On the heels of the County Commissioners passing historic rules to regulate the solid waste industry in Hamilton County, Rumpke has filed for an emergency restraining order to prevent the rules from being enforced.
"Good luck," states the director of Child Advocacy for Rights & Equity, Inc. (C.A.R.E.) who proposed implementing the rules in March 2021. "Everyone went into this with their eyes wide open." She said, "Rumpke has always used the threat of their political might and litigation to deter oversight."
The lawsuit states, in part:
The Rules are ultra vires and unenforceable for at least three reasons: (1) the Rules empower the Board to operate outside the scope of its limited authority under Ohio law, (2) the Rules empower the Board to engage in illegal zoning, and (3) the Rules are unconstitutionally vague.
Rumpke has long opposed regulations, claiming they sought "reasonable and fair" rules. However, over the last 11 months, as the rules winded their way through the recommendation process instituted by the Solid Waste Policy Subcommittee and county commissioners, Rumpke has failed to introduce a single rule for consideration or offered any constructive suggestions other than - "don't do it." In fact, Rumpke has provided no input about the process or recommendations whatsoever, except to "deny and delay" the process while it hurriedly pursues permits "under the wire," according to C.A.R.E., despite serving illegally on the Policy Committee and having their request to name an appointee to the Rules Subcommittee being granted.
Rumpke claims in a 333-page lawsuit against the commissioners, that states in part:
This is an action for equitable relief to enjoin the Board’s concerted efforts to illegally prevent the expansion, modification, and improvement of Rumpke’s permitted sanitary landfills in Hamilton County ... The Rules create a costly, burdensome, and vague application process
A consortium of local representatives the Ditch the Dump, Sierra Club, The League of Women Voters, Oxbow, C.A.R.E. and others united behind a proposal to adopt rules initiated by C.A.R.E and recommended by the Rules Subcommittee and the Policy Committee under Hamilton County ReSource (Solid Waste) months ago. They have joined forces creating a group called the Solid Waste Caucus with the organizational leadership of the local Sierra Club division to inform the public of the severe environmental impact and to advance policy to the Solid Waste (R3Source) Policy Committee that is drafting an Update to the Solid Waste Management Plan to exercise the authority of the Policy Committee more thoroughly and to make general improvements that benefit the people of Hamilton County. The Solid Waste Caucus is seeking formal recognition as a stakeholder with the commissioners and committee to have input in the process.
C.A.R.E. responded to the lawsuit saying:
"The lawsuit was expected. There is nothing in this lawsuit that holds water. It's filled with garbage that's all been litigated before - and lost. It appears Rumpke is seeking a political answer to their opposition of the rules through the courts, not a legal one. The rule passed by the commissioners is well within their authority and is a mirror image of those passed in other counties across the state that has been challenged and withstood claims similar to Rumpke's"
Since C.A.R.E.'s proposal to create rules, Rumpke has flooded local political campaigns with money. State Senator Louis "Bill" Blessing and State Representative Cindy Abrams have been on the Rumpke donation list. This year, all 3 trustees in Colerain, where Rumpke has their largest landfill operation, have each been paid over $7,000 recently and Mayor Cranley received a $25K donation from them weeks after C.A.R.E. announced their proposal. Even County Prosecutor Joe Deters has received a $10K donation from the law firm PAC representing Rumpke.
However, despite the political and financial influence muddying up the waters, the Hamilton County Commissioners remained dedicated to legislation that would address the concerns of those impacted by the blight, hazards, and violations caused by the landfill industry in Southwest Hamilton County.
Judge Leslie Ghiz will be hearing the motion for an emergency injunction Wednesday. The County Commissioners are without adequate legal counsel, being the prosecutor's office admitted months ago that it, "did not have the subject matter knowledge to advise the commissioners." Despite the prosecutor's office recusing themselves from the issue months ago, Deters has been publicly critical of the commissioners, saying that if they pass rules they "do so at their own peril," a facial violation of the attorney-client privilege. Given Deters' conflict of interest, it is unknown who will be representing the county in the hearing Wednesday.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners were well aware of the threats of litigation, as Commissioner Stephanie Dumas intimated at a December commissioners' meeting on the topic a "bring it on" attitude saying, "we've been sued before." Anything worthwhile is going to have to withstand the test of the courts.