Waste Works lawsuit for dumb-dumbs: or a busy citizens guide to the local waste war

news-rswa-davidbrown“In my opinion, there is compelling evidence to support a lawsuit against Mr. Van der Linde,” said City Councilor David Brown, who serves on the RSWA Board.

It appeared to be a trash match made in heaven...

In December 2008, as the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, formed in 1990 to manage the disposal of Charlottesville and Albemarle trash, began seriously struggling financially to fulfill its duties and promote recycling in our area, dumpster king Peter Van der Linde opened an $11 million state-of-the-art Materials Recovery Facility [MRF] now capable of recycling both construction/demolition debris and household trash.

Problem solved, right? With the RSWA's expertise, and Van der Linde's new facility, surely we could create one of the greenest waste disposal and recycling models in the State.

If only that were so.

Instead of working together, the two trash titans have been locked in a legal battle that has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and brought the community no closer to solving its waste disposal and recycling woes. As the two sides careen toward a jury trial this summer,  the Hook felt it was time to distill some of what we’ve learned about the complicated lawsuit over the last year. Consider this latest offering a busy citizen's guide to better understanding the lawsuit. It might also give you some good talking points at cocktail parties! Enjoy!

The basics

In December 2007, the RSWA filed its lawsuit against Van der Linde after determining that “in excess of a million dollars” in fees had not been paid to the RSWA for city and county trash the hauler had disposed of at an RSWA-sponsored BFI transfer station in Zion Crossroads. Under an agreement between BFI and the RSWA, BFI scale attendants were supposed to ask drivers the origin of their loads to determine if they should be charged an RSWA “service contribution fee” for in-district waste.

According to RSWA director Tom Frederick, between September 2006 and August 2007, no in-district waste was reported by BFI as coming from Van der Linde. Overall, said Frederick, between November 2005 and December 2008, BFI reported that Van der Linde brought 69,500 tons (18,000 loads) of out-of-district trash across their scales, compared to only a few thousand tons of in-district trash.

“This case is about right and wrong,” Frederick wrote in an October 2009 memo defending the lawsuit. “Mr. Van der Linde knew the process of collecting the information.”

The RSWA’s theory is that Van der Linde had his drivers lie about the origins of the trash to avoid the fee, which is it sued him under provisions of the RICO act. But the RSWA also believes Van der Linde’s guilty even if it isn’t true that he had his drivers lie because he knew he had to pay the fee and didn’t. It’s what the RSWA’s lawsuit refers to as “lies of omission.”

Oddly enough, and this is an important point to remember, no one has disputed what the RSWA has tried so hard to prove–- that Van der Linde’s drivers brought thousands of tons of in-district trash to the BFI transfer station between 2005 and 2008 that was not accessed an RSWA service fee when it passed over BFI scales.

Whether you like the fee system or not, Van der Linde ended up not paying the RSWA fees he should have. So why doesn't Van der Linde just pay up? As Councilor David Brown said recently, “Figure out how much trash. Have him pay it, and let’s be done.”

If only it were that simple.

Once Upon a Time”Š

The Ivy Lanfill was closed in 2001, leaving the RSWA with no revenue stream.

In 1998, the RSWA had to stop burying household trash at the Ivy landfill. After 30 years, the last household waste “cell” was full. The Authority continued to bury construction and demolition debris, but following a $3 million lawsuit filed by folks in Ivy alleging the aging landfill was polluting their water supply, public pressure to close the landfill mounted. Authority officials, under then-director Arthur Petrini, tried to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming the landfill was not a threat to the local water supply, but those threats were later substantiated. The landfill’s infamous “paint pits” were found to have contaminated ground water. In 2001, by order of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the last waste cell at the Ivy Landfill was closed.

As a result, the RSWA lost its main source of income: the tipping fees charged for landfilling trash.

Van der Linde's $3.5 million recycling machine has changed the status quo in the local trash business

In addition, it was discovered in 2005 that 47 million gallons of contaminated liquid were trapped underground, which would leave the RSWA responsible for administering a 30-year “corrective action plan” to clean up the mess. So far, that plan has cost the City, County, and UVA (they agreed to share responsibility for the mess) over $5 million, and will cost another $12 million over the next ten years.

Now, all the RSWA had to do was figure out a way to dispose of area waste without the old landfill income. Piece of cake!

Waste War Fun Fact: After the Ivy Landfill closed, the RSWA appears to have had trouble finding a permanent director. Arthur Petrini left in 2001 and was replaced by interim director Cole Hendrix, who was replaced by permanent director Larry Tropea, who lasted just 18 months. It wasn’t until May 2004 that the RSWA found its current director, Tom Frederick, who replaced interim director Lonnie Wood, the RWSA’s current director of finance.

