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Plaintiff: JABB II LLC

Defendant: D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA)*

Relief Sought: Declaratory judgment that WASA broke D.C. law in several cases, injunction and order forcing the release of certain documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and injunction blocking WASA from awarding the contract in question

COMPLAINT: When sewage gets pumped through the treatment plant, a lot of sludge is left over that needs to be carted away. The well-bred refer to this product as “biosolids” and to the removal of it as “biosolids management.” Put less delicately, JABB II is a company in Southeast that hauls WASA’s shit. For this privilege, the company must outbid others who also want shit-hauling contracts. And it has done well for itself; the contracts have kept coming for more than 25 years. But in the last bid cycle, something went wrong. WASA’s request for proposals was “vague and ambiguous and commercially impossible,” asking how much it would cost to haul different volumes in a certain time frame. JABB II began asking for clarification, for meetings, and made a formal protest, but WASA said nothing. The agency even canceled a round of interviews that it had held for each of the prior 25 years. After JABB II’s bid protest was denied, the company filed a FOIA request for information about WASA’s procurements. The utility has been fighting that request.

QUALITY OF REPRESENTATION: Very good. The complaint, by T. Michael Guiffré of Patton Boggs, is precise, easy to read, lacks misspellings, and has short paragraphs.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Something smells here. If the plaintiff’s allegations are true, the city’s water authority is hiding information about how, and to whom, it is giving its money—declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and legal fees granted. With regard to those particular officials who turned down the bid protest and fought the FOIA, they must report to the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant on Saturdays at 8 a.m. The court budget will compensate them for the rental of a pickup, a bucket, and a shovel. Should the officials want dust masks or clothespins, they will have to pay for those things themselves.

* Though WASA has been an independent agency since 1996, it remains subject to strict District oversight.