Category: Oakland Talks Trash

Civicorps and City of Oakland Work Together to Train Youth as Truck Drivers

Recycling and organics truck driver Wulliam Montolla

Recycling and organics truck driver Wulliam Montolla

By Ken Epstein

Oakland may become the only place in the nation where job opportunities for young people are written into a city’s franchise agreement to pick up the trash.

As part of the Oakland City Council’s recent 10-year contract with Waste Management, Civicorps – which provides high school diplomas and job training for young adults – is negotiating agreements that will allow its participants to work in jobs picking up green waste and enter relatively high paid positions as truck drivers.

Though the deals are not yet finalized, Alan Lessik, executive director of Civicorps, is optimistic that young people in the program will soon be driving trucks to pick up organic waste at commercial establishments throughout the city, to be delivered to East Bay Municipal Utility District’s green digesters at the Army Base in West Oakland where bacteria will turn the garbage into electricity.

Currently trainees can earn their Class B drivers license through the recycling program. Under the new agreement, these trainees they will become Teamster Local 70 Apprentice drivers, which will allow them to become union truck drivers and earn substantial raises in pay.

“We don’t have numbers yet, but their wages will almost double when they move from the pre-apprenticeship to the Teamster apprenticeship program,” said Lessik.

Although Civicorps provides young people with work experience, education is at the heart of the program.

For the first four months in Civicorps, students go to school 30 hours a week, full time. After that, they go to a job site for 30 hours a week and attend school for eight hours a week.

Civicorps is the only accredited high school and job training program for youth 18-26 years old in the East Bay. As a charter school in Oakland for the last 10 years, the school offers students a real high school diploma, not a G.E.D.

Civicorps Graduates Nykimbe Broussard, Harris Cox, and Michael Wilder.

Civicorps Graduates Nykimbe Broussard, Harris Cox, and Michael Wilder.

About 75 percent of the program’s students graduate, a higher rate than Oakland public high schools. Over 75 percent of Civicorps graduates go onto college or jobs, an impressive achievement for a program whose students had previously dropped out of high school.

In school, students study English, math, science and social studies. They explore career and college and can act in Shakespeare plays.

“What we know is everyone can learn, no matter what their past history has been,” said Lessik. But in order to be successful in their studies, he says, young people may need support to overcome serious obstacles, such as homelessness, before they can focus on schoolwork.

Civicorps works with about 130 students at time. About 90 percent are from Oakland, the rest from other parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Thirty percent have been involved in the criminal justice system; 28 percent are from foster care.

Ninety-eight percent are students of color.

“All of our students are poor – the school system has failed all of our kids in the past,” said Lessik.

As the young people progress through the program, they begin “traditional conservation corps work,” which provides them with basic skills training.

Civicorps has contracts with EBMUD, the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, as well as the East Bay Regional Parks District. The youth do fire prevention, build trails, clean out streams, pick up litter and learn to handle small tools.

“Our aim is to integrate our kids into the community in a positive way,” said Lessik. “They’re doing environmental and social good in the community and are seeing themselves as part of the community.”

In Civicorps’ recycling program, young people can earn their regular drivers’ license and a Class B License that enable them to drive garbage trucks and other large vehicles.

“Through our program, they can get experience,” Lessik said. “We keep them for two years, because you have to show you have two years of violation-free, drug-free work experience to be eligible for fairly well-paying jobs as drivers.”

Civicorps, located at 102 Myrtle St. near the West Oakland BART station, has year-round enrollment for its school, job training and recycling truck driving program. For more information, call (510) 992-7800 or go to www.cvcorps.org.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 16, 2014, (postnewsgroup.com)

 

 

Plan to Divert Garbage from Landfill to Produce Green Energy Awaits Waste Management OK

EBMUD green digesters at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

EBMUD green digesters at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

By Ken Epstein

Oakland’s renegotiated trash deal may mean better rates and services for the city’s residents. But the agreement does not settle whether Oakland’s food waste will end up in a landfill or be diverted to East Bay Municipal District’s green digester that turns the garbage into electricity energy.

