Friday, June 27, 2014

Greensboro's Other Landfills: Part 3

I got the following reply from Hugh Jernigan of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) concerning Part 1 and Part 2:

Thank you for forwarding the postings.

 I received a phone call on June 23rd from the City of Greensboro regarding the hauling of beneficial fill materials to Mr. Simmons’ site.   We discussed beneficial fill rules and state Solid Waste requirements.  These conversations indicated the City of Greensboro, Water Resources has hauled beneficial materials to Mr. Simmons’s site, and the city has provisions/policies for determining what constitutes waste materials and where to dispose of the waste materials.

You are correct in stating the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Solid Waste Section does not require a permit for the use or soils and other materials classified as “ inert debris” under State Solid Waste Rules 15A NCAC 13B .0562 “BENEFICIAL FILL”.

The investigation conducted by Guilford County Code Enforcement found no violations at the Simmons’ site concerning the beneficial fill area.

 Hugh Jernigan
NC DENR Winston-Salem Regional Office
Division of Waste Management - Solid Waste
585 Waughtown Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27107
Voice: (336) 771-5093
FAX: (336) 771-4631"

I think what you just read was Mr Jernigan's way of backing out of the discussion and leaving the City of Greensboro to hang themselves. I wonder if Hugh remembers this e-mail from Jason  Watkins, Western District Supervisor - Field Operations Branch, North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources dated May 29, 2014:

"Mr. Jones,
The Solid Waste Section does not have records of an approved disposal activity at the referenced address.   That said, depending on the type of material(s) being used as fill, the activity may not require a state level approval as NC law does allow certain materials to be used as fill without a permit.

 We have engaged Guilford County planning staff on this matter as there are also county level approvals that may be required for such an activity and that office also has regulatory jurisdiction on illegal dumping matters based on county ordinances.

 If you would like to contact our office and provide any additional information you have regarding the site including waste types, etc., please contact Hugh Jernigan at (336) 771-5093.

Jason Watkins
Western District Supervisor - Field Operations Branch
North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources
Division of Waste Management - Solid Waste Section
585 Waughtown Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27107
Tel: 336-771-5092
Fax: 336-771-4631"

The line "the activity may not require a state level approval as NC law does allow certain materials to be used as fill without a permit" is what NC DENR, the City of Greensboro, Danny Simmons and apparently Guilford County are all hanging their hopes on but in-fact: that one line will be their downfall. More on that in Part 4.

Speaking of Guilford County Inspectors, take a look at the e-mail I sent to on May 16, 2014:

I'm a resident of Greensboro and it has recently come to my attention that a Pleasant Garden resident, a Mr Danny Simpson has been operating an unlicensed and unpermitted landfill believed to contain hazardous materials dumped there by the Water Resources Department of the City of Greensboro.

The location is Simmons Hauling, 3807 Fieldview Road, Pleasant Garden State: NC  27313

The City of Greensboro has been informed as has been NC DENR but I wanted to make sure you were kept in the loop as well.

Mr Simpson is a high ranking employee of the City of Greensboro Water Resources Department.

Should you require documentation I will be happy to e-mail records from PIRTs (Public Information Releases) sent to me by the City of Greensboro.

I might also have information the City of Greensboro might try to withhold from you as I also have contacts working inside the city.

Thanks -Billy Jones"

Guilford County has yet to reply to my e-mail and it's been almost a month and a half. The e-mail address I sent it to belongs to Lee Hill, Solid Waste Enforcement, Guilford County, but I get the impression these people really don't give a shit as long as they get their paychecks and "some blogger" doesn't rock their dingy garbage scows.

I never got another reply from my Wednesday e-mail to Assistant City Manager David Parrish but that's okay as I'll be happy to speak on behalf of the City of Greensboro as that's obviously what they now intend for me to do.

Take a look at the Google Map of 3807 Fieldview Rd, Pleasant Garden, NC and tell me what you see there. Directly to the west of Randy and Amy Simmons' former landfill site is a stream. Directly to the south is a pond. To the north west is a pond and another to the north east. Are Danny's neighbors' ponds safe from possible runoff or groundwater contamination caused by what was dumped in Danny's landfill? Are their wells safe? Will toxins turn up in 10, 20 or 30 years?

If not for me and some unnamed heroes employed by the City of Greensboro would anyone have ever known how it came to be? We don't know the answers to those questions and lots more. And therein lies the problem.

