Cincinnati, OH

"Lulu's," lies and trash-talking before Driehaus sets date to adopt landfill rules and protect residents

The Cincinnati Post

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Commissioner Denise Driehaus commits to adopting landfill rules by December 16thThe Cincinnati Post, 2021

Commissioner Denise Driehaus set a final date of December 16th for the adoption of rules applicable to any solid waste (garbage) facilities seeking to "construct, expand, modify, or operate" within Hamilton County, requiring them to first apply to, and receive approval from, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. This rule essentially gives the commissioners veto power over any decision by the Ohio EPA granting landfill PTIs (Permits to Install) and provides county residents, businesses, and the environment a broader level of protection from the negative impact of landfills.

Lulu

Prior to Driehaus determining a timeline, Tim Mara, retired attorney and a representative of Oxbow, Inc., a wetlands nonprofit operating in SW Hamilton County and Indiana, provided public comments at the Solid Waste Policy Committee meeting this week, "L.U.L.U., Locally Unwanted Land Use - if there ever was a LULU, it's a landfill. It's the LULU of LULUs." Mara continued (see video),

The rules you are considering... give us an extra layer of protection from LULUs. The timing of the adoption of rules is critical... They (any landfill operator) can apply - any day. They control when they apply. It's important that you adopt the rules immediately, or soon (if you want the rules to apply to proposed expansions).

Next was Kurt Grossman, attorney and former candidate for city council, proving he earned his endorsement from the Sierra Club, speaking before the committee,

I'm here, mostly, to just encourage you not to fail in what we need to do to protect all of us. ... I think it is important to have rules so that there's a body, beyond just the minimum standards of the EPA, to be sure to protect our community.

And, that's where the professionalism and civility ended and the trash-talking ensued.

Trash-talking.

Tony DiPuccio, a representative on behalf of trash generators on the Policy Committee and chair of the subcommittee, nominated by Larry Riddle of Rumpke, gave his rendition of the progress of the subcommittee established to develop rules for consideration by the Policy Committee that would eventually make its way as recommendations to the Board of Commissioners for adoption. DiPuccio stated,

We had just 2 meetings and we've barely scratched the surface as far as I'm concerned on educating ourselves...

DiPuccio made no mention that the 2 other subcommittee members, Sue Mangess coordinator for the City of Cincinnati Recycling and Robert Gedert, the public member, had proposed a comprehensive rule. He made no mention of the contentious exchanges and his refusal to even discuss the proposed rule. Gedert picked up where DiPuccio stopped, " With no disrespect to Tony, we did submit some rules we had developed..."

DiPuccio became immediately agitated and interrupted Gedert, stuttering excitedly, "I -I - I'd like to clarify that, you submitted that." He stated, correctly, that he had only gotten the proposal hours before the meeting. Then, escalating the discussion,

I didn't agree to that! You threw them across the table?" gesturing a sweeping motion with his hand, "and it was determined that we had to put them into the record. But, there has been no acceptance."

Gedert attempted to deflect the angry tone and went on to explain that he wished to propose the rule (for the third time in as many meetings without action). He explained that the majority of the subcommittee supported the proposed rule, they had attempted to have a discussion but were shut down, that the proposal was submitted to the subcommittee and that he'd like to move forward either address the proposal now and vote on it or schedule it for an emergency meeting, "on a fast track."

Greg Kesterman, Health Commissioner for Hamilton County, and the consummate professional, expressed concerns that not everyone on the subcommittee had seen the proposal and asked that the subcommittee reconvene so his staff could take part and have a better public vetting of the proposal. Magness defended her actions within the subcommittee, explaining that they attempted to discuss the rules, but were cut off and told by legal counsel, Nee Fong Chin from the county prosecutor's office, that they could not discuss it until legally vetted (Chin was incorrect in issuing this advice.)

(That meeting was very contentious and you can read about it here in an article entitled, Obstruction: What they didn't want you to see... and watch embedded videos)

After the temperament of the meeting cooled a bit, DiPuccio jumped back in with his coarse tone,

Apparently, Sue and Bob 'went off' and created these rules ... there was no substantial discussion on these -- I don't even call them rules, I call them a document. ... To say there was a discussion on it is completely ludicrous. (From the audience the C.A.R.E. representative stated, "You wouldn't allow it, you wouldn't allow it! She (pointing to Chin) stopped them.) The whole process of you bringing this document was that your two went off and created it and... then you throw them out... and I didn't get to see it the morning of and I'm expected to be coherent about it..."

