial deadline set by the city manager should be a red flag that there is something fishy going on here. Like a salesman who says buy now or the deal will be gone these kind of high pressure tactics are a sure sign you are getting a bad deal.

Following tonight's expose anyone who votes for flow control at this time will be voting for a lack of transparency, openness and honesty in Dallas city government.

Pizzaman
Pizzaman

Mayor: trash hauling isn't like pizza. The mayor thinks that the trash hauling companies will just eat the 20% increase in costs association with flow control. If you make a pizza you can always take off a few slices of pepporoni to offer a discount pie. But you can't cut back on the sauce or olives when you are using trucks that cost $250,000 each and get four miles per gallon. Since he is now in the concession business the mayor should also realize you can charge an arm and a leg for food if you are the only vendor at the stadium. Same is true if you are the only landfill in town people can use. So either the mayor is nieve for backing flow control or he loves having a monopoly position to corner the market and take as much money as possible from the poor folks caught in his trap. Anyone watching the flow control debate in Dallas will quickly conclude that they have a much better chance of success in busines by staying as far away from the City of Dallas as possible. Did anyone say Frisco?      

RTGolden
RTGolden

Apparently, this is another of the myriad, get rich at the public's expense schemes that seem to fly through Dallas City Council.  Organic Energy couches it's public announcement in very politically correct terms... recycling, jobs, public/private, minimal expenditure of public funds, etc.  Who could argue with that?It appears to be a large scale recycling plant.  Trash will be separated into inorganic recyclables, organics, and trash.  The trash will go into the landfill, the company will bale and sell the recyclables (retaining all of that profit), the organics will go into collection tanks to collect the methane which will be sold and profit-shared with the city.You can bet that the operating costs will be taken out of the proceeds from methane sales, thus reducing the 'profit' from that part of the operation, meanwhile the company will sell the hard recyclable materials (paper, metal, plastics) and keep the bulk of those proceeds as profit, which doesn't have to be 'shared' with the city.http://www.organicenergycorp.c...

Here's my problem:  From a CATO institute study, 13 of the worst 50 Superfund Hazardous waste sites were former recycling plants.  The paper's author goes on to cite many reasons why recycling is not the answer to our environmental problems.  He seems to focus on recycling paper, because at the time, 80% of recycled material was paper goods.  Admittedly, CATO isn't an unbiased source, but neither is the green movement, the UN, or the global warming, carbon credit scamming, Al Gore movement.  As always, finding the truth involves a lot of sifting through extremes.  I'll put some sources for both sides up here.  You are all probably much more aware than I am, and able to make your own sound decisions.

http://www.cato.org/pub_displa...http://discardstudies.wordpres...

Now for Pro-Recycle

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserv...http://swmd.net/documents/EBRR...

As someone moving to that area of Dallas County very soon, I feel I have a stick in the fire here.  I agree with the folks from Paul Quinn, slow down, look at all the angles, and make sure what we're doing is in the best interests of the people, and not just some corporation looking to ejaculate and evacuate.

Seenitallbefore
Seenitallbefore

Red Flag Warnings of Looming Scandal at Dallas City Hall

Artificial and forced deadline for decision makingFavored vendor has inside trackDecision made before RFP to learn best alternative technologiesLeading industry experts kept from discussions before decision by staffPresentations copies from favored vendor's proposals and designated showcase facilitiesReasonable alternative solutions rejected out of hand and without explanationTaxpayer dollars spend to implement a program the city council has not approvedTrips at taxpayer's expense to Europe and California before city council makes decision on the issueFalse and misleading information provided to public officialsVisit to a single recycling center basis for decision concerning flow controlBiased and incomplete surveys used to justify decisionRefusal to allow independent third party to evaluate evidence from both sides so council can make an informed decisionSlush fund for council member to gain his support added at the last minuteCommunity and industry concerned ignored or dismissed

Cityhallinsider
Cityhallinsider

Let's see. Major public corporations with worldwide presence say "we'dlike to do business with the city if you don't pass a law that costsour companies and customers millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses."  Mayor says no way, I want to help a small start up company that owns and operates nothing because they have helped the city staff and councilman Atkins take wonderful trips to far away places to learn about resource recovery. It's our way of helping small businesses. We are in deep trouble here folks and this is only going to get worse. If the Mayor or the two Mary's think passing flow control will end the discussion they are very wrong. It will continue as the media digs deeper. Blood is in the water.         

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

It appears that the firm that has the inside track to get awarded this deal, without any sort of competition whatsoever, is Organic Energy Corporation ( www.organicenergycorp.com ), a small, unknown company with no operating history operating out of a shared office on Cedar Springs.

Lovely.  Nothing strange going on here [rolls eyes].

Fedupwithdallas
Fedupwithdallas

Mayor is now far off the reservation. He is trying to make a deal to create a task force after council passes flow control. he must think the people in South Dallas are really dumb. What good is a task force after the vote? Why did the Mayor pass up offers that could have brought $50 million to the table now instead of a pitiful pittance later?Doesn't the Mayor realize that there are not 190 hauler competing for business in Dallas and that costs will increase substantially if you have to truck garbage all those extra miles?  Will wiser council members save the Mayor from himself? Don't miss Channel 8 news tonight at 10.      

Seenitallbefore
Seenitallbefore

Reports are that Mary Suhm is on the warpath and is pressuring the council to approve flow control. The Mayor, who swore he would never increase costs to businesses, is backing away from that promise and now says he supports the idea - even though he has been shown documentary evidence that flow control will increase costs to local businesses.  Atkins supported Rawlings and now Rawlings is supporting Atkins. Some things never change in the Southern sector.Tongiht, Channel 8 will blow the lid off this whole sorry mess. The media has caught on to the scam and there will be true accountability for anyone who supports this idea without further study. Ironically, it was Atkins who brought Paul Quinn into the discussion in the first place.  Mary Nix did a big community presentation on flow control and resource recovery - and even the youngest freshman at Paul Quinn saw through the B.S. The Mayor is new, nieve and needs to listen to the experts at the chamber who have a lot more experience in government than he does. He should give them a call and not ignore their sound advice.   

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Michael Sorrell, we know how you feel with the city manager wanting to rush things without study and asking a lot of questions. Like the gas issue, you DO need a task force, the city DOES need to slow down. The city continues to say how much they love the southern and western half of Dallas then out of the blue they want to create the largest dump in the Southwest or they want to drill the hell out of us.

You are right. Mary Suhm is wrong. Keep up the fight. We're with you on this.

Abby
Abby

You boys!  If you would look past your foggy goggles you'd see there are salient points to be made in favor of flow control and what happens next.  Do you think a small company like OEC can pull this off without some scrutiny? The Council will have to vet this deal like any others, and you can bet the big boys will be hammering them as well.  Flow control is simply putting the garbage and the money in their private landfill or the city's, that's all.  If you guys believed half of what you write, we'd all be living in tents with candles.  Is that it?  Are you all tree huggers?? You, Wylie H. and Insider?  Same 'ole, same 'ole.  Bet you have some reasonable ideas as well, right?

RTR
RTR

Oh, no worries, its a Way-Wize wholly owned subsidiary!!!!! 

Plasma Burner
Plasma Burner

Seenit?  I'm afraid you haven't!  Watch and see what they all do now!  This thing is a done deal and you won't believe who's coming to the table.  You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Intriguing....I figured there's got to be some major cronies behind this deal... Someone strong enough to circumvent the normal RFP process, duck transparency, set up dummy front companies, etc.

Who exactly should we be expecting to show up and how much are they going to skin us for?

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