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City Cuts Deal on Trash Rates; Petrilla Challenged

In exchange for extending CR&R's contract, RSM gets guarantee it will have the lowest bills in South Orange County. Also, Jesse Petrilla doesn't deny he misled community.

It may be a garbage deal, but it smells sweet to Rancho Santa Margarita leaders.

The City Council approved changes to a contract with the city’s waste hauler, CR&R, that will ensure local businesses and residents pay lower monthly trash rates than eight other similar cities in the county, including San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo and Lake Forest.

“Tonight, after months of negotiations, our City Council delivered a tremendous deal for every RSM household and business,” Mayor Tony Beall said. “I’m very proud of the contract we just approved. It literally guarantees RSM residents will always pay the lowest trash hauling rate for any city in South Orange County.”

The rates will also remain in the “lowest one-third among all Orange County cities with substantially similar services,” according to a city staff report.

The revised contract, approved on a 4-1 vote, adds a number of services for residents and businesses, including a free annual electronics recycling event and free bulky-item pickups four times a year.

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CR&R has been the city’s garbage hauler since May 2005, and its current contract was scheduled to expire June 30, 2015. The new deal extends the contract to June 30, 2020, and automatically renews it every five years without another council vote or bidding. If the city decides to cancel the service, it must give CR&R 12 months' notice.

According to city staff, if the council dismissed CR&R, searching for a new garbage hauler would cost roughly $150,000.

Councilman Jesse Petrilla, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said that $150,000 was “worth being spent.” That's partly because the money would be reimbursed by a new garbage hauler, he said. Petrilla also argued that seeking new bids could produce even lower rates.

But Councilman Jerry Holloway praised the new contract: “This is such a good deal … Will CR&R be able to turn any kind of profit?”

“Yes,” replied Dean Ruffridge, senior vice president of CR&R, standing from his seat in the audience to answer the question, causing a few chuckles from the small crowd. 

Petrilla gets challenged

In other City Council business, Councilman Jesse Petrilla announced he was and said this would be his last regular City Council meeting for about a year.

Patch Editor Martin Henderson thanked Petrilla for his service to the nation, but then questioned him about statements made over the last year and asked Petrilla to set the record straight before he leaves.

Henderson accused the councilman of ignoring Patch's calls and “running away” from him after meetings to avoid talking with the press.  

"Over the past year, it is my opinion that Jesse Petrilla has purposefully misled the residents who put him in office," Henderson said. "If I am wrong, I want to be corrected."

Henderson asked Petrilla three questions and said he would regard any failure to respond "as an understanding that you have purposefully lied to this community." Specifically, he asked:

  • Was Petrilla still receiving benefits from the city on March 28, when he said he was no longer receiving benefits?
  • that he had elected to terminate his city-provided benefits three years before the end of his term (November 2014) when he didn't broach the subject with the city until last month?
  • Who in the Army to city meetings while training at Fort Knox?

Petrilla did not respond.  

Residents urged to donate organs

The Rancho Santa Margarita parents who lost their baby daughter, , to a rare illness urged people to donate organs.

In 2011, 7-month-old Ruby Jane passed away before she could receive the liver transplant she desperately need. The Taylors were honored by the City Council as part of April's Donate Life Month in California. Ani Taylor said people can learn more about donating at DonateLifeCalifornia.org or RubyJaneFoundation.com.