The Big Haulers take over

Waste Management collects all city trash and also hauls trash from the Ivy Transfer station to a company landfill.

In 1997, before the last trash bag was buried, the RSWA contracted with two big haulers, Waste Management and BFI. Waste Management would haul trash collected at the Ivy landfill site–- which would be re-named the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and be converted into a transfer station–- and take it to one of their landfills in Virginia. BFI would accept area trash at its transfer station in Zion Crossroads just off 250 East, which, as the fates would determine, was just yards away from where Peter Van der Linde would one day build his Materials Recovery Facility, and haul it to a landfill near Richmond.

Okay, waste disposal problem solved. But what about generating some income?

The RSWA decided on a fee system. In addition to paying a per-ton tipping fee at the two transfer stations, which would cover what Waste Management and BFI charged, private haulers and the City of Charlottesville (which offers its residents trash pick-up) would be charged an RSWA “service contribution fee,” which was basically a tax on each ton of local area trash brought to the two transfer stations. However, under the RSWA’s agreement with Waste Management and BFI, the two big haulers would be exempt from paying the fee. For, as Frederick would explain to the RSWA Board in 2007, Waste Management and BFI “wanted advantages” for their services.

Waste War Fun Fact: BFI, the big hauler who originally owned the Zion Crossroads transfer station, was acquired by Allied Waste and Allied Waste was later acquired by Republic Services. BFI and Allied Waste trucks can still be seen around town hauling waste, but it is all owned now by Republic Services, who must now defend itself in the current lawsuit. So, we’ll use the term “BFI/Allied/Republic” to identify the company through time, and because those involved in the story often use different company names.

City refuses to pay

Van der Linde wasn't the first to complain about unfairness in the new fee system, or to fight the RSWA over it. That would be the City of Charlottesville. Under protest, the city refused to pay the fee starting it 2001, claiming it was unfair because UVA and county residents who contracted with the two big haulers were exempt. They also said it was unfair to smaller, private haulers, who had to pay the fee when their larger competitors did not. The city racked up $2 million in unpaid fees until an agreement was hammered out in 2007, whereby the city would be exempt from the fee by contracting with either Waste Management or BFI/Allied/Republic, and pay a percentage, along with the county, of the cost of collecting area waste based on some bizarre population formula in the Agreement.

The city would also fork over the $2 million, let the RSWA keep $750,000 it gave them over the disputed period to keep them afloat, and the RSWA would forgive $1 million in penalties the city accrued for not paying.

“Customers of Allied Waste don’t pay a service contribution fee, and we won’t either,” then Mayor David Brown proudly told the Daily Progress. “That’s what we’ve been wanting.”

Waste War Fun Fact: BFI/Allied/Republic takes Charlottesville’s curbside recyclables and transfers them to a MRF in Chester, Virginia. Today, despite the fact that Van der Linde’s MRF is just yards away, the city still pays BFI/Allied/Republic to haul its curbside recyclables nearly 90 miles away.

In return, the RSWA promised to come up with a plan to support itself by June 2010. Oddly enough, the support agreement would seem to have been an acknowledgment of the faulty fee system, but the RSWA continued to keep it in place. Or so they thought.

BFI fails to collect fees

Van der Linde's side says the "culprit"is bad accounting at the BFI/Allied/Republic transfer station.

About a year after Frederick took charge, it was discovered that the fee system was not being correctly implemented at the BFI/Allied Waste transfer station. In 2005, the RSWA discovered that BFI/Allied/Republic managers at the Zion Crossroads transfer station were “completely unaware” of their legal obligation to collect an RSWA service contribution fee. The RSWA threatened legal action if BFI/Allied/Republic did not start collecting the RSWA fee, which involved asking each driver that crossed their scales the origin of their trash. [We’ll call it the “magic question” because it was the only way to determine if the hauler should be charged the RSWA fee.] If the trash came from within the city or county, the hauler was charged the RSWA tipping fee rate, which was $62 per ton in 2005, and which included the service fee. If the trash came from outside the RSWA service area, then BFI/Allied/Republic could charge their own tipping fee of $46 per ton.

Why doesn’t BFI/Allied/Republic owe the RSWA money?

County Supe Ken Boyd, who serves on the RSWA board with Brown, has been a supporter of the lawsuit against Van der Linde.

