Palm Bay: Okay, Who Has The Naked Pictures?

At tonight’s Palm Bay City Council meeting which starts at 7:00 PM and after the Mayor’s State of the City message at 6:30 P.M., the City Council will take up its normal load of things, two of which caught our eye.

The first is Agenda item New Business – 9 (NB-9) which is:

Consideration of 90-day negotiation period of Solid Waste and Recyclable Materials Collection and Disposable agreement with Waste Management, Inc.

But there is more to it than that as provided by the item cover memo:

Of interest to us was this:

Due to the complex nature and scope of the services provided, the process of issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit bids for the service can take several months. Additionally, if another entity were selected for waste and recyclable collection, the transition would encompass several months as well.

The current contract with Waste Management is set to expire on September 30, 2020 and will simply “roll over” if the City does not notify Waste Management they are ending the contract 120 days prior to that date.

Working backwards, 120 days from September 30, 2020 means Waste Management would have to be notified by June 2, 2020 that the contract was not automatically being renewed. That’s 1 year, 3 months, 26 days from Feb 7, 2019.

The City itself is saying that it would take “several months” to write an RFP. We’ll even give an additional 3 months to determine needs of the contract prior to writing the RPF. Responses from companies would take 30 – 60 days (so let’s say two months because we are being generous. The evaluation of the proposals would take 30 days, buy once again, let’s say two months because we are generous here at Raised on Hoecakes. Final step would be approval and signing of the contract by the City Council which would take a month at the most.

That’s ten (10) months total to do an RFP and award a contract which is well before the 16 months contract kill date of June 2, 2020. That’s half a year before that date and we are being generous on the working times to complete the RFP process.

Furthermore, if a new company is awarded the contract and can’t get their butt in gear to service the City within the 120 days from the notification to Waste Management that the contract was going to end, the City shouldn’t be awarding the contract to that company anyway. In addition, we are using the 120 days as a benchmark when in fact the time frame from the signing of a new contract to first day on the job would be 9 months.

Yet for some reason, the City only wants to negotiate with Waste Management.

That leads us to the question of “who in City Hall does Waste Management have naked pictures of that would cause this plan of action from the City?”

People aren’t happy with the services provided by Waste Management. There is also the issue of the current once a week pick up versus twice a week that people seem to want.

Instead of opening the process to more companies, more options, and more competition, the City seems intent on closing off competition and the only reasons we can think of is incompetence, kick backs, or nekkid pictures.

The City also wants to look at having the Brevard County Tax collector add trash fees as a non-ad valorum item on the tax bills.

We have major concerns with that as well.

First is that at a time when people are scraping together money to pay their tax bill, that proposal will add another chunk of money to bill that must be paid in full instead of the current system which allows for monthly payments. There is also the fact that the County Tax Office takes 2% of any non-ad valorum taxes they collect. That’s going to mean that the City is faced with one of two choices – to increase the amount of the tax by 2% or to “eat” the 2% itself. We don’t see that happening. The City says that it will save on costs by going through the Tax Collector. We find that claim dubious as well as there is no savings on the actual paper or administrative costs of the actual bill. The savings would have to be in maintaining the billing records, delinquent accounts, etc. (All of which should be computerized but would still need a person to run and input data.)

We find the claim by the City that saving money there to be dubious as well.

According to our calculations, the trash contract is worth somewhere between $6 million and $6.5 million per year. With 2% going to the Tax Collector, that is $120,000 – $130,000. That’s roughly a little under 3 people making the average income of $44,000 in the City of Palm Bay. Hold up your hand if you think that any of the City staff will lose their job because of the collection of fees by Brevard County.

We don’t believe it – not for a second.

Finally, there is also the issue that with the non-ad valorum taxes being collected by the Brevard County Tax Office, people can lose their homes for failure to pay the tax. There is no interim step such as should be in place now where if the person doesn’t pay, the service of collection is stopped.

Does Palm Bay really want to be known as the town that takes homes because of trash fees?

(To address what would happen if trash on site were not collected, the City should sic Code Enforcement on the account. As the head of Code Enforcement and the City has stated the goal if Code Enforcement it to bring people into compliance rather than fine and place liens on properties, that is quite different from what the County will do. Also, we aren’t thrilled with the idea of someone paying for a service for a year so if they move out in the course of a year, they lose that money as they won’t get the service. At least with monthly bills, if you move, you are paying for trash fees where you live, not where you live and where you lived before.)

This whole agenda item should be defeated. The City should start work and arguably should have started work yesterday, on the needs and requirements for an RFP that would be open to all companies, not just ones that have had issues with service and may have nude pictures. (And we are, of course, kidding about the nude pictures. We think.)

The other item is NB-8 which reads:

Consideration of the Road Paving Program for Year 1 units, collectors and the use of in-house engineering.

Our concern is the hiring of “in house engineering” for the design work of the roads.

We object to this for several reasons. First is that civil engineers are in relative high demand right now as governments look to get back on track in infrastructure maintenance. That means for the hiring of engineers, the City will be paying a premium for labor or else be getting engineers that are less than excellent.

