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TRASH CITY: Whittier City Council Potentially Violated Brown Act in Discussing Athens-Republic Trash Settlement


 

By Brian Hews

There is strong indications that the Whittier City Council, at its April 26 City Council meeting, violated Brown Act Open Meeting Laws by discussing an interim contract in closed session between two trash haulers, Athens and Republic, then discussing a settlement of that contract at the open meeting, virtually eliminating Whittier resident’s right to participate in the decision.

The Council will make a decision on the contract/settlement agreement at tonight’s meeting.

Athens was awarded the lucrative trash contract months ago even after HMG-CN exclusively reported that the City’s consultant manipulated revenue numbers.

That HMG-CN article spurred a citywide referendum that was certified by the County elections officials on March 23, 2016.

The referendum, by State law, prevents Whittier from contracting with Athens for one year in any capacity, including an interim agreement.

In defiance of the referendum, the council attempted to contract with Athens in early March, only to be rebuked.

Faced with that fact, and a looming July 1 deadline, Mayor pro tem Bob Henderson openly admitted Council could not contract with Athens by sending out “urgent interim proposal requests” April 21 to CR&R and Burrtec, setting an unusual deadline of Monday May 2 at 8:30 in the morning.

But apparently, someone from Athens or Republic got word and threatened Council with “litigation.”

The following Tuesday at the April 26 meeting, using that threat of litigation, Council recessed into closed session to discuss a contract/settlement agreement between Athens and Republic.

As reported by several councilmembers upon their return to open session, during the closed session, Council determined that Athens and Republic already had “collaborated” to combine services to the city.

Council then decided that the two companies could be “assisted” by the City to complete the agreement, blatantly, and some say arrogantly, ignoring the relevant and applicable laws preventing the City from contracting with Athens.

Immediately after that, Council indicated that the urgent interim proposals from CR&R and Burrtec were “no longer needed” and negotiations with those firms were suspended immediately.

Reviewing the video of the meeting, and subsequent discussion, shows that the City and Council could be in for an expensive legal battle over the trash contract’s award.

The council openly discussed a “settlement” that Athens and Republic would “divide the city” in a 50-50 split of services with Athens providing an infusion of cash similar to what CR&R offered months ago in their proposal.

In addition, Athens would “purchase or lease” the City’s trash collection assets, essentially giving Athens the hauler agreement after one year.

In directing the manner in which the two companies split the city, Council and the City were attempting to avoid what is obviously collusion and restraint of trade between Athens and Republic.

The city is also attempting to circumvent the referendum by only giving Athens a part of the city, but there is ample case law to refute that action.

One observer, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, told HMG-CN, “Republic and Athens could see the referendum coming, so Republic became the “official circulator” of the referendum knowing that if Council discussed the settlement to divide the city, the city would be insulated against having to act on the referendum because a party to the agreement-Republic- was the “circulator.” The City would also be indemnified from election code violations that prohibit contracting with Athens for one year. Nice plan.”

Despite indemnification, the City’s approach will not work. Whether or not Republic agrees with the deal, or is a party to the settlement is moot. The prohibition, due to the referendum, on a trash collection agreement with Athens remains in place.

The Council will also have difficulty with its arrangement for “splitting the City” and trying to avoid the restrictions on contracting immediately with Athens. Contracting with Athens for solid waste services without an ordinance is prohibited by the referendum.

Despite the various prohibitions and legal ramifications, Staff Report 10-A, released by Whittier for tonight’s meeting, recommends the City Council approve the agreement and split city trash services between Athens and Republic.

The referendum is not cited in Staff Report 10-A.

 

Part of the staff report recommending approval of the contract with Athens and Republic.

Part of the staff report recommending approval of the contract with Athens and Republic.

 

 

 

See Staff report click here.

In Staff Report 10-B, Council is given the choice to repeal the ordinance that granted Athens the waste contract earlier this year or hold an election that will cost hundreds of thousands in fees.

The Whittier City Council will make a decision tonight, either way it will not be good for Whittier taxpayers.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.56.55 AM

Map of zones, negotiated by the City between Athens and Republic. The negotiations with Athens is strictly prohibited by the referendum.

 

 

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5 Responses to TRASH CITY: Whittier City Council Potentially Violated Brown Act in Discussing Athens-Republic Trash Settlement

  1. Little Marco Reply

    May 10, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    The trash in Whittier stinks because former Councilman Greg Norback is involved. The former t-shirt printer is now stinking rich as a result of his trash consulting gig. Naturally because he’s a republican that pathetic drunk District Attorney Steve Cooley didn’t prosecute Norback for serving as Whittier’s representative at LA County Sanitation while working for a trash vendor. BIG CONFLICT but not for a republican. I’m not surprises Whittier finally showed it’s corrupt side. They were just good at hiding it. But let’s not forget that Whittier’s the home of Bob ‘the Molester” Apodaca from Central Basin Water.

  2. jim Flournoy Reply

    May 10, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Is this the agenda for the April 26 meeting you refer to in PP 1?
    sirepub.cityofwhittier.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1248&doctype=AGENDA

    If so I see no closed session agenda
    There is no closed session authority on the agenda
    and there is no provision for public comment on the trash item anytime, before or after any closed session

    anything done in an illegal closed session may be voided
    where’s the DA on this?

  3. West Div. Reply

    May 9, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    HELLO WHITTIER:
    Trash hauling has always had a lot of violations + corruption. Bleeds in to all cities and donations made during elections.

    Cerritos trash hauling , is owned by Cal Met, Don Knabe supervisor for Los Angeles. Said retired Cerritos council person, too. All conflicts within.

    Conflict of interest they lied to us, stating that they were going to have a mobile trash can cleaning service at no cost. Before the ink was dry, they eliminated this. Ended up with ((Evergreen Account)); big no no in government contracts. Also council person Jim Edwards, stated that we would have valet service for the trash cans for the needy in the city, he lied to us and it never happened. This is all on video tape and recorded for public viewing.

    In addition, the city of Cypress has it substantially cheaper trash rate compared to the city of Cerritos. Like to know why we have to have so many trash hauling trucks.
    1- truck for heavy duty pick up,
    1-2 trucks scouting out the city.
    1 truck for recycle,
    1 truck for green waste,
    1-truck for household rubbish,
    followed by multiple pickup trucks for inspections.

    This is way too much wear and tear on our street, not to mention the damage to low hanging tree branches and smashing in to many parked cars throughout the city on trash day. Day prior to trash pick up, streets are full of trash can divers. Do math, trash day creates staging of least 1 doz cars/trucks for trash hauling.

    Pray, Cerritos street sweepers will be able to take over Cal Met, when Don Knabe is termed out of office.

    • Jesus Sandoval Reply

      May 11, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      West Div. can you show any evidence to support your propaganda?

      • Jesus Sandoval Reply

        May 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

        West Div…interesting it was for me to find out the “Cerritos Street Sweepers” is actually Athens Services. I see where your interests lie.

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