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Fred Weber Inc. seeks to remove Campisi from appeal hearing

When considering Fred Weber Inc.'s appeal to construct a trash-transfer station on Baumgartner Road in Oakville, company officials want County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, to have no say in the matter.

Fred Weber Inc. recently filed a motion to disqualify Campisi from participating in an upcoming appeal hearing. The County Council soon will meet in executive session to consider Fred Weber's appeal of the Department of Health's denial of the company's application to construct a trash-transfer station at 5219 Baumgartner Road.

"I'm just stunned," Campisi told the Call. "I don't know what to say. They're asking a council member not to represent his constituents. It's absurd."

The health department denied Fred Weber's application last September, citing noise and public safety concerns, claiming the proposed trash-transfer station would be hazardous to the public's health. The department also stated that the station would violate a county restriction stating that waste-processing facilities cannot be within 1,000 feet of residences, schools, churches or child- and adult-care facilities.

Fred Weber since has appealed that decision. The county conducted a hearing last November reviewing the company's appeal and County Counselor Pat Redington also has submitted her evaluation of the evidence presented by Fred Weber during that hearing.

Her findings of facts and evidence, submitted to councilmen earlier this year, concluded that the health department made the correct decision in denying Fred Weber's application.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting, which has not been scheduled, councilmen will review her findings and consider the appeal.

But Fred Weber does not want Campisi to be able to participate in that meeting, alleging that he would bring an unfair bias to the proceedings.

"Campisi cannot make a fair and impartial decision about this appeal based solely on the evidence and testimony presented to the Committee of the Whole at its hearing," the motion alleges. "Consequently, Campisi should be disqualified from any further participation on this appeal. Permitting Campisi to participate further in the discussions and the decision of the Committee of the Whole and in any discussions and final decision of the County Council will prejudice the application of F.W. Disposal South, LLC and deny the application, its constitutional rights, including, without limitation, due process of law."

Thomas Barta, spokesperson for Fred Weber, did not return this newspaper's phone calls.

Fred Weber's request notes that Campisi has publicly expressed his "vehement opposition to the location of a trash-transfer station in his district."

Fred Weber also recently filed a lawsuit against an Oakville resident, Tom Diehl, for his alleged involvement with the production and distribution of fliers in December that referred to Fred Weber as "trash terrorists."

At that time Campisi had told the Call, "I find it kind of odd that a company like Fred Weber would do such a thing. People expect more from a company like that. To intimidate people in the way they are right now — I find it really appalling."

Campisi also had provided comments to a KMOX radio news program, which aired at 7:15 a.m. March 10.

"There's no reason why you should be out there suing people and that, to me, that is just total intimidation to keep people quiet," Campisi said, according to a KMOX script from that broadcast provided in Fred Weber's request submitted to the county. "And, you know what? It has just the reverse effect on the people that are in south county. They are working harder than ever than they did before the suit."

During a 9:05 a.m. broadcast later that day, Campisi said, "You're saying to a constituent of mine that if a business doesn't like what they say out there or if a business doesn't like what, a person's suing that they can just go out and sue them for no reason at all. And that's, to me, that's more intimidation than it is an actual, factual type of suit."

Campisi's statements broadcast on KMOX are evidence, Fred Weber's request alleges, that the 6th District councilman would bring a bias to the appeal process.

"These statements demonstrate that Campisi has aligned himself with his constituents and the contents of the disparaging pamphlet distributed to his constituents in his district," the motion to disqualify states. "It also clearly reiterates Campisi's personal bias and prejudice against Fred Weber Inc., an affiliate and owner of F.W. Disposal South LLC."

Campisi acknowledged that he is not in favor of Fred Weber's proposal — as directed by the south county citizens he represents.

"I'm in favor of the constituents," Campisi told the Call. "I'm looking at all of the facts right now ... I can base my decision solely on the facts — absolutely ... I'm really basing my decision on the facts that were given to me. The only thing that he (Thomas Dunne) doesn't like is that it's not in his favor."

If Campisi is removed from the upcoming appeal hearing, Campisi said, "Who would represent the citizens and constituents of south county? That's what they hired me to do. They hired me to look at all the facts. Bring the facts to them and let them make the decision. That's what I've done."

Campisi added, "It says in there (the motion to disqualify) what he thinks it's about, but it's not. It's really, since November of 2002, I have been listening to the people in my district and they are telling me they don't want this to happen.

"And if he thinks that's being biased, then so be it. But I am absolutely listening to the constituents in my area. He needs to convince them, not me,'' he added.

County councilmen last week referred the matter to Redington.

The county counselor told the Call that, to her knowledge, no entity had ever submitted a motion to disqualify a councilman from a county hearing or meeting and that she currently is evaluating the legal ramifications of the request.

She soon will submit a legal opinion to councilmen, she said, that will reveal her findings.

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