Under the now defunct plan the city had with California Waste Solutions (CWS), green waste from commercial establishments, such as restaurants, hospitals and cafeterias, would go to the EBMUD plant at the Oakland Army Base. CWS and EBMUD had a signed memorandum of understanding.

William "Bill" Patterson

William “Bill” Patterson

However, the terms of the city’s contract with Waste Management only require the company to negotiate with EBMUD.

“We are at a much earlier stage with Waste Management (than CWS),” said Abby Figueroa, EBMUD spokesperson. If the parties reach a deal, “We would end up being a subcontractor with Waste Management,” she said.

“This contract (would) enable us to put more resources into the plant, turning discarded food scraps and other digestible organic materials into renewable energy,” said William “Bill” Patterson, member of the EBMUD Board of Directors, speaking at a recent City Council meeting.

The idea behind EBMUD’s green digester is quite simple and utilizes technology that has been around for years. Carbon-rich food waste is blended and dumped into one of EBMUD’s 12 tanks to be decomposed by bacteria.

“The (2-million gallon) tanks are kept at about 100 degrees for 2-3 weeks (where the) bacteria chomp away and release byproducts, most of which is methane gas,” said Fugueroa.

The gas is captured and fed into EBMUD turbines or engines to create electricity. Most of what goes into the digesters at present are solids from wastewater, she said.

The digesters were built in the 1980s when the East Bay was still a center of the food processing industry. Most of that capacity is unused at present.

In 2001, EBMUD started collecting food waste to utilize its excess capacity in the digesters. This includes wastes from wineries, dairies, food processors, grease from restaurants and commercial food scraps, said Figueroa.

On average, every day about 10 tons of food waste is delivered to the plant.

In 2012, EBMUD became the first wastewater utility in the country to produce enough energy from biodegradable waste to power its plant and sell extra energy back to the grid, said Figueroa.

This cuts fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions and saves about $3 million each year in electricity bills, she said. Last year, EBMUD produced 6 megawatts of power. Currently, the excess power that is generated is sold to the Port of Oakland.

If EBMUD contracts with Waste Management to take Oakland’s commercial food waste, the utility estimates it will receive 70-100 tons of food waste per day.

“We estimate this will produce 1 megawatt of power, or enough to power 1,200 homes,” she said. “ The alternative is to send all this food waste to landfills, where methane will be produced naturally but not captured for energy production.”

Figueroa said that EBMUD responds immediately to concerns of West Oakland community members about odors that intermittently come from the utility’s plant,

She emphasized that the utility takes these concerns seriously and has spent millions of dollars for the latest technology and uses chemicals to reduce odors. In addition, she said, the odors that cause the concerns come mostly from the wastewater treatment plant, not the digesters.

“We’ll continue our commitment of being a good neighbor in the West Oakland community. We are using the state-of-the-art odor control technology,” said Patterson, EBMUD board member.

EBMUD daily treats about 63 million gallons of wastewater from nine East Bay cities, including Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont and part of Richmond.

The utility has been treating the East Bay’s wastewater since 1951.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 10, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Pressure Grows for Tagami to Turn Over Army Base Property to CWS

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

By Post Staff

Connected with the implementation of the Oakland’s garbage agreement is the unsettled question of when the city’s agent Phil Tagami will turn over property at the Oakland Army Base Development so that California Waste Solutions (CWS) can build a new recycling center and finally move out of the West Oakland community.

Henry Gardner

Henry Gardner

CWS’ recycling facility will mean construction and recycling jobs for Oakland residents and will take 18 months to build.

The city has promised to give the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016, but some say the date could be put off for a year or more beyond that date.

Speaking at Monday’s council meeting, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan pushed the administration to fast-track efforts to turn the property over to CWS.

Addressing concerns of residents who are distressed that the company is still in their community, Kaplan said, “City Council voted years ago to move the recyclers out of the neighborhood and over onto the Army Base.”

Mayor Jean Quan

Mayor Jean Quan

“For reasons that still continue to baffle, years pass, and that piece of property still has not been turned over,” Kaplan said. “It is not the fault of the recyclers that they have still not moved.”