Good question. While Brown and Frederick have expressed concern about the “million dollars” that Van der Linde allegedly owes the RSWA, no elected officials have expressed concern about the loss of RSWA fees caused by the above oversight. It’s unclear why or how long managers at the BFI transfer station had not been collecting the RSWA fee [the Hook has requested detailed information about this period from the RSWA, but the RSWA had not released that information by press time], but the reaction of area haulers when BFI/Allied/Republic suddenly began implementing the fee system in the Fall of 2005 was one of complete surprise, indicating that they had never before paid such a fee.

Haulers freak out

At the time, BFI/Allied/Republic’s tipping fee was $46 per ton, what most private haulers had been used to paying, but when the $16 service fee was added for waste originating in the city or county, it went up to $62 literally overnight.

Robert Bobbit of Culpeper-based Efficient Roll-Off & Recycling wrote to BFI/Allied/Republic, unaware that the RSWA was behind the fee increase, saying he found it "totally outrageous" that he was sent an invoice with a "30 percent higher per ton rate" and was expected to pay it without notice.

Later, when Bobbit learned about the RSWA fee arrangement, he wrote the RSWA to complain about the BFI/Allied/Republic exemption.

Bobbit was issued an apology for the lack of notice, as well as a $5,208.29 credit, but such gestures would not be lavished upon Van der Linde, who made no secret of his antipathy for deal.

Waste War Fun Fact: The city recently signed a five-year contract with Waste Management to haul household waste. Under the terms of the contract, all waste must be taken to RSWA-sponsored transfer stations, leaving city residents without the option of having their household trash recycled at Van der Linde’s facility.

Van de Linde sues first

Van der Linde claims the RSWA and BFI/Allied/Republic owe him and other haulers money.

Like Bobbit, Van der Linde was shocked by the sudden implementation of the fee system, and like the City of Charlottesville, felt it was unfair that BFI/Allied/Republic and Waste Management should be exempt from paying. To save his business, he said, Van der Linde would file a lawsuit against the RSWA, claiming the fee system was unconstitutional.

In 2006, Van der Linde filed his lawsuit in federal court, not because he thought the service contribution fee was unfair (he has said he would have been fine with it if everyone had to pay it), but because he thought that BFI/Allied/Republic and Waste Management’s exemption was unfair. In November 2007, on appeal, a three judge panel dismissed Van der Linde’s case because they felt he should have “challenged Authority policy through the political process, not by filing a lawsuit in federal court.” The decision, said the court’s opinion, was “unaffected” by the Authority’s decision to implement a waste collection plan that “incidentally might result in the monopolization of the waste collection market.”

Waste War Fun Fact: According to Van der Linde, the “documents” that the RSWA and Councilor Brown have said he destroyed were available pieces of paper in the trucks of his drivers on which they wrote down the location of containers they were dispatched to pick up. Historically, Van der Linde claims, these “documents” were always discarded. The RSWA, relying on testimony from ex-Van der Linde driver Richard Wade Kendrick (see Kendrick Fun Fact), claims these were official business documents, called “Field Tickets,” that Van der Linde destroyed because they recorded where every trash load he picked up came from. RSWA lawyer Jonathan Blank has called these Field Tickets the "Rosetta Stone" that will prove how much local trash Van der Linde disposed of without being charged.

Magic question vanishes?

Van der Linde chose to “eat” the $16 fee rather than pass it on to his customers, hoping to keep them, and figuring this would be a “slower way to bleed.” But it was only a matter of time before he went under. This is when Van der Linde claims that BFI/Allied/Republic stopped asking his drivers where their trash was coming from.

“It saved me,” said Van der Linde, giving the RSWA its proof that he knew he wasn’t being charged the fee, “because when they didn’t ask, I was charged the old Allied rate.”

Why would BFI/Allied/Republic stop asking the magic question?

Republic Services representatives have refused to comment on the lawsuit, but Van der Linde’s theory is that they eventually felt constricted by the RSWA agreement. While it initially allowed them to undercut the competition, it made it difficult to raise their tipping fee rates. Since the RSWA controlled the pricing of tipping fees for area waste, if BFI/Allied/Republic wanted to raise its $46 per ton tipping fee to, say, $52 per ton, $6 of the $16 per ton RSWA service fee would now come out of their own pocket.

However, the RSWA did not control how much BFI/Allied/Republic could charge out-of-area customers. While Van der Linde might have felt “saved” only having to pay $46 per ton in 2006 when he alleges BFI/Allied/Republic scale attendants didn’t ask the magic question, that quickly changed as BFI/Allied/Republic added various fees and raised its tipping fee rates for out of area trash beginning in 2006.

