TRASH TALK: Mayoral Candidates Divide Over Trash Conflict

0
751

National trash hauling company Waste Management is playing hardball after losing its bid on the 10-year, $1 billion garbage contract with the City of Oakland.

The company pledged in August to support the city’s transition to Oakland-based, minority-owned California Waste Solutions (CWS), which won the contract when its offered lower garbage rates and jobs for local residents.

Now, however, Waste Management is doing whatever it can to disrupt the deal. In the midst of the petition referendum conflict that is playing out on Oakland streets, a number of Oakland’s 15 mayoral candidates have weighed in with their views on the City Council’s strong stand.

Ina press release issued immediately after council decision, Mayor Jean Quan backed the deal as “one of the greenest garbage contracts in the country.”

“With this contract Oakland is taking a historic step toward fulfilling our goal of zero waste … diverting more waste away from our landfills and dramatically reducing our greenhouse gases.”

As one of the councilmembers who voted for the CWS award, Rebecca Kaplan says the council’s decision “saved the people of Oakland $200 million by not going with the worst bid.”

“The Waste Management proposal was so much worse than what we voted for. We voted for lower prices, more jobs, a local customer service call center, and green energy,” she said.

CWS will add new services to create local jobs and partner with Civicorps to provide job opportunities for teens in Oakland. The company will hire all of the former Waste Management workers.

Surprising some observers, attorney Dan Siegel refused to back the City Council decision.

“I am very unhappy with the way the process developed and am unsure about whether CWS can handle the entire project,” Siegel said. “As a result of problems in the very process the city developed and approved, the council wound up rejecting staff’s recommendations, and as a result the city is facing a $1 billion lawsuit.”

Backing returning at least part of the contract to Waste Management, Siegel suggested that if the council “wanted to utilize local companies like CWS, they could have broken the proposed contract into several pieces so that it would be feasible for local companies to bid on pieces of it.”

Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who voted to award the contract to CWS, called for the city to take steps to support the move to the new company.

“The city needs to do everything in its power to ensure a smooth transition to CWS, (and) that includes transfer of the land” at the Army Base that will be used for the company’s trash facility, she said.

Schaaf said the city needs to respond to Waste Management’s misleading referendum by educating residents about the real facts in the new contract. “Oakland needs to fight back against this bullying behavior,” she said.

Mayoral candidate Jason “Shake” Anderson said he trusts that the City Council made the right decision for Oakland, though he has concerns, “How long is it going to take [CWS] to actually do the job that’s necessary to provide for the citizens of Oakland?” He asked.

“A small company getting a big contract is going to change a lot of things. I hope it changes for the better,” Anderson said.

Other mayoral candidates Bryan Parker, Courtney Ruby, Joe Tuman, and Mayor Jean Quan did not respond to questions from The Post.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here