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Council Candidates condemn RSWA lawsuit

by Dave McNair
published 10:47pm Thursday Oct 8, 2009
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news-bobfenwickIndependent City Council candidate Bob Fenwick called on Mayor Dave Norris to “publicly repudiate” the RSWA’s $20 million lawsuit against Peter Van der Linde.

While our elected officials continue to support the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s $20 million RICO lawsuit against recycling entrepreneur Peter Van der Linde, two candidates seeking office are now speaking out against it.

Wednesday night, at the Free Enterprise Forum’s candidate forum at Burley Middle School, Independent City Council candidate Bob Fenwick, who says he is “appalled” by the lawsuit, called out Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris on the issue. While the Hook was not present at the forum, Fenwick summarized his statements after the meeting.

“As a citizen of the City of Charlottesville and not as a candidate I’m calling on Mayor Dave Norris tonight to strongly and publicly repudiate this lawsuit,” Fenwick said. “ And I don’t want to hear any baloney about the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority being an independent agency or ‘I can’t comment because this matter is in litigation’.”

Norris has refused to comment specifically on the lawsuit, calling it “inappropriate” to do so. Other leaders, however, have expressed their support, including County supe Ken Boyd and Councilor David Brown, who, in the interest of greater transparency, were appointed to the RSWA’s Board in April.

Brown, according to an email obtained by the Hook, says that he believes that Van der Linde is not being truthful, and therefore supports the lawsuit.

And Boyd, during a recent call-in to Rob Schilling’s radio show, criticized the assumption that the RSWA is suing Van der Linde to shut him down, insisting that the lawsuit has “absolutely nothing” to do with the RSWA’s current survival plan–privatizing the Ivy transfer station–which recently involved a discussion on adopting a flow control ordinance, which would essentially give the Authority monopoly control over trash collection and put Van der Linde out of business.

“They are two entirely separate items,” Boyd said, pointing out that the lawsuit concerns events that happened before Van der Linde opened his $11 million recycling facility.

However, Fenwick and Democratic City Council candidate Kristen Szakos don’t appear to believe that. Earlier this week, Szakos, who mentions that her father-in-law was a private trash hauler who was put out of business by city government in Pennsylvania, told the Hook that she was “very concerned” about the way Mr. Van der Linde has been treated by the RSWA.

“His innovative, comprehensive approach to recycling is just the sort of thing we should be encouraging, not crushing,” she said.

“If the city has information justifying this lawsuit, release it,” Fenwick continued. “ I do not want my tax money or my water fees to go to attacking this private enterprise. And when Dave Norris repudiates this lawsuit the Free Enterprise Forum should be standing right next to him. Is the Free Enterprise Forum for free enterprise or not? How can the city call itself ‘business friendly’ with an action such as this?”

The Free Enterprise Forum’s executive director Neil Williamson declined to respond to Fenwick’s comments, saying “we do not have any comment on any ongoing RSWA litigation.” However, Williamson did have plenty to say about the RSWA’s flow control discussion on Coy Barefoot’s radio show yesterday, reporting that RSWA director Tom Frederick had appeared before the County Supes to explain that a flow control ordinance was not presently being pursued.

Asked to respond to Fenwick, Norris did not speak directly about the lawsuit or Fenwick, choosing instead to tout the city’s expansion of its recycling programs in the last three years–but he did express support for collaborating with Van der Linde.

“I believe I am the only City Council candidate who has toured Mr. Van der Linde’s facility in Zion’s Crossroads,” said Norris, “ and I have spoken repeatedly since then of the exciting opportunities that could be available to broaden our region’s recycling efforts by collaborating with an existing, privately-run Materials Recovery Facility rather than RWSA starting one of its own.”

Waste story archives

October 18, 2009Blow to the flow? RSWA, Boyd distancing from monopoly talk

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


  • cookieJar October 9th, 2009 | 1:06 am

    I’m liking him more with every public statement he makes.

  • city resident October 9th, 2009 | 7:57 am

    This is the man. The board’s of the RWSA and RSWA are running amok over city residents . We need a strong leader to stop them and Fenwick is the man.

  • TJ October 9th, 2009 | 8:51 am

    Where is the evidence against this re-cycler ? All I’ve heard is the testimony of a felon. This is taxpayer dollars being used in this suit and I want it stopped. Time for a teaparty ? Set the time and place I’ll be there.

  • Cville Eye October 9th, 2009 | 9:57 am

    Maybe RWSA and RSWA have the mentality of a felon. RICO? Federal charges? It’s clear who they’re after with a hammer. Frederick and Krueger ($515/hr-YMCA) are the people the community must keep its eye on. Our elected officials do know how.

  • The Schilling Show October 9th, 2009 | 10:34 am

    Great reporting, Dave.

    And read additional analysis on RSWA’s everchanging moods regarding flow control on The Schilling Show blog.

  • Austro October 9th, 2009 | 12:22 pm

    Fenwick just hit another HR out of McIntire long field with that comment about Norris.

  • Cville Eye October 9th, 2009 | 12:31 pm

    Yes, he did. He probably remembered that Norris in the mode of Norrishood just about rammed that YMCA facility’s location down people’s throats. His main argument at the time was that the location was perfect for students at CHS to walk to after school. Instead of encouraging them to play after school, one would think that he would be encouraging them to go home and study for their SOLs. BTW, is the reason that the City is paying students to work in the summer is because the City wants them playing the rest of the year after school rather than getting a job if they’re not inclined to work on their SOLs? Another example of the City’s making decisions that are at odds with other “goals” because they lose the big picture. What the heck, the City will be awash with money again next year.

  • Cville Eye October 9th, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    Notice the County did not insist that its students be able to play after school. Bob Fenwick seems to mix analysis and common sense in his decision-making process and seems to appreciate reason-based decisions rather than emotion-based decisions. What a breath of fresh air. I wonder what time does he have his Saturday morning press conferences on the Mall?

  • mike October 9th, 2009 | 1:23 pm

    I saw mention of a candidate forum in the comments for another topic recently. Does anyone know if there are more coming? Also, who sponsors them and how are they structured? I have a question or two that I’d like to ask about all of this and I’d like to address it to the candidates in person, preferable when they have to answer in public.

  • Cville Eye October 9th, 2009 | 1:39 pm

    @Mike check out the link to Cvilletomorrow’s blog at http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/ Look in the left sidebar under “Upcoming Events from Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Calendar”

  • mike October 9th, 2009 | 3:02 pm

    Thanks CvE. My calendar is marked. btw-I meant preferably above. This d@#n keyboard keeps sending what I type and not what I mean. Getting a new one soon though to fix that

    forum info for anyone else interested:

    10/21/2009 7pm
    Alliance of Neighborhoods: City Council Candidate Forum City Hall, City Council Chambers
    The Alliance of Neighborhoods is hosting a City Council candidate forum.

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