Dolcefino Will Attend Final San Angelo Trash Forum
SAN ANGELO, TX — “I tried to warn ya,” Wayne Dolcefino said over the phone Wednesday afternoon while sitting in his Houston offices of Dolcefino Consulting. The former “13 Undercover” award-winning journalist at KTRK-13, the ABC affiliate in Houston, exposed the secretive City of San Angelo trash deal with Republic Services in early 2017.
He said he is traveling to San Angelo Thursday to witness first hand the City of San Angelo’s third and final forum on Republic Service’s request to cease the curbside-recycling program.
Dolcefino has made a career out of ferreting out bad behavior by trash corporations. He started investigating Republic Services in Houston, revealing how they’d been charging the City of Houston for trash it picked up in the suburbs in 2008.
Ever since he has warned anyone who will listen to never trust the garbage guys.
Here’s where we are with the trash story, and why Dolcefino is paying San Angelo a visit:
The market for most recyclables has dried up, with China discontinuing the purchase of most of it on the world market. Locally, Butt’s Recycling declined to renew its contract with Republic to collect, sort, and sell recyclables collected in the curbside program that is prescribed by the 2014 trash contract. Today, on a month-to-month basis, Butt’s is charging Republic a whopping $150 per ton, increasing the cost of the curbside program to Republic to over $55,000 per month.
Representatives from Republic told the San Angelo City Council Sept. 4 that the curbside program is no longer sustainable for the corporation. It wants out of the curbside recycling program or wants the City to pony up more money to pay the exorbitant fees the curbside program will require during the global recycling market crash.
Mayor Brenda Gunter, citing the political firestorm that erupted during the 2014 trash contract debates, strongly urged her council to take public input before making a decision on how to proceed with Republic’s request. The council complied. Three trash forums were organized and Thursday night is the last of the three.
Dolcefino produced a series of YouTube.com and Facebook videos revealing the contents of the investigation of public records before, during and after the 2014 trash contract was signed by City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and accepted by the city council at the time.
WATCH: "Something Stinks in San Angelo"
Among the findings were that the City never completed a promised final audit of Republic Services’ admitted overcharging of commercial customers for their dumpsters before signing the $250 million, 10-year deal with what Dolcefino affectionately calls “The Garbage Guys.”
The investigation also uncovered lax oversight of the Republic Services contract over the years, a knowledge by some on City staff that commercial customers were being overcharged, and the 180-degree turnaround of the local newspaper of it’s view of the contract.
The San Angelo Standard-Times originally admonished the city council to fully investigate the overcharges before entering a new agreement. After it was exposed the City never completed its audit, the paper declared the whole ordeal a “dry hole.”
WATCH: The newspaper's "dry hole."
The trash pickup contract signed with Republic gives the trash company the right to request a change to the contract terms for market conditions beyond their control. The council can agree to change the terms—and increased payments—or not. If council does not agree to new terms, Republic has the option to pull out with 180 days notice.
Not specifically specified in the contract is what happens with the approximately $10 million paid by Republic to the City upfront at the signing of the contract. Also unknown is if the City will be required to reimburse Republic for the new trucks and equipment it purchased to implement the terms of the 2014 contract.
Dolcefino said Wednesday that Republic is making a mint on the landfill contract and the City need not worry about the corporation losing a little money on the trash collection side even though the bottom of the global recycling market fell out.
Dolcefino’s comments echoed Councilman Tommy Hiebert’s remarks at the Sept. 4 council meeting. The contract was negotiated in good faith by both sides, and a deal is a deal.
Dolcefino said he would release a video Thursday morning before he arrives in San Angelo Thursday. The video will summarize the San Angelo trash deal.
The last time Dolcefino attempted to visit San Angelo during the race for mayor in 2017, he was hit head-on on U.S. 87 near Melvin. Dolcefino was airlifted to a trauma hospital in San Antonio, starting a yearlong series of surgeries and physical rehabilitation. He recently regained his ability to walk.
While he was near death in a hospital bed, he produced this video:
The last City of San Angelo trash forum is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct 4, at Lincoln Middle School, 255 Lake View Heroes Dr. The public is invited.