If only Alvin Richard and Jimmie Woods had identified as black women. Maybe then Mayor LaToya Cantrell would’ve given their trash contracts the first-class treatment.
Surely, if a black woman requires $30,000 in upgraded “protection” to travel on an airplane, then black businessmen must require so much more to traverse the treacherous process of getting a major contract, then keeping it in this city.
Instead, the mayor has smeared mud on their names. And given them both a lesson in the politics of trash. Politics can get dirty in New Orleans.
Why Is Mayor Cantrell Discriminating Against Black Business?
As Gerod Stevens once said on WBOK’s The Reality Check, “Ever since these two black men got these contracts, they’ve had to fight like hell to hold on to them.”
Mayor Cantrell has had no time for their struggles. Whenever they’ve brought up an issue, her response has simply been: you can miss me with that. And she proceeded to channel her inner Mitch Landrieu and get down to the business of running these two high performing businessmen out of business.
Jimmie Woods, owner of Metro Service Group, tried to inform the administration that his company was owed more money. He explained that his company was picking up trash from more houses than initially estimated. The mayor heard that and essentially flipped him to voicemail. She then proceeded to not pay an extra dime. And that was despite a mutually agreed upon 3rd party concluding that Metro’s contract stipulated the city did in fact owe the company more money.
Then Woods and Alvin Richard of Richard’s Disposal informed the administration that COVID and Hurricane Ida had both companies hauling a larger tonnage of trash. As a result, their dump fees increased. Again, the contract required the city to pay for the extra trash. But again the mayor refused. And this too was despite both being eligible for emergency funds the city had already received from the federal government.
You can run scenario after scenario. And no matter what, the mayor’s response to the city’s legal obligations to these two black businessmen has been silence or a big so what.
You couldn’t blame Richard and Woods if this left them feeling like they’re in a similar situation as the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Vappie claims— wondering if their contractual obligations were being screwed by the mayor.
But with Metro driven out of the residential trash disposal business in New Orleans, the mayor apparently has had no qualms about spreading her wallet wide for Sidney Torres.
With much fanfare, the mayor signed a new contract with IV Waste, Torres’s company. Now the city is paying twice as much per household than it was paying Metro. And this is for half the service — one day a week picking up, instead of two. Maybe citizens should identify with Mrs. Vappie, too.
Why all the hostility, though? Why would the mayor agree to this ridiculous contract when the city could’ve gotten better service for less. There’s a simple answer: the mayor is using Torres’ inflated contract to try and drive Richards out of business, too.
As Alvin Richard said, if you’re going to pay the competition double, then they are just going to lure his workers away. That has already started. And it hasn’t taken long for the mayor to pay Torres even more money. She quickly hired him to cover the parts of a route after Richards fell only a couple of days behind.
This is typical New Orleans politics, and politics in general. You support my campaign, and when I get elected, I’ll throw contracts your way. This is the politics of trash in New Orleans.
Remember back when Cantrell was a councilperson running a tight mayoral campaign against Desiree Charbonnet? Just as he is today, Torres was a known supporter of Cantrell then. And he took it upon himself to not only sponsor a debate, but also host it as well.
The Politics of trash in New Orleans
Attorney Suzette Bagneris made an important point on WBOK radio. Paying for a debate is a slick way of skirting campaign finance laws. Campaign finance law caps individual contributions to a mayoral candidate at $5,000. Clearly, putting on a televised debate costs a lot more than that.
Of course, Desiree Charbonnet didn’t show up. Torres then set up a PAC to attack her candidacy. And Cantrell went on to win the election. Now it seems that Mayor Cantrell has finally found a way to pay Torres back. Typical politics. Typical New Orleans.
Mayor Cantrell can get this one right. Councilman Freddie King asked Mr. Richard how much the city owed him. He replied about $5,000,000. The administration knows Richards picks up more houses than the city pays for. He deserves the full amount owed. And he should be paid the market rate of at least $28 per house. That’s what the city is paying IV Waste. So Richard’s should be equally paid for doing the exact same work.
Richard’s contract should be extended, too. For the last 15 years it has been the best disposal company in this city. They are a local success story. Celebrate and promote them. Don’t destroy another successful home-grown Black business.
Clearly, this is one of those teachable moments former president Barack Obama always talked about. From allegedly sleeping with her security detail officer, to overseeing one crime wave after another, to discriminating against two major black businesses, this mayor has given a lesson in the politics of trash. Now suddenly she finds herself surrounded by a city full of adversaries who are looking forward to a day when she and her tonnage will be hauled away.
The politics of trash in New Orleans.