Initially, BFI/Allied/Republic announced it was adding a $5 per load environmental fee and a $3 per ton fuel recovery fee, bringing the tipping fee to $54 per ton for out-of-area trash. Still, that was less than the RSWA charged. But BFI/Allied/Republic later raised the tipping fee to $58 per ton, which, if you add the two fees, comes to $66 per ton. Now, since the RSWA tipping fee remained at $62, Van der Linde was paying more when BFI/Allied/Republic didn’t ask the magic question. And, of course, BFI/Allied/Republic was making more. In April 2007, BFI/Allied/Republic raised rates yet again, to $69 per ton if one include the two fees.

Frederick has confirmed that BFI/Allied/Republic raised tipping fees between July 2006 and November 2008, but has insisted that the rate was never greater than the $62 per ton fee for RSWA service area trash. However, Van der Linde says that Frederick was talking about the base rate increase, which did not include the additional environmental and fuel charge fees for out-of-area trash.

Others have suggested there was simply a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation going on between private haulers like Van der Linde and BFI/Allied/Republic because nobody much liked the RSWA’s fee system. As one hauler put it, "In exchange for that money, they [RSWA] do nothing. They don't even touch the garbage. I really have a problem with that."

RSWA searches for a smoking gun

Meanwhile, as Van der Linde continued to play dumb at the BFI/Allied/Republic scale station [He claims he chose not to say anything even after he was paying more to dispose of out of area trash because he didn’t want to get in the middle of something going on between the RSWA and BFI/Allied/Republic. However, he did hire a private investigator to make hours of audio/visual recordings showing BFI/Allied/Republic scale attendants not asking the magic question, suspecting it would be an issue later], RSWA officials began to notice sharps drops in Van der Linde’s in-district tonnages and began to suspect foul play.

Oddly enough, in the RSWA's lawsuit complaint, a BFI/Allied/Republic manager is quoted as saying that "several haulers" were being dishonest about declaring the true origin of their trash loads, though Van der Linde would be the only hauler who would get sued.

Waste War Fun Fact: "People were trying to use our agency to irritate Mr. Van der Linde," said Valley Department of Environmental Quality Waste Manager Graham Simmerman, who was in charge of issuing Van der Linde's DEQ permits for both his construction and demolition and household trash recycling operations. According to Simmerman, numerous anonymous complaints were made about Van der Linde’s facility, starting from the day he broke ground, all of them unfounded. Simmerman called the anonymous complaints “extremely frustrating” because his agency had to diligently investigate each one.

Simmerman, who calls Van der Linde's facility "the cleanest in the region," said he suspected the calls were from players in the trash business because Van der Linde's facility is "upsetting the status quo" by diverting waste "away from the RSWA and BFI."

In 2007, RSWA director Tom Frederick enlisted the help of county official to find a "smoking gun" on Van der Linde.

“RSWA is not obligated to try to prove if the driver's information is correct, but the Authority is obligated to obtain that information.”

Speaking to the RSWA Board in December 2007, that’s how Frederick characterized the nature of the magic question and how the fee system worked. At the same time, however, he had already set out to prove that the information provided by Van der Linde’s drivers was incorrect.

“We are not convinced his [Van der Linde’s] business is actually moving to other counties,” RSWA director Frederick wrote in a March 2006 email to board member Mark Graham. “But I need more evidence before making this an issue. Can you help?”

Indeed, Graham had County building inspectors keep track of Van der Linde’s distinctive orange containers. Frederick also had his recycling manager, Bruce Edmonds, search for and photograph dozens of Van der Linde containers at sites in the city. Frederick and finance director Lonnie Wood also sent emails to Board members Judy Mueller and Mike Gaffney asking for help.

Richard Wade Kendrick at his December 10 trial.

Waste War Fun Fact: Former Van der Linde driver and convicted felon Richard Wade Kendrick, who claims that Van der Linde told he and other drivers to lie, and who is serving as the RSWA main witness in its RICO case against Van der Linde–- indeed, it was Kendrick’s claim of a conspiracy that prompted the RSWA to amend the lawsuit under RICO, and it was Kendrick who brought the RSWA the “document” that they later accused Van der Linde of destroying–- was recently convicted of attempting to extort $90,000 from Van der Linde. Kendrick sent Van der Linde a letter in April demanding the money in cash for “legal fees” or else he would go to the RSWA and tell them that the drivers had been told to lie. Kendrick also suggested that he had been offered much more money from the RSWA. At his trial, Kendrick continued to insist that Van der Linde’s drivers were told to lie, but he could find no other Van der Linde drivers to corroborate his story. It took the jury 55 minutes to convict Kendrick, who was given a year in jail.

