Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber told the EPA that Jackson may not be able to meet deadlines that are part of the $400 million consent decree with the EPA because the City Council refused to approve a contract for the program manager.
Mayor Yarber sent a letter on October 6 to EPA Region 4 Administrator Heather McTeer Toney that stated Jackson might not meet the Clean Water Act consent decree deadlines. Mayor Yarber stated:
It is with grave concern that I reach out to you to advise you about the City of Jackson's progress under its Clean Water Act Consent Decree. Until recently, the City has made great strides in implementing the program under the Consent Decree designed to alleviate and, eventually, to eliminate the instances of noncomp1iance with the City' s NPDES permits and the Clean Water Act. Unfortunately, positions taken by the City Council are now interfering with and jeopardizing the City's ability to continue in compliance with the Consent Decree. Pursuant to the City's obligation to advise the EPA of any event that may delay performance, as Mayor, I am advising you that the refusal of the City Council to address the hiring of a program manager for Consent Decree may result in the City being unable to meet certain deadlines under the Consent Decree.The Mayor blamed the delay on the City Council's interference in the awarding of the contract. The City Council's Rules Committee voted against sending the contract to the city council on June 6. Anna Wolfe reported in the Clarion-Ledger on June 8:
Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM, along with local partners, "The Jackson Five," wanted to show the city how to get an "A" in wastewater management. But on Monday, the Jackson City Council Rules Committee voted down the deal, which would have made AECOM Jackson's new consent decree program manager.Mayor Yarber argued in the letter that the city had selected AECOM after it prevailed in the competitive bidding process. The contract was placed on the May 31 agenda for approval. Vice President DeKeither Stamps "assigned" the contract to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee rejected the contract on June 6. Mayor Yarber stated he placed the contract back on the agenda for the June 14 and August 9 meetings of the City Council but then withdrew it each time. He said that the city would have to start the entire process over again if the AECOM contract was rejected twice. However, the Rule Committee did not approve the contract at its October 6 meeting.
Currently, Jackson does not have anyone in that position, which has caused work to halt and could put the city at risk of failing to meet deadlines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber will have to bring the proposal before the council again in hopes that it will pass on a second try.
Yarber expressed dismay at the vote.
"I thought it would at least get out of committee to get to the full council.....
Councilmen Ashby Foote, Tyrone Hendrix and Melvin Priester each voted against sending the AECOM proposal to the full council, a move Yarber called negligent. The councilmen did not express strong objections to the proposal, but some of their questions surrounded the selected subcontractors, or "The Jackson Five."
The Jackson Mayor pulled no punches in stating how the contract rejection affected the ability of Jackson to comply with the EPA's mandates:
Presently, the flow monitoring is complete. However, the computerized digital map of the Sewer System, the capacity assessment of the WCTS, and the Hydraulic Model were components that were to be within the scope of work of the Program Manager. At this point in time, without the services of a Program Manager none of this work will be completed in time to submit the Prioritization Report. Even if the City Council decided today to authorize the hiring of the recommended proposer as program manager, which is unlikely, the City would be hard-pressed to meet the existing deadline.JJ reported the details of the contract in June. Some highlights are:
The lack of a Program Manager can also be expected to affect the implementation of the recently approved Fats, Oils, and Grease and Private Sewer Lateral Enforcement CMOM Programs. The Department of Public Works retains a limited engineering staff and depends upon staff augmentation by a program manager to provide support for the implementation of CMOM Programs. The Department also needs the expertise of a program manager to analyze the Composite Correction Plan, options presented under that Plan, and other innovative solutions begin presented to the City to bring the Savanna Street WWTP into compliance with its NPDES Permit. The danger exists that without
additional technical assistance that could be provided by an experienced program management team the City may not be able to implement the improvements to the Savanna Street WWTP in compliance with the deadlines currently existing in the Consent Decree.
The failure of the City Council to act is hamstringing the efforts of the Department of Public Works to comply with and implement the Consent Decree. I have diligently supported the Department's efforts, but as a former mayor of a municipality in Mississippi, which, like the City of Jackson, operates under the Mayor-Council form of government, you must understand that I cannot take the action needed to hire a Program Manager or any other needed technical assistance without the cooperation and action of the City Council.
43% EBO participation
*The proposal refers to minority contractors as "The Jackson Five"
*Marques Hall gets 16%. He is the owner of TMMHall Professional Services, LLC. The company was created on November 12, 2015 - a week after election day. Mr. Hall operates his company out of his home. It is not known how many employees he has. Mr. Hall was an engineer at MDOT. However, he resigned after MDOT officials confronted him about his side job for the city of Jackson under this contract.
Mr. Hall will participate in the contract under AECOM's mentor-protege program. The proposal states he will be responsible for construction and transition management. The Clarion-Ledger reported his limited partner in this venture is Johnny Crisler. Mr. Crisler is the brother of Jackson deputy Chief Administrative Officer Marshand Crisler.
*Kieu Tran of Q Solutions gets 1% for database development.
*Architect William McElroy gets 17% for "program support" and "planning". His wife currently sits on the Planning and Zoning Board as the Ward 1 representative.
*Failed Old Capitol Green promoter Malcolm Shepard gets 4% for "right of way services". Where have we seen this name before? Maybe these old JJ posts will jog your memory: #1, #2 (This is a good one to read), #3, #4 (Best one to read of the whole bunch), and #5. However, he is an appraiser.
*Andria Jones gets 5% for "stakeholder engagement/public outreach and workforce development and training". She was indicted yesterday for Medicaid fraud.
*AECOM provides a list of similar projects it has completed on page seven.
*AECOM will donate $500,000 in cash to community programs and another $500,000 in "in-kind benefits" to these programs as well.