Earlier today I was at the studios of WDET, where I listened to an interview with Charlie Beckham, the chief administrative officer for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. Beckham, speaking earlier in the day to Detroit Today host Craig Fahle, said it looks like the city is locked in to using the massive incinerator on the city’s east side for the next 12 years.
But the City Council isn’t so certain. The council, by a 6-2 margin, decided Tuesday to go to court and seek an injunction to stop sending city trash to the incinerator. As with almost everything regarding the incinerator, nothing seems to be certain, including the strength of any possible case the council might have.
(Beckham's interview as well as an interview with me is available below.)
Key to the whole issue is a contractual obligation that supposedly compels the city to continue using the incinerator — which produces steam and electricity — as long as the facility’s owner can meet or beat the best price offered by a landfill.
The opinion of Miller Canfield attorneys working for the Greater Detroit Recourse Recover Authority — the quasi-public agency charged with overseeing disposal of Detroit’s municipal waste — is that the city is locked into the agreement. But attorneys in the council’s Research and Analysis Division (RAD) report that the stipulation is “arguably unenforceable.”
However, it’s not clear whether the council has a viable case. In part, the council needs more information from GDRRA.
Questions are also being raised about the way the landfill bidding process was structured. It’s so convoluted, and confusing, “relevant comparisons are extremely difficult to make,” according to a May 18 report RAD submitted to the council.