Van der Linde, of course, finds this amusing. “Did they think this was my plan for defrauding the RSWA? Saying all my loads came from Fluvanna or Nelson County or somewhere else for months on end with all my glow-in-the-dark orange containers all over the city and county?”

The RSWA, however, did not question the wisdom of the crime, preoccupied as they were with cracking the case. “Are you getting any data from the County that can be used to find any ’smoking guns’?” Frederick asked Wood in an email.

Eventually, Wood did supply what the RSWA believes to be a smoking gun. As mentioned, relying on records from BFI/Allied/Republic, the RSWA determined that Van der Linde’s drivers brought thousands of tons of in-district trash to the BFI/Allied/Republic transfer station that was not assessed an RSWA fee. Remember, despite being the biggest dumpster rental business in the area, between September 2006 and August 2007, no in-district waste was reported by BFI/Allied/Republic as coming from Van der Linde.

But the question is...

Waste War Fun Fact: How much is the lawsuit for? The RSWA lawsuit was originally for $3.5 million, but when it was amended under the RICO Act, two of the counts under the statute allow for the tripling of the damage award, which means it could cost Van der Linde over $20 million if he’s found guilty.

Whose fault is it that the fees weren't collected? And who owes who?

A trend? Private haulers like Time Disposal, Dixon's, and others have stopped using RSWA facilities in favor of Van der Linde's.

"He [Van der Linde] said to Mr. McNair in the Hook article that he was “saved” when BFI stopped asking the question," continued Frederick in his October 2009 memo. " Even if you believe that BFI stopped asking the question, what was he “saved” from? He was “saved” from paying a fee he knew he had to pay.”

However, according to Van der Linde, it’s actually the RSWA who owes him and other haulers money.

Say what?

Councilor Brown has said that Van der Linde was “confronted with not having paid his bill,” but that’s not technically true. First of all, the RSWA has never handed Van der Linde a bill because they have no way of figuring out what he owes. In fact, both Brown and RSWA lawyer Kurt Krueger have asked Van der Linde to figure that out himself and pay what he owes.

Waste War Fun Fact: Okay, for argument's sake, lets imagine a private business, say a MRF like Van der Linde’s, demanding that a customer figure out how much trash they brought in over the last two years and pay what they owe because the MRF operator doesn’t know the amount of the trash the customer brought in. Would that even be legal?

Second of all, Van der Linde did pay his bills–to BFI/Allied/Republic. And according to Van der Linde, many of those bills he paid were more than they should have been because BFI/Allied/Republic failed to obtain the correct trash origin information from his drivers, as was their obligation under the agreement with RSWA, consistently charging him a more expensive out-of-district tipping fee after their rates went up.

Theoretically then, BFI/Allied/Republic, acting as the RSWA’s agent, walked away with what should have been RSWA fees by not keeping track of Van der Linde’s trash. And who knows how many times other haulers weren’t asked the magic question?

Waste War Fun Fact: BFI/Allied/Republic was added as a third party defendant by Van der Linde’s lawyers as a way of “covering their bases,” says Van der Linde lawyer Lamar Garren, should the jury decide that Van der Linde owes the RSWA money. “If what the RSWA says is proved to be true, that Mr. Van der Linde owes them money, than it would be clear that BFI owes Mr. Van der Linde money.” That’s because BFI profited from receiving in-area waste that was recorded as coming from out of area–- especially when out of area rates became higher that RSWA service area rates–- which BFI did not have to report to the RSWA.

Basically, Van der Linde claims it was never his responsibility to monitor or enforce the RSWA’s fee system. His responsibility, he claims, was to answer truthfully about the origins of his trash when asked, and to pay the bills that were presented to him. RSWA does not dispute the fact that Van der Linde paid his RSWA service fees when BFI/Allied/Republic correctly recorded his loads as coming from the RSWA service area. Assuming he’s not found guilty of ordering his drivers to lie, Van der Linde appears to have played by the rules, while BFI/Allied/Republic did not during the time they were not collecting RSWA service contribution fees before the Fall of 2005, and alleged after that date as well, something they were contractually required to do.

And that's another thing to consider–as with a sales tax, it's the merchant's responsibility to add it to the bill. If they fail to, is the customer obligated to pay it after he has paid the bill?

“BFI’s accounting system is the culprit here,” says Van der Linde’s lawyer, Lamar Garren, “not Mr. Van der Linde.”

Actually, to bring our story full circle, some might say the real culprit was the closing of the Ivy Landfill and the flawed fee system that the RSWA had to put in place to support itself. So far, no one has disagreed with that.

But then, of course, there's the question that Frederick has posed to those who have supported Van der Linde.