“Despite the vote of this council, … that has not been done. I want to be very clear that we expect that to be accomplished – immediately. Is work being done to expedite the process?”

Responding to Kaplan, City Administrator Henry Gardner said, “I have met with Phil Tagami, who is our agent on that site and our future developer.” There is an “urgency” and a “commitment” to make the property transfer happen, he said.

And there are questions why  the city is paying Tagami to be its staff/agent, which permits him arrange for his own businesses with taxpayers’ funds, while city priorities are paced on the waiting list.

Mayor Jean Quan said that the transfer of the property to CWS had bogged down in a lot of complicated issues.

“I started working with Fred Blackwell, and we will continue to work on how quickly we can get CWS into their space,” said a the council meeting. “The original delay is that they are still using part of that space over there as a staging area for the demolition of the (old Bay) Bridge.”

“This is something that needs collaboration. I don’t like that people are being blamed for something that’s pretty complicated,” said Quan.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, though other are saying that he is responding to pressure and seeking to start the project on time or move the date forward.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

In a recent email to the Oakland Post, Tagami wrote: “The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

According to Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, Tagami is hearing the concerns raised by the council and community members and is seeking to address those concerns.

A major problem facing the infrastructure development is that it may run out of money before it is completed, according to a source close to the project.

If the development runs out of cash before it is completed, scheduling becomes crucial, because what is scheduled to be built at a later date may never get built, said the source, who raised some questions.

Will the project complete the work first for Tagami and his partner Prologis? Or will he expedite the city’s priorities – preparing the property for the recyclers and for OMSS truck parking?

Why is the city paying Tagami to be its staff/agent so he can arrange for his own businesses to benefit his personal private gain while using taxpayers’ money?

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 27, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Waste Management Helped Pay for Lawsuit Filed by West Oakland Group

By Tasion Kwamilele

A group of West Oakland residents, alarmed by issues related to the city’s trash dispute, have sided with West Management against California Waste Solutions (CWS).

Ron Muhammad

Ron Muhammad

The group opposes the growth of CWS, saying it does not support the company’s expanded recycling work in the community or near the Port of Oakland at the city’s Army Base development.

The group accepted money from Waste Management to file an environment lawsuit against CWS.

The residents, who spoke at Monday night’s council meeting, are led at least in part by former Councilmember Nancy Nadel and Alex Miller-Cole, who ran unsuccessfully in the last election against Lynette McElhaney.

“We still get odor from EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District),” said Nadel. “Garbage trucks stink. Hundred of garbage trucks will now be coming to West Oakland. CWS will now be bringing garbage from all over to West Oakland,” she said.

Nadel strongly opposed the council’s decision to give the franchise to CWS. “To say I was incensed by it was an understatement,” she said.

Another West Oakland speaker, Ron Muhammad, challenged Nadel, urging her “to tell the truth.”

Nancy Nadel

Nancy Nadel

“All of this stuff happened on her watch,” referring to Nadel’s four terms on the city council from 1996 to 2012.

Alex Miller-Cole

Alex Miller-Cole

“All of her comments, are skewed, super skewed,” said Muhammad. “Tell that to somebody else, but I was born and raised here.”

The decision for CWS to move to the Army Base was worked out in concert with West Oakland community groups in 2007 and approved by the City Council.

Some community activists are saying they will start a petition against the lawsuit if Miller-Cole and Nadel do not drop it.

 

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 27 ,2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

City Council Settles Garbage Wars

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland City Council declared a victory and a truce this week in the month-long garbage conflict with Texas-based Waste Management, the nation’s largest trash hauler, which was determined to force the city back into a billion-dollar contact that the company had lost to a small local firm.

As a result of the council decision, which divides the contract between Waste Management (WM) and the local company, California Waste Solution (CWS), WM has agreed to drop its lawsuits against the city and to halt its divisive referendum campaign to force a special election to overturn the council’s decision.

Lynette McElhaney

Lynette McElhaney

WM has committed to implementing most of the terms of the city’s agreement with CWS and to reimburse the city and CWS for their legal fees and other damages.

The council is celebrating the settlement, which many say is good for Oakland residents, a much better deal than the city would have won if it had not stood up to WM.

