Updated: County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman Defends Waste Monopoly


County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman today defended the long-standing  monopoly on waste disposal in Broward which critics charge have kept rates artificially high.

The county commission workshop on the future of handling waste in Broward immediately degenerated into a tutorial by Lieberman on garbage disposal.

Important decisions on the future of waste disposal in Broward were put off to another day, including on whether the Southwest Regional Landfill would begin to accept household waste.

The long-time, self-anointed garbage expert at the commission, Lieberman is known for her coziness with  Wheelabrator.

The company has held a monopoly on garbage disposal for over 20 years.

Lieberman has been trying to get approval of another long-term contract for Wheelabrator without taking any other bids.

Using a blizzard of numbers, Lieberman ripped apart reports that said competitors to Wheelabrator could save homeowners and businesses millions over 10 years.

But Lieberman’s lecture backfired. The data, supplied to Lieberman by Wheelabrator, confused the other commissioners.

“Your numbers are all over the place.  They don’t make any sense,” charged Mayor Sue Gunzburger.

“How come we didn’t get the numbers?”  Commissioner John Rodstrom said.

“I only got the numbers an hour ago,” Lieberman fired back.

“If there is anyone here who really understands what Commissioner Lieberman was talking about (come forward),” Gunzburger asked.

Rodstrom asked that the county auditor examine the numbers and report back to commissioners.

“We need real numbers before we decide anything,” Rodstrom said.

Commissioner Barbara Sharief charged that Lieberman’s hold on the county’s garbage disposal through her chairmanship of the Resource Recovery Board should be ended.

“Commissioner Lieberman just gave a fine reason why we should disband the Recourse Recovery Board…we are not privy to the information (she is),” Sharief said.

Sharief and Lieberman clashed several times during the meeting.

Commissioner Lois Wexler said they “owed it to the public…to test the marketplace” and not automatically hand Wheelabrator a second long-term monopoly.

City commissioners were invited to speak at the county commission meeting.

Sunrise Commissioner Joey Scuotto, a Lieberman fan, still found fault with the Wheelabrator deal.  He pointed out that the original contract discouraged recycling.

He said the county has overpaid for disposal for years because of a contract which required taxpayers to make minimum payments to Wheelabrator. If more garbage was recycled and less burned or buried in Wheelabrator facilities, taxpayers had to make up the difference in payments, Scuotto noted.

Hollywood Commissioner Beam Furr backed Lieberman and Wheelabrator.

“In the end, it made sense to single source it,” he said.

Furr attacked the proposal to reopen the Southwest Broward landfill to offer competition to Wheelabrator.

He said the landfill should be kept in reserve “for hurricane debris.”

Gunzburger disagreed with Furr on continuing the monopoly.  “We believe in competition,” she said.

Lieberman countered that Wheelabrator had given the best price to their biggest customer.

Please see Lieberman’s response to my story below:

9 Responses to “Updated: County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman Defends Waste Monopoly”

  1. Ilene Lieberman says:

    As usual, you have tortured the facts to support your erroneous conclusions. I did not defend the Waste Management Waste To Energy contract. There were incorrect facts in staff’s report which I outlined. Staff even agreed. So much for that conclusion!
    I have absolutely NOT been trying to get a long term contract without taking any bids. In fact, it is the City Managers Association who is negotiating with Wheelabrator, not me, as was explained at our workshop today. So much for that conclusion!
    While Commissioner Sharief did voice a concern that I had 1 page of rate information she did not have, the information on that page was almost identical to the information I provided my colleagues on the dais when the Wheelabrator interim agreement came before the Board. Additionally, please be advised that County Commissioners are routinely appointed to various Boards. No one shares detailed information from their board service with other Commissioners. Thus, I get no information about the MPO, Arts and Cultural Council, the Broward Alliance, etc., all of which I do not serve on but several of my colleagues do.
    I did not say that Wheelabrator gave its best price to its biggest customer. What I said was it has taken me 18 years to convince Wheelabrator that they should give their best price to the best customer under a market driven agreement.
    If anyone questions the veracity of what I have stated, kindly get a verbatim copy of the minutes of today’s meeting minutes. Buddy, it would do you good to read them before you write further erroneous information.



    The Miami Herald, Browardbulldog.org and Browardbeat.com have written numerous stories about you promoting a new long-term contract with Wheelabrator. When your original contract proposal was shot down, Wheelabrator came back with another lower-priced short term proposal through July 2013.


    Now the City County Managers Association is meeting to hammer out a new waste disposal contract on its own. It would have to be ratified by the county commission.

    At least two waste companies believe that the City County Manager Association meetings are just another way of handing Wheelabrator a long-term contract without bids. It is interesting at today’s meeting that you defended the group meeting privately and outside of the Sunshine.

    How will the public ever know if they are getting the best deal? Do you believe that’s okay and a $1 billion-plus contract should be negotiated outside of the Sunshine?

    I have no doubt that you believe what you are doing is in the best interest of the public. I just don’t believe that huge, waste disposal contract should be awarded without competitive bidding. I also believe that contract should not be longer than five years, not the 10 years with a 10-year option that you originally promoted.

    You, Ilene, have never liked what I wrote at the Sun-Sentinel. Those feelings continue at Browardbeat.com.

    I offer you space at Browardbeat.com to write a guest column. You can give your opinions without comment from me. That’s a promise.

    You know my number, Ilene.

  2. Sunrise Resident says:

    Joey should remember that Ilene and Stuart Michaelson plotted against him and tried to engineer his defeat for reelection. She is a kniving bitch.

  3. Privacy 101 says:

    Buddy, the only thing I think you have wrong in your article is the relationship between Lieberman and Scuotto. I don’t think they particularly like each other.

    I agree with you. However, he expressed fondness for her at the meeting.

  4. Floridan says:

    At least two waste companies believe that the City County Manager Association meetings are just another way of handing Wheelabrator a long-term contract without bids. It is interesting at today’s meeting that you defended the group meeting privately and outside of the Sunshine.

    Buddy, are you implying that municipal and county managers meeting in private are in violation of the Sunshine Law?

    FROM BUDDY: I believe they are within their right to meet in private. I don’t believe it is good public policy to do so.

  5. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    I would like to see what the auditors have to say about the numbers.

    It would be very helpful to know which lobbyists visited which electeds/appointeds and how much they donated to campaigns.

    All the usual suspects are in on this one, Charlotte.

  6. sunriseoversite says:

    I concure it is not right for them to meet in private. Whether it is a violation of sunshine laws or not. This is a huge contract that affects all taxpayers it should be all out in the public eye. I do believe this is a violation of the trust that has already been tampered with by our elected officials. Put everything out in the open there shouldn’t be anything to hide from the voters? Or is there ?

  7. Pants On Fire says:

    I don’t believe anything Ilene Lieberman has to say. Her political career jumped the shark when she forgot the public, deciding she was in it to make money. She testified against her former friend the mayor of Tamarac so she can’t be trusted.

  8. Git R Done says:

    @ Pants on Fire-
    You got that right!
    Why she can’t be trusted may be one of the reasons she disappeared for awhile. Besides, hiring Bev Streiker as her assistant was a little weird.

  9. Louie Gerstein says:

    I wonder what’s in it for her and Stuart?