Fresno City Council delays trash privatization debate
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The empty chair of City Council Member Larry Westerlund was enough to show supporters of garbage privatization the first step in their plan might not pass.
The council decided to table action on the item for two weeks, denying opponents plan a chance to challenge it. Marina Magdelano, represents the union workers who pick up the trash. She believes the council is deliberately stalling a contentious vote.
"Stalling the meeting, absolutely. They don't have the votes. Westerlund's not here and so there's a three to three up there and so they don't have the votes."
Council Members Sal Quintero, Blong Xiong and Oliver Baines were expected to oppose privatization.
While council members Clint Olivier, Lee Brand, Westerlund and Andreas Borgeas were likely supporters. Borgeas was also absent from the chambers, but was on the phone from Greece.
The consultant's report claims the city will take in two million a year in Franchise fees by selling the garbage collection service, and that residential customers will see their rates drop by 15 per cent. It's a figure the union, and workers dispute.
Former City employee Roosevelt De Leon retired when the city sold off the commercial solid waste division last year. He planned to speak out against residential privatization.
"The City of Fresno solid waste does it better than anybody in California, we have the cheapest rates in the state. If it's not broke don't fix it."
It may not be broke, but the Mayor and her supporters see selling off the service, and all its trucks and equipment, and collecting a yearly fee from the companies, a way to partially fix the city budget.
Council member Larry Westerlund came to the council meeting after the trash issue was heard. He told the audience and his colleagues he had a family issue to deal with.
The trash privatization comes back to the council on August 16th.
fresno, fresno county, fresno city council, ashley swearengin, politics, gene haagenson
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