Company Threatens to Leave Trash in North Wildwood, NJ, Streets
It's a situation that would make Tony Soprano smile.
The city of North Wildwood canceled a contract with its waste management company because they threatened to leave trash in the street if the city didn't pay more.
Mayor Patrick Rosello said in a post on the city's Facebook page that the CEO of Gold Medal Environmental New Jersey (GME) Inc., Darren Gruendel, showed up at the public works building and demanded the city begin paying 2-3 times of the terms of their contract or they would leave trash in the streets.
"In my 25 years in both public service and private business, I have never had an experience like the one I had this past week. The CEO of a company that is backed by a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, essentially tried to extort the taxpayers of North Wildwood," Rosenello wrote.
Working on a new deal
Rosenello said that the city and the trash hauling company had been negotiating a new agreement as similar threats were made. That's not how municipal contracts work, the mayor said.
“While we have been sympathetic to the plight of all businesses dealing with the impacts of the Covid pandemic and other economic issues, we will not make agreements under extortive threats,” Rosenello said. “GME’s CEO made it evident that he was attempting to make the contract better for GME because he did not like what his predecessor agreed to.
The City Council held an emergency meeting on Friday and authorized city solicitor Michael J. Donohue, a former state Superior Court judge, to notify GME their agreement was terminated. The city has already hired a new company, Pineland Recycling, to handle the city's trash needs and will pursue and losses incurred by the city in the dispute.
"The Sopranos" scenario is not lost on Rosenello.
"If the CEO had my last name I would be in hiding," the mayor said.
The CEO of GME told Fox 29 that the company could not continue to pick up trash at the current rate because of increased fuel costs and inflation. He did not deny making the threat about dumping garbage and called the current rate paid to his company "unfair."
"However, given the current inflationary crisis, it should [be] obvious to even the lay reader that either rates must go up or service levels need to come down," Gruendel told Fox 29.