(Chuck Muth) – Voting to put a $1 billion contract to pick up the city’s garbage cans for the next 14 years up for public, competitive bidding should have been a no-brainer for ANY Republican, but especially one who has established a reputation as a CONSERVATIVE Republican.
Nevertheless, Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers engineered a vote by the city back in April that handed on a silver platter a sweet billion-dollar monopoly contract to Republic Services without issuing an RFP (request for proposals).
But it’s not just that Beers voted against free market competition for a huge government contract to a company that has donated quite generously to his campaigns. It’s that he insists on misleading the public with lame excuses for doing so.
At the April 5 meeting where the city council rubber-stamped the billion-dollar/no-bid contract, Beers claimed that the law – Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) – prohibited opening the trash collection contract to competitive bidding.
“You don’t have a right to choose this under the law,” Beers told residents who were calling for an RFP at the meeting.
But that claim has been proved an outright falsehood. In fact, state law says the city *MAY* issue a monopoly franchise contract for trash collection. May. Not shall. May.
As such, the city could have opened the market completely – as Nevada voters voted to do with our electricity market last November. Or it could have issued multiple franchise contracts for one of more competitors, as many other big cities around the country are already doing. Or it could have opened the trash collection market for commercial businesses while restricting residential to one vendor.
The point is, state law DOES give the city a right to choose how its trash is collected. You could look it up. But even that’s not the point.
The point is, while state law does, in fact, allow the city to issue a monopoly franchise contract to a single vendor for trash collection, nothing in the law prohibits the city from putting that contract out for competitive bidding. NOTHING.
And what makes this situation even worse is the fact that not only is Councilman Beers misleading the public on this issue, but he’s doing so KNOWINGLY.
As a former state legislator, Beers knows how to read, understand and interpret statutes. So his misrepresentations aren’t out of ignorance. They’re pure butt-covering since he has a competitive re-election race coming up on June 13 against a viable challenger, Steve Seroka, who has made a big deal out of Beers’ vote for the no-bid contract.
And as part his CYA disinformation campaign, Beers waded into the issue again in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that was published on Thursday…
RJ: The recent City Council vote on the waste-hauling franchise agreement with Republic Services was controversial. Should the city re-examine its rules and practices when it comes to putting high-dollar contracts out to bid?
Beers: Those rules are written for us by the Legislature, and I expect we will follow them. Conceptually, the controversy was created by one company seeking to maximize its economic benefit.
I guess it’s true: Once you start fibbing about something, it’s almost impossible to stop.
First, as pointed out over and over and over again, there is nothing – NOTHING – in the law passed by the Legislature that prevented Beers and the city council from putting this contract up for competitive bidding. Absolutely…nothing.
Secondly, it’s absurd, if not downright asinine, for Councilman Beers to now blame the victim.
Even if his claim was true that “one company” created this controversy (it’s not true, by the way), SO WHAT?
Why shouldn’t a competitor to Republic Services seek an opportunity to at least present a competitive bid to the city council that might have offered city residents better service at a better price? This is like telling T-Mobile it’s not allowed to compete against Verizon by advertising offers of free, unlimited texting.
Seriously, why does Mr. Beers think it’s wrong for a competitor to push for open, competitive bidding rather than rubber-stamping a billion-dollar monopoly contract to a juiced-up campaign contributor?
At the very least, Councilman Beers could have added to the changed city ordinance a provision REQUIRING an RFP on any future contract extensions for trash collection after this new one expires in 2031. But he couldn’t even bring himself to do THAT!
Beers, the incumbent, is still the prohibitive favorite to retain his seat in the June 13 election. But the stench from his valet-like performance on behalf of Republic Services in this matter won’t be going away anytime soon. It’ll be like that cloud of dust constantly following Pigpen around in the Charlie Brown cartoons.
Competition is good. Competitive bidding is good government.
What a pity Councilman Beers sold out those principals for a few magic beans from a big donor. No wonder the average citizen despises the average politician. And the beat goes on…
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a free-market grassroots advocacy organization