WM at City Hall

Mike Smith of Waste Management put it simply during the Council Meeting. “What have we done? Everything,” he said, elaborating that Waste Management has done everything that was asked of them. He went on to explain how we got to the point where discussions came to a halt, pointing to the lawsuit of the County and WM by the Landfill Expansion Task force. Additional Waste Management representatives spoke, pointing to their openness with the community regarding communication and expansion plans, as well as the benefits to the community regarding jobs and a willingness to reopen communication with the City.

Various members of the community showed up to speak. Ben Gilbert, owner of Welcome to the Neighborhood Magazine, spoke about the positive benefits of Waste Management as a contributing community member. Others spoke favorably about Waste Management’s processing of waste, turning the methane gases into electricity. Former Council Candidate Ken Sandberg chose to speak about what he refers to as lies and deception on the part of the Landfill Taskforce.

Mark McDonald, owner of SiteServer in Simi Valley, spoke of the green nature of Waste Management’s business. He talked about Waste Management’s business being under strict state and federal regulations regarding the every day operations, suggesting that WM’s business will not be harmful to the community. Other speakers discussed air quality not being a significant issue, also detailing proactive measures to counteract the emission of greenhouse gases.

Harry VanDyck represented the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, indicating the Chamber Boards favorable position for the expansion of the landfill.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses…

The President of the Big Sky association put it simply enough. He likes Waste Management as a business, he believes they do a good job and that they should be allowed to continue to do a good job. However, he just doesn’t want the landfill to get any bigger than it already is. He commended Barbra Williamson for her work on the Landfill Expansion Taskforce, but also expressed concern that Big Sky home values will not recover from the expansion on the landfill.

Alice Sterling of the Landfill Taskforce indicated that the expansion benefits are rare, if not non-existent. She clearly made the point that she and the Taskforce are against the landfill expansion as proposed. She asked the Mayor to take the high road and to work with the County to ensure that the landfill expansion does not proceed as proposed. Also from the Taskforce, Louis Pandolfi spoke about other situations where Waste Management was made to make-up the difference in home sale prices where it was deemed that their landfills impacted property values. His point: Waste Management can be made to make things right when community leaders require it.

I’ll reach out to Councilwoman Barbra Williamson for a transcript of her statement on the expansion agenda item. Her statement details the points of compliance requested by the Taskforce of WM. More to come over the next several weeks…

UPDATE: The Committee assembled to resume negotiations with Waste Management will consist of Mayor Huber, Councilwoman Barbra Williamson and City Manager Mike Sedell.

31 thoughts on “WM at City Hall

  1. Come on Mike, tell it like it is.

    Others on the Council got that the permit for the trash trucks would be 892 if the expansion was approved, not the 600 more trucks, not the 3 times the number of trucks.

    Also, the task force gang is saying that the landfill would be the largest in the Western United States, which there are at least two in CA which are over 2000 acres and if the expansion was approved the Simi Valley Landfill would be 371.

    Those are two clear cut issues in which the task force gang has lied.


  2. It was nice to attend the meeting tonight, however I’m disappointed to see the City “exploring” certain options. First, a quote from Huber’s web-site:

    “…we need to create and maintain a pro business atmosphere in our city that fosters business growth and developement.

    As Mayor of Simi Valley I will make Simi Valley business owners a priority, and their concerns will be heard.”

    As a business owner, I always appreciate government officials that are receptive to growing business in the community.

    Unfortunately, tonight was a 180 for my impression of Mr. Huber. His discussion was hardly fostering a “pro business atmosphere”, nor making “Simi Valley business owners a priority”. In fact, it was nearly the exact opposite.

    What I heard from Mr. Huber tonight, was essentially that he’d like to try and gang up all of WM’s surrounding property owners, and *force* annexation of WM’s property by means of a majority interest. Then, instead of actually negotiating with WM, he could dictate exactly what they can and can’t do.