“When you get all that you want at the price that you want, it’s time to declare a victory,” said Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, who has been a leader on this issue on the council, along with Rebecca Kaplan and Dan Kalb.

“Because this council stood firm, we were able to get even Waste Management, based in Houston, to hear us loud and clear. And they sent their team back to the drawing board to figure out how they could better serve the residents of this community – because CWS was willing to stay in the fight,” said McElhaney at Monday night’s council meeting.

Agreeing, Mayor Jean Quan said, “I particularly want to thank Waste Management and California Waste Solutions. Over the last few weeks, both moved a long way. This is the best win for the citizens of Oakland – they get a better rate, (and) we’ll be one of the greenest cities of the country in terms of our garbage disposal.”

Others, however, remain angry that the city has come to an agreement with a company that tried to beat Oakland and CWS in submission with bullying and threatening tactics.

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

WM’s actions put the city and CWS in a position where the company might not be able to obtain financing to purchase equipment and be up and running by July 1, thereby jeopardizing the standing of the company and threatening the city with no garbage pickup next year.

Ending the dispute, Mayor Quan announced on Thursday she had negotiated a memorandum of understanding between WM and CWS and that CWS had agreed to give up most of the franchise it had won, settling for taking over 100 percent of the city’s recycling.

Whether this agreement adds up to a win for Oakland depends an examination of the choices the City Council faced at the end of May.

Dan Kalb

Dan Kalb

At that time, when the council was wrestling with the new trash agreement, city staff was championing what was called “Option 1,” which would have shut out California Waste Solutions (CWS) – giving 100 percent of the contract to Waste Management (WM) – and raised rates by 50 percent.

“It is recommended that the City Council authorize the City Administrator to accept the Option 1,” according to the May 16 staff report.

Under the current agreement that expires next July, CWS has been handling half of the city’s recycling.

The proposal backed by city staff would have allowed WM to lock out its employees without penalty. The proposal did not include councilmembers’ key concerns: promoting Civicorps, which handles green waste and creates jobs for Oakland youth, restarting a local call center that was shut down and outsourced by WM and partnering with East Bay Municipal Utility District to utilize a “digester” to turn green garbage into electrical energy, which will help the city reach its zero waste goals.

But these were all parts of an agreement the council felt were fundamental and necessary for Oakland residents – along with lower rate increases.

David Tucker, Waste Management of Alameda County

David Tucker, Waste Management of Alameda County

WM declined to renegotiate rates and services based on the deal the City Council wanted, a modified version of “Option 2,” which would have divided the contract between WM and CWS.

As a result, the council in July voted unanimously to turn to what was called “Option 3,” handing the whole contract to CWS, the smaller, local company that was willing to meet the city’s needs at lower rates.

Under the two ordinances passed at Monday’s council meeting, the council was able to preserve most of what it had voted for in the agreement with CWS. These victories came as a result of the council’s insistence and were not specified in what the mayor had negotiated last week, said Councilmember Kaplan.

“This has not been a done deal,” said Kaplan, speaking at the meeting. “As recently as (a few hours before the meeting), the key provisions that the community fought for were not in the deal before us. (Now) I am pleased to see the language on Civicorps … and EBMUD, the call center and the protections for the workers (are assured).”

Under Quan’s negotiated agreement, rates for residential customers will remain the same as what was in the CWS agreement, but commercial and multi-family rates will increase, though less than WM had originally asked for.

Jean Quan

Jean Quan

Councilmember Kalb said he was pleased with the final agreement, though he was still concerned about how WM treated the city.

“The council’s steadfastness has led to a lower increase than we would otherwise have had,” Kalb said.

Ken Houston

Ken Houston

“There’s always the gut desire not to give into the pressure tactics that have existed over the past few weeks – I share that gut feeling,” he added.”(But) if we were not to make these changes, I fear that the referendum would succeed, (and there would be) costly delays and unanswered questions about what would happen next July and beyond when it comes time to pick up the garbage.”

CWS owner David Duong said, “We can do the job. But then came the two lawsuits and the referendum. This is a lot of costs for us and the city.”

