Council to Discuss Landfill, WPCP

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.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

12 Comments

  1. Yet another reason to put controls on future development in our fair city.  Air quality, solid and liquid waste, water availability, and City services at all levels from public safety to street maintenance all bound our ability to continue adding residents.

  2. Josh,

    One thing that needs to be clarified is that when you wrote “the city pays instrument control technicians and industrial electricians $155 and $130 per hour, respectively”, that is the amount the private contractor is charging the city. The full time city employees in this classification make $40-50 per hour, give or take some. There are so many employees who have left, the city is forced by it’s own shortsightedness to hire private contractors at way more than double the amount. I think it is important to clarify this so those that already hate the city employees don’t think they are making the amount you stated above. I hope readers click on the link you provided above “a serious shortage of workers” and read the memo. By the way, the police department is also falling apart. Maybe the city auditor should investigate this and write another memo.

    • observation: thank you for making the point that the figures mentioned are what Telstar is going to charge the City NOT what Telstar is going to pay the temporary employees.

      FYI tried looking up the company Telstar (http://www.telstarinc.com/) to see if they posted job announcements and what they typically pay employees in those classifications. Unfortunately Telstar’s website says it is “under construction.” 

      I know that D6 Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio is a huge proponent of “outsourcing” to save money –  the council is being asked for $3million dollars/year for 2 years to fund a total of 9 temporary employees to help staff WPCP. 

      I know that the two different skill classifications earn different amounts but this comes out to and average cost of $333,333.00 per employee!  Sounds a tad expensive in these fiscally challenging times doesn’t it?

      There goes my inner voice again – a company with out an operational website in 2012 + a huge $$$ contract + a shady City Manager /Mayor /Councilmembers…

      Any associations between Telstar and maybe: …some donors to the Yes on Measure B campaign? …Re-Elect Pierluigi?  …Re-elect Rose Hererra?  …Elect Johnny Khamis- or Richard Bronstein??? Has/Is Vic Ajlouny done/doing any lobbying for Telstar???

      Let’s start following the money and find out who is going to make out big here – (Hint: It WILL not be the temporary workers…)

      • 5:40 am. Did you just get up or were you up all night? I was up then too, but that was because I had to make breakfast for my kid and get ready for work. Anyways, I’m a Democrat. When George Bush was president, I still wished him success with the economy. Why wouldn’t I, I live here. You claim to care about San Jose, but I know you wish bad things for the city so you can be proven right. Not cool.

  3. Allowing the dump to go from 150 feet to 245 feet in height might not make the smell worse, but it will allow the dump to operate longer. 

    I think at the very least, the dump has to offer some sort of odor mitigation in exchange for increasing the capacity – and life of that dump.

  4. Measure B, Thank you Chuck +5.  What did you expect.  City literally going down the toilet.  Better get out the plungers because it is going to get worse.

    Other police departments are now coming to SJPD to recruit officers!  How much will you pay to plug the sewers.  I told you citizens, be careful what you wish for!

    Josh,

    “Accordinng to city staff”

    Check your spelling!

    • Sorry, I would have replied sooner but I was at work. I think we’ll be ok as a city. This is just an assumption. I think you’ll find that San Jose has quite a future. There are a lot of opportunities in Fresno and Bakersfield if you’re not happy here. Don’t let the door…

    • Word on the streets is that , this City has “requested” that other citys stop recruiting San Jose’s Finest. If this is true , it wouldnt really matter because the majority of this City’s Public Safety is already looking/seeking employment elsewhere. Taking with them millions of dollars in training and expertise.It is truely sad what is happening to this city under this Mayor + 5 , and I really dont blame public safety for seeking employment elsewhere. why wouldnt they after the smear campaign that has been waged against them.