Transparency in selecting Mission Viejo’s trash hauler

We're talking some big bucks in Mission Viejo

Five residents of Mission Viejo will cast an important vote before June 8th. I refer to the five members of our city council. We hired the consultant firm of Sloan Vazquez to assist the city council in writing the RFP and assessing four potential trash hauling bidders. They used their proprietary pro-forma to score these competing vendors for our exclusive 10 year contract for removing the next decade of rubbish from our city. That contract, worth upwards of $100 million, will be the largest contract ever issued in our 22 year city history. That council vote is scheduled for Monday, June 7th. 

At the last MV council meeting the council voted to remove their self imposed gag order and lift the ex parte on communication with any of the four candidates.
Mayor Kelley made a motion seconded by vice mayor Leckness that meetings with any of the four bidders be recorded and held HERE in City Hall. The Motion did NOT mandate that Sloan Vazquez was to be present. 

To repeat. The one stipulation, agreed to unanimously, was that all council member interaction with the four bidders would take place INSIDE City hall and be tape recorded. Mr. Sloan sat in the first row when that vote occurred. 

Yesterday afternoon I attended one of the meetings as an observer and reporter. This meeting was with five representatives of CR&R, city consultant Joe Sloan, and council member Cathy Schlicht.
At the end of the 90 minute meeting I asked Mr. Sloan if I could ask him a question. 

Have the other council members conducted similar meetings with CR&R?
CR&R responded that Dave Leckness and Frank Ury met with them together and that Mayor Kelley also had a separate meeting. John Paul Ledesma has not returned their phone calls. A CR&R representative said they would love to talk to him. Mr. Sloan’s response was that Member Ledesma feels that he has done his homework and poured over the proposals. 

There will be four meetings on Thursday with Waste Management staff. I than asked about the other two bidders and was told that Judy Ware had not met with any of the council members. 

Mr. Sloan volunteered that he drove Frank Ury to visit with the representatives of Athens Services this past Saturday. He also stated his taking Cathy and Dave to see the Athens facility but Cathy said it was on April 15th which predates the lifting of the gag order. I quickly reminded him that according to the May 17th city council vote all interface between the bidders and the council was to occur inside city hall and be tape recorded. Mr. Sloan defended that violation by saying the only goal that vote mandated was to have a controlled environment. He added that he tape recorded their discussions at which point CR&R representative Lyle Overby asked if Joe had the tape recorder on while driving with councilman Ury to the site. 

So we have a case of councilman Frank Ury breaking the council Order and creating a large black cloud over this major Agenda item that is to be voted on this Monday. 

Who knows what was said in Frank Ury’s meeting with Athens or in the car with Joe Sloan, a former employee of Athens Services. My last remark is based on his confirming that fact yesterday in front of seven witnesses, myself included.
Was Mr. Sloan’s tape recorder on all the time? 

With the council meeting on Monday, June 7th, and with four similar meetings with Waste Management scheduled for tomorrow (June 3rd), when will each council member get to listen to these tapes? 

While I will not report my observations of the CR&R presentation(today) there was one point in the meeting where Mr. Sloan said he basically didn’t want to air dirty laundry. He said that his evaluation of the four bidders only covered the past five years and not a more in-depth scrutiny.
In a Reason Foundation article co-authored by Joe Sloan he describes the need for providing a “Precise, Objective Evaluation.” On page 6 it reads in part: “With a little extra effort at the beginning of the process, it is possible for local governments to issue requests for proposals that will stand the test of public scrutiny and firmly establish public confidence in the integrity of the bidding process.” 

Based on violating the council majority Order on the lifting of the ex parte I would opine that Mr. Sloan did not practice what he preached in that Reason report. 

Let me simply say that Mr. Sloan failed to mention that Athens has had some RECENT legal issues that should have been exposed to every council member. 

In the May 17th meeting Cathy asked Frank Ury if he/they would share any vendor communication. As of 4 p.m. on Wed. June 2nd neither Sloan Vazquez or any council member has offered to share their recorded vendor interface discussions. 

Where is the transparency between the council members regarding these meetings?

About Larry Gilbert