David Tucker of Waste Management of Alameda County promised a good working relationship with the city in the future and apologized for the company’s tactics. “This has been a difficult process for all involved,” he said. “We understand we have stressed relationships with the City Council and the city, and we are fully committed to repair and improve that relationship.”

“When we were told that even a single signature gatherer got the message wrong, we took immediate action,” said Tucker.

Responding to Tucker was another speaker, Ken Houston, a community leader and candidate for mayor, who organized the CWS campaign to pass out literature to counter WM’s petition gatherers.

David and Christina Duong, California Waste Solutiions

David and Christina Duong, California Waste Solutiions

“I have police reports here,” said Houston, saying that someone paid by WM spit on one young woman and another pulled a gun on a woman and her daughter.

“I do not accept your apology. I’ve seen what happened to people out there. The only way I can accept your apology is if you do something for the people who have been spit on, the people that have gotten threatened.”

Councilmember Desley Brooks condemned WM’s tactics as a failure of honesty and a lack of concern for Oakland residents.

“You took a small local company, and you treated them like trash,” she said. “They were disposable to you – to get your ends. What can you say to the people of Oakland to make us believe that we can trust in you for the next 20 years, that you are not going to bully us?”

The purpose of WM’’s referendum and lawsuits “was to mess up CWS’ ability to get financing,” she said. “We all know how the game is played.”

Though the negotiated a settlement was announced Thursday, three days later, Brooks said, WM people were stilling gathering signatures in front of a grocery store. “So, where’s the good faith?” she asked.

“I will not be voting for this,” concluded Brooks, who abstained on the council vote, which passed 6-0.

Mayor Quan was silent on WM’s tactics.

Courtesy of Oakland Post, September 27, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

 

Mayoral Candidates Dispute Council on Garbage Contract

Part 2

By Ashley Chambers

With Oakland’s garbage conflict capturing public attention, a number of mayoral candidates are expressing discontent with the two-year process of how the City Council came to a 7-1 decision.

Bryan Parker

Bryan Parker

“The city government really messed up the process. They created a process where Waste Management was almost guaranteed to win,” says Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney.

Last week, the Post interviewed mayoral candidates who hold public office – Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf –who upheld the council’s decision as democratic and transparent and called it the deal that will provide the best services and lowest rates for Oakland residents.

Siegel says he prefers CWS over Waste Management but adds that the Council “bought themselves a huge lawsuit and created incredible uncertainties to what’s going to happen” through this process.

While Port Commissioner Bryan Parker says he supports investment in a local West Oakland business, he also criticized the contracting process.

“I would have ensured that every concern – including whether a particular vendor had the capacity to provide services – was addressed before the contract was awarded,” Parker says. “Then the lawsuit could have been avoided. We need better planning, better processes and less drama. We need real leadership to avoid these issues in the future.”

Joe Tuman

Joe Tuman

City auditor Courtney Ruby has failed to comment on the heated trash debates. But mayoral candidate Joe Tuman, a professor at San Francisco State University, was willing to weigh in on the matter.

“I’m bothered by the fact that there has been misleading information,” says Tuman, responding to the Waste Management referendum that seeks to disrupt the trash contract with CWS.

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

“The process was fair and to claim otherwise is just silly,” he says, having personally witnessed paid signature gatherers make incorrect claims.

“City Council decided to award the contract differently than what city staff had recommended.” However, he says, “that’s just fine; we don’t elect our City Council members to be rubber stamps, we elect them to exercise independent judgment.”

While he believes in awarding the contract to the local company, Tuman criticized City Council for not being transparent about the franchise fee – $30 million – that the company awarded with the contract pays annually to the city, and would ultimately raise rates for consumers.

“The city knew full well that the winning vendor would pass that rate on to ratepayers…the money goes right back into the city’s pockets,” Tuman says. “Our city government should’ve been more honest about what that [franchise fee] was. It’s reprehensible that the council and the Mayors office weren’t more vocal and upfront about this.”

CWS will build a new state-of-the-art facility at the Oakland Army Base and offer job opportunities for youth, local residents, and Waste Management workers. The new contract is scheduled to start July 1, 2015.