Glenn Acosta April 13, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Dean, As Commissioner (and recent Chair) of the Waste Management Commission of Orange County, I've toured CR&R's facilities and we've talked numerous times over the years. I think you have superb material recovery facilities and you provide great services to the cities you serve. I've always heard great things about CR&R in the solid waste management community here and in Sacramento (my second home). Congratulations on your new contract! All the best, Glenn Acosta
Chris McLaughlin April 13, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Great job City Council securing this deal for the taxpayers of RSM! This kind of accomplishment is why you deserve the total compensation you're currently receiving. You're not up there making widgets/punching a time clock for an hourly rate. You're negotiating hard on our behalf and driving long-term value for our City and residents that far exceeds the cost to make it happen. Keep it up!!
April Josephson April 13, 2012 at 10:21 PM
I agree with Glenn and Chris. CR&R has been a great provider for our city and saved my HOA a lot of money on our monthly fees. The city council was wise to to extend their franchise. Martin, I take it you never heard back from Councilman Petrilla on his intentional misrepresentations to RSM? Great comments in front of council BTW, and well-deserved!
Mike Proctor April 14, 2012 at 05:01 AM
I remember when we had "Green Waste". I will say, I was much happier with their service, as well as the size of the containers (fit better on my side yard). The drivers were very friendly (kind of like the UPS drivers), and easy going, they didn't mind taking that extra box of trash that wouldn't fit in can that week, or board that needed cut down to fully fit in the can.. The only time you will see a CR&R guy get out of his truck, is to put a warning tag on your can for being to tight together, to close to a car, or on the sidewalk, or to full. Not to mention, the GW route was better organized. All three pick up usually came with in a one to two hour time frame (trash, yard waste, recyclables), unlike CR&R, which are spread out over the entire day. First at 6-7 am, and the last at 4 pm or later. I don't know the financials of the agreement, but I do recall that CR&R met our cities recycling criteria, and did offer us better rates, and in the big picture, I can except that, but I will say, Green Waste's customer service was better.
RD April 14, 2012 at 02:55 PM
What is the big hurry. This contract doesn't expire until 2015. Oh, I almost forgot. This is an election year. Awarded contracts to trash haulers bring big $$$ to city council members war chests. You can always follow the money. RD
Glenn Acosta April 14, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Mr. Proctor, I believe the prior waste hauler was Waste Management (WM). They too provided a good service to our community, but when the waste hauling contract or franchise agreement was up for renewal a few years back, their bid was almost $200,000 (from recollection, may not be accurate) more than CR&R’s bid. I was at the city council meeting when the council awarded the contract. Usually these franchise agreements are hotly contested, but WM showed incredible class by how they handled things. I work with several WM executives in Sacramento on many issues and that’s been my experience with them as well – very professional, sharp business people. The one thing I noticed when changing to CR&R was that the trash bin got smaller and the recycling bin got bigger. I think it’s a reflection of the state’s push for more recycling through the laws they pass, like AB939 (which initiated recycling) and now AB 341 (forcing businesses to recycle). I’m usually in Sacramento fighting regulations against businesses and local governments (cities and counties). Sacramento doesn’t care about the cost impacts of these bills or regulations to businesses and local governments, which ultimately get passed on to the taxpayers. All the best, Glenn
Mike Proctor April 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM
You're right....Waste Management. Thanks.
Glenn Acosta April 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
RD, With regard to campaign donations, any citizen can find out who has donated to a candidate by requesting a copy of the candidate’s Form 460 from the city clerk. Form 460 takes affect after a candidate has received more than $1,000. Personally, I have always felt there is a potential conflict of interest in accepting campaign monies if you’re voting on something that will make that person or company money. I want to make decisions that are in the best interest of RSM, so not having any financial encumbrances or ties helps me do that. Similarly, as Director of Trabuco Canyon Water District, I’ve never taken contributions from real estate developers. I’ve always wanted to make decisions based on the merits of the project with nothing else influencing that decision. If the city decides to post all the candidates’ Form 460 on the city’s website as full disclosure to the public, I’m more than willing to participate.
LeAna Bui April 14, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Mr. Acosta: This is good to know - thank you. I do not have a single complaint about CR&R, but at the time the city signed the original agreement, several councilman took donations from them. That has colored my opinion of this arrangement ever since. Note: CR&R will replace your smaller trash can for a larger one if you request it.
April Josephson April 14, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Glenn, I appreciate your directness and transparency in all of your public representations. Glenn and LeAna, since all of the documents filed are public record, if you have any questions, you don't have to wait for a posting to the city's website. Whenever I have a question, I ask, and have learned quite a bit about all of the candidates/council members that way. Sometimes it paints a picture that the public would be surprised to know. It can be very enlightening and may change your opinion on issues or individuals. I support what the council has done. It is good to see future fiscal planning happening before the last minute.
Glenn Acosta April 15, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Thanks, April. I try to be candid and straightforward. Perhaps it’s my New York upbringing, or the perspective that I can’t take anything with me when I die – not even carry-on. I think people that use public office for personal gain or for other ulterior motives get into trouble and it eventually catches up with them. Elected officials should look to and emulate those in our military. They are willing to put their lives on the line solely to protect our country and for little compensation in return. My family has a long history of military service, from my uncles involved in the European campaign in WW II to my nephew who is now a Captain in the Air Force. They are my examples of honorable public service.
Karl H. April 15, 2012 at 04:42 AM
So if Petrilla is gone, who replaces him on the council? Mr. Acosta, are you going to petition for the seat? What about Whittingham? McCook?
LeAna Bui April 15, 2012 at 04:56 AM
April: Did I imply that I do not know where to find the candidate's financial documents or that I was unaware that they are public records? How do you think I was aware that city councilmen took money from CR&R the same year that the first contract was signed? And I did not say that I did not support this new agreement. I was addressing Mr. Acosta's comments about campaign donations from businesses that the city is doing business with. My comments were clear - even though CR&R has provided perfectly good service, the fact that they donated money to councilmen during the time they were negotiating a contract has always tainted the way I think about them. i agree with Mr. Acosta's point, that is all.
Glenn Acosta April 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I would not. I don't believe in replacing a soldier's seat while he is serving our country.
April Josephson April 15, 2012 at 08:53 PM
LeAna, thanks for the clarifications. My response was meant generically, since Glenn has suggested he would be open to publication on the website.
Something Special Cateirng Inc. April 16, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Glen without going down to city hall to request a copy of any donations made by CR&R to one of our councilmen, can you inform us as to who that was?
Lawrence (Larry) McCook April 16, 2012 at 03:22 AM
This would not be the way that I would want to join the city council.
Glenn Acosta April 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I don't know, Nancy. I did not run for city council in 2008 or 2010, so I had no reason to look. As for 2012, I'm not really interested in checking out who donated to the other candidates or incumbents. I'm focused on my campaign. Since I just started my campaign, I have not hit the $1,000 threshold and thus have no Form 460 yet.
LeAna Bui April 16, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I don't think you can do a search by donators, but you can pull the Forms for anyone who has filed such a form.
Martin Henderson (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Jesse Petrilla has not reached out to me to try to clarify any statements that he made previously that seemed to be misleading.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook April 16, 2012 at 08:52 PM
LeAna, The list of campaign financial contributors is available by request at City Hall. These lists are public knowledge under the political fair practices mandates. You might be very surprised to find out who some of these contributors have been in past elections and who some of these contributors are connected to and/or where they are employed. Some candidates have filed some of their contribution lists after the elections. This is why I will not request or knowingly accept any special interest money and keep my efforts on a Grassroots Level. Special interest money has stymied/deadlocked the efforts of our government to do the right things for the taxpayers.
LeAna Bui April 16, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Thanks, Larry - that is good to know.

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