The waste hits the fan at City Hall on Tuesday, when two of the leading issues going before the City Council involve a pungent landfill that wants to expand and an outsourcing contract for the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP).
A lawsuit filed by Milpitas residents over the smell of Newby Island Landfill doesn’t seem to concern San Jose’s city staff when it comes to expanding the height of Newby Island from 150 feet to 245.
The most telling line of the point-by-point breakdown to the city of Milpitas’ appeal of the San Jose Planning Commission’s approval in June to increase the height is this: “The Draft EIR concludes that the proposed project will not make odors from the site any worse than they are under existing conditions.”
As Alastair Bland wrote in his story on the situation, “In other words, the smell can’t get any worse.”
A serious shortage of workers at WPCP has left the city searching for qualified workers. According to city staff, the vacancy rate for “Plant Operators, Plant Mechanics, Instrumentation Control Technicians, and Electricians with industrial/high voltage experience has grown from a low of 5 percent in 2007-2008 to approximately 19 percent as of May 2012.”
As a result, the average amount of overtime for WPCP plant operators has grown to 336 hours per employee. To stem the cost, the city has partnered with Telstar on a contract not to exceed $3 million to staff instrumentation control technicians and industrial technicians.
If you’re curious, the city pays instrument control technicians and industrial electricians $155 and $130 per hour, respectively. A little math at the overtime rate shows the city paid out $56,874 in overtime last year to the average WCPC industrial electrician.
And, in appreciation of Casino M8trix’s grand opening last week, which unsurprisingly gave some city officials the chance to take credit for the card room opening three months past schedule, the council will consider greater oversight of city-related foundations and their influence on policy decisions.
If there’s anything to be learned from the delays that Casino M8trix experienced, and Police Chief Chris Moore clashing with the San Jose Police Foundation, it’s that city-related foundations don’t necessarily get what they want even if they “know people.”
Accordinng to city staff, revisions to the current city-related foundation policy would “seek to provide guidance and ensure a baseline level of due diligence on the part of city staff as they consider receiving financial assistance from City-related foundations.”
Click to read the San Jose City Council Agenda for August 14, 2012.