Photos by Adam L. Turner.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 19, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Oakland Goes Head to Head with Waste Management

Supporters of CWS distribute literature urging people not to sign the Waste Management petition. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

Supporters of CWS distribute literature urging people not to sign the Waste Management petition. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

In late-breaking news, the city announced a CWS-Waste Management compromise with rates about one-third lower than WM’s ‘last-best’ offer.

 By Ken Epstein

Since it lost its $1 billion, 10-year garbage contract with the city, Waste Management corporation has been bearing down on Oakland to force the city to accept its deal – whatever the terms and whether the city wants the company or not.

After the council voted 7-1 against Waste Management in August, company representatives graciously pledged to work with the city to help ensure a smooth transition to the new company.

But that may have been before they got marching orders from corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas.

Marshaling attorneys and ramping up the opinion war, the nation’s largest trash hauler has filed lawsuits and filled the media with misleading and dishonest claims.

They alleged they offer residents cheaper rates (not true); they have said the other company, California Waste Solutions (CWS), has no experience (false); they claimed CWS would build a garbage dump in West Oakland (untrue); and they vilified city leaders, saying they made a sweetheart deal with CWS (false).

Most upsetting of all, the company has mobilized its troops, utilizing scores of highly paid signature gatherers to try to force the city to call a special election next year at the cost of about $1 million.

Many signature gatherers – which Waste Management and their representative, political consultant Larry Tramutola refuse to reign in – come from out of the region and even as far away as Nevada and Arizona.

Oakland residents have complained that signature gatherers have lied and distorted the facts in order to get them to sign. Other residents say they have been insulted, yelled at, pushed and threatened by Waste Management’s people.

Some Waste Management’s representatives have resorted to anti-immigrant racism: “Don’t you want a U.S. company to serve Oakland, not a Chinese company?” CWS owner David Duong is a longtime resident of West Oakland and is a Vietnamese-American.

If a referendum makes the ballot and if by some chance it passes, the result would invalidate the council’s two-year public negotiations over the garbage contract and force a new round of contract negotiations.

“The council is clear that we acted lawfully, and the decision we made was in the best interests of this city – this is about David versus Goliath, and Oakland is David,” said Councilmember Lynette McElhaney.

“Now or in a referendum, the people of Oakland will recognize that this (campaign) is not about protecting Oakland. It’s about protecting Texas profits,” she said, emphasizing that this a fight over local democracy.

“This is about forcing Oakland to accept less services for higher prices,” McElhaney said. “Their position is, if we can’t win the contact (through negotiations), we’ll take it.”

Waste Management lost the contract with the city after two years of negotiations that included public discussions at council meetings and a number of hearings at the City Council’s Public Works Committee.

After their experience with the company, members of the council are less interested than ever in being forced into a contract with Waste Management, McElhaney said. “We don’t want to be bound for the next 100 years to that corporation and be in a position where we couldn’t push back against rate hikes.”

Countering Waste Management’s petition gatherers, CWS has hired over 100 people to distribute fliers explaining the other side.

They are encouraging people to send a letter to the City Clark asking for their names to be taken off Waste Management’s petition if they believe they were misled into signing the petition.

CWS delivered over 500 letters this week to the City Clerk signed by people who want their names removed.

“Our people have been quite successful, many people are not signing petitions,” said Joel Corona, chief operations officer of CWS.

Several of the CWS people, including a young woman, have told the Post that they have been threatened: Waste Management’s representatives “told me something would happen to me if I kept passing out those papers (against the petition),” the young woman said.

“Some of their signature gatherers have picked up their tables and moved to another location,” Corona said. “They have started going house-to-house and to BART stations and AC Transit. They are going to places where they don’t have to respond to facts and to (opposing) literature.”

Several local residents point to Waste Management’s recent mistreatment of a rural area called Canyonlands outside of Castro Valley as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of being locked into a deal the corporation.

At first, Waste Management told the people who live in Canyonlands in June that their rates would go up over 60 percent – from $17.68 a month for a 32-gallon container to $45.99

When customers complained bitterly, Waste Management responded by announcing the company is canceling their trash pickup at the end of December, leaving residents to fend for themselves.

