Commentary

Commentary – Quentin Kopp

Recology rate too high

Quentin Kopp

 

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.

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