    Sounds like just the kind of City I’d want to start a new business in…

    Fact of the matter, which was emphasized tonight even by people against the project, is that Waste Management runs a great operation, they do what they say they’re going to do, and they’ve addressed the concerns that residents have brought to their attention. As Mr. Smith said, they’ve done “Everything” asked of them in the community.

    Instead of trying to nail WM to the wall, why not try and work with them? Mr. Sedell even seemed to indicate that things were moving along until the “Task Force” got involved and put a screeching halt to everything by filing a lawsuit against the company.

    Whether or not Mr. Huber’s annexation attempt works or not, it’s going to drive a wedge between the City, and a company that has been very well respected in the community for 30+ years. It’s a horrible idea, regardless of the outcome.



  3. Hi Mark,

    I was glad to see you speak last night at the Council meeting.

    One of my concerns with not only the lawsuit but also the proposed tactic to force annexation is that it really backs WM into a corner and offers them no incentive to participate in negotiations. My concern there is that if the expansion project is on the up-and-up and in full compliance, and WM seems pretty sure that it is, then it will happen regardless.

    The negotiations that were taking place were doing so NOT because the City was in a position of power over WM, but because WM wanted to continue its positive relationship with the City. If the expansion can proceed as proposed because it is in full compliance but the City is now trying to kill the project, I don’t see any reason from WM’s standpoint for continued negotiations. But I’m no fortune teller — maybe they can get past that?

    People on both sides of the issue speak intelligently about each respective side. Both the Taskforce and WM are composed of bright,compelling personalities. That does make it hard to make an informed decision sometimes. Unfortunately, Councilwoman Williamson contacted me this morning to tell me that she would no longer be participating on this website going forward due to a conflict with another participant. Taskforce related news will have to make it to the papers before I can get a glimpse into how some of these issues are playing out.

    Regarding Mayor Huber, one of his campaign messages was that he planned to oppose the landfill expansion. I do not predict that he’ll change his position on that.


  4. Interesting comment from Barbra Williamson. Can’t take the heat, so she is going away. Perhaps she will do the same in the next election.

    Personally, I would prefer that she tell the truth and promote her views in an honest and ethical manner. The task force could be useful in pushing for the best landfill expansion possible, but when they make false statements (largest landfill in the Western United States, for just one example), it is impossible to trust what they have to say.

    I suspect that part of the reason for Barbra to say that is so that Mike will do something to get rid of the other participant (yes, I can guess who it is :-). Please ask Barbra to explain why she is refusing to give you the task force related news. She can still do that and not participate.

    I have to wonder what occurred behind closed doors during the break. I do know that there were some discussions. It was interesting that Barbra spoke as an individual (but I am not sure that the time was limited), but then when she spoke as Council member, many of her statements seemed to be as a task force member.


  5. Ken,

    I should clarify. She did not refuse to give me Taskforce news. She indicated a desire to no longer participate and she is my source for Taskforce news.

    Also, Barbra can take the heat. She quite openly opposes her fellow council members when it’s unpopular to do so, and she’s the only council member to participate in anonymous comment sections of blogs. Her position is warranted and understandable, in reference to a personal comment that was offensive by anyone’s standards. Had I noticed it when it was posted, I would have challenged it.

    I would prefer that these comments stay on topic.


  6. I think it is really interesting the Chamber of Commerce supports the dump expansion. Waste is a big corporate sponsor for the CoC and sponsors some of there big events. They have the right to support who they want but that should be consider.


  7. Barbra, don’t go away, just get creative with your “dislike” technology. Out of sight, out of (his) mind.

    PS: home, office and blackberry will get you 3 votes!


  8. Instead of nit-picking these irrelevant details to death, why not focus on the actual issues that will help move the project forward, while addressing the concerns of residents/Simi Valley so everybody wins?

    Barbra, of all people, how can you criticize Lisa for sitting on the Chamber Board (again, another well respected organization), while you’re a council member and play a major role in the task force against WM?

