Thursday, July 3, 2014

Greensboro's Other Landfills: Part 6

I'm sure some folks think the story of Greensboro's Illegal Landfills is a dead issue but after reading these and other e-mails I've been saving some just might think differently. And Madam Mayor, that loophole they assured you would keep the City of Greensboro out of trouble was proven false in Part 4 by a 2007 change in state law. You might also want to consider that Employee-Manager meeting I wrote of. You know, the meeting the brass water dogs don't want to see take place. After all, with all this floating about it is going to be very difficult to justify that increase in water and sewer rates you've been pushing.

On June 26, 2014 I sent the following e-mail to Tiffany M. Burch, CZO, Zoning Investigator, Guilford County, Planning & Development:

"Subject: Zoning Question

I have documents proving that the City of Greensboro Water Services Department paid Danny and Amy Simmons $27,000 to dump on their property located at 3807 Fieldview Road in Pleasant Garden. I contacted the town of Pleasant Garden and was told this address was outside their jurisdiction. According to the Guilford County register of Deeds the property is zoned residential, not business, and is the home of Mr and Ms Simmons. Is this the sort of thing you investigate?

Please keep me informed.

I will be more than happy to forward you the documents if needed.

-Billy Jones"

Her reply the very same day:

"Mr. Jones,
Lee Hill is the Solid Waste Enforcement contact. He may be reached at 336-641-2082."

Fast but not much help. You see, once before, on May 16,  I had e-mailed Lee Hill:

"Howdy,
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"

Mr Hill has never replied and so this time I forwarded my message previously sent to Ms Burch that very same day, June 26:

Mr Hill,
Please see the message I send Tiffany Burch and respond. Also, a correction, the property is zoned AG, not residential as I wrote to Ms Burch.
Thank you -Billy Jones

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tiffany Burch <TBURCH@co.guilford.nc.us>
Date: Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 2:32 PM
Subject: RE: Zoning Question
To: Billy Jones <recyclebill@gmail.com>


Mr. Jones,
Lee Hill is the Solid Waste Enforcement contact. He may be reached at 336-641-2082.

 Tiffany M. Burch, CZO
Zoning Investigator
Guilford County
Planning & Dev.
P.O. Box 3427
Greensboro, NC 27402
336-641-3154
tburch@co.guilford.nc.us

 From: Billy Jones [mailto:recyclebill@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:13 AM
To: Tiffany Burch
Subject: Zoning Question

 I have documents proving that the City of Greensboro Water Services Department paid Danny and Amy Simmons $27,000 to dump on their property located at 3807 Fieldview Road in Pleasant Garden. I contacted the town of Pleasant Garden and was told this address was outside their jurisdiction. According to the Guilford County register of Deeds the property is zoned residential, not business, and is the home of Mr and Ms Simmons. Is this the sort of thing you investigate?

Please keep me informed.

I will be more than happy to forward you the documents if needed.

 -Billy Jones"

Lee Hill has yet to reply despite the fact that I have since proved that the loophole the City, County and NC DENR referred to was closed in 2007 by the NC Legislature.

Perhaps you'd like to e-mail Mr Hill and ask him why he doesn't respond to e-mails with citizen concerns of illegal dumping?  lhill@co.guilford.nc.us After all, he is the Environmental Enforcement Officer for all of Guilford County. Are there so many illegal landfills in Guilford County that Mr Hill can't possibly view them all?

I also followed up with the following e-mail to Ms Burch:

"Thank you, and to clarify, the property is zoned AG, not residential as I said earlier. I have Mr Hill's e-mail address, I'll send him a note. Perhaps he'll reply this time.

Thanks -Billy"

Just so you know, AG stands for Agricultural and landfills of any kind are not permitted uses on properties zoned AG unless as I've pointed out repeatedly, a permit has been issued in advance. Again, no reply.

On May 15 I sent the following e-mail to Sandra Castle NC DENR, Hugh Jernigan NC DENR, Jason Watkins, NC DENR, Jim Westmoreland Greensboro City Manager, Councilman Tony Wilkins, Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and others:

"A few questions concerning Danny Simpson and the illegal dumping on the part of the City of Greensboro that someone might want to be asking:

What is Brian Brooks' roll in all of this?

