City Council comittee votes to postpone competitive bidding to operate Miramar

examiner.com, 5/19/11 | Read the original article |

A San Diego City Council committee voted today to put off the bidding process among the city and private corporations to operate the Miramar Landfill. After considering statements from many concerned residents and organizations in a public hearing, the committee voted four to one to postpone the bidding until their next meeting on June 22nd. The process is part of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ efforts to promote “managed competition.” In 2006 voters approved a ballot measure that would allow private companies to competitively bid on contracts to provide public services now provided exclusively by city employees. That vote was a result of concerns that the unionized city employees’ wages and benefits were too expensive for the city and that private non-unionized companies could provide city services at a lower cost. However, the Mayor and City Council have disagreed with each other over the issue, with the majority of Council members favoring city employees and Sanders being strongly committed to outsourcing services to the private sector.

Despite the 2006 vote, the public is wary as to whether or not a private, for-profit company could safely operate the landfill and public comments at the hearing reflected their concerns. The committee agreed that there were many questions that need to be addressed before there is any bidding by private corporations. According to the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI), the committee’s main concerns are the fact that the Navy, who owns the land, has not approved any outsourcing process, that any contract should include methods of filling the landfill slowly so it can stay open longer, that there be monitoring of the fee booth to ensure the city gets its fees, that any private company granted a contract open its records through the Public Records Act and that a report should be provided by the private consultant, who was paid $500,000, which would detail the process of privatizing the landfill. Council member Sherri Lightner is concerned that the landfill operation is “inherently governmental,” because of the risks to public health and safety. She, along with Council members Todd Gloria and Marti Emerald and Council President Tony Young voted in favor of the postponement.