The debate over trash is turning rancid. Thursday's city council meeting saw a first in the history of Fresno politics.
The third and final vote to approve privatization of residential trash service was set. It appeared like it would go through, with a majority of the council previously voting in favor of the move.
A large crowd of people packed the council chamber. Then an announcement was made.
Members Blong Xiong and Sal Quintero were M.I.A. They've long opposed privatization of trash service. Outnumbered, they chose to sit the vote out in silent protest. Oliver Baines is on bereavement and Larry Westerlund planned to cast a vote by phone.
The council that was present felt it would be inappropriate to vote on such an important issue without the entire council present. Borgeas apologized to the crowd, some who'd been waiting over an hour, for making the trip for nothing.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Lee Brand, Andreas Borgeas, and Clint Olivier held an impromptu press conference. They expressed outrage and disappointment that Xiong and Quintero did not show up. They felt it was a disservice to the people the council members represent.
KSEE 24 spoke with Quintero and Xiong after the meeting. They said their constituents do not support privatization and feel strongly it's the wrong move for Fresno.
Mid-Valley Disposal would take over the residential waste collection. The city would pocket about $4 million in the deal.
Most of the savings would come from reducing worker pay and possibly laying off over 100 people.
Mid-Valley says they will reduce rates by about 17% the first year, although rates will likely go back up each subsequent year.
The city council pushed the vote back to December 20th. Mayor Swearengin said if the entire council is not present, the city will move on without the missing members.