The Big Payoff

As a plan by San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to privatize trash collection at City facilities makes its way through the city council, the contractor green-lighted by the Sanders administration to do the job has been handing out lots of campaign cash. Allied Waste was selected by the City’s Environmental Services Department to handle solid waste and recycling-Dumpster services at City-owned facilities. Outsourcing the pickups, currently done by city crews, is supposed to “streamline services” and cut expenses, but will costs really be reduced? According to a January 19 report to the council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee, which is reviewing the proposal, as the City “works to increase recycling levels at City Departments to ensure they are compliant with the City Recycling Ordinance, their costs will fall.” By year two of the contract, its annual cost would be $819,200, according to the report. Committee chairwoman Donna Frye asked staff to produce figures on the actual cost of the pickups over the previous two years, and when they couldn’t, the committee voted to postpone the matter until February 24.

Meanwhile, Allied executives have been busy writing checks to influential people. On December 1, Southern California area president James Ambroso, based in Poway, gave $250 to city councilman Kevin Faulconer, who is up for reelection this year, as did general managers Fred Ashford and Neil Mohr. Business development executive Dick Chase Jr. gave $150, and controller Richard Normand gave $100. Sales manager Scott Miller gave $25 on December 1. Back on January 22 of last year, Ambroso gave $270 to the just-elected councilwoman Sherri Lightner. Marketing director Johnnie Perkins chipped in $175. On January 30 it was division manager Steve Miasen, with $150. Ashford gave $100.

Nikki Clay and Stephanie Saathoff of the Clay Company, a lobbying firm registered as Allied representatives, gave Ben Hueso a total of $400 on October 9. Allied’s parent firm, Republic Services, gave the District Eight councilman’s state Assembly campaign $1500 on June 30. He got an additional $1000 on December 17.

According to a lobbying disclosure statement filed with the city clerk last month, both Clay and Saathoff engaged in fundraising activities on behalf of Kevin Faulconer, raising a total of $2550 at a “coffee event” they held for the Republican councilman on December 1 of last year. And between them, Clay and Saathoff reported giving a total of $330 to Todd Gloria and $400 to Sherri Lightner. Clay gave $200 to Tony Young.

Allied has not limited its support to individuals alone. In February, March, and June of last year, according to state filings, the company, through Republic’s political committee, gave a total of $10,300 to the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a business-backed group campaigning to outsource city services. President Lani Lutar frequently appears before the council and elsewhere on behalf of outsourcing. Allied’s Ambroso is a member of the group’s board of directors. And on December 25, the filing says, Republic gave $10,000 to the Sanders-linked San Diegans for Accountability at City Hall. That group is backing a November ballot measure to make permanent the City’s so-called strong mayor form of government.

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its a shame we still get the same recycled trash running San Diego.

"Committee chairwoman Donna Frye asked staff to produce figures on the actual cost of the pickups over the previous two years, and when they couldn’t, the committee voted to postpone the matter until February 24."

Has the mayor or anyone else in city administration provided the media with any hard numbers where members of the public can plainly see any advantage to this outsourcing plan?

If so, do the alleged savings significantly outweigh the reported political contributions?

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