Recology rate too high
As if a well-rehearsed show, Recology was awarded a garbage rate increase in August
estimated by Tracy Thompson of the Sunset District as 300 percent.
Larry Bush, president of Friends of Ethics, pointed out in May that Recology invests in
local political campaigns, about $85,000 since January, 2016. Because San Francisco law
prohibits contractors from donating to campaigns for elective office, it contributed to
public officials running for the Democratic County Central Committee, which doesn’t
limit contributions to $500 per donor.
The Garbage Rate Board is comprised of the city controller, general manager of the SF
Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the city administrator. Coincidentally, the PUC’s
general manager and the city administrator are married to one another.
The rate increase was assuredly based upon employing more people to educate residents
on sorting rubbish, landfill charges and general costs. Bush calculated an average
increase of $60 per year for each household, meaning an approximate $21 million
increase annually in Recology revenue from an average of 350,000 city households.
The last rate increase was just three years ago, a nice piece of business for a monopoly
which needn’t endure competitive bidding, unlike every other large city and most small
jurisdictions in California.
In July, we witnessed the spectacle of proud politicians at the Millbrae BART station
“breaking ground” for the electrification of Caltrain. That’s a meritorious project with an
estimated cost of $2 billion. The money supposedly emanates from federal and state
grants. Forgotten by Gov. Jerry Brown, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier and
Anna Eshoo, our blissful mayor and other politicians is that $715 million of the $2 billion
is money from the California High-Speed Rail 2008 state general obligation bond, which
voters authorized for high-speed rail, not a regional commuter train service.
Without voter approval, Assemblyman Kevin Mullen introduced a bill in 2016, which
passed and was approved by Brown, to seize $715 million from the remaining high-speed
rail bond money of about $8 billion and donate it to electrify Caltrain, thereupon
prompting a suit in Sacramento County Superior Court to declare such legislation
unconstitutional because it was effectuated by the legislature, not California voters.
As a sponsor of that bond measure in 2008, I’m one of 10 plaintiffs, including transit
organizations and Kings County. The case is set for trial on Dec. 8. An important
constitutional issue is at stake, irrespective of the worthiness of electrification. It’s
called the rule of law. It’s time the governor and legislators learn the concept.
Disregarding the rule of law also resulted in almost $200,000 being paid to an illegal
immigrant, who was transferred by SF Police to federal immigration agents after
reporting a stolen car. San Francisco law prohibits police from assisting in enforcement
of critical immigration laws. Now, such insult to the rule of law by this “sanctuary city”
costs the public treasury money after the illegal immigrant sued San Francisco for
violating its ordinance. This illegal immigrant even alleged his right to due process was
violated by telling federal immigration authorities that he was in police custody. So, it
goes in our politically correct city, which might not be in such profligate circumstances
if the Native Americans had adopted stricter immigration laws.
Quentin Kopp is a member of the SF Ethics Commission.