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  • chrisc commented on the blog post Darrell Issa Needs a New Baby-Sitter

    2010-11-09 18:29:13View | Delete

    Issa is a jerk. There is no way he is going to use his subpoena power for anything but an orchestrated attempt to make Dems look bad. Remember Issa wanted Carol Lam out because she wasn’t prosecuting enough illegal immigrants. And Issa is the one who played a huge role in the California recall of Gray Davis.

    The only good thing about Issa and that recall is that the California voters were so sick of Arnie that they voted in almost all Dems for statewide office last week.

  • chrisc commented on the blog post The War on Efficient Trash Collection

    2010-11-08 21:37:20View | Delete

    I ‘ve been following trash issues in San Diego county for some time.

    The city of San Diego is kind of unique because residents who live in single family homes get free trash pick up. Many, many years ago, a private company was hired to pick up trash but they made some extra money by selling it to pig farmers. Some people thought that was “profiteering”. In 1919, voters passed a measure called “The People’s Ordinance” which granted them free trash pickup by the city. A public vote is required to change that ordinance. No easy feat to get the voters to vote themselves a monthly trash pickup fee!

    Both the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego owned the landfills until the mid 1990s. The County was going bankrupt and had to sell the landfills and a huge costly state-of-the-art recycling center that was never profitable.

    There was a reason it wasn’t profitable. In the mid 1990s, the main trash companies managed to get exclusive contracts agreed to be the other cities in San Diego county. One company managed to get most of the north county cities. The contracts required sorted curbside recycleables. This company, was fined by the FPPC for lots and lots of illegal campaign contributions. But what is a fine when you win all the contracts!

    The reason the company wanted sorted curbside recycling was because they wanted the county’s recycling center to go bust. They wanted it to fail so the county would agree to privatize it. Their plan worked too well. It failed, but the county was going bankrupt and needed to sell the landfill and recycling center.

    The trash company then devised Plan B. They planned to build a trash transfer station owned by the cities in the northern part of the county but operated by them. Of course it was going to be in a dense, minority area and hundreds of trucks would traverse their roads, by their homes and schools during the day and night to fill up bigger trucks and haul trash to Orange County. Orange County had gone bankrupt and expanded their landfills and gave cheaper tipping fees to out-of-county haulers in the hopes of making some revenue.

    It was nuts to me to haul trash to Orange County. I investigated and found out that the JPA(joint powers authority) which was composed of the cities that had exclusive contracts with a particular hauler had hired a consultant who was at the same time a paid employee of the private hauler. Huge conflict of interest. For this reason and more, that particular trash transfer station never got approval.

    The minute the county sold the state of the art recycling center, dismantled it and shipped it off to some foreign country, the local hauler, the one with the exclusive contracts for sorted curbside recycleables, switched to single stream recycleables. The company had lost their bid for a trash transfer station, but they managed to get another one they already owned expanded. It used to be said, “Whoever owns the landfills, owns the trash.” Now, it is whoever owns the transfer stations owns the trash. They set the rates. The landfills are privatized and they give the big transfer trucks cheaper rates. Little haulers are forced to take their trash to the transfer stations.

    One of the advantages to the cities of having an exclusive contract was that they made free pickup for the cities a part of the contract. In my city, that meant about $1 million dollars in what was once general fund expense was dumped on to the ratepayers. Not a single city in San Diego county has ever rebid the trash contracts. They always extend the original agreements.

    We have more trucks on the streets picking up trash. Even now, with single stream mingled recycleables in one can, 3 different trucks come to pick up- one for the trash, one for the recycleables and one for the green waste.
    Our landfills are supposedly filling up too fast and state laws require that cities reduce trash volume or face fines. And yet, the green waste is actually dumped in a layer on top of the trash at the landfill. It doesn’t reduce volume at all.

    The trash haulers get to keep all the money they get from the recycleables (and never have to reveal how much it is that they have collected). The trash companies are the force behind increases in recycling deposit fees. And even though every city made a law against it, people still scavenge through the blue bins to get bottles and cans in residential areas and public parks.

    What I have learned over the years is that there is nothing about the way the trash is done that is for efficiency. It is only about profit or cutting out a competitor. Or to get general fund expenses on the backs of ratepayers. The decision makers like it that way- it keeps the batched campaign contributions coming in.