“We gave them the rest of the year to make other arrangements,” said Joe Camero, Waste Management spokesman, in an interview with the Oakland Tribune. “It’s a difficult area to service. I think it’s going to be expensive for any hauler.”

In late-breaking news, the city has announced that CWS and Waste Management have reached a tentative compromise settlement, which would end WM’s referendum and lawsuits.

The agreement would commit Waste Management to complying with the CWS rate schedule, which is about one-third lower than what Waste Management had demanded from city residents.

The agreement would also create a new company with a new logo that would operate trucks on the streets of Oakland. CWS would still build its new facility at the Oakland Army Base and work with East Bay Municipal Utility District to use green waste to create electrical energy and with Civicorps in West Oakland to provide jobs and training for young people.

The council is also asking Waste Management for a letter of apology to Oakland residents for the behavior of its signature gatherers.

City Councilmembers acknowledged CWS for its unselfish decision to act in the best interests of the community. “CWS has been gracious enough to share the franchise contract that they won fair and square, for the peace of the city and to keep the community from bearing the brunt of a protracted bitter battle that would cost in both dollars and good will,” said McElhaney, speaking Friday morning at a press conference.

CWS CEO David Duong speaks at press conference on Friday. Behind him are (L to R) City Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, CWS Chief Operations Officer Joel Corona and CWS Chief Financial Officer Christina Duong. Photo by Ken Epstein

CWS CEO David Duong speaks at press conference on Friday. Behind him are (L to R) City Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, CWS Chief Operations Officer Joel Corona and CWS Chief Financial Officer Christina Duong. Photo by Ken Epstein

According to CWS CEO David Duong, “It was very difficult to put our frustration and indignation over the lawsuits and referendum aside, but we believe that this solution between the city, CWS and Waste Management is best for Oakland residents and the community that we love and call home.”

While Mayor Jean Quan issued a press release Thursday claiming credit for negotiating the compromise, it is not clear at this time what role she played in resolving the ongoing dispute.

The tentatative agreement must still be finalized. It will be discussed and possibly voted on at a special City Council meeting scheduled for Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The arguments in favor of Oakland’s decision to contract with California Waste Solutions can be read at www.helloiamtrey.com/cws2/news/cws-will-build-clean-modern-facility-in-west-oakland/

Waste Management’s campaign calls itself Oakland Residents for a Clean City. Its website can be viewed at www.CleanOakland.org.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 19, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Mayoral Candidates Side with Local Company Against Waste Multinational

By Ashley Chambers

Part 1

National trash hauling company Waste Management is playing hardball after losing its bid on the 10-year, $1-billion garbage contract with the City of Oakland.

Mayor Jean Quan

Mayor Jean Quan

The company pledged in August to support the city’s transition to Oakland-based, minority-owned California Waste Solutions (CWS), which won the contract when its offered lower garbage rates and jobs for local residents.

Now, however, Waste Management is doing whatever it can to disrupt the deal. In the midst of the petition referendum conflict that is playing out on Oakland streets, a number of Oakland’s 15 mayoral candidates have weighed in with their views on the City Council’s strong stand.

In a press release issued after the council decision, Mayor Jean Quan backed the deal as “one of the greenest garbage contracts in the country.”

“With this contract Oakland is taking a historic step toward fulfilling our goal of zero waste … diverting more waste away from our landfills and dramatically reducing our greenhouse gases,” Quan said.

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

As one of the councilmembers who voted for the CWS award, Rebecca Kaplan says the council’s decision “saved the people of Oakland $200 million by not going with the worst bid.”

Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf

“The Waste Management proposal was so much worse than what we voted for. We voted for lower prices, more jobs, a local customer service call center, and green energy,” she said.

CWS will add new services to create local jobs and partner with Civicorps to provide job opportunities for teens in Oakland. The company will hire all of the former Waste Management workers.

Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who voted to award the contract to CWS, called for the city to take steps to support the move to the new company.

“The city needs to do everything in its power to ensure a smooth transition to CWS, (and) that includes transfer of the land” at the Army Base that will be used for the company’s trash facility, she said.

