Gomes to Mayor Mitchell: Garbage Dispute ‘Could Mean Your Office’
NEW BEDFORD — An effort to insert the New Bedford City Council into the middle of an ongoing dispute between the City and ABC Disposal has failed.
Councilor-at-Large Brian Gomes presented the motion Thursday night, offering to bring the Mayor, ABC, the City Solicitor, and the Council's Committee on Appointments and Briefings to the table to settle the dispute once and for all.
ABC Disposal is requesting $540,000 a year more than what is in its current contract due to rising recycling costs caused by new policies in China, once the world's largest importer of recyclables. The City has denied the request. Last week, Mayor Jon Mitchell stated the possibility exists that the City will terminate the contract and opt for another trash and recycling collector.
During debate on the motion, Gomes issued a veiled warning to Mayor Mitchell.
"To cancel that contract and think of going anywhere else," Gomes said, "and I'm probably one of the first to say it earlier in the week, and it's being said all over the place now, we're in trouble. And I'm going to tell you again, you don't want to mess with garbage. You mess with garbage, it could mean your office."
While Gomes' motivation for the motion was largely appreciated by fellow council members, several advised a more cautious approach. Councilor Hugh Dunn reminded the body that the dispute is wrapped up in the courts, and the Council's involvement may only complicate the matter.
"When they're in litigation, the best course for our residents is that that litigation come to conclusion swiftly," said Dunn. "I don't think that us having a big conversation about it with both sides is going to expedite that process."
Sensing his motion may fail, an irate Gomes chastised the Council, which is responsible for approving City contracts.
"The next time we're supposed to take a vote on a contract, get out of this room," Gomes stated loudly as he pounded his fist on his desk. "Because you don't belong in this room. Because you can take the vote on the contract, you can allot the money and everything, but you have no say in what goes on here in the city. It's supposed to be the Administration. Well, the Administration doesn't know it all!"
Gomes' motion failed in a 3-8 vote.
Following the roll-call vote, Council President Linda Morad encouraged Gomes not to give up on the matter.
"Councilor Gomes, I hope you bring this back in a different format," said Morad before the Council proceeded with the agenda.