According to Danny Simmons' Personnel Action History Report, Danny was hired in October of 2008 as an equipment operator at a salary of $27,000 a year. Danny received several raises and was promoted in June of 2013 with his pay then raised from $30,714 to $35,876. Then amazingly, over the course of the next 8 months Danny's pay was raised 3 times to $40,038 per year!

When was the last time your pay check increased almost $10,000 in just 1 year? How often does that happen for other City of Greensboro employees? The answer: almost never, Greensboro employee salaries have been almost flat for almost a decade. Ask any City worker you know.

I promise you, as this blog post gets passed around the rank and file in places like Water Services, Field Ops, Parks and Rec, the White Street Landfill and a few other places where people work for their paychecks the folks downtown are going to wish they had worked with me over a month ago when I offered not to blog this story if they would only work to resolve the issues. Win, loose or draw the City of Greensboro looses this fight right now! Will Guilford County and NC DENR chose to fall with them?

So how is it that Danny Simmons got fast tracked when so many others with more experience, training, qualifications, education and time on the job are still waiting? Maybe there are some hints in some of the e-mails sent from department to department? For example, in the e-mail Assistant City Manager David Parrish wrote to City Council and myself (Part 2) Mr Parrish wrote:

" At the time of the hauling activities, Danny Simmons was a heavy equipment operator for the water resources department. His wife was listed as the owner of the hauling service. As a heavy equipment operator, Mr. Simmons sometimes operated dump trucks and hauled materials to landfills.  Due to the concern of a conflict of interest involving a City employee involving in operations owned by his wife, the Legal Department was consulted on the issue.  Legal advised that it was not a conflict of interest because Mr. Simmons, in the position he held, did not have a role in selecting the companies the City used for hauling, nor in deciding where to take the materials."

But this e-mail from Thomas D. Carruthers, Associate General Counsel, City Attorney's Office, dated October 18, 2011, seems to be in direct contradiction to the statements released by Mr Parrish:

"I understand that Danny Simmons  wife is the owner of Simmons Hauling and Services.( The analysis is the same if Danny is part owner of this business)  This business accepts hauled fill and other debris from the City and the general public.  Water Resources currently uses two business to receive its debris. The second business, Fryar, is used when it is the closest location to the construction site. This policy is directs the employee to go to the closest site.  Apparently these businesses  rates are lower than the City can offer at its dump sites.

 It is clear that Danny Simmons has a direct financial interest in this company that contracts with the city. It is also clear Danny has not role in selecting these companies.  As such he does not develop the specs, the contract terms, or make decisions about interpreting the contract, or preparing or awarding the contract.  Therefore this contract does not violate the state or local conflict of interest prohibitions.

 The only question is the discretionary role he plays in deciding when to deliver fill to the dump site.  He should not pay any role in deciding where the debris is delivered.  This would be unfair to the competitor. I recommend allowing Dannys supervisor to decide where he shall take the loads on those days he is assigned  as a truck driver rather that a back hoe operator.  These decisions would follow the policy already in place as described above."

Did Danny's supervisor make the decision to haul to Danny's landfill on the days when Danny was driving a dump truck? Some drivers say the decision is left up to the individual driver and Mr Carruthers' e-mail seems to support that contention. And why did David Parrish claim there was no conflict, "Legal advised that it was not a conflict of interest" when Tom Carruthers clearly wrote: "It is clear that Danny Simmons has a direct financial interest in this company that contracts with the city." Mr Parrish, would you like to explain the contradiction?

It's okay if he doesn't explain it as I'll get around to it.

And just to twist the rusty knife I'm stabbing David Parrish with, the business privelige liscense Amy Simmons filed with the City of Greensboro listed the corporation name as Amy & Danny Simmons T/A with the business type as a partnership with Danny as the contact person.

Which begs the question: Who are Assistant City Manager David Parrish and City Manager Jim Westmoreland covering for? Don't you find it interesting that Jim Westmoreland issued his gag order immediately after I contacted him concerning Danny Simmons? Perhaps some of you in the news & information business would like to submit a public information request for my e-mails to Mr Westmoreland. What's that? His replies? Jim Westmoreland never replied. Instead he had Donnie Turlington and later David Parrish do it for him.

You know, so I can't quote him on the lies he's forcing them to tell. Hey Jim, you left me to do the talking. If you don't agree then by all means speak up. Just as before I'll be e-mailing this post along with Part 1 and Part 2 to the City of Greensboro, Guilford County and NC DENR in the hope they will respond before I post Greensboro's Illegal Landfills: Part 4 on Tuesday. Maybe by then they'll feel more like talking.