For those of you with NC DENR and others new to the conversation, Brian Brooks is Danny's immediate supervisor and has been so since before both were promoted to their present jobs.

What is Patrick Smith's roll? Patrick is Brian's supervisor.

Why did these men continue this business relationship after they were warned by the Greensboro city attorney that it should be discontinued if, in-fact, they were not somehow involved? What was their motive for allowing it to continue?

Why were Danny and Brian promoted over other employees who had been with the City longer, are better qualified and seem to be a better fit for the positions Danny and Brian now hold? Mr Smith had to approve said promotions.

 I know of two incidents that have occurred in the past four years that are directly associated with poor decisions by supervision and the consequences. One was a section manager that supervised roughly 30 employees. He allegedly had an employee use a City tandem to deliver landscaping mulch to his home. (Such a tiny infraction, don't you think?) The other was a crew supervisor that allegedly verbally threatened an employee. Each was simply demoted to an entry level position and allowed to continue their careers. Both had compromised the public trust so they would never be allowed any other position above the one to which they had been demoted. I believe it was more of a demeaning tactic. It worked as both elected to leave on their own. And yet these men are protected-- why?


From what I've gathered, Melvin Dick of Mel's Pressure Washing, was an Equipment Services 2nd shift service writer. As far as I know neither shift service writer has supervisory power over the mechanics or could manipulate a relationship with an outside vendor. So if Mel is included in the pressure washing investigation why would Danny's position matter? Again I go back to the personnel policy of no personal gain by position. Even though he wasn't in a management position Danny still knew that construction and maintenance was looking for alternative dump sites. So I ask this: wouldn't his presence and past position at that time fall in to the policy? Why would his wife have the whole situation set up? Are we to believe Amy and Danny were  randomly looking to start a landfill? Did you, I or any other citizen know that alternative dump sites were being sought?


Position is relative. The conflict of interest is that he did profit from the dumping as well as draw a bimonthly check from the City. It's called double dipping. It's also against the City's personnel policy. Melvin Dick wasn't working for the City when he began his business relationship with Equipment Services. He hired on later and i guess placed the business in his wife's name. Possibly some of his issue was ignorance of policy.  Danny started his hustle while an active employee and under active scrutiny by the City's legal department. And yet he supervisors, at least 2 of them, actively allowed it to continue.

Now why would that be?

And we still have the matter of an unattended, unpermitted, unlicensed landfill open to the public being operated by one or more employees of the Greensboro Water Services Department-- will the City of Greensboro be held responsible for cleaning up the dump site as the City likely has the deepest pockets?

I formerly operated a fully licensed C&D Transfer Station here in North Carolina. Our permit numbers and other required information was posted on a sign that could easily be read from the road. Your truck drivers knew this was a problem, questioned it and were directed to dump there anyway. The City of Greensboro has no choice but to dismiss several key employees in management positions. NC DENR will decide if charges are to be filed.

Now the question is: How far up did it go?

-Billy Jones"

No one addressed my concerns.


On May 15 I also sent the following e-mail to the following recipients:  Email, Inforequests <inforequests@greensboro-nc.gov>, Sandra Castle NC DENR, Hugh Jernigan NC DENR, Jason Watkins, NC DENR, Jim Westmoreland Greensboro City Manager, Councilman Tony Wilkins, Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter and others:

"My informants are now telling me that some of the materials dumped by the City of Greensboro at Danny Simpson's Pleasant Garden landfill included concrete, asphalt, possibly pipes of different types and sizes (including lead joints and/or asbestos covered). Also some of the soil if excavated from sanitary sewer failures was/is contaminated. The dates invoiced for dumping along with dispatched work orders of the same dates would confirm these facts.

Please send me the corresponding work orders matching the dates when dumping took place at the Simpson's landfill.

I believe now we are talking hazardous materials, are we not?

Is there any sort of sorting operation in place there?

Is the landfill lined in any way to prevent seepage?

Are runoff controls installed around the perimeter of the landfill?

