The Daily Hustle: 6/18/10

More MRF madness next meeting

The Balcones recycling plant stacks their paper
The Balcones recycling plant stacks their paper (Photo courtesy www.balconesresources.com)

City Council assembles next Thursday for its last meeting before the Members enter their month-long hiatus. (Yes, we're stoked.) Bearing that in mind, it's no surprise the draft agenda, to be finalized later today, is a 150-item behemoth – and no issue looks more confounding than those relating to Austin's proposed MRF.

The Materials Recycling Facility saga has been a strange one, with council most recently voting to scrap the proposals process that garnered three frontrunners, chiefly staff-recommended Allied Waste, out of dissatisfaction. But it wasn't a unanimous vote, and the nays on the 5-2 vote (Bill Spelman, Sheryl Cole) have a resolution, Item 75, directing the City Manager to negotiate a contract for single stream MRF services with Balcones Resources, and return to Council for execution of contract. At the last council conversation, Balcones complained about irregularities in the staff scoring process that depicted Balcones' proposal as more expensive than it was. And with Spelman voting no on the reboot after being informed a new proposal process wouldn't create significantly different results, he seems eager to move forward.

Then there's Item 85, from Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison, Randi Shade (a strange constituency if the Hustle's ever seen one), directing the manager to “negotiate with both Texas Disposal Systems and Balcones Resources, Inc for a short-term and long-term contract for a Material Recovery Facility. The presence of TDS is a surprising non-surprise. TDS had clamored to get into the bidding after being shut out; whether the firms that went through the bidding process will allow council to tap TDS without a fight is a good question.

Then there's the remarks Shade made concerning the MRF to In Fact Daily this week: should neither company be able to bring on a robust short-term plan, council may be forced to extend the city's current contract with Greenstar yet again. While we respect council's wishes to get it right, at what point does chasing an ideal become chasing a mirage? Guess we'll find out Thursday.

The city has named three finalists for Austin Energy general manager, all hailing from the best coast: Ronald Davis, Larry Weis, and David Wright. Take it away, press release:

Ronald Davis, General Manager, Burbank, Calif., Water and Power. Davis has 30 years of experience in the electric industry and has led Burbank Water and Power for the last 12 years. Burbank Water and Power is a municipal utility in urban Southern California with a 2009 budget of $410 million and a peak electrical load of 308 MW. BWP is recognized as one of the nation's most reliable electrical providers and adopted a 33 percent renewable energy portfolio standard in 2007.

Larry Weis, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Turlock, Calif., Irrigation District. TID provides both water and electricity to a fast-growing area in the Central Valley of California. The utility is one of the 30 largest public power utilities in the United States, serving more than 600,000 residents. Weis has 29 years of experience in the electric industry, including 20 years as a General Manager. TID is currently supplying 28 percent of its annual energy requirements from renewable resources.

David Wright, General Manager, City of Riverside, Calif., Public Utilities. Wright has 22 years of experience working for public utilities. Riverside Public Utilities serves more than 300,000 residents with an annual budget of more than $500 million. A Certified Public Accountant, Wright has a strong financial background and served as the Finance Director for San Diego County Water Authority and the City Controller for Riverside before taking on the role of Riverside's Public Utility Chief Financial Officer in 1993. He took on the role of Deputy Director in 1998 and has been the General Manager of Riverside's Public Utility since 2005.

A meet and greet is scheduled with the candidates June 30 at the Austin Energy building, 721 Barton Springs, 6pm.

What the hell else is happening?

On the city calendar: The Live From the Plaza music series carries on at City Hall, 310 W. Second, noon.

And of course, a public forum on the November transportation bond is happening today in council chambers, from 4-8pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The Daily Hustle, City Council, Recycling, Texas Disposal Systems, Balciones Resources, MRF

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