Category: Oakland Talks Trash

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

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

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 19, 2014 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

New Jobs, No Layoffs in New Trash Contract

California Waste Solutions (CWS) is partnering with Oakland-based Civicorps to create jobs for Oakland youth.

California Waste Solutions (CWS) is partnering with Oakland-based Civicorps to create jobs for Oakland youth.

By Ken Epstein

Workers at Waste Management have a lot of reasons not to oppose the agreement between the City of Oakland and California Waste Solutions (CWS), ending the city’s decades old contract with Waste Management.

Under the new deal, Waste Management’s employees are guaranteed jobs and union protections. They all will be able to

According to Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Waste Management paid a $7.9 million settlement in 2007 for locking out workers and letting page pile up in Oakland for one month.

According to Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Waste Management paid a $7.9 million settlement in 2007 for locking out workers and letting garbage pile up in Oakland for one month.

move over to CWS and continue as members of their union, requirements that the City Council placed on both bidders for the contract.

In addition, Waste Management has a history of anti-labor practices, including a lockout of its workers in 2007 that left garbage piling up on the streets of Oakland for one month.

Waste Management also shut down its customer service center in Oakland, which is now moving to Arizona, perhaps to be replaced by automated answering machines.

In its “best and final offer,” the company defines answering customer phone calls as “any method of picking up customer calls, including recorded greetings.”

Yet Marty Frates, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 70, which represents many CWS and Waste Management employees, remains in favor of Waste Management and has reportedly encouraged workers to serve as petition gatherers for the referendum organized by political consultant Larry Tramutola to force the city into a special election to overturn the garbage contract.

In a Sept. 8 letter to the city, Frates denies union involvement in the Waste Management campaign but left an opening for his members’ participation in signature gathering.

“We understand why Waste Management is doing what they are doing, and I am sure many of our members support their issues,” he said.

“I want to go on record about the rumors being circulated that Local 70 is behind and supports Waste Management’s lawsuit and referendums to challenge the City Council’s decision,” he said. “Local 70 is not behind any of this,” he said, though the union “did not like the decision of the City Council.”

“Local 70 will keep its commitment to make this transition work and that our members do the right thing,” he added.

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan criticized Waste Management for its past record of harming Oakland and its own employees.

“Not only is Waste Management is the company that right now is trying to deceive Oakland voters into higher rates for worse service, this is the same company that locked out it its workers and refused to pick up the trash for a month in 2007,” she said.

As a result of a city lawsuit, Waste Management was required to pay a $7.9 million settlement with the city, she said.

In this year’s Waste Management proposal, which the council rejected, the company added a provision that a lockout would be considered “a force of nature” for which the company would not be legally responsible.

“You would think that city staff would want to put stricter penalties on the company,” said Kaplan. “It was horrible for Oakland. They left trash on our streets for weeks.”

Signing a contract with CWS means “more stable jobs, long-term good paying jobs for Oakland residents, which will stabilize neighborhoods” and counter some of the forces of gentrification, said Kaplan.

Though Waste management pledged to a 50 percent local hiring agreement, only 21 percent of its employees live in Oakland. At CWS, which since its inception has hired locally, 69 percent of its workers are Oakland residents.

“CWS is going to hire local people to answer customer service calls,” Kaplan continued.   “There will be local people answering the phone calls.” Customer concerns “will not being go to machines in Arizona.”

“CWS listened and responded to what the council asked for,” said Kaplan. Waste Management ignored the council’s requests,” made in public meetings and written documents, and then “they acted surprised, trying to say they didn’t know we wanted those things,” she said.

CWS Will Build “Clean, Modern” Facility in West Oakland

Rendering of California Waste Solutions (CWS) facility at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

Rendering of California Waste Solutions (CWS) facility at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

By Ken Epstein

When people hear that California Waste Solutions (CWS) will build a waste transfer station at the Oakland Army Base in West Oakland, what comes to mind is Waste Management’s Davis Street transfer station in San Leandro, commonly known as the “Oakland dump.”

