Sunnyvale Garbage Rate Hike Shows Council’s Conflict of Interest

Sunnyvale’s city council majority voted to increase your garbage rates.

About 50% of the increase is to fund payment of an added $1,517,500.00 to the garbage company. Some Sunnyvale councilmembers received financial contributions from the company owner. Subsequently the majority of councilmembers approved payment of the added $1,517,500.00.

This payment comes while a valid and binding contract between the city and the garbage company, for a lower payment, is in effect.

The city and its residents get nothing in return for transferring the extra money to the councilmembers’ donor. The original garbage processing contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process. The benefits to Sunnyvale residents of using a low bid procedure were undone by the city council paying more than the originally agreed contract price. The council’s action increases the profit for the private company and disadvantages Sunnyvale residents.

There is a conflict of interest on the part of councilmembers who received financial contributions from the garbage company owner.. The authority on ethical requirements for local government officials is Santa Clara University. Scroll down to the 9th paragraph at http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/

introduction/conflicts-of-interest.html where the rule is stated:

It is not sufficient for government officials to make conflicts public. They must take themselves out of the decision-making process altogether.

Among the ‘yes’ voters for the additional $1,517,500.00 payment, are those councilmembers who also took money from the downtown developer and then voted to approve an unusual development agreement. The developer was excused from the standard requirement of purchasing and posting an overall performance bond. That developer delayed and then walked away from the downtown project, wanting to bid in the subsequent foreclosure procedure, pennies on the dollar for the city’s downtown land. As a result, Sunnyvale’s downtown has been and will remain a broken fiasco for years into the future.

The same councilmembers, who took money from the downtown developer are now blocking legal action by the city to acquire title to the downtown property. Those councilmembers say they want to maintain amicable relations with the parties, one of whom is their donor. Among the ‘yes’ voters for the additional $1,517,500.00 payment to the garbage contractor, are councilmembers who have also taken thousands of dollars from a real estate developers’ political action committee and then repeatedly voted to approve high density, multistory condo and office towers for those developers, while waiving the multiple violations of the city’s General Plan and Municipal Code contained in those developers’ new projects.

Money is given to councilmembers because of their seat on the city council — because of their ability to affect city government decisions. No money is given by the donors to Sunnyvale residents, who are not on the city council. Decisions unfavorable to residents, but favorable to donors, are made by the city council after receiving money from those donors. This method of governing and lack of ethics results in reduced Police protection, sidewalk/street repair, red curb painting, and other services because the fees and taxes you pay have been steered by councilmembers to extra payments to their political donors.