Secondly, there is no one – and we mean no one – in the City that knows what qualifications are needed for this type of work, degrees, schools, certifications, etc. We doubt that there is a person in Human Resources that can or will ask a prospective candidate any relevant question to job qualifications or experience.

Yet our biggest concern is that of insurance.

The state requires that roads be built with an insurance bond by the company who designs them and by the company that builds them. Those bonds must be carried for 10 years after the completion of the road which means that contrary to the assertion that the road work will be done in 8 years, the City will be carrying a design bond for at least ten years past that point – in other words 18 years. If a road fails due to design, and many do, the City and therefore the City taxpayers are on the hook not only for the cost of the failed road, but also the cost to repair the road.

To us, creating what essentially would be a new department supervised by unqualified people who cannot check or approve the design work is a recipe for disaster.

Both the Infrastructure Advisory Oversight Board (IAOB) and the City Staff are backing this proposal which means that most likely the Council will approve it.

We have said this before and will say it again, it seems that with the road bonds, people are looking to enhance their resumes while the people footing the bills only want decent roads.

Enjoy the meeting.

PS – long after writing this post, we came across a quote from President Ronald Reagan that seems to apply to both of these agenda items:

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” – The “Gipper

We don’t believe that the staff that oversees the trash program will be cut and we don’t believe that any engineers will be let go at the end of 8 years.

Government never shrinks itself.

4 Responses to “Palm Bay: Okay, Who Has The Naked Pictures?”

  1. Robb says:

    WM has been a govt favorite for decades. Want to know why? Read John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”

  2. Matt says:

    Listen to this! Randy Fine is trying to screw Palm Bay.

    1) Opening the bidding process will result in higher, not lower costs of regular waste removal. The reason for this is simple. The competition has to bid so much higher because it has no infrastructure in Palm Bay, it will justify WM raising their own price. What’s telling is there’s no legitimate and detailed alternative being put forward that compares the costs/benefits of WM vs Alternatives.

    2) Giving outside road contractors and THEIR engineers control of road designs again removes any cost cutting leverage the city has, and gives it to private interests who are trying to maximize their price points.

    Randy Fine needs to focus on passing legislation, not pissing on our city halls.

    • AAfterwit says:


      Thank you for the comment.

      We saw your comment in a Facebook thread and it is not anymore true there than it is here.

      1) WM has claimed the prices here in Palm Bay are due to a LACK of infrastructure within the City. We aren’t sure why you would be going against the company statements. Furthermore, a town like Satellite Beach has no infrastructure for waste, twice a week pickup with carts / cans supplied by WM at an equal cost. Satellite Beach was aggressive in their RFP and selection process, which goes against your theory.

      Furthermore, if WM has the infrastructure (that they say doesn’t exist) then they have a built in cost advantage and should win any competitive bidding process.

      What’s telling is there’s no legitimate and detailed alternative being put forward that compares the costs/benefits of WM vs Alternatives.

      You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that going out for an RFP would be the wrong thing to do and then say “there is no alternative” which is true unless you go out for an RFP. The fact of the matter is that there is a reason for Florida Statutes requiring RFP’s for contracts this size. Most people know, studies have shown and experience indicates that a competitive marketplace is better for consumers, taxpayers and governments.

      People have legitimate complaints and concerns with Waste Management. Those concerns need to be addressed. WM can “clean up its act” (no pun intended) or kiss a $6 million dollar plus contract a year goodbye.

      Why are you supporting a company that has, at this time, a history with Palm Bay of service questions and pricing issues without even seeing what other companies have to offer?

      2) Most road construction companies and design companies are not the same. Furthermore, there is no one in the City who has experience with road construction of this scale and no one in the City who has the experience in even determining, much less hiring, a competent civil engineer.

      As we wrote in our post, the big issue to us is that with in house engineers (who will allegedly be let go after 8 years) the City by statute MUST maintain a design bond 10 years after the completion of the road. That means that instead of City funds going to the actual construction of roads, the funds are tied up for up to 18 years. It also means that if a road fails within those ten years due to design defects, the taxpayers are on the hook for not only the redesign, but he rebuilding costs of the road. Talk about a lose – lose situation.

      We agree that private companies will be seeking to maximize profits. That means quicker designs and better designs due to experience than the City could provide. After all, the engineers for the City only get paid as long as they are around which is an incentive to extend project times. Private companies are looking to build and get onto the next project.

      Councilman Anderson noted during the termination of former City Manager Greg Lynk that the roads / bond issue would be a big thing on a resume for any new City manager. It would also be a big thing on the resume for the Public Works department, none of whom have the experience required.

      Taxpayers should not be paying for “resume builders,” but roads being built the fastest, cheapest, most proficient and economical way possible.

      A. Afterwit.

  3. Bob Chadwick says:

    I am reminded of a quote from a great philosopher from the state of Georgia, the Honorable Lewis Grizzard…..”Naked is when you ain’t got no clothes on. Nekkid is when you ain’t got no clothes on and you’re up to something”.

    Further affiant sayeth not.

  4. […] We talked about the issues facing the City Council tonight in this post. […]