I haven’t yet decided where I stand on the issue of privatizing the sanitation department here in North Miami Beach. I’m still waiting to see what the private companies are willing to offer and to see if it’s even feasible. When I spoke with Mayor George Vallejo about it, he told me that there are three possible outcomes. First, it could turn out that the city would save “a ton of money,” in which case it would definitely be worth considering. Another scenario would be that the city would possibly save some money, but the loss of jobs and the possible risk involved might not be worth it. A third possibility is that we’d find out that our department is doing such a stellar job at such a great price that we’d be crazy to even think about privatizing. The Mayor said that the only way we’ll know where the city stands is to analyze the situation and then make a decision based on all these factors.
To be honest, my first inclination is to believe that private companies are better on many levels than almost anything a government entity can do. The main reason is because, unlike the government, a private business needs to please its customers and operate efficiently in order to stay in business. If it fails to serve the buying public, a competitor is usually waiting in the wings to take its place. In other words, competition is a great motivator. As we’ve already seen, since the government doesn’t have to compete with anyone or anything, it can pretty much gouge the public and provide little to no customer service. The “buying public” has no choice but to put up with the only game in town.
On the flip side, there are quite a few valid arguments against contracting with a private garbage company. For one thing, the sanitation business is pretty well known for its potential corruption and illegal activities. Think The Sopranos.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the arguments for and against privatizing the sanitation department, there are many good books on the subject and some great information on this website.
Suffice it to say, that this topic needs to be studied in depth so that the city can arrive at a workable solution. Since I don’t have a crystal ball, and no one yet knows the actual figures involved, I will reserve my opinion on this issue. I do, however, feel that the method being used by the city manager to make a determination is the proper one. Whatever the outcome, it will most likely be in the best interest of all the residents in the city.
On the other hand, North Miami’s rush to privatize, based on the usual 3-2 vote of its City Council, is beyond suspect. In an article published in today’s Neighbors section of The Miami Herald, Trash pickup set to be privatized, it appears that North Miami is moving full steam ahead, despite the fact that a great many residents are protesting this decision.
While I believe that our NMB City Council will eventually make the right decision based on what is the best choice for our residents, any time North Miami mayor Andre Pierre pushes something it’s usually only his own agenda. Considering all the blatant, in-your-face corrupt things this man has done and gotten away with during his tenure so far, one immediately questions his motives every time he does anything. If you’re not up on the Andre Pierre Corruption Body Count, you can read all about it here, here, and here. Pierre has no problem getting a majority vote in North Miami since two of his colleagues never fail to vote as a bloc on any legislature he wants passed. It’s like they’re joined at the hip. You can also pretty much bet that any deal the three of them want to sign will somehow benefit either themselves or their family members, or both.
The best part of today’s Neighbors article is the closing quote by mayor Pierre:
“I will never vote to get anything less than what our residents are accustomed to. I want to make sure we have the best rate possible under the sun and the same or better services than the city is providing, and thirdly that it is a fair and open process to make sure everyone can participate.”
I almost fell off my chair laughing at Pierre’s comment about there being a “fair and open process.” I’m guessing that he’s referring to the “fair and open process” of public records requests that disappear into thin air, or holding secret committee meetings without public input, or having a nephew who shakes down local property owners for council votes. Or perhaps he meant the “fair and open process” by which a Porsche mysteriously appeared in his driveway. Maybe he was referring to the “fair and open process” followed when he had his former police chief/present city manager install secret cameras in his office. Yeah, sure sounds like a “fair and open process” to me.
Combine the three part Council corruption with the potential corruption perpetrated by sanitation companies in general, and those sanitation companies in which Andre Pierre has a stake in, either directly or indirectly, in particular, and you just can’t help but be suspicious.
Apparently, what Andre Pierre wants, Andre Pierre gets. The corruption on that City Council is above and beyond the likes of which most of us have ever seen outside of Chicago. Just like Tom Brady when he’s in the pocket, mayor Pierre seems to be untouchable. No matter what Andre Pierre does, and no matter how much doo doo he steps in, nothing ever sticks. If ever there was a time for the Governor to step in and remove a public official from office, I’d say this is it.
“Spreading the Wealth”