Tone Deaf Council Members Earn Their Bad Rap

By Kim Lefner

Politicians often get a bad rap for a reason, as demonstrated by the actions of the council majority over the years. Take the CR&R trash contract for example. At the June 5 council meeting during a discussion of the CR&R contract, several residents pointed out the following:

- CR&R was overcharging San Juan customers until they were caught; not by staff responsible for finding “billing errors”, but by resident Ian Smith, who brought it to the City Manager’s attention. Only then did staff calculate a refund owed to ratepayers. Instead of thanking Mr. Smith for looking out for the public interest, Council members Allevato, Kramer and Freese thanked the staff for doing a great job!

- For many months now, resident Clint Worthington has questioned why customers aren’t being credited for the recycled waste owed to us per CR&R’s contract. Councilman Allevato flat out denied there was a recycled waste provision, but City staffer Ziad Mazboudi admitted that we are to be credited for recycled trash per CR&R’s contract. Instead of thanking Mr. Worthington for bringing this to their attention and promising to look into it, Allevato and Mayor Kramer thanked CR&R for doing a terrific job of providing service to us!

- When residents questioned why CR&R has been granted a monopoly since 1998 (their current contract doesn’t expire until July, 2019 and automatically renews every year), one of the reasons staff gave is that CR&R had to recoup their investment from state requirements that trash haulers purchase clean fuel-burning vehicles. Questions such as why we ratepayers should have to give up anything to offset CR&R’s cost of doing business, or why staff negotiated this burden on the backs of ratepayers via ridiculous contract terms, were dismissed by these council members. Instead, Council members Kramer and Allevato thanked the staff for a negotiating a great contract!

CR&R Senior VP Dean Ruffridge has stated that San Juan has higher rates than say, the City of Orange, because Orange is "only 18 minutes from the [stable bedding] processing plant whereas San Juan is one hour away". Mr. Ruffridge said that CR&R has to haul San Juan’s stable waste to Rancho Cucamonga, which costs us more. Many if not most of the horse owners live outside of San Juan. Why are residents in San Juan who don’t own horses paying to subsidize a service we don’t get? My understanding of Prop 218 is that the City cannot charge more for utility service (including trash) than what it costs to provide. Logic dictates that charging residential ratepayers for a service they aren’t getting may be a violation of Prop 218. Even if it isn’t a direct violation of the law, how is forcing higher rates on residents for a service they aren’t getting fair and why do these council members support it?

Warnings from residents about potential problems repeatedly come back to haunt these council members (like the failed water plant for example). It’s a disturbing pattern that illustrates why tone deaf politicians earn their bad rap, and why we need a change in leadership in November.

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