Andy Jones; Positive. Dynamic. Leader.
      
                                  

 

 

Since I have been the discussion on local blogs I have decided to address the rumors and bring a little light to the Yakima situation. I decided to put it on this old website so folks could go back and read what I was saying about this situation in 2008. Enjoy.

 

Well friends it appears that what I have been predicting for years has come true. I am going to tell you the story that so many in this County already know, including County employees and Supervisors. In 2006 Jim Willett and I discussed potential solutions to the lawsuit the County Board of Supervisors had brought against Yakima. After many conversations and studying the various sludge operational problems I came up with what I thought was a good idea. One of the major problems with sludge operations is the public perception of “sludge”. This leads to communities shutting down operations unexpectedly and for various reasons. Usually because the local governments cave to public pressure from small and very vocal groups. This is a major concern for the big generators of sludge. As in the Yakima case where one supervisor can pressure other supervisors to shut down the operation. So the generators need a guarantee that the facility treating the sludge will stay open. So in early 2006 I visited the directors of 2 VERY large sludge generators (municipalities) in Southern California with a proposition; would they be interested in forming a joint venture WITH La Paz County for sludge operations in a remote part of the County? La Paz County would guarantee the operation would remain open and the generators would pay for that with large tipping fees. (The Yakima tipping fees were $1.00 per ton, these new fees would be in the $10.00 per ton range.) Also the joint venture would have a Board of Directors comprised of members of the agencies involved and meet once a month to regulate fees and charges that change with fuel prices, ect.

This joint venture would be open to new members and they would pay to join as well as become active members of the Board. In my proposal I described to the generating agencies that we could immediately start treating at the Yakima site but would want to quickly move to a fully enclosed operation that converted the sludge to pellets. This could entail rail and trucking entities and would create lots of good jobs. The facility itself would be sealed from the outside air and negatively pressurized and the air scrubbed to eliminate odors. Initially the operation would treat 200,000 to 300,000 tons per year. That would generate to the County $2M to $3M per year. Eventually capable of treating over 1 Million tons per year. At that rate the County could generate $10 Million per year. Non Tax Revenue. Of course initially a portion of this money would go to Willett to buy out his contract. The generators were very excited at the prospect of this joint venture and asked,” what will it take to get started, $10 or $20 Million? That’s not a problem”. I advised them I would need to take this to the Supervisors as this was a sensitive issue. They told me good luck and off I went to the Supervisors. Willett was extremely excited at a potential solution that would be a “win-win” for everyone.

 

My first visit was to Gene Fisher. I presented the idea to Gene and he asked what was in it for me. I told him I expected to be paid for my getting this deal together on a per ton rate. He asked why we (the County) didn’t just do this on our own and I told him I wanted to avoid a lawsuit with Yakima. A lawsuit would cost a ton of taxpayers’ dollars and take years. He was not happy that this involved buying out the remainder of the Yakima contract. Later that same day I visited with Mary Scott and described the idea to her. She was amazed at the amount of money that could be generated with the joint venture. I left both of them the supporting documents and left. In a couple days I met with Gene Fisher again and asked what he thought after a few days to think about it. He told me that if this would benefit Willett in any way he was against it. I tried to accentuate the benefits to the taxpayers’ and he said he would not support it. At that point I told him that I would support a recall against him if he didn’t at least look at solutions other than a senseless lawsuit. I told him that Yakima had a good case and could potentially win the counter suit. He said, “Nobody in this County will vote against us.” None of my calls for Mary Scott were returned after the initial visit. When I approached Cliff Edey he stopped me in mid sentence and said, “Can you get me another vote?” meaning of the other 2 members. He indicated that if I couldn’t then we had nothing to talk about. And that was it.

 

After that I and a few others in the County figured that this senseless ideology of the Board members and their complete disregard for the citizens could only be stopped with a recall. That was the beginning of multiple attacks upon me and my family. My wife lost her job because of it. Fisher and his friends attempted to get me fired. Local radio and print called the recall “stupid”, “silly”, “dumb”, and sided openly with the Supervisors. These are just a few of the attacks we had to endure to express our First Amendment Rights in La Paz County. Even today there are those people that want to retaliate against me. This lawsuit was a personal vendetta brought against Yakima by the Supervisors at the prodding of Gene Fisher. The Supervisors cared NOTHING for the wants and desires of the Taxpayers’ of our County. They figured that they would sue Jim Willett into submission. With La Paz County Taxpayers' MONEY! My pleadings to the County leaders before and after the election have fallen on deaf ears. So this is the result. I seriously doubt ANY major sludge generator would have anything to do with La Paz County now. Our leaders have effectively labeled La Paz County as ANTI-BUSINESS! It would take a miracle (or serious incentives) for any business to want to relocate or start up here. Remember the Allegheny Power plant that was going to be built? Where did that go? Or the Ethanol Plant? I would like to end on an interesting note. The Supervisors were really concerned about the sludge coming to La Paz County and the Yakima facility. Well Yakima treated the sludge to class A Exceptional Quality and shipped it to California to go to farmland. After the genius Supervisors shut down Yakima the biosolids started to come TO La Paz County. Yep, Yakima’s competition took over the contracts for sludge that Yakima had and started bringing the sludge to apply to farmland IN La Paz County. Right through Quartzsite the entire time. My friends and I have tried to do what we could to help this County and subjected ourselves to the fervent retaliations of the status quo. “Ask not what your County can do for you, Ask instead what your County can do TO you.”

 

 

 
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