Nothing is farther from the truth, according to city leaders and officials at CWS, who are asking Oakland residents to take the time to separate fact from misinformation.

“The facility that we’re going to construct will be a state-of-the art mixed material processing and transfer facility. It will be nothing like Davis Street – it is light years ahead of what (Waste Management) is operating at Davis Street,” said Joel Corona, Chief Operations Officer of CWS.

Lynette Gibson McElhaney

Lynette Gibson McElhaney

Corona said he went this week with West Oakland resident Margaret Gordon and City Councilmember Lynette McElhaney to visit a state-of-the-art facility in San Carlos, which can provide a living example of how the new plant in Oakland will operate.

Like most of the modern facilities around the country, this plant is an indoor operation and indistinguishable from other adjacent industrial buildings.

The San Carlos plant is in an industrial park, located near Oracle. Inside, the plant is clean –  there is no paper or litter blowing around. There are no odors, no rodents and no swarming birds, like people expect to find when they visit Davis Street.

“Our plant will have high speed roll-up doors. Everything we do will be inside the facility,” said Corona.

The plant and its equipment will be cleaned daily, and trash material will be moved in and out quickly, not allowed to accumulate like at Davis Street, he said, emphasizing the facility will be designed and built by top professionals in the country.

By contrast, Davis Street started its life as a landfill in 1942 and has evolved since then, according to Councilmember McElhaney. Today, “Waste Management uses bulldozers to move trash and uses that trash to buffer the bulldozer from the concrete underneath,” she said. “The (operation) requires a constant layer of trash in order to function.”

Margaret Gordon

Margaret Gordon

Corona also emphasized that CWS would not be doing composting anywhere in Oakland.

“We’re simply not going to do that,” said Corona, hoping to clear up misinformation. All the composting will be done out of town in Napa or Yolo counties, where the product will be closer to agriculture, he said.

The new plant, which will be located on the city’s North Gateway property at the Oakland Army Base in West Oakland, will take 18 months to build, according to Corona. In the interim, the company will use facilities at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) or in Richmond.

CWS has plans A, B and C to ensure that it is prepared to pick up trash, starting day one next July, he said.

Rendering of CWS facility at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

Rendering of CWS facility at Oakland Army Base in West Oakland

Responding to the city’s environmental requirements, CWS will be using a fleet of trucks that operate on natural gas fuel, state-of-the-art vehicles, he said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13, 2014 (

“We Will Not Roll Over,” Say Councilmembers

By Tasion Kwamilele 

City Councilmembers are unwavering in the face of what they consider to be the bullying and intimidation tactics of Waste Management (WM), a nationwide trash collection company that lost the City’s $1 billion trash and recycling contract is now trying to overturn the council’s decision.

Pat Kernighan

Pat Kernighan

Along with its aggressive referendum campaign on the streets of Oakland, the company has filed a lawsuit against the city – attempting to disrupt the city’s new agreement with California Waste Solutions (CWS).

“By filing a lawsuit, one can say that is a legitimate claim to address their grievances. But running a deceptive campaign is political – that’s not about your grievances, that’s about locking in Oakland’s business,” said District 3 Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney.

Waste Management is trying to pressure the city to sign a new 10- or 20-year contract for whatever rates it wants to charge.

“They were providing the worst services, at the worst prices, and they lost. And now they want to bully the city into being wholly dependent on them,” said McElhaney.

City Council President Pat Kernighan released a letter regarding the referendum and the city garbage contract, which says,  “Waste Management’s proposed rates were even higher” than those offered by the new company.

The Council “approved the bid with the lowest increase,” said Kernighan.

“Waste Management has endless money, and they are willing to play hardball and engage in unscrupulous tactics in order to win,” she said.  “It’s shameful.”

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

According to Kernighan, the city can fight back by challenging the validity of the referendum because of  the numerous reports of signature-gathers heckling community residents and gathering of signatures under false pretenses.

“It’s unclear how this will play out, but we will not roll over in the face of these tactics,” she said.

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan was deeply concerned about some city staffers’ apparent attempts to manipulate the negotiations over the trash contract in favor of Waste Management.