    Aside from that, given WM’s 30+ years of being a good corporate partner in the community, why would the Chamber NOT support them?



  9. Barbara, it’s okay maybe this WM employee is doing the chamber gig as a private citizen?

    Sound familair?

    Like you pretending to be a private citizen and not acting as councilmember while tyhe same time your sitting on that dais as a councilmember — it was hilarious.

    And, the Simi City Attorney sitting there oblivious to all the conflicts and violations of law.

    Hey Simi, I am glad we have a City Attorney that doesn’t know the law. It fits in with a Councilmember who doesn’t understand the law.


  10. Who else who was at the Council meeting last night thought when Barbara was “speaking” as a private citizen that she was going to walk around to the public speaking area?

    But she stayed on the dais?

    Next next time when I speak I want to give my 10 cents from that spot?


  11. I’m not defending Barbra’s opinions, she can do that for herself. But I think it is clear the taskforce isn’t a city government group to people that attend council meetings or read blogs. There is no restriction on a city council member belonging to a party or an interest group. if the other 4 don’t agree they can vote against her suggestions.


  12. Marty….I never critized Lisa for being on the Chamber Board. I was just stating a fact. What’s the problem with that? Actually I like Lisa, and as a former Chamber Board member, I have no problems with the Chamber. They are certainly entitled to their opinion and support of the landfill expansion so stop reading something into the comments that aren’t’ there.
    Oh and now you’re smarter than the City Attorney on giving advice?? Oh boy, here we go…


  13. In the case of your City Attorney, yes, apparently, I am smarter. A chair is smarter. You broke Simi’s ethical rules and instead of punishing you in some way, this legal eagle says that you should be part of the negotiating committe with this company.

    That doesn’t make any sense and you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand that.


  14. Mike, point taken. My apologies, it’s just very frustrating to watch government officials break the rules and no one does anything about it. People don’t think it’s a big deal but I think one broken rule leads to another and so on and so forth and next thing you know we have the Financial meltdown of 2008. When are we going to learn that these politicians are the problem and we need to elect a new breed of leaders that have integrity and don’t make politics their life calling.

    Stay classy San Diego!


  15. I will come at this problem from a different angle:

    I acknowledge that the City Attorney is in a very difficult position because the people who can fire her are the subject of these conflict and ethical allegations and violations.

    It would be hard for any of us to tell our boss that they broke the rules and they need to stop their misbehavior. However, that’s what is needed here. Someone has to be the adult and unfortunately for this City Attorney that is her role.

    Remember for evil to truimph in the world all that has to happen is for good men (women) to do nothing.

    Integrity is integrity. The City Attorney works the public not one particular Councilmember.


  16. Marty, please be SPECIFIC, as to the rules you think I have broken? I want you to quote it line for line, not something you have made up, but where it is actually written.
    And the City Attorney DO NOT WORK FOR THE PUBLIC, where ever did you get that idea?


  17. Barbra beat me to it. Its true, the City Attorney works for the City Council on behalf of the City, not for the general public.

    And as for our City Attorney, I have no doubt she has fully researched the relevant issues and rendered her opinion to the City Council. If you didn’t see her butting in on the proceeds its because she has come to an informed legal conclusion that there is no issue to butt into.

    And if it comes to betting on who is smarter, at least in matters legal, the City Attorney, a chair or you . . ., my bet’s on the City Attorney and the chair.


  18. Two thumbs down that fast? Why is it that the “task force” gets it’s money from a guy running a landfill IN the hills of east Simi and nobody sees the bs?


  19. Big yap Internet, but facts are all screwed up. Fishback has been opposed to the dump expansion for five years or more. The thing about Fishback is that he comes out in the open and stands up for what he believes in. The Task Force welcomes help from anyone who shares in the belief to protect Simi Valley from the negative environmental and economic impacts that the mega-dump expansion may bring.


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