Mayor Lobbies City Council for Landfill Bid Fight Votes

There's some anxious arm-twisting going on at San Diego City Hall over the future of the Miramar Landfill.

The Council decides Monday whether to start a process that could lead to private operators taking over.

Mayor Sanders isn't confident about the votes going his way.

The process is called "managed competition", and this one would pit the private sector against the city employees who run the landfill in a bidding contest.

The mayor hopes to save several million dollars a year on the operation, upwards of a 15 percent reduction in cost.

Private-sector firms that run public landfills know there's money in mountains of garbage.

City employees who run the Miramar landfill offered this warning about outsourcing it.

"Some of these companies would like to have a monopoly on the whole waste management system in San Diego, the county of San Diego and the whole region," said Joan Raymond, president of Local 127 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees which represents most of the landfill's 100 workers.

"They would control it as a monopoly -- which would be really great for profits," Raymond added.

The mayor also wanted maintenance of the city's streets, sidewalks and traffic signals to go to managed competition.

That proposal will be heard at the Council's Rules Committee next week.

City labor unions are pushing back against that, too.

"They held this process up for about four years through labor relations and through the council," Sanders said. "They have made a concerted effort not to see any more of these go through."

Longtime landfill workers don't see the place as a dump.

They see it as an environmental resource that needs careful management to comply with rules set down by a variety of regulatory agencies and the landlord -- Uncle Sam.

"Managed competition isn't all about cutting costs," Raymond argued. "It's about being efficient, but also quality of service and maintaining the public interest. It's not about the cheapest. It's about getting the most for your money."

How does the mayor read the Council?

"Right now it's about a 4-4," he said Friday. "We're attempting to talk with all of them. I want to help them make the right decision on this. The one that helps out taxpayers the most. Helps out the city the most. Helps out our general fund the most.

"But that's something we'll talk about through the weekend and talk through Monday on."

City employees already have won a managed competition over publishing operations, trimming some current positions and expenses in the process.

Sanders said the eight landfill workers involved in environmental oversight would remain under a private operator.

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