Oakland had in its existing contract a provision that allowed the city to extend Waste Management services for six months – until December 2015.  But staff, acting in secret without informing the public or City Council, signed away that provision, according to Kaplan.

By dropping that part out of Waste Management’s contract, staff in effect was giving the company an unfair advantage by shortening the time that any competitor could implement a new contract, Kaplan said.

She said the City Administrator should investigate to find out who made that decision.

District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid praised Councilmember McElhaney for her leadership in the council’s choice of a local company that will charge residents a lower rate and has a proven commitment to creating jobs for young people in the city, which Waste Management refused to do.

Former Mayor Elihu Harris worked with both companies during his tenure as the city’s leader.  He says Oakland residents should be concerned about the “cheating, lies and deception” on the part of Waste Management.

Elihu Harris

Elihu Harris

“Waste Management lost the contract,” said Harris. “They compete all over the country, and they take contracts from the other people. At minimum it’s hypocrisy.”

“CWS grew in Oakland, is headquartered in Oakland, and won the competition fair and square,” Harris added.

Anyone who signed the Waste Management petition and wants to remove their name can mail or hand deliver a letter to the City Clerk’s Office saying, “Please remove my name from each of the three referendum petitions.”   An original signature must be signed at the bottom of the letter.

The City Clerk’s Office is located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, #1, Oakland, 94612.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 12, 2014 (

Oakland Residents Say Petition Gatherers “Lie, Bully and Harass”

Some Petitioners resort to anti-immigrant racism

By Ken Epstein

Pamela Drake, director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, was  working in her office at home last week when she heard that Waste Management’s signature gatherers had descended on the area.

Petition gatherer at Tader Joe's on Lakeshore Avenue. Photo by Pamela Drake

Petition gatherer at Tader Joe’s on Lakeshore Avenue. Photo by Pamela Drake

She went to see for herself when she heard there were petitioners at Trader Joe’s and setting up tables around the Lakeshore and Lake Merritt area.

“They had signs saying that the petition was to lower garbage rates, and people were going up and signing,” she said.

“If you said no or argued, they ran after you, harassed you or took a picture of you,” she said.  They followed one woman, Drake said, photographing the woman’s license plate. Numerous people said they were followed, harassed or intimidated.

“I said to someone who was signing the petition, ‘Don’t sign, because they’re lying to you,” Drake said. Several signature gatherers responded: “No, you’re a liar!” She said.

“They told me to go away three times. I said, ‘You get to put your table here, and I get to stand here,’ and then one man came up and pushed me away,” which is assault, she said.

The signature gatherers had their petitions clipped together so Drake could not read the text, and she had to argue with them for a while to actually read the petition, she said.

Drake’s experiences on Lakeshore Avenue are typical of what residents have been reporting all over the city. A number of residents having been arguing with the signature gatherers, who reportedly are being paid $2 a signature, up to $6 per signer on the three related petitions.

In charge of the operation is political consultant Larry Tramutola, paid by Waste Management to run its campaign.

Pamela Drake

Pamela Drake

Some residents, infuriated by Tramutola’s and Waste Management’s tactics, have been circulating their own flyers and gone online to use social media to respond to what they consider a corporate disinformation campaign.

“We are taking our case to the streets of Oakland,” wrote Barry Skolnick, area vice president of Northern California-Nevada Waste Management in an email memo dated Sept. 2.

Preying on racial and anti-immigrant hostilities, one petitioner asked, “Do you know that CWS is owned by someone from Vietnam?” Another petitioner told a man in front of the Oakland YMCA that he  should sign to support Waste Management, an American owned company, instead of  CWS, which was owned by people who are Chinese.

Responding to Waste Management, CWS began to put people out on Oakland streets last Saturday, said Claude Everhart, who is handling communications for CWS.

“We got 100 people out (Wednesday), he said. “At a lot of places, when we show up, they leave. We are getting out with leaflets and signs, and we’re asking people to check out our website:”

“They’re trying to do a shock and awe campaign on us. This is like an old-time union fight in Chicago. They’re hiring thugs to take away people’s democratic rights,” Everhart said.