"Is it okay for a business to not pay a lawful fee and let the resulting shortfall of revenues fall upon the tax payer?"

Unless an agreement is reached before June, it'll be a jury answering that question.

The Hook's waste story archives

December 19, 2009Free Peter: Fenwick rallies support for recycler

December 17, 2009Waste Authority says: Lawsuit ends when Van der Linde pays

December 10, 2009Jury verdict: RSWA’s star witness convicted of attempted extortion

December 3, 2009–COVER- Tipping Point: Is Van der Linde laying waste to Waste Authority?

October 24, 2009–Trash talking: RSWA breaks silence on lawsuit

October 20, 2009Fenwick defends Van der Linde

October 10, 2009Blow to the flow? RSWA, Boyd distancing from monopoly talk

October 8, 2009Council Candidates condemn RSWA lawsuit

October 1, 2009Lawyers, Trash, and Money

September 28, 2009Flow blow: Wasteworks may seek trash monopoly

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

August 17, 2009Don Van der Linde? Wasteworks whacks recycler with RICO

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

May 19, 2009Dire words for Waste Authority

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

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

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

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


Geez, if this is the simple guide (which took me a half an hour to read and absorb) I would hate to have to read the unabridged version.

What a waste, disband the Waste Authority and exposed them as the crooks they are and embrace Van der Linde as the hero he is.

Perhaps van der lin should send all his drivers a letter asking them how many of their loads came from the area in question and when they say they can't remember, then he should give the rwsa a check based on one load per driver just to be be fair and get it over with.

The lawsuit would then be mute. The burden of proof would transfer to them to prove the number of loads. There is no law aginst not remembering.

Please note that all of this could have been avoided if the Government had not screwed it up from the begginning. A business that is required to collectt sales taxes sends in a form every month stating their gross sales/taxable sales and the amount they owe. If BFI lied on the form arrest them for tax fraud. The fact that they did not collect the tax is no different than many other busineeses who just say "give me fifty bucks" I assume they are hiding the tax but that is them not paying it, I just paid what they asked. Their accounting is not my responsibility.

To the Editor:

Thank you for your revealing and enlightening take on the Waste War.

I understood that the tipping fee at RSWA included the RSWA service fee. If this is correct, until the tipping fee was raised for waste not generated within Albemarle, the BFI/Allied/Republic firm would have lost $16.00 from their established tipping fee that included that sum. If my assumption is correct, ,the reluctance to ask the haulers the source of their wsste would not have rested just on employees' reluctance to collect for RSWA because they didn't contribute to the disposal, but from the profit motive of their employer.

I think that your article makes it clear that the lawsuit against van der Linde should be put on hold. The City should insist that the parties select an outside, independent, mediator, to sort out the issues here and come to an equitable resolution. The mediation alternative could be ordered by the judge. It would provide a less lawyer-locked procedure , with more opportunities for the parties to resolve the issue with a look forward to how we can obtain better environmental outcomes with less inter-jurisdictional acrimony, real problem solving than who-shot-John blaming and, I'm confident, a better waste mangement system.

It may take a counter-suit by van der Linde on anti-trust grounds to make a mediation alternative one that all parties would find in their interest.

Rich Collins

I bet the Schilling Show could get enough petitioners much quicker. I'm ready to sign. Rob?

Really long but probably the fairest thing you've written on the subject. There really seems to be no clean hands in the garbarge wars- really not a suprise. They should settle this and move on. This most interesting part is this article seems to answer questions brought up in the last thread in the Hook on this subject. The sales tax example is good but has a serious flaw - if Best Buy fails to collect sales tax, Best Buy still owes the tax to the state.
Good Job!

Anti-trust suit against RSWA. Not a problem. McGuire Woods is standing by and the taxpayer's can bankroll it. What's not to like?

Mr. McNair, do you think this is a reasonable amount, with all the county neighborhoods using Allied/BFI recycling ? And as you have written, how do you know that the tonnage the official from TFC reported actually came from our area and not other communities that Allied services ? Have you seen any actual logs or records ?

"that means roughly 1,868 tons of recyclables comes from surrounding communities."

I am still highly skeptical that our recyclables are actually being recycled.

Now this is REPORTING. Congratulations to the Hook for this article. It is fair, contains virtually all of the relevant facts and leaves the reader with very few if any unanswered questions.

Thank You.

Great job- I can't figure out why people here think that Van der Linde is a hero. He admits he didn't pay what he should have. He may not have committed a crime but he darn sure pulled a fast one. Kinda like all the people who don't pay the state for their sales tax on out of state Internet purchases(I'm not pointing fingers)
. I agree that there are lots of people involved who didn't do the right thing. Settle the suit and move on

thanks for putting it all together Hook - I actually think I understand it now

"But then, of course, there’s the question that Frederick has posed to those who have supported Van der Linde.