Was the asbestosis friable? Was there anyone on duty at the landfill to know?

Thanks -Billy Jones"

None of my concerns were answered-- not one. Not publicly, not privately, no answers what-so-ever. Why did they not answer any of my questions?

Here's something else you will find to be of great interest. On May 18 I sent the following public information request to Sarah Healey of the City of Greensboro:

"Sarah,
Please send me manifests and/or documents that will indicate what kinds of materials were dumped in Danny Simmons' landfill.

Thanks as always for being able to open the City vaults with little more than a broken Swiss Army Knife and boat loads of determination.

Thanks -Billy"

Sarah is a Sagittarius, be sure to tell her Happy Birthday on December 15 because I'll forget before then. How do I know Sarah's birthday? I submitted a public information request and she answered. No, she didn't tell me what year she was born and I didn't ask.

The link you are about to click is proof positive that Hugh Jerrigan of NC DENR does not know what is burred in Simmons Hauling Landfill and is basing his conclusion solely on what he is being told by Patrick Smith of the City of Greensboro. And Mr Smith made this determination without ever leaving his office or asking his drivers what they dumped there. Sad considering that Mr Smith is currently being considered for a promotion to replace the recently fired Joe Holden. And Mr Smith doesn't address the Asbestos that is wrapped around the pipe.

Oh my!

Turns out Ms Healey found over 18,000 work orders would have to be sorted through to determine what MIGHT have been dumped in Simmons Hauling landfill by the City of Greensboro. I dropped my request as it was simply too big for Sarah to handle alone.

And then there's this e-mail dated October 6, 2011 from Kristine Williams to Chris Payne, Ron Goodwin and Bobby Summers:

"Chris,
I learned that Amy is Danny's wife.  He says it's really his wife's company.  He works as an Equipment Operator under Eric Gauldin, mostly operating a backhoe.  Eric says that occasionally he assigns Danny to a dump truck, and in those cases, Danny makes a decision where to haul stuff and could choose his wife's company to haul to.  We also use Fryar as a dump site, and the truck drivers are told to haul to the nearest of the two.

 This company was chosen after Viewmont closed and A-1 charged us higher rates than specified on the contract and we dropped them.  We are willing to use another vendor, but seem to be having trouble finding one ever since we lost Viewmont.  We need an alternative to Fryar because they close when it rains, from what I've been told.  We think FOD uses the same two companies.

I also heard from Eric that Danny gets picked on by some of the guys because we use his wife's company.  It doesn't sound like there are any bad intentions, but I can see how this would look bad.

 Please let me know how you wish for us to proceed.  I didn't speak to the employee myself, and would be happy to ask more questions if you need me to.  I am concerned that he gets to choose where to haul on occasion. Worst case scenario is that he might have the opportunity to turn in a bogus dump ticket every now and then. Again, no reason to believe he has or would, but that's the extent of his involvement from what I can tell.

 Please advise.
Kristine"

But according to the City of Greensboro Business Privilege License issued to Danny and wife Amy earlier that same year, Danny Simmons was a partner in his "wife's" business. Danny Simmons used his position as a Water Services employee to profit from the City of Greensboro, lied about the ownership of his business and was since given $10,000 in annual pay raises and a promotion.

And lest we forget that the City of Greensboro wasn't Simmons Hauling's only customer. What else lies waiting in the bottom of that hole its toxic leachate ready to spill out and seep into nearby wells or run down to the creek next door and make it's way to Greensboro's water supply-- the Randalman Dam?


It looks to me, at least some of my readers and a bunch of rank and file City of Greensboro workers as if Danny fell right in with the good ol' boys and nobody gives a damn! It's time heads rolled at the top of the Water Services Department and someone started talking about looking at what's at the bottom of Danny's hole. Because how are you, Madam Mayor, able to know your bottled water is safe when the water companies don't even know what chemicals to test for?

Yes, Madam Mayor, it's that serious!

Please continue reading Greensboro's Illegal Landfills: Part 7.

 

2 comments:

Lex Alexander said...

At least someone is asking the right questions.

Billy Jones said...

Now if we can only get those in charge to ask them as well.