BY BUDDY NEVINS
County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman has broken with one of her favorite lobbyists over the issue of waste disposal.
She told Browardbeat.com in an e-mail that it was not “proper or right” for Mike W. Moskowitz, a lawyer who handed waste disposal cases for the county, to now lobby for the county’s leading garbage firm.
Here’s the story:
Browardbeat.com discovered last week that Moskowitz had registered to lobby for the waste disposal giant Wheelabrator Technologies this month. Moskowitz in the past represented the county in at least three lawsuits involving the waste industry.
Browardbeat.com e-mailed Lieberman and asked her what she thought of Moskowitz’s lobbying for Wheelabrator.
Queen of Trash
She is dubbed The Queen of Trash because of her long reign as chair of the county’s waste board. She dominates the county’s waste policy and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the waste industry.
Her comments to Browardbeat.com were surprising. She criticized Moskowitz and he is one of her most durable supporters.
But Moskowitz — who was now lobbying for Wheelabrator after earning tens of thousands from the county to fight the waste industry — had taken a step-too-far for Lieberman.
In her e-mail, she didn’t use the word that is an anathema to the legal profession –- “conflict.”
Lieberman did write Browardbeat.com that because of Moskowtiz’s previous law suits for the county, “I don’t think it is proper or right for him to be representing Wheelabrator…”
She cited a 2006 lawsuit Moskowitz handled in federal court for the county against Southern Waste Systems (SWS).
SWS was suing Coral Springs in an effort to pick up construction and demolition debris in the city. The city had granted that right to another company. The county jumped in to defend the right of governments to grant waste contracts.
Moskowitz won the suit.
Liebeman noted that the county and Wheelabrator may fight in the future over the issue of government control of waste disposal (In her e-mail, she uses the industry term “flow control”*.) Thus in her opinion, Moskowitz shouldn’t lobby for Wheelabrator.
Veteran Lobbyist and Lawyer
Moskowitz is a fixture at the Broward Government Center, part of the small clique of lawyer/lobbyists who have ready access to commissioners. A dependable campaign contributor, Moskowitz is also the county’s Democratic State Committeeman representing Broward at the state party level.
He is known to be particularly close to the two Northwest Broward commissioners – Stacy Ritter and Lieberman. And he has one big difference from the other lobbyists:
The Parkland lawyer both lobbies commissioners and gets hired by them to handle lawsuits for the county.
Lieberman may be fond enough of Moskowitz to help hire him as a county lawyer numerous times. Still, she answered Browardbeat.com’s question about Moskowitz registering as a waste industry lobbyist like this:
I had no idea that Michael Moskowitz was representing Wheelabrator until you sent me this e-mail. I am very surprised about this because Mr. Moskowitz represented the RRB(Resource Recovery Board) and the County when SWS was suing the RRB to defend the RRB’s and the County’s Solid Waste District’s procedures and practices. It is my opinion that Wheelabrator and the RRB and/or County may be on opposite sides of this issue in the immediate future. I believe he should not be representing Wheelabrator at the County or RRB level because of this. Thus, I don’t think it is proper or right for him to be representing Wheelabrator at the County level because of his prior representation of the RRB and the County on flow control*. But, you’ll have to ask Wheelabrator and Mike Moskowitz about this as I was not and am not a part of Wheelabrator’s hiring decisions.
Moskowitz and Wheelabrator could not be reached. They are welcome to write Browardbeat.com with any comments.
(*: The law suit involved “flow control” – the waste industry term for the ability of governments to determine who can handle waste disposal or control the flow of garbage. Hence the industry term which Lieberman uses in her e-mail: “flow control”.)