ââ?¬Å?Is it okay for a business to not pay a lawful fee and let the resulting shortfall of revenues fall upon the tax payer?""

And yet it seems that the RSWA has no qualms about wasting our money on this silly lawsuit. It is obvious from the above that this is sour grapes. It's time our elected county and city officials put an end to it and figure out how they can work together to collect and recycle all our trash locally.

How do we request a public hearing to determine the fate of RSWA ?
What is the public benefit, for the people of Charlottesville, of this organization?

The government spends our money on safety, schools, and infrastructure assests, but trash? Mr. Van der Linde is providing a far better service than the government, and they are trying to shut him down with this horrible waste of our money, on this lawsuit.

We need to let the system work, not try to eliminate him, but join forces to create a better trash/recycling program for our community.
Why are our elected officials not seeing this, and doing something of benefit for the citizens ?

I would like to hear a comment from our Mayor on this blog .

Word is that a new group called Citizens for Recycling is preparing to launch TV spots filmed in a landfill (where your
trash currently goes) and also taped at van der Linde Recycling
(where your garbage could have gone) for less money. Stay tuned.

Can public officials be thrown out of office in Virginia for misuse of public funds ?

Any dumb dumb could figure out BFI is the guilty party. Sure looks like RSWA and BFI have a crooked game going here. I'll bet our officials and RSWA get sued themselves for this crazy lawsuit and then we the taxpayers will have to bail them out.

I'd say the guilty party is the RSWA for giving a monopoly and price fixing control to BFI to RSWA's advantage.

RSWA, City and County have been pesented MEMORANDUN #2 that documents van der LInde overpaid fees 80% of the time. BFI/RSWA
owes van der Linde, and many other haulers, money, not the other way around. Request the MEMORANDUM #2 to see for yourself.

Rich Collins got it right (above). Texas law firm preparing a probono counter-suit for area haulers.

Guess who's going to have to pay to defend the counter-suit against RSWA? The taxpayer of course! This is beyond insanity!

Does anyone in the city think that your curbside recycling is really being recycled ? I wouldn't trust BFI/Allied, or whatever they're called and hope the Hook will launch an investigation into where city recycling is really going --all signs point to a landfill somewhere near Richmond--is this true ? Mr. McNair please investigate this.

Sue, public officials can be thrown out of office for several things according to the Code of Virginia

24.2-233. Removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts.

Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court:

1. For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office....

more here:

In my mind there is compelling evidence to cause me to sign a petition asking for the removal of certain local elected official(s) should you decide to circulate a petition.

I have been following the Hook articles on the lawsuit against Van der Linde and am thoroughly disgusted with the city's insistence on labeling Van der Linde the bad guy. This most recent article by Dave McNair points out the irony of what could have been if all parties had worked together for the good of the public and the planet. It's a shame that didn't happen.

I did not realize until very recently that city residents have a choice in which trash collection service they use. I thought I was required to use BFI and to keep separating my trash and recycling, knowing that the trash was going to end up in a landfill. The city's recent decision to sign a new 5-year contract with BFI/Allied/RSWA made me so furious that I dug a little deeper and found that I am entitled to use any service I want. I have signed up with one that delivers to van der Linde. I will not buy any more city trash stickers. I hope others will join me.


City recycling is taken by BFI/Allied/Republic to TFC Recycling in Chester , Virginia (tfcrecycling.com). According to an official at the TFC facility, they receive ââ?¬Å?about a truck load a day (20 plus tons)” from the BFI/Allied/Republic transfer station (Monday though Friday), but ââ?¬Å?that tonnage may include material from surrounding communities.” According to city public works director Judy Mueller, for fiscal year 2009 the city recycled 3,3323.8 tons of recycled materials through BFI/Allied/Republic, as reported to them by BFI/Allied/Republic. Of course, the city has no way of knowing how much BFI/Allied/Republic actually recycles, but, as Mueller says, ââ?¬Å?We have no reason to question that all of our materials are recycled.” Based on TFC’s figures, BFI/Allied/Republic brings roughly 5,200 tons of recycling to TFC a year. Minus the reported city tonnage, that means roughly 1,868 tons of recyclables comes from surrounding communities.


City Council will hear a "Solid Waste Report" at their meeting this Tuesday Jan. 19th. If you feel, as I do, that it is time to answer the following questions, please contact Council at
or come to the meeting to speak at 7pm.

