Mendocino County: Take Action! Stop The Garbage Grab! It’s A Stinker!

Potter Valley

[Despite the light-hearted image above, this is very serious business. Instead of doing the job they were elected to do — overseeing and controlling basic public services in an efficient and cost-conscious manner — a majority of the Board of Supervisors, taking the lazy way out, is giving the job away to profiteers, guaranteeing higher rates, lower quality of service, and loss of democratic control. This is rank betrayal of the public trust which must be stopped dead in its tracks. -DS]

The emerging three vote majority of the Board of Supervisors, acting like a bunch of Tea Party fanatics, are rushing ahead to hand over 5 of the county’s solid waste transfer stations to a private corporation in a no-bid 14-year contract.

The dirty deal is set for a vote on August 17.

The right-wing majority — John Pinches, Carre Brown, and John McCowen — are willing to give almost anything that’s demanded by Solid Wastes of Willits, a corporation that was recently caught violating its existing franchise contracts with Mendocino County and overcharging customers by about $60,000.

Instead of being disqualified to do any more business with the County, Solid Wastes of Willits instead is getting rewarded. The price demanded by the corporation to take over the 5 transfer stations is:

• an immediate increase in the gate fee from $25 to $29 per cubic yard, and from $4 to $5 per 30 gallon can, at the South Coast, Albion, Potter Valley, Boonville and Laytonville Transfer Stations.

• the right to make up to $25,000 annual profit running the 5 transfer stations (and more if they can hide it in their books!)

And if that wasn’t enough, the corporation also gets:

• a 14-year no-bid extension in the length of the corporation’s three exclusive franchise collection contracts (North County, Anderson Valley and South Coast) with an immediate 2% rate increase for all these thousands of curbside customers!

Does all this sound impossible?  Unfortunately, it’s true.  See the contracts and summary posted at:

The dealings with Solid Wastes of Willits smelled so bad that the City of Fort Bragg decided not to have anything to do with it back on June 28. Since Fort Bragg is co-owner with the County of the largest County-operated transfer station at Caspar, the Caspar Transfer Station won’t be part of the privatization deal. So the right wing on the Board of Supervisors took revenge August 10 and voted to send a termination notice to Fort Bragg to end the 43-year-old partnership with the city for the Caspar transfer station.  Supervisor Kendall Smith voted no, and Supervisor David Colfax was so outraged that he walked out of the room.

So, Caspar Transfer Station will remain under public operation for the time being, and some day the city may take over running it from the county.

With a privatization deal that stinks this bad, how can the right wingers possibly defend it?  They claim it’s justified as a way to avoid the need for any County subsidy to operate the transfer stations, which was a long-standing policy in order to keep the gate fee low so there wouldn’t be so much illegal dumping.  Now the County can’t afford a subsidy, so the right wing solution is a massive gift at the public’s expense to turn the operation over to Solid Wastes of Willits.

But the right wing’s argument falls apart in the face of the County’s own numbers, which show that the six transfer stations (including Caspar) could be operated without a loss for a gate fee less than the $29 demanded by Solid Wastes of Willits.

Meanwhile, about 8 long-time County employees at the transfer station lose their jobs.  Solid Wastes of Willits is supposed to rehire them, at least until the corporation replaces them with new-hires at lower wages and benefits.

Does this piss you off as much as it does me?   If it does (or even half as much), help me raise hell about it — talk about it, forward this post, and tell the Supervisors what you think!  The dirty deed is scheduled for the Board meeting August 17.
See also Stop The Garbage Grab – Every time they privatize a piece of our common wealth, we lose a piece of our democracy