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Why I Won’t Let Go of the Las Vegas Trash Contract Fiasco

Someone once described me as “a dog on a bone” when it comes to certain issues; I just won’t let them go.

And that’s certainly true when it comes to this issue of the Las Vegas City Council earlier this month handing Republic Services a billion-dollar NO BID contract extension for picking up the city’s garbage.

But let me explain why I’m not just steamed about the bad government policy of refusing to put the billion-dollar contract out for bids.  It was the under-handed way five members of the council jammed this thing down everyone’s throat at that infamous April 5th meeting.

First, you need to understand that city staffers and officials of Republic Services had been negotiating behind closed doors on the terms of this contract for at least a year, and maybe as long as two years, before the council vote.

The public, however, was given less than a week to review the final contract and its complicated terms.

That, in itself, was outrageous.

Worse, a “work session” was scheduled to be held with city staffers to discuss the contract and proposed ordinance change nine days before the vote.  But here’s the thing…

The exact language of the ordinance and contract weren’t made available to attendees before the meeting.  Unbelievable.  And a complete waste of time.

In addition, normally in such situations the city council appoints a three-member ad hoc committee to meet with the public at this “work session” to hear concerns and answer questions.  But lo and behold, that didn’t happen for this billion-dollar NO BID trash collection contract.

Indeed, not a single council member showed up!  I know.  I was there.

Instead, we were informed that the council had decided to blow off the work session with the public and instead convene a “committee of the whole” on the day of the actual council meeting itself.

Which meant no discussion.  No give and take.  No Q&A.

In other words, “the fix was in.”

And, boy, was it ever!

During that April 5th council meeting at the new City Hall Palace, Republic Services representatives were given some 10-15 minutes to put on a scripted dog-and-pony show demonstrating why they should get this billion-dollar NO BID contract.

The well-staged theatrics were then augmented by a “surprise” request by Mayor Carolyn Goodman who asked, purportedly out of the blue, if Republic would agree to a 10 year extension of the contract instead of 12 years.

To the shock and amazement of absolutely no one, since the request was clearly choreographed in advance, the kind, generous, beneficent management of Republic Services graciously acceded to the good Mayor’s request right there on the spot.

How generous!  How wonderful!

How phony.

Then it was time for opponents and competitors to give their counter-arguments.  And for this the mayor allowed – with the acquiescence of every member of the council – all of…

Sixty seconds each!

  • The amount of time it takes to drink a glass of water
  • The amount of time it takes to floss your teeth
  • The amount of time it takes to gargle
  • The amount of time it takes to scratch a dog’s belly
  • The amount of time it takes to wash your hands

(Hat tip: BamaHammer.com)

In other words, comparatively no time whatsoever to make the case against handing a ginormous corporate behemoth a billion-dollar NO BID contract on a silver platter.

Just 60 seconds each despite the fact that opponents circulated and presented at the meeting petitions signed by over 7,000 – SEVEN THOUSAND! – Las Vegas residents calling for this contract to be put up for open, public, competitive bidding.

That’s more signatures than the total number of people who voted in Councilman Bob Beers’ primary election the day before!

To be fair, however, Mayor Goodman DID grant former Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson, as a professional mayor-to-mayor courtesy, a considerable amount of additional time to make his case against the billion-dollar NO BID contract extension…

Thirty seconds extra!

Gee, thanks.

Immediately thereafter, Councilman Beers launched into one of his patented, Socratic-like soliloquies to explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible by outright lying to the gathered opponents and his constituents – without, of course, any opportunity for rebuttal – by actually claiming it was illegal to put this contract up for public bid.

“You don’t have a right to choose this under the law,” were his exact words.

Totally untrue. Completely false.  Undeniably wrong.

And then, in the end, almost exactly as scripted, the city council voted 5-2 to rubber-stamp the billion-dollar NO BID contract extension to Republic Services.

There’s more drama surrounding the verdicts in kangaroo courts.

We were playing against a stacked deck.

Indeed, the whole process stunk like yesterday’s diapers.

But according to Councilman Beers, I should let it go.

According to Councilman Beers, it’s a done deal.

According to Councilman Beers, it’s over.

But Councilman Beers is wrong.  Again.  Dead wrong.

Which I’ll explain in my next dog-on-a-bone trash-talking column on this subject.

Stay tuned, Batfans…