AAA Carting and Rubbish Removal Inc. has sued the village of Pelham over a trash hauling contract it claims was “corruptly” awarded to another company.
AAA Carting’s $1.95 million bid to haul garbage for two years was rejected as “non-responsible,” according to a letter the village sent to the carting company last year. Instead, the contract went to Oak Ridge Hauling LLC of Danbury, Connecticut on a bid that was $384,478 higher for two years and $514,820 higher for four years.
“The acceptance of the higher bid is a needless waste of taxpayers’ money and is not justified,” according to the complaint filed Jan. 3. in Westchester Supreme Court. “The unjustifiable determination of the village leads to the inescapable inference that its goal was to corruptly steer the contract to a more desirable and higher-priced hauler.”
AAA Carting of Cortlandt Manor has been in the trash business for 25 years, Pasquale L. Cartalemi Jr., the president, stated in an affidavit.
It hauled garbage for Pelham from 2010 to 2014, when R&S Waste Services, operated by Joseph Spiezio III, got the contract. But Westchester County suspended R&S Waste Service’s solid waste license, and the village had to find a new hauler.
The request for bids for hauling garbage, bulk trash, recycling and organic waste was published in October. Bids were opened in November, and AAA Carting was the apparent low bidder.
Two weeks later, Village Administrator Omar T. Small notified the company that its bid was rejected as nonresponsible.
AAA Carting had failed to submit resumes of supervisors. It had answered “no” to a labor question. It had nine violations with the Westchester County Solid Waste Commission since 2017, compared to one by Oak Ridge.
The village’s conclusion, AAA Carting claims, was “false and without merit.”
It claims the resumes were submitted before the contract was awarded.
The village did not specify which of the four questions to which AAA answered “no” was improper: whether it had verified background information for each employee, tested employees for their command of English, experienced any strike or work stoppage and maintained a contingency plan for a work stoppage.
“We are not union,” AAA Carting wrote under one of its answers. It claims it is not required by law to verify background information on employees or to verify their command of English.
“All of the questions,” according to the complaint, “were truthfully and properly answered.”
The nine county violations include failure to display decals on trucks and containers and allegation about disputes with customers.
“It is my experience that every waste hauler in Westchester County has been issued violations by the commission,” Cartelemi states in his affidavit.
“Unless the violations result in the suspension or revocation of a waste hauler’s license, they … cannot be the basis to find a bidder to be non-responsible. Otherwise, every waste hauler in the county would be precluded from bidding on public contracts.”
AAA Carting has contracts with New York state, New York City, Westchester County, White Plains, New Rochelle and several other municipalities in the Hudson Valley.
“Not once in the last 25 years has AAA Carting been found non-responsible,” the complaint states.
The company claims that Pelham violated a state law that is meant to prevent a municipality from contriving subjective rationales to justify awarding a contract to a higher bidder.
The village also violated its own laws, according to the complaint, by not establishing the need for a costlier option and explaining how the award is expected to result in savings.
The complaint asks the court to annul the Oak Ridge contract and award it to AAA Carting.
The lawsuit also names Oak Ridge and the seven village trustees as defendants. Only trustee Ciro Greco responded to a request for comment, with the cryptic phrase, “piece of work,” referring to the previous garbage hauler.
AAA Carting is represented by Manhattan attorneys John D. D’Ercole and Nicholas Caputo.