From the archive…

While looking over some archival records of Empire Report, I happened upon this:  Garbage Politics — Empire Report.

Full text:

Garbage Politics

Posted by Erin Carlstrom Pelletier, Esq. at Jan 20, 2010 05:45 AM 


Santa Rosa City Council voted to delay a decision on a ten year extension to the City’s garbage and recycling contract. With three years remaining on the current contract, the delay provides time for an open and competitive bidding process instead of hastily pushing through the results of Herb Williams’ backroom deals.

A big kudos to Mayor Gorin and Members Wysocky, Vas Dupre, Bender and Jacobi

Right after the winter holiday break, the Santa Rosa City Council heard public commentary on a proposed re-extension of the exclusive garbage contract with North Bay Corporation. The ten year re-extension was negotiated over one year by Herb Williams on behalf of North Bay Corporation with Deputy City Manager Greg Scoles, and was set for a Council vote after just two poorly attended public sessions and one subcommittee meeting. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Councilmember Gary Wysocky, who demanded the public hearing, the contract vote was delayed pending recommendations from the Solid Waste Committee (Councilmembers Wysocky, Vas Dupre and Bender).

Many community leaders and voices appeared to urge the Council to delay the January 5 vote on the garbage and recycling contract in order to provide time for an open and competitive bidding process, including the Sonoma County Young Democrats and Sonoma County Conservation Action. North Bay supporters were mostly comprised of Herb Williams’ candidates or clients. Mr. Williams was the campaign manager for Councilmembers Bender, Sawyer and Olivares, as well as School Board member Donna Jeye, who also spoke in defense of NorthBay (although not in her “official capacity”). Bender and Olivares voted not to delay the vote on the re-extension, notably Mr. Olivares still owes $10,000 in campaign debt to Williams from his 2008 election.

A big kudos to Mayor Gorin and Members Wysocky, Vas Dupre, Bender and Jacobi for voting to delay the extension. Three years remain on the original contract and taking the extra time for the council and the public to comment was the correct choice. There’s no indication that a year or two’s delay would negatively impact the deal Santa Rosa would be able to work with NorthBay, or with another provider.  Failing to call for bids on the garbage contract would display a lack of transparency in the city’s contract process. It would harm ratepayers by awarding a contract worth over $300 million without the benefit of market competition or the opportunity for local recyclers to compete in order to service commercial recycling boxes.   And with the taint of Mr. Williams’ financial and political control over three council members, an open bidding process would give the public the chance to compare bids instead of relying on Mr. Williams’ backroom deal making.

We expect our city government to make decisions in an open and honest process.  The current action planned for January is neither open nor honest, and risks locking Santa Rosans into a costly contract that will suck thousands of dollars out of the local economy.  An open process will benefit ratepayers, the economy, local businesses, and the reputation of the city of Santa Rosa.