San Diego wasted $500k on consultants; more scrutiny needed as quest to privatize landfill continues
By Susan Duerksen | March 24, 2011 |
A consulting firm received $500,000 to handle the botched sale of Miramar Landfill, as the San Diego City Council learned in a budget revision this week. On the heels of that costly failure, Mayor Sanders has already launched into another effort to privatize the landfill.
CPI is urging the City to adequately evaluate the viability, costs and consequences before continuing the headlong rush to outsource the vital public service.
Greenberg Traurig consultants were hired for $500,000 before basic questions were answered about the feasibility of selling the landfill. The deal collapsed a month ago, partly because of those basic issues – including environmental liability and the Navy’s ownership of the land.
This episode adds to San Diego’s dismal track record of mismanaging privatization efforts. Yet a rush is on again, as the City attempts to outsource five public services at once, including water system customer service, street sweeping, and landfill operations.
The method this time is managed competition, in which private companies bid for contracts to take over the work of City departments. Unlike the attempted landfill sale, managed competition at least allows public review – an opportunity for concerned citizens to demand accountability.
Hearings on a draft contract for operating the landfill are expected in mid-May. The contract wording will be crucial to preserve service levels, ensure future improvements and avoid further hidden costs.