At this point, the discussion has devolved into false accusations and incorrect claims about what happened at the meeting (see above link "here" for embedded videos)

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Larry Riddle, Karen Hurley, Bob Gedert, and Sue Mangess discussing rules at the Solid Waste Policy Committee MeetingThe Cincinnati Post, 2021

Gedert responds to DiPuccio's calculated manipulation of what occurred, stating, "We were asked not to discuss it. We were asked -- by you -- not to discuss the document! " Gedert continues to defend the truth of what happened,

I was prepared to go through it (the proposal) line by line and discuss it. I expected to. And you asked us not to do so.

In fact, DiPuccio didn't ask them not to discuss it, Gedert and Mangess, a majority of the subcommittee, was told by both DiPuccio and Chin, they weren't allowed to discuss it, claiming proposals had to be legally vetted before any such discussions - which is untrue. It was a "deny and delay" tactic that has corrupted the rules process for the last 8 months and continues.

DiPuccio went forward reiterating his claims, afforded by the county prosecutor's office, that the subcommittee must have all proposals legally reviewed prior to any discussions. Then DiPuccio attacked them personally, and attacked their professional experience and credibility, "Sue and Bob, I don't know how many siting processes you've been to. I don't know how many actual, real permits you have gone through -"

To which Gedert responds in his defense, "At least a dozen for me."

DiPuccio quipped back at him, "which are those, Bob?"

"I am not here to be interviewed," asserts, "but, at least a dozen."

DiPuccio slaps back, "I doubt that," challenging Gedert's truthfulness.

Karen Hurly, another Policy Committee member, pops up in her chair obviously shocked by the attack as gasps were heard in the audience. The C.A.R.E. representative states audibly from the audience, "This bullying has to stop." Heads turned. Nervous giggles shocked by the nastiness of DiPuccio to a fellow committee member. DiPuccio abruptly stops his attack and says, "I'm sorry. I'm going to stop right there." Then proceeds to use "transparency" as his excuse for conduct when he knew very well that he had blocked any discussion of the proposed rule last week and with his behavior the remainder of the committee allowed him to block an honest dialogue this week.

Rumpke's nominee has done a great job at preventing a rule that is supported by a majority of the subcommittee and a majority of the policy committee from being passed - again.

Deny and Delay.

Lies.

On that note. Why not just throw some lies on the table and see who buys it?

Before new untruths or half-truths were presented to the Policy Committee, Karen Hurley felt compelled to give her eye-witness account of what actually happened at the prior meeting. With much exasperation in her voice, she levied the facts of what really happened, appearing desperate to set the record straight.

I came to the subcommittee meeting because... I wanted to hear the discussion of these proposed rules. I was quite upset when all discussion was closed down! And the prosecutor's representative had to go out , even, and get a ruling on whether they (referring to the poropsed rule) could be shared with Tony (DiPuccio). It was like a whole controversy about whether these papers can be shared with anybody. ...(they concluded) as long as they were marked as 'draft' they could be declared a public record and they could be shared. ...but it was the end of the meeting.
It wasn't that Sue and Bob did not want discussion, they did want discussion! They weren't trying ... to ram these through. ...
Tony, I would say your demeanor at that subcommittee when you were caught just trying to close everything down and you announced that you didn't even believe that maybe rules were necessary.
So, it was a very contentious meeting. ... the object ... of the subcommittee ... - discussing potential rules - never could happen, not because they never wanted it, but because it got closed down. ... There should be recriminations for bad intent along the way.

As 1 set of lies was disproven by a very credible source, not to mention it's on video, another pack of lies were put forth. This time, not by Rumpke's mouthpiece, but by Larry Riddle and "Billy" Rumpke III, themselves.

Repeatedly, committee members expressed their concerns that the residents in SW Hamilton County would, again, be laden with the burden of another ever-growing landfill, the likes of "Mt. Rumpke" in Colerain Township, if they did not act immediately to implement rules to protect them and give the commissioners the final say in how big of a burden Hamilton County residents and environment would bear to be the trash dumping site for all the other counties in the region. They asked Rumpke if they had immediate plans to file for another PTI, or if they would agree to wait to file a PTI until the rule-making process is over.

Larry Riddle of Rumpke responded, "From an urgency standpoint...As far as I know, we have nothing pending to drop off at the EPA's door. ... There is no sense or need for a sense of urgency."

It depends on what the meaning of "pending" is.

Kesterman, however, cautioned that Rumpke's plans were "eminent",

Just in the interest of making sure everyone's on the same page with what Rumpke's plans are: my understanding is that Rumpke's plans for the Bond Road site, in the relative(ly) near future, beginning sometime next year, is to make an addition of 82 acres to the landfill... There is a plan to expand the site. It's not on the table yet, but it is coming.

After hearing both answers, Karen Hurley appears to share the conclusion of the room on who to believe, "We have to proceed as if the worst case is true. ... So, we have to keep this process moving."

At the county commissioner's meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Driehaus updated her fellow commissioners that rules will be coming down the block and are planned to be proposed and adopted by the Board of Commissioners by December 16th.

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