Councilman responds to mayor’s challenge to ‘produce the document’

Mayor-President Kip Holden and Councilman Ryan Heck faced off at the Wednesday night Metro Council meeting over a multi-million dollar, five-year garbage collection contract with another five year option to renew.

Holden pounced on Heck after the councilman suggested that it would be improper for the council to approve such a long contract

that exceeds Holden’s mayoral term, especially since it was never put out for bid. Heck recalled at the meeting that before Holden was inaugurated in 2005, he asked city officials to slow the brakes on a garbage contract until he could take office.

The comment led to an uncomfortable exchange, with Holden adamantly denying that he’d ever said such a thing and demanding that Heck provide proof. Heck ultimately backed down Wednesday night, but on Thursday he located a 2004 article that backed up his initial claim.

Here’s a transcript of the Wednesday night exchange:

Heck: “I’m actually just using the language that our mayor asked (former Mayor-President) Bobby Simpson to do when he came into office — to not saddle administration with a very long 10 year contract.”

Holden: “I ask him to produce the document or the tape that I said that. I would like for you to let council members see the document and/or tape that verifies exactly what you said because that statement was never made by me…”

Heck: “I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, Mayor. No disrespect, but that was my understanding of the previous administration as it related to garbage. This contract lasts 10 years.”

Holden: “All I’m saying is this: produce the document or the copy of the video that backs up what you’re saying.”

Heck: “I’ll look for it, but as it was told to me, that’s the arrangement of what it was.”

Holden: “Well that’s the classic case of  – and you got an old lawyer by you (referring to John Delgado) — of hearsay.”

Heck: “If you say that’s how it was, I believe you. I’m not going to waste my time to go do that. My issue is that this contract has always been in place for 10 years.”

On Thursday, Heck identified a 2004 article from The Advocate, where Holden spoke at a Baton Rouge Press Club about various goals and plans for his impending term.

At the 2004 event, Holden said he asked city-parish officials to delay decisions on the upcoming garbage services contract until after he was to take office in January. He also said he would like to see the city-parish scale back on proposed management contracts for the newly expanded River Center to one year instead of four to six years, so his administration would have the chance to analyze the proposed contracts in detail.

Heck on Thursday highlighted the key passage from the article and hand delivered it to the Mayor’s Office and pinned one on the door of the Metro Council chambers. He also placed a copy of the article in each of the mailboxes of his fellow council members.

“He asked me to produce the document and let my fellow council members see that document that verifies that he had indeed asked the previous administration to hold up on any long term agreements as it relates specifically to garbage,” he said. “So this morning, I did.”

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