Councilwoman Farmer: LIVE! is Twisting Facts with Trashy Hype

 

SAN ANGELO, TX — San Angelo City Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer took less than a couple hours to review the entire document dump about the city’s alleged lack of accountability to San Angelo businesses and to itself concerning trash bill overcharges that we provided her today. She proclaimed it ‘old news’ initially, then doubled-down, declaring our reporting to be “twisting facts” and “trashy hype trying to find a skeleton.”

“I have reviewed the records! There is no NEW news here, it has been covered, asked, answered and I'm not certain what else your question is? What would you like for me to comment on that has not been fully disclosed and answered?

“There is not any NEW news either.

“Perhaps you would be better satisfied with answers from our City Manager who is the person you should be dealing with.

“Thank you and again, have a nice day,” the city’s Mayor Pro Tem stated Thursday afternoon in an email to our investigator.

She then followed up her previous email, ripping into our reporting.

“No sir, in 24 hours I had the opportunity to review the items in question and review the monies you question and the manner in which you are twisting facts does not make it fact and is trashy hype trying to find a Skeleton.

“There is not one!

“City taxpayer money was not used for anything other than services due, audits were completed. I can't give you a scandal. Because there wasn't one.” Farmer stated in an email.

What Farmer states diverges from the earlier statements from City Attorney Brandon Dyson. Dyson said the city had no record of an official audit and could only produce a draft audit that was unsigned. Farmer claims “audits were completed,” and in previous statements to us, and in an email exchange with former Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff in 2014 that she had reviewed the audit.

Either the City is withholding documents indicating there was a completed audit or Ms. Farmer is wrong.

Which is it? We have asked the City Attorney for more clarification.

Citizens of San Angelo were shocked to learn the city has no official audit it promised of the alleged overcharging by Republic Services for over a decade for “Total Fuel/Environmental Recovery Fees” that increased commercial trash customers’ invoices significantly. The current Republic Services website states that the ERF amounts to 15 percent of the total amount charged. Farmer maintains the charges are “in the single digits” according to an audit she claims to have reviewed in 2014.

That audit cannot be found, but the City did produce an unsigned draft audit that read, “Republic had been overcharging commercial customers for many years. The total amount that had been overcharged is too great and spanned too many years to be determined.”

In 2014, Republic Services announced it will refund approximately $6.5 million to San Angelo commercial dumpster customers. The corporation did not admit guilt, but the gesture was in response to neither the City nor Republic being able to find specific city council authorization for the extra fees to be added to commercial trash customers’ invoices.

The City protects Republic from competition with exclusivity. Because of this, Republic must obtain permission via ordinance from the City Council for all of its rates and service charges.

The City has no record of to whom and what amounts Republic Services refunded.

In response to our reporting, City Manager Daniel Valenzuela requested that Republic Services account for all refunds the company stated it made. The city attorney’s office stated Republic refused to provide the information, citing “pending litigation.”

Despite known allegations of Republic Services overcharging commercial customers for over a decade, Farmer pressed the council to approve the new trash contract with Republic Services in 2014. She voted in favor of selecting Republic and rejecting the competitive bid from Texas Disposal Systems on April 1, 2014. She again voted in favor of ordinance changes that hiked all trash fees to be in accordance with the new trash agreement in July 2014, and also voted to execute the exclusive contract in July 2014.

Republic began a new 10-year exclusive trash collection and landfill management contract with the City of San Angelo August 1, 2014.

A lawsuit filed against Republic over the alleged overcharges by Texas Disposal-affiliated Acme Iron and Metal and Mayfield Paper has been stalled in the 119th District Court since late 2015.

Farmer declared her candidacy for mayor in the May 6 election on Jan. 19.

More reporting on the trash controversy:

This story was updated Friday morning to report Farmer’s additional statements about our reporting being “trashy hype.”

 

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This Republic trash fiasco shows that there is crooked dealings going on. Nobody knows anything, so they let the company that ripped us off do the investigating of how much they ripped us off. That has to be the worst business decision ever...EVER!! The whole city council and city manager and mayor should all be fired and investigated and charges filed if needed, which they probably are. I won't vote for any of the council people that run for mayor, they shouldn't be allowed to run at all. The city council should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves for letting San Angelo down in this way. Its a disgrace.

You know, the irony is when this type of trash collection was first being promoted here years ago, the justification was that it was supposed to save the taxpayers money. Enough weeping and wailing got it shot down then. Turns out, now it's more expensive and the council, with few exceptions, never batted an eye.

I have been hugely disappointed by Ms. Farmers response to Live!s latest reporting. Actually, this is an ongoing, evolving issue that was first reported on by bloggers at State of the Division http://stateofthedivision.blogspot.com/search?q=republic+services and Conchoinfo https://conchoinfo.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-future.html . A good timeline is at http://stateofthedivision.blogspot.com/2014/05/trashaway-republic-contract-coming-soon.html and starts with Ms Farmer proposing in August of 2013 that the city just exercise the option to just extend the contract by 5 years, and then negotiate a new contract with republic which she was sure republic would negotiate in good faith even though they would already have an additional 5 years free, and there would be no other companies in competition for the trash contract. Just a little while later, unauthorized charges to commercial (or is it non-residential) customers came to light. It was also revealed by State of the Division (and other sites) that even after a successful public information request the city could find no annual contract audits or annual customer complaint reports, both required by the 2004 contract. Further public information requests have failed to turn up the audits that Ms Farmer claims to have reviewed. The Attorney General has ruled that City Hal must turn over all of these materials if they exist, and yet City Hall has been unable to find any of these audits or reports that Farmer says she saw and reviewed. The most that's been turned over are some unsigned draft reports, not the public transparency required by city ordinances, the city charter and the Texas open government statutes.

I've been Following Ms Farmers career since she first ran for offices as outsider and reformer. She started off as a fighter for transparency, and a fighter for the old principal popularized by Reagan to "Trust but verify". Lately her refrain seems to be "You don't have to verify, you can trust me. I'm here to help.

There's apparently a few people who want this to be hushed up and forgotten about because that 6.5 million that Republic says was paid to the city made for some nice 401K's for a few folks and no paper trails today to be followed........

NOT!! This hag needs to go away. I cant find one thing she has done that has helped our city, just makes excuses. Time for this farmer to go to pasture(:

This question on trash must now have people wondering about all the water acquisitions the city has paid for, where all the taxpayer money went in the 8o's and 90's that was suppose to be used on new water and sewage lines that never occurred in my area or almost any ones area. It appears it may be getting time to have the state come in and audit the city and council. Over the last years it really appears that the city council is more interested in doing things the way they think it should be done instead of for the people and city. San Angelo will never be a metropolis like San Antonio or Dallas, it used to be a great little town, you could walk anywhere as a child and do anything without having to worry about a drunk hitting you or a pedophile attacking you, no one breaking into your home, cars or stealing your personal items, now it is just one big meth and drug factory with criminals all over the place. Maybe the City Council should worry more about making it safe again instead of how modern our trash pick up can be. The old trash pick up was just fine, the money could be better used paying our Law Enforcement Officers to get the real trash off the streets, The money could have been better used ensuring that our City Attorneys put people away instead of the bail bondsmen making a fortune on individuals arrested 3-40 times and still walking the streets.

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