Barry Skolnick, Waste Management

Barry Skolnick, Waste Management

“We’re hearing that people are finding Waste Management’s representatives shameful and disgusting, and they’re (angry) that people would try to insult their intelligence,” he said.

“If people have already signed, they’re asking us more and more how they can take their names off the petition,” Everhart said, adding that CWS is circulating a form on the streets and on its website that people can sign and return to the city if they want to take their names off the petition.

When asked about petitioners’ lies and bullying, Tramutola, Waste Management’s political strategist, denied that he had told anyone to misrepresent the petition or create signs saying that the petition would reduce trash rates.

“If (we have) knowledge of someone not being accurate, we have taken action to correct that,” he said. “All we can do is correct any incident where that might have taken place.”

“Truth in some ways is in the eye of beholder, but to say that anyone out there is wrong is not right either,” Tramutola said. “We believe that the facts speak to themselves.”

Larry Tramutola

Larry Tramutola

“If anyone put garbage at risk, it is City Council,” he said.  “They ignored their staff recommendations. “The simple fact is that City Council has rushed the agreement through without public attention, and the process needs to be slowed down.”

Councilmembers accused staff of biasing reports and recommendations to favor Waste Management. Rather than being rushed, the contract was negotiated and discussed at City Council and at the Council Public Works committee for two years.

Before they lost the contract, Waste Management criticized the process for taking too long.

Post publisher Paul Cobb said he will help raise funds to send a delegation to Washington, D.C. to file an anti-trust complaint with Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice.
Cobb is asking the public to photograph and record signature gatherers and send stories and videos to so the conflicting reports can be compared.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 12, 2014 (

Waste Management Uses Dirty Tricks to Overturn Garbage Deal

The corporation that lost the bid is circulating a referendum, calling itself “Oakland Residents for a Clean City”

coutesy of sfgate

Photo courtesy of sfgate

 By Ken A. Epstein

Oakland residents may have thought that the city’s acrimonious trash debates were over last month when the City Council ousted Texas-based Waste Management corporation that has had a lock on the billion-dollar garbage contract for decades.

But the corporation – rich, arrogant and furious – is back, not only with a lawsuit but a petition on the streets of Oakland to overturn the council decision to give the 10-year contact to California Waste Solutions (CWS).

CWS is a West Oakland-based company that won over almost the entire council in the face of determined opposition of city staff and lobbyists who included former Council President Ignacio de la Fuente.

CWS’ proposal was compelling to council members because the company hires local residents, partnering with youth training agency Civicorps, and will charge customers smaller rate increases than Waste Management offered in its proposals.

“In addition to the lawsuit we filed on August 18, we are taking our case to the streets of Oakland. On Saturday (Aug.30), we helped launch, and are backing, a referendum campaign to overturn the … contract awards,” wrote Barry Skolnick, area vice president of Northern California-Nevada Waste Management, in an email memo dated Sept. 2.

“We continue to pursue every option to overturn the ill-conceived and illegal award of the Zero Waste contracts by the Oakland City Council to California Waste Solutions (CWS),” he said.

The company has hired local political consultant Larry Tramutola to lead the referendum, according to the East Bay Express.

According to Skolnick, the petition demands that the City Council rescind its decision or “schedule an election so the citizens of Oakland can cast their vote to overturn CWS’ out-of-county … solution that doesn’t deliver Zero Waste services or guarantee services on day one of the contract.”

The petition is “paid for by ‘Oakland Residents for a Clean City’ with major funding by Waste Management and affiliated entities, Skolnick said in the memo.

“Out on the streets when they are collecting signatures, “They’re telling people all kinds of lies,” said a source inside City Hall.

“They are using the most aggressive bully tactics I have ever seen,” said an obviously angry Councilmember Lynette McElhaney. “They have paid petitioners, saying that if people sign the petition, they will get lower garbage rates.”

