January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized By: Dave Emerson
(Los Alamitos, 1/24/2012) At last night’s Special Los Alamitos Council Session, Mayor Edgar announced in open session that the City’s settlement talks with Citizens for a Fair Trash Contract have reached an impasse.
According to Edgar the Council plans to move ahead with the modifications to the City Code first discussed and passed by the Council on the day of Brad Sheridan’s funeral, November 7, 2012. [ad]
Here’s how I explained the code change prior to that meeting (edited slightly for clarity):
Last month, Superior Court Judge Alan Banks ruled that the Council “broke the law” by not awarding the contract to the low bidder, declared the current contract with Consolidated “null and void,” and suggested several remedies.
The Council majority’s preferred remedy now appears to be to simply change the law so that they no longer have to award the contract to the low bidder, then continue with the current contract with Consolidated!
They propose to do that by amending the City’s Trash ordinance, “clarifying that professional services contracts need not be awarded to the low bidder,” thus allowing the existing contract with Consolidated Disposal to remain in place, in their opinion.
However, Judge Banks may have some problems with that approach, since he went out of his way to explain in his ruling that he did not consider picking up trash a “profession,” or even a “trade.”
The staff report indicates that “The ordinance is not intended to be a change in policy but rather an effort to clarify the language so as to continue the existing practice and intent.”
The staff report goes into great detail about the history of not giving the trash contract to the low bidder, as George Briggeman Sr. and his successors got contract after contract without ever even going out to bid for the first 50 years of the City’s history! As best as I understood it, the intent of the Council in adopting the ordinance requiring the bid was to change that cronyism, not preserve it.
Here’s excerpts from the Register’s report on the action taken and discussion at the November 7th meeting, taken from our “Your Reporting” post, which elicited 14 comments
To the council majority and city staff, the move is a simple housekeeping matter, clarifying that a contract doesn’t necessarily have to go to the “lowest bidder” and other factors, such as qualifications and experience, can be considered.That already is the existing practice in Los Alamitos, City Manager Jeff Stewart told the council. And it’s the practice in most cities, he said.
The new law “memorializes existing and historical practice,” Stewart said.
This was the first step in addressing the judge’s ruling, City Attorney Sandra Levin said. City officials have not yet decided whether to appeal Banks’ ruling, re-open the trash contract selection or take other steps.
But the move Monday night ripped the Band-Aid off old wounds in the city.
“They just incorporated their illegal actions into law,” J.M. Ivler, one of two activists who filed the lawsuit against the city, said moments after the split vote.
The assumption would be that the second reading would take place at the next Council meeting, where, unless there is a massive protest of some kind, the proposed code change appears headed to be approved on it’s second reading, probably on a 3 – 2 vote.
As always, your thoughts and comments, diplomatically expressed, are welcome.