Atascadero officials vote against competitive bidding

December 14, 2017

During an Atascadero City Council meeting in November, city staff and officials claimed it would cost $150,000 and take about three years to allow for competitive bidding for the city’s garbage collection contract, costs and time constraints that appear overstated. The council then voted 3-2 not to open up the bidding with council members Roberta Fonzi and Charles Bourbeau dissenting. [Cal Coast Times]

This is the second time in four years the council has voted against an open bidding process. As part of the process, garbage collection companies offer cities services such as street sweeping and recycling centers in attempts to win the lucrative contracts.

In 2014, Mid-State Solid Waste and Recycling owner Brad Goodrow asked the council to allow him to bid on the garbage contract. Goodrow said his company would provide each resident a yard of compost, agree to operate the buy-back center and would provide curbside collection at a savings for both businesses and residents.

But in 2014, the Atascadero City Council voted to extend Atascadero Waste Alternatives’ contract and not to open up the bidding process.

Two years later, Atascadero Waste Alternatives closed its recycling buy-back center on San Luis Avenue, a buy-back center which usually paid between $2,000 and $4,000 a day to people bringing in their recyclables.

At last months meeting, Mayor Tom O’Malley argued against permitting other companies to bid against Atascadero Waste Alternatives claiming the bidding process would take three years to complete. During the meeting, O’Malley did not inform his fellow council members that Atascadero Waste Alternatives has paid to sponsor several events he has hosted in Atascadero, according to fliers for the events.

“I envision really needing about a three-year process,” O’Malley said as he argued for a limited evergreen component to the contract for Atascadero Waste Alternatives.

However, several companies who provide garbage contract consulting for cities said it generally takes about nine months to a year to complete the process from opening up the bidding to awarding a contract for a city the size of Atascadero.

Solid Waste Solutions is a solid waste and engineering management company located in Thousand Oaks.

“If you can allocate a solid nine months you can bid, review and award a solid waste franchise agreement for a standard size city with 30,000 people,” said Kimberly C. Nilsson, with Solid Waste Solutions city permit services in an email. “The cost for this typically from a consulting side are about $35-60,000 plus whatever the attorney from the cities charge.”

SCS Engineers is an environmental engineering firm on the Central Coast that offers environmental consulting, landfill/solid waste services and environmental engineering services.

“For rough estimates, you can probably count on nine to 12 months for a small to medium size City to develop an RFP, and go out to bid, and award a contract,” said Michelle Leonard, SCS vice president, in an email. “Also, the budget should be in the $100,000 range.”

Several years ago, Buellton put their garbage collection contract out to bid. In the end, the parent company for Atascadero Waste Alternatives lost the contract and residential and commercial customers received a substantial decrease in garbage collection rates. In addition, the city’s franchise fee went from 2 percent to 10 percent.

“I always recommend putting contracts out to bid,” Buellton Councilman Ed Andrisek said. “Request for proposals are always a good thing.”

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Just another example of typical politicians pay to play attitude. The recycle should never of been shut down and just like our state politicians that preached recycling they also cut funds for it but still collect the recycle fees.I do not believe there is a for the people politician serving any place in our system.

In addition to O’Malley’s propensity for graft, his skill set would require a three year process. Do your job and look ahead and start the bidding process now where necessary. O’Malley, you are a crook.

America has become the land of swamps!

Finally someone is catching up to O’Malley and his financial connection with Atascadrero Waste Alternative. It’s very clear and easy to follow and you can start with O;Malleys Portola Inn webpage and the posted donations. The early webpages for the Cinco de Mayo bicycle programs that O’Malley took credit for and directly received a $1000 donation that he personally obtained from the garbage company. The check is on file in Atascadero’s Finance Department with notes stating it came from O’Malley. Shortly after this was noted to the city manager O’Malley cancelled the application for the use of the park the next year and instead had the Kiwanis put the application in. Years prior to closing the recycling center the company was talking to O’Malley regarding closing the center. At the last go around that is why the recycling center was not part of the contract which O’Malley pushed thru with staff’s support. Consequently the center closed and may probably be the biggest financial blunder in Atascadero as it removed close to $1 million dollars of proceeds that would have gone back to the citizens of Atascadero. O’Malley’s claim that it would cost $35,000 to $60,000 and take 3 years to orchestrate a new contract is a false statement. When the contract came up last time Bill Worrell from the Integrated Waste Management Authority made a presentation at the city council meeting and stated that the consulting side could cost around $25,000 although he volunteered to do it for the city for free. That is on the record as it was at a city council meeting and there should be a complete video of that on the city’s web page. O’Malley’s claim of between $35-$60 dollars out of an anticipated $150,000 cost is absolutely not correct. O’Malley has been on the Board of Directors for the IWMA for years and is currently it’s Vice President and should really know the facts, which I think he does, but there is a definite lack of transparency here.

O’Malley constanly claims his financial brilliance and at the hearing for the last garbage contract lectured everyone for close to 15 minutes on his brilliance of business and contract negotiations. It too is on the city’s web page.

The council’s vote on this should be very discerning to the citizens of Atascadero. You have 2 highly qualified council members, Fonzi and Bourbeau, who are proven successful business people that voted no for this. You have successful garbage companies wanting to bid and possibly provide equal, if not better, service at a cheaper price. Basically a principal of Business 101. Why would you not put it out for competitive bidding. It’s an elected officials obligation to look out for the citizens and not themselves. In business they know that competitive bidding is good for everyone and usually keeps things honest. O’Malley’s intent certainly is questionable but he had his side kick who vote with him and shadows him everywhere for every opportunity for the photo op.

The swamp in Atascadero is rising especially along the Atascadero Creek where the new $3.1 million bridge was completed and will be a great addition to town. Interesting how the property next to the bridge is owned by a member of the O’Malley family. Mr. O’Malley deeded this to his son when it appeared to be a conflict of interest during some issues with the former RDA. Since his son did not live at home it is legally ok for O’Malley to vote on issues surrounding the property. Although in the ethics training that elected officials take every 2 years there is an example of this and it states that although it’s legal it would be highly unethical. So you can gauge the ethical question yourself. I wonder what the financial gain will be to the O’Malley family when and if this property ever sells?