Mayor Sanders finally dumped his scheme to privatize the Miramar Landfill.
The sketchy plan was cloaked in secrecy with details kept hidden from the City Council and the public.
The Mayor wanted to make some quick cash to help close the budget deficit by "selling" the city's interest in our award winning Landfill to the highest bidding private trash company.
If successful, the ploy could have replaced middle-class jobs held by bulldozer operators and other Landfill workers with low-paying jobs with inadequate healthcare.
Residents would have paid higher disposal fees and there would be no funding source for neighborhood clean-ups and illegal dumping abatements.
The Navy -- who leases the landfill property to the city -- had never given approval for a third-party transaction, although the Mayor lead the public to believe the city had military approval.
An Environmental Impact Report had not been done and the Environmental Services Department suddenly dropped its valuable "ISO 14000 certificate" at the same time the scheme was announced -- paving the way for a lowering of environmental standards to favor private industry, like the giant trash company, Allied Republic. Local 127 contends a Miramar Landfill takeover by Allied would have given it a monopoly in the region and possibly violate anti-trust regulations.
The privatization plan cost the city money that could have been spent providing valuable services to our residents. A consultant was paid $500,000. There were other hidden costs related to meetings and landfill tours given to potential bidders and a time-consuming series of employee, Council and Mayoral meetings.
The Mayor has now launched Managed Competition in the landfill operations, which is where the plan belonged in the first place. Managed Competition guidelines were developed with input from the Mayor, the City Council and the workers. But the process may already be tainted.
Local 127 President Joan Raymond testified to the City Council Committee on Natural Resources and Culture that the Mayor has held private discussions with potential bidders that could give private contractors an unfair advantage in a Managed Competition.
Committee members, including Carl DeMaio, a staunch supporter of privatization, were concerned about the tainting and called for straight answers from the Mayor as to the nature of closed-door negotiations with private bidders.
The Mayor's timeline originally called for city Landfill workers to start on their employee bid sometime next fall but the Mayor recently quickened the timeline to June. Local 127 has objected that the timeline is too rushed because an even larger service, Streets Maintenance, is to go through Managed Competition at the same time.
Managed Competition is a new way of doing business in the City of San Diego. Haste makes waste, especially political haste.The Miramar Landfill is a valuable public asset with award-winning services. Citizens need to be assured the quality of these services will continue for generations.
In a Jan. 27 letter to Environmental Service Director Chris Gonaver, a Navy representative recommended the City postpone its "best and final offer" efforts until the Navy had a chance to furnish "guidance and input."
"We feel it is better that we conduct this review, coordination and approval process now rather than after you negotiate" (with an outside bidder)..." wrote Navy Real Estate Contracting Officer Karen P. Ringel.