Lobbying to block Fresno from privatization garbage

FRESNO, Calif.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley said, "To influence the city's decisions in this city that is ours, in this city hall that is our city hall."

A diverse group of community leaders came together in front of Fresno City Hall to voice the concerns of the neighbors, families and congregations they serve.

Religious leaders stood beside minority groups to ask for a delay in the decision-making process to privatize residential garbage pick-up in the city.

Pastor Melvin Whittle says too many people don't have enough information about the issue that will affect every household in the city.

"We're concerned about the raising of rates, will they be reasonable, will they be higher or lower," Pastor Melvin Whittle said. "We're concerned about the service we'll get from privatization and and there's concern about the fact that we have individuals in our community who work for sanitation department right now and they're only being guaranteed 1 year of employment which is totally unfair."

Mayor Ashley Swearengin is pushing the plan, saying it'll bring in more than $2 million in franchise fees. But sanitation workers and some city council members oppose the plan saying the city will lose more than it gains, because of layoffs and decreased service.

"I'm not saying that our budget isn't in a tough situation. It is," Blong Xiong said. "But a short-term solution, this doesn't solve our budget problem. This will have long-term ramifications. If we divest ourselves from this service, we can never get back. We can never have the money to buy this type of equipment and get back into business."

Community members who spoke out against the plan say, while the city is in the business of service, companies are in the business of making profits and they worry, a private trash hauler would not be concerned about maintaining sanitation if a customer struggled to pay their bill.

Those opposed to the plan are asking the city to delay the final decision on privatization so more public comment can be heard on the issue.

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