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As the city turns … Amid Controversy City Hires New Trash Company PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 03:31

San Fernando City council members proclaimed a "New day," following last year's scandalous recall election. Little more than a year later, this council appears to have made good on their promise to remove the administrative sludge and begin the long process to financially stabilize the city.

Now, they've taken an additional big step and have gone against the grain. They have appeared to turn in the city council's well used rubber stamp.

During a special meeting, surprising many, the council voted Friday, Dec. 5 to award the city's most lucrative contract to Consolidated Disposal Service, [previously known as Republic] instead of giving another run to Crown Disposal, which has had a long term and “very close” relationship with the city for more than 11 years.

But when Crown's contract came up for renewal and new bids were being accepted, the political wind shifted. Council members expressed a desire for change, and were concerned about payments from the trash company that were still owed to the city.

Rumors and allegations swirled and the Crown camp, claimed the process had been “tainted.”

Following allegations that named Mayor Antonio Lopez and Councilman Robert Gonzalez specifically, the pair recused themselves from voting on the contract.

And after the council gave the nod to Consolidated, at the end of a council meeting, Crown hand delivered a letter to council members to formally cry “foul.”

In the letter Crown alleged that members of the council violated communication protocol and were improperly lobbied by their competition [Consolidated] at a League of California Cities meeting.

However, the remaining council members, Joel Fajardo, Sylvia Ballin and Jesse Avila still cemented the vote and voted to hire Consolidated as the new trash company for the city's residents and businesses.

Attorney John Marshall of Lewitt, Hackman, Shapiro, Marshall & Harlan, the law firm that represents Crown Disposal, said he had “no comment” when asked if the company planned to pursue legal action.

Attorney Terrence Gallagher with the law firm of Olivarez and Madruga which represents the city of San Fernando called the letter from Crown threatening legal action, “unfactual, unfounded and without merit,” causing some city hall observers to wonder if it was really necessary for Mayor Lopez and Councilman Gonzalez to bow out of their vote.

There will always be some question about how Lopez and Gonzalez would have voted.

“The truth is politicians are always lobbied in some fashion, especially for contracts like this,” a city hall insider [who requested anonymity] shared. “Often times the calls come from a friendly indirect source that has been asked to 'give you a call'. If every politician recused themselves from voting because they've been lobbied or there has been an attempt to lobby, then our whole political system would shut down.”

So, as the year draws to a close, at least for now, this council can now place a rare independent plume into their cap. They have made another big change.

Will this trend continue? Stand by – the pressure is expected to mount, because right around the corner, the city's towing contract is up for grabs and the Police Officers Association may be quite vocal in weighing in with it's long time support for Black and White Towing. Expect more trash talk.

And so the city turns... .

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 16:28

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