Dolcefino is Back With Questions for Tony Villarreal
SAN ANGELO, TX — Veteran Emmy Award-winning journalist Wayne Dolcefino questioned San Angelo mayoral candidate Tony Villarreal’s ties to Republic Services, the winner of the controversial trash contract in San Angelo in 2014, in a video released today.
On the day Republic was chosen as the winner of the contract, Villarreal, a busy, fulltime local businessman took time out of his busy schedule to praise the council for their trash request for proposals (RFP) process and urged the San Angelo City Council to select Republic.
Watch Wayne Dolcefino's video on the investigation:
He said, “The committee has come up with a recommendation, and I agree with that recommendation, as a customer, as a citizen, and also as a public servant serving in these different capacities.” Villarreal listed his experience as a two-term mayor of Fort Stockton in the 2000s, and previous to that, his service on the Pecos County Commissioners’ Court as the Precinct 2 commissioner in the 1990s.
At Villarreal’s announcement for mayor in January, we were deep into the investigation of the promised audit of Republic’s overcharges of San Angelo commercial customers that was never completed by San Angelo City Manager Daniel Valenzuela. We asked Villarreal then what he was going to do about the trash contract. He brushed it off as old news and said we need to put the past behind us and move on.
Subsequently, we found Matt McDaniel’s three-year-old news report of the day Republic Services was chosen as the winner of the request for proposals on April 1, 2014. Villarreal was the only person to stand up from the audience in support of choosing Republic. Dolcefino commented that he thought Villarreal’s comments were so outrageously complimentary, it was a “little creepy.” “Who loves a garbage company that much?” he asked.
That led Dolcefino to ask the question, “Was Tony Villarreal paid to speak that day?”
At the April 12 San Angelo Home Builders candidate forum, Villarreal dropped another bomb. He called for the renegotiation of the Republic contract. Given his previous praise of Republic and the City’s trash contract selection process, it made Dolcefino even more curious.
Who was Tony Villarreal? And since Villarreal claimed his experience with Republic was when he was a public official in Fort Stockton, Dolcefino was on the way there to investigate. Then tragedy struck. On Tuesday, April 25 at 10:40 a.m., on the way to Fort Stockton via San Angelo, a Lexus passing a line of trucks on U.S. 87 near Melvin got trapped in Dolcefino’s oncoming lane resulting in a head-on collision.
We thought the investigation was over.
Then, recovering in a San Antonio hospital, Dolcefino called us and asked if we would go to Fort Stockton to help him finish his investigation.
In Fort Stockton
Above: The Pecos County Courthouse. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
On our trip to Fort Stockton this week, we interviewed dozens of politicians and businessmen about Villarreal’s tenure there.
None of them could exactly pinpoint what Republic Services, or its predecessor Duncan Disposal, did for the City of Fort Stockton when Villarreal was mayor. The City of Fort Stockton manages its own landfill. The City picks up all of the garbage in town, not Republic. The only possible connection between Republic and Villarreal’s time there as a politician in office were possible outlying garbage pickup places in the rural countryside. Everywhere else, including county offices inside the city limits, has City of Fort Stockton dumpsters.
In an interview with LIVE last week, Villarreal was adamant that he dealt with Duncan Disposal as the precinct 2 Pecos County commissioner. But there were no municipal or county trash contracts like the San Angelo deal, as Villarreal seemed to suggest in his April 1, 2014 comments to the San Angelo City Council.
What is more, former Pecos County Judge and oilman Delmon Hodges didn’t have good things to say about Villarreal.
“He was more in business for himself than he was for the county, I felt like. And most of my friends felt the same way. They felt like he was taking better care of himself than he was for his precinct,” the former Pecos County Judge said. Hodges was the Pecos County Judge when Villarreal was serving as precinct 2 commissioner in the mid- to late-1990s.
Hodges served one term as Pecos County Judge from 1997 to 2001.
More from our interview with former County Judge Delmon Hodges. WATCH:
Dolcefino is still hospitalized, recuperating with multiple broken bones from the April 25 crash. Since Villarreal is running for mayor, and Election Day is Saturday, he felt the information from his investigation was important for the citizens of San Angelo to consider right away. In pain, he tracked the soundtrack for the video from his hospital bed yesterday.
The videos detailing Dolcefino’s research of the 2014 Republic Services trash contract with the City of San Angelo have been watched by over 35,000 people, according to viewing statistics on Facebook and YouTube.com. He has become somewhat of a local San Angelo news celebrity.