“They know they will lose in the court, that’s why they are trying to subvert the process,” McElhaney continued. “It’s disgusting and dishonest. If they win a special election, the taxpayers will have to pay for the election. Nobody in the history of the city has done anything like this when they lost a competitive bid.”

“It would be one thing if they were just collecting signatures, but they are not telling the truth,” said the City Hall source.

A number of people are reporting the petition is being circulated under false pretenses. “I signed the petition last weekend because they told me it was opposed to higher garbage bills. I was misled – I wouldn’t have signed it if I knew what it was,” said Post reporter Tasion Kwamilele.

“Waste Management was arrogant during the negotiations – they never came up with reasonable costs, and they thought they were entitled to the contact,” the source continued.

“They blame everybody else, but they did this to themselves,” the source said. “They didn’t listen. They thought they had the upper hand.”

Waste Management is also trying to mobilize its workers to circulate the petitions. “We will hold meetings at each (work) site to distribute petition packets and instructions to any Oakland resident employee who wants to collect signatures in their neighborhood,” Skolnick wrote.

Waste Management Loses Vote, Sues City


Civicorps will  partner with California Waste Solutions to provide job and training opportunities for local young people.

Civicorps will partner with California Waste Solutions to provide job and training opportunities for local young people.

By Ken Epstein

The country’s biggest trash hauler is refusing to take no for an answer after the City Council voted overwhelmingly to reject Waste Management’s proposal, instead giving the 10-year, $1-billion contract to a local company that has cheaper rates and is pledging to local hiring and partnering with local agencies to handle the city’s waste.

Waste Management filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakland for illegally giving the contract last week in a 7-1 vote to its competitor – California Waste Solutions (CWS) – accusing the council of being “heavily swayed by long-term personal and political connections with (CWS),” according to the lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Aug. 18.

The suit asks the court to set aside the council’s decision and award damages and attorney’s fees to Waste Management of Alameda County. As the only other bidder besides CWS, the company would effectively be awarded the contract.

According to the suit, Waste Management spent $1 million to create a proposal to meet the city’s needs to more efficiently handle recycle and compost trash. “(But) the City Council was dedicated to subverting the process to ensure (California Waste Solution’s) success,” the lawsuit said.

The real issue is not that the playing field was tilted toward CWS but rather that many in the community feel that city staff tried to rig the deal to go to Waste Management, according to Post Publisher Paul Cobb, who has spoken with numbers of members of the community and the City Council.

Cobb said a Freedom of Information Act request of emails would show staff’s role in the bidding process.

“I think its important for people to know that our vote brought significant cost savings to the people of Oakland,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

“Waste Management should not have been surprised that it lost. It was significantly more expensive and offered significantly fewer services to the community,” she said.

Cobb said he was hearing that staff extended negotiations with the companies up to the last minute, making it difficult for a competitor like CWS to win the contract and get its operations up to speed in a relatively short period of time.

In addition, Kaplan said, “The city had an option to extend the contract through December 2015. Without tell us, staff chose to shorten the contract to June 2015,” tilting the field n favor of the incumbent.

The city paid a consultant $1 million to find companies to bid for the contract but only came up with two. Other cities like San Mateo and Contra Costa County did not have trouble finding six or eight bidders, Cobb said.

“Staff liked Waste Management, though it was charging much higher rates, and hated CWS, though it charged less and is committed to hiring local residents,” he said.

“They tried to make it look like CWS owner David Duong did not have the expertise, though he operated trash services in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam,” Cobb said. “I think the city has been fairly disrespectful of a vendor of color. He lives in West Oakland and hires 69 percent Oakland residents.”

“I look forward to the seeing the results of the city’s ‘disparity study’ – which was finally approved seven years late – only because Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan pushed for it,” he said.

“I think the study will show that the city is bypassing minority and women-owned businesses in favor of the usual suspects.”

“The Waste Management lawsuit is political ploy to the City Council to reconsidering option 2, which would give part of the contract to Waste Management.

“Even though Oakland is only 4 percent of Waste Management’s national business, they don’t want to cities to learn from Oakland’s example,” Cobb said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 24, 2014 (