UPDATE: Advanced Disposal's protest of Jupiter's decision to select Waste Management for a new contract worth an estimated $25 million has been sustained, as reported by the Palm Beach Post. The bid protest will return to the Jupiter Town Council for a vote, with no public comment allowed, at a date to be determined.
Jupiter's planning staff had recommended choosing Advanced because they offered a lower bid, but Waste Management swayed public opinion and the council's vote using what some called improper lobbying strategies.
“(Waste Management) trampled on the spirit of the ordinance,” said Jupiter Town Manager Andy Lukasik, as reported by the Palm Beach Post. Waste Management has denied that it violated lobbying rules.
- Advanced Disposal Services is protesting Jupiter, FL's decision to award a new collection contract to Waste Management. An attorney for the company says that the town council's 4-1 vote on Nov. 15 "appears to be based on false information" and violated a lobbying ordinance, as reported by the Palm Beach Post.
- While Waste Management has serviced the town for more than 30 years the council initially voted 3-1 on Nov. 1 to switch to Advanced because it offered a bid that was about $1 million cheaper. Waste Management's concerted efforts to influence the opinions of local residents, and alleged calls to local officials, appear to have been successful.
- Whether or not the town's director of public works sides with Advanced, the decision is likely to go back to the town council. If the council rejects the claims Advanced could then appeal to the Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
It's not uncommon for companies to publicly make their case to residents about why they should get a municipality's business, but some of Waste Management's tactics are unique. In addition to a more traditional online petition and door-to-door campaign the company also offered Starbucks gift cards and free T-shirts. Whether the town council will consider this to be an ethical issue, when it didn't in the Nov. 15 meeting, is debatable.
The details vary, but other companies have also found it difficult to go up against the industry's largest players. Waste Management continues to fend off challenges to its dominance in Reno. Republic Services has done the same in Southern Nevada as well as Flint, MI, where a protracted contract fight played out for months earlier this year. However Republic did recently lose its longtime contract in the city of Milpitas, CA to a smaller local company and also lost a ballot measure involving its local landfill.
Especially after a successful IPO, Advanced can no longer be considered "small" in the minds of industry professionals. Though compared to Waste Management it's still an underdog and this Jupiter contract protest could be a way to stake its claim in the region.