Ben and Nikki Clay plus Allied Waste fete councilman Jim Madaffer

Jerry Sanders duels with Mike Aguirre over mandatory recycling

— San Diego city councilman Jim Madaffer has been elected president of the League of California Cities, and one of the city's biggest special interests is throwing a party to celebrate. "It's Jim Time!" says an invitation to the event, to be held this Friday night at the Sacramento condominium of Ben and Nikki Clay, two of San Diego's best-known and most successful lobbyists. "Join Mayors Mary Sessom and Lori Pfeiler who will be mixing up the Micheladas!" the invite continues. Sessom is mayor of Lemon Grove; Pfeiler holds the post in Escondido. "Let's eat, drink, and be merry -- proud that Jim is from San Diego and will be fighting the good fight on our behalf."

But the Clays aren't throwing the bash all by themselves, the invitation makes clear: "Thanks to our friends at Allied Waste Services for hosting the fun!" According to lobbyist disclosure statements on file with the City, one of Nikki's clients is San Diego Landfill Systems, LLC, a subsidiary of Allied, one of the country's biggest trash haulers and landfill owners. San Diego Landfill owns Sycamore Landfill, near State Route 52 at Mast Boulevard, inside Madaffer's seventh city council district.

Over the years, the councilman has been the recipient of other favors from the giant waste hauler, which has many other operations that also fall under the City's regulatory domain. In May of last year, according to the personal financial disclosure report Madaffer filed this spring, Allied paid for a "Taxpayers Dinner" worth $125. Last November, the firm gave him a "Holiday Poinsettia" worth $49.49 and a $55 ticket to the "Alonzo Awards Dinner."

At the moment, the most high-profile solidwaste issue before the City is recycling, with Mayor Jerry Sanders dueling with City Attorney Mike Aguirre over his mandatory recycling plan; depending on any final recycling legislation, trash haulers and dump owners such as Allied may be able to levy higher trash-handling fees on condo associations, office building owners, and businesses. The proposals have been aired at two "stakeholders" meetings and are set to be heard by the city council's Natural Resources Committee at the end of this month.

Madaffer has been on the League of California Cities board, most recently serving as its executive vice president. Last year the organization reimbursed him a total of $6077 in travel expenses and meals, according to his financial disclosure statement. Madaffer, of course, is no stranger to controversy. Last summer, for instance, he came under attack for spending $120,000 from a discretionary fund earmarked for parks and street repairs in his district in order to hire Colleen Windsor, an ex-TV newswoman and former press aide to ex-mayor Dick Murphy. Windsor, whom Madaffer recruited as a marketing consultant for the Grantville redevelopment area, a pet project of his, left under the withering fire. He's also a diehard champion of a new central library downtown, the cost of which has risen to at least $185 million during the near decade since it was first proposed. Funding a big chunk of the construction cost with contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals, another of Madaffer's favorite ideas, has fallen flat.

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