Chafee’s Second In Command Has Ties With Company Being Sued Over Johnston Landfill Smell
Governor Chaffee's second in command has stepped away from the battle over the stench at the Johnston landfill. Richard Licht is a little too close for comfort, sitting on the board of the company that runs the landfill. The Town of Johnston is now suing that company and the one he's lobbied for in the past.
Licht's former law firm, ADLER POLLOCK & SHEEHAN P. C., was paid 150 thousand dollars to lobby for a project at the energy company now owned by the same corporation being sued by the Town of Johnston. Licht told ABC6 today that he agrees his history is a conflict of interest.
“Once I knew there was a lawsuit I never participated in anything,” said Licht.
Director of the Department of Administration, Richard Licht, says once the issue over the smell at the Johnston landfill turned legal, he backed away.
He said, “Because I had worked with the predecessor to Broadrock and been involved some people might think there's an appearance of a conflict.”
Before Licht sat on the board for Rhode Island Resource Recovery as the Director of DOA, he collected 150 thousand dollars over a four year period to lobby for a project at Ridgewood Renewable Power, now owned by Broadrock Renewables. The company being sued by Johnston for not fixing the smell at the landfill.
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena says the discussion to fix the odor coming from the landfill became a battle.
He said, “we tried to work with them for three months and that hasn't been successful, so that's why we took the action we did yesterday.”
It was Johnston's action of filing a lawsuit against the company Licht had ties with, that resulted in him stepping away.
Licht said, “people want to be overly cautious this is a very sensitive subject and therefore it was determined that it was best to remove myself from participation.”
Rhode Island Resource Recovery Executive Director Mike OConnell, would not comment about Licht's decision to stay out of the landfill issue, or his position on the board. OConnell says he's not concerned with the lawsuit, because right now his main concern is fixing the smell.