BY BUDDY NEVINS
Broward County’s staff has left Mayor Kristin Jacobs with egg on her face.
Jacobs told residents last week that they would have plenty of opportunity to protest the 21-acre expansion of the stinky Waste Management landfill in North Broward.
Then she found out that the permit to expand the landfill had already been approved…almost on the sly.
The staff snuck the approval through during the Christmas Holidays when nobody was watching. Her office received an e-mail, but there was nobody their to read it during the winter break.
Jacobs was left looking like a liar to her constituents when she assured them not to worry yet about expanding the landfill.
The mayor’s district includes almost all the residents living downwind from the dump.
How the mayor found out. This chronology was sent her late last week (click to enlarge):
“To say I’m ticked off is an understatement,” Jacobs told Browardbeat.com.
The landfill just east of Florida’s Turnpike in North Broward is euphemistically called Monarch Hill by its owners – Waste Management subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies. Monarch is supposed to evoke images of Monarch Butterflies rather than a smelly dump.
Many residents were never fooled by the corporate spin. They prefer the old nickname of Mount Trashmore.
With its reputation for fouling the neighborhood – some neighbors complain the stench is so bad they can’t use their backyards at times – there were folks who wanted to comment on any expansion.
It’s too late for that!
Notice to approve the permit was published in the legal section of the newspaper December 24, starting the 14-day comment period.
No comments were received so the permit routinely went into effect on Jan. 7 – one day before Jacobs assured the residents they would have a chance to protest the expansion.
“I was just floored when I found out,” the mayor said. “You’ve got a bunch of regulators who don’t realize the impact of what they are doing. This has been the most nontransparent process I’ve ever seen.”
In an obvious attempt to save face, Jacobs plans to thrash it all out at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
She also will suggest some new rules to guarantee bureaucrats can’t sneak through important approvals in the future.
To me, it sounds like closing the barn door after the horse ran out.
And to this cynical journalist it is too much of a coincident that one of the most controversial approvals in Broward slipped through the cracks over the Holidays. After all, this is a community where Waste Management has long had its tentacles wrapped around the flanks of county government.
The whole deal just smells to me.
But not as much as that expanded landfill will smell to Northwest Broward residents in the future.
The essential part of a memo from County Administrator Bertha Henry taking the blame for the landfill snafu (click to enlarge):