I would like to request that a public hearing be called to answer these and many other questions about this matter.

1) What benefit is the RSWA for the citizens of Charlottesville ?
2) Do we want to continue funding a government landfill based trash operation, when a more environmental, private. recycling facility already exists in our area ( Van der Linde Recycling)
3) Why spend money on a contract to study a government/private partnership ( based on flow control) eliminating all other competition?
4) Why are we using taxpayer money to sue a private trash hauler when the information to date shows that BFI did not manage their contract with RSWA to collect the fees required as noted in this 2005 letter from Lonnie Wood:

ââ?¬Å?Proper charging and accounting of customers has been inaccurately managed,” RSWA finance director Lonnie Wood told Allied officials in a November 2005 letter. ââ?¬Å?[T]here has been and continues to be a breach of contact.”

Wood chafed that Allied kept customer accounts directly with area haulers, including Van der Linde, in violation of its RSWA contract, and he said the Authority was ââ?¬Å?prepared to take legal action.”


5) Why is RSWA not going after these fees, that went uncollected ?
6) Would it be cheaper to contract with Van der Linde and not have to pay tipping fees to RSWA: thereby saving citizens money ?

This is the report that Council will discuss:--note that money paid to RSWA, by the taxpayers, DOES NOT include the tipping fees that the City was required to pay --How much money was that ?

TO: Gary B. O’Connell, City Manager
FROM: Judith M. Mueller, Public Works Director
DATE: January 14, 2010
As we work through the next few months there will be a number of solid waste
issues that the City Council will need to address. Here are some preliminary
thoughts on timeframes.
March 2 ââ?¬â?? Responses due to RFP issued by RSWA to privatize Ivy municipal
solid waste transfer and disposal services, Recycling and other services at Ivy
and the McIntire recycling and paper sort facilities.
April ââ?¬â?? City Council Work Session to evaluate the proposed cost of individual
services (received in response to the RFP) and determine which, if any, the City
chooses to purchase from the proposer both short term and long term.
Concurrently, we continue to explore alternatives to the current City system of
collection and disposal of municipal solid waste and recycling.
During FY ’08 the City paid RSWA $1,019,152.82 and in FY ’09 $962,341.90.
These funds were above the tipping fees paid for the disposal of our solid waste.
They covered environmental remediation and the RSWA deficit.

Sue, (or Betty Mooney) I bet you could get some signatures before and after that meeting if you want to put a petition or two together together.

According to section 24.2-233 of the Code of Virginia regarding removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts, a petition must be signed by a number of registered voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the officer equal to ten percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office that the officer holds.

Well, the total from the 2009 election was 16,268. Ten percent of that is 1,627. Add a few in case there are some disqualifications, and you are still far below the 3,293 who voted for Bob Fenwick. Petition signers don't need to be the ones who went to the polls, they just need to be registered voters.

I think a recall of David Brown at least would be a pretty easy thing to accomplish. He has been sinking in popularity as local people have seen his lack of leadership or apparent competence on council, and his commitment to putting Peter Van der Linde out of business is going to be the final straw for a lot of potential petition signers.

Sue originally asked how it could be done, but Citizens For A Sustainable Water Supply Plan has an already existing website, competent and dedicated spokespeople, lots of people already counting on their leadership and just waiting for a chance to act, and an increasingly pissed off local population. If that group were to seek a recall, I think it would be a done deal. One councilor would be all it would take to send a pretty powerful message.

Mike, I appreciate your thoughts about our group, but we are doing all we can to help this community get accurate information about our water needs and cost effective ways to provide that. Our efforts have led to Council's decision to re-evaluate the cost of the water plan, and to not build a new dam until that information is known. Although, I am personally advocating for a more cost effective solution for the citizens trash and recycling, I think what the community needs, to see real change in Solid Waste, is another group with their own web-site to call for whatever action is needed; to assure better decision making in this area, as well.

Someone has suggested a name and I am hopeful that a group will soon form--" Citizens for Recycling"

i agree with ivlcville. This is a war. No side is perfectly lawful both are guilty and it is not worth going back to see who screwed up first (RSWA would not want any of that). They will co-exsit so we need a real truce

Stop all this nonsense now ! Send a message to all the officials, and big waste companies and join the Green Revolution-today.
Don't buy anymore city trash stickers ( which support Waste Management's outmode landfill trash operation), instead, go to Van der Linde Recycling's web-site and click the link to "Preferred Trash Haulers" who will take your trash to be recycled at his new facility. We can stop the lawsuit and shut down RSWA all at the same time by supporting Van der Linde Recycling.