Jason "Shake" Anderson

Jason “Shake” Anderson

Schaaf said the city needs to respond to Waste Management’s misleading referendum by educating residents about the real facts in the new contract. “Oakland needs to fight back against this bullying behavior,” she said.

Mayoral candidate Jason “Shake” Anderson said he trusts that the City Council made the right decision for Oakland, though he has concerns, “How long is it going to take [CWS] to actually do the job that’s necessary to provide for the citizens of Oakland?” He asked.

“A small company getting a big contract is going to change a lot of things. I hope it changes for the better,” Anderson said.
The Post will cover the positions of other mayoral candidates next week.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami Responds to Oakland Post

Rendering of Army Base Project

Rendering of Army Base Project

By Post Staff

Master developer Phil Tagami of CCIG responded on Thursday to questions from the Oakland Post.

He was asked when the city’s Army Base property would be ready for California Waste Solutions (CWS).

“The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

“On May 19, 2014, the city requested that we study delivery of the site for and earlier date – perhaps as early as Q4 2015,” he said. “That analysis is still on going and may require several other agreements with both public and private parties to be modified. There are costs associated with the changes under a number of scenarios under consideration, the total cost is not yet fully understood.  The disposition of the BNSF controlled easement being a primary issue.

Tagami was asked if he was opposed to the CWS contract and in favor of Waste Management.

“We have no interest or position on that matter,” Tagami said “We do support the sale and transfer of the land to CWS and CASS (another company) at the earliest commercially feasible date. I have been personal friends with the Duong family (CWS owners) since 1992 and have a potential business relationship with Mr. Juarez and Viridis bio-fuels vis-a-vie our railroad interests in Oakland Global Rail Enterprise providing service to their site. “army base

He was asked how he responds to residents’ charges that he has a conflict of interest at the Army Base, standing to gain in his private enterprises if companies lose their places or are evicted from base property.

“We are unaware of any such claims, and if there are such claims they indicate a total lack of understanding of the agreements in place,” he said. “There is simply no benefit to CCIG under such a scenario”

“In fact it is quite the opposite, as the infrastructure project as a whole relies upon the sale of the property.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami’s Conflicts of Interest Could Jeopardize Trash Deal

By Post Staff

Army Base master developer and city agent Phil Tagami has a long-term relationship with the City of Oakland that creates a conflict of interest that could possibly influence turning over base property to build the new California Waste Solutions (CWS) facility, according to sources close to the project.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

The city has promised to turn over the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, and some city officials are pushing staff and Tagami to move the date forward. The new facility will take 18 months to build and handle trash and serve as the company’s headquarters and truck yard.

Among the roles that Tagami plays on the city’s base project are master developer and project manager of the whole development. He is also the property manager, which means he is the landlord representing the city at the base; he is the finance broker, which means he gets commissions if he can bring money to the table; and he is the rail operator.

Because Tagami wears so many hats, in practice it is not clear whether he reports to city staff or staff members report to him, according to sources.

“He is being paid by the public to build an (Army Base) facility that he basically gets to own, and he is paid by the public to evict other companies, which he then can replace, because he is the real estate agent for the city on the base,” said Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

In the past, Beveridge said, Tagami “had been offering (CWS and other base businesses), which goes with a certain amount of pressure, to let him build their facilities.  He said they don’t need to own their own land or facilities, but could lease from him.”

“Of course, by the time these new facilities get built, the businesses could belong to him or companies tied to him. It all would have been turned into Tagami rail, Tagami trucking, Tagami cargo facilities, Tagami recycling.”

Brian Beveridge

Brian Beveridge

This is contrary to the exclusive negotiating agreements that all these companies thought they had with the city, Beveridge added.

According to another source, “It is better for him to have tenants who will cut him in on their action where he has some kind of profit sharing with whoever the tenant is.”

According to another source, Prologis, which is Tagami’s partner, has paid a fee to Tagami  so that its part of the project at the East Gateway can be built before other parts of the development. This could rearrange and set back the city’s commitment to CWS and other companies.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)