Smooth sailing—from the shore

Anyone who thought the Board of Supervisors would charge back into the choppy surf of redistricting at Tuesday’s board meeting was sorely disappointed, as the board did little but dip its big toe into the murky water.

Reports taken by the board from County Counsel Bruce Alpert and County Clerk Candace Grubbs on the status of the upcoming redistricting round were short and perfunctory. Alpert said the board’s attempt at redistricting had fulfilled the state requirement, meaning that technically the issue does not need to be resolved until sometime before the next supervisorial election in 2004. Grubbs rattled off the revised population figures from the 2000 census, which will be used to determine the boundaries of the new districts, and said she hoped the board could schedule a special public meeting for the next attempt at defining those boundaries.

After about 20 minutes of discussion, the board (which was missing Bob Beeler, who was in Washington, D.C., discussing water policy with federal legislators) followed Grubbs’ advice and set a tentative public discussion of the matter for sometime during the week of June 17.

The supes, along with new county CAO Paul McIntosh, who attended his first board meeting Tuesday, also sat on the banks of another potential river of controversy Tuesday, that of renegotiating new garbage contracts for county residents.

For over a year, the county’s Public Works Department and Solid Waste Committee have been trying to hammer out a deal with two waste hauling companies, Norcal Waste and Waste Management. At first, the county hoped simply to address rising hauling rates and declining services and make sure it was on track to comply with AB 939, the state law mandating a 50 percent reduction in garbage sent to California landfills. Those talks somehow morphed into contract negotiations that would carve the county into two exclusive areas of operation for the haulers, one for Norcal and the other for Waste Management. The talks bogged down after it was determined that most residents would see significant rate increases instead of the lower rates the county had been expecting.

The process that brought these exclusive contracts has been heavily questioned, as it was Paradise Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi who originally backed the idea. Yamaguchi accepted a $2,000 campaign contribution from Norcal, and after proposing the exclusive contracts, Norcal found a place on their payroll for Yamaguchi’s campaign manager, political consultant David Reade.

No vote was taken and little was settled regarding the issue, but the public discussion did allow the board to refute what one supervisor referred to as "rumors" that residents could expect their garbage rates to triple, and that small hauling companies would be forced out of business by the exclusive contracts. The board directed county staff­in particular McIntosh­to rethink the contracts and find a way to resolve the impasse.