HOUSTON — In the wake of the recycling firm EcoHub winning an open records court battle against City Hall, the firm’s CEO called on the City Council Friday to delay a vote on a 20-year recycling contract until all the records can be released.
EcoHub chief George Gitschel has long maintained that his recycling plan was tossed by the city because of bid-rigging and he has also said that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration is far too cozy with the giant trash firms that dominate the nation’s solid waste industry.
“These records are really important for us to see what really went on behind the scenes,” Gitschel said. “I’m not asking anybody to give me anything. I just want the opportunity to compete. To be judged fairly.”
City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday to have a multi-national solid waste company take over a $36.8 million recycling program throughout Houston.
EcoHub did not compete to be in the mix because the city’s wording of the request for proposal precluded Gitschel’s company, he said.
State District Judge Kristen Hawkins has given City Hall until Jan. 5 to produce the records asked for by EcoHub, some of which the firm asked for 11 months ago.
Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting has been assisting EcoHub in its open records fight.
“At this point, we have some pretty good evidence that this bid was rigged,” Dolcefino said. “If at the end of the day these emails don’t prove nothing, then you can say, ‘Boy, you sure wasted our time.’ But I suspect these emails will prove a lot, so we’re asking every council member to come forward and to tell the mayor to delay this vote until after all these records are made public.”
Dolcefino added: “We’re going to get every single piece of paper we can. I’m sure law enforcement is watching this process.”
Turner has previously said that his team vetted the entire process and that there are no problems. A spokeswoman for the mayor said that because the mayor is on a trade trip in China he could not be reached for comment.
Gitschel’s initial proposal to the city was called the “One Bin” process.
“One Bin” was a plan to collect all trash, recycling, and yard waste in one can and recycle as much as 75 percent of it. The company proposed reducing garbage trucks routes from three to one and putting all trash and recycling in just one bin. EcoHub would then sell the recycling materials for new products.
An email obtained by The Texas Monitor suggests that Gitschel’s firm and his “One-Bin” recycling plan never had much of a chance to win a bid.
Gitschel said Eco-Hub’s “One-Bin” plan and his proposed state-of-the-art recycling facilities would eliminate the need for landfills. He said he believes that threatened the trillion-dollar garbage industry that makes the lion’s share of its money off of hauling trash to landfills.
“We all have a lot of fight in us and we’re trying to fight for what’s right for the people who live here, the taxpayers, the citizens,” Gitschel said. “We want to bring jobs, we want to bring economic development, environmental sustainability. What’s so bad about that?”
See the other reports from The Texas Monitor on the Houston recycling controversy here:
- Recycling company clinches court win in open records case against Houston
- Transparency hearing Tuesday puts city of Houston in spotlight
- Lawsuit aims to shake emails loose from Houston City Hall
- Houston mayor reverses course on recycling deal
- Houston trash deal vote delayed amid questions over transparency, pricing
- Houston’s trash deal smells, wants probe into possible bid rigging, recycling inventor says
Trent Seibert can be reached at 832-258-6119 or [email protected].