The county’s garbage agency oversight board, newly revamped with elected officials rather than appointed staff, embraced the suggestion of a technical advisory committee but passed on the idea of establishing a new code of conduct.
The technical advisory committee — essentially a group of appointed staff who will guide the boardmembers through the technical details of waste management — was recommended by a blue ribbon task force evaluating the South Bayside Waste Management Authority earlier this year. However, the task force said if member cities agreed to change the board makeup, the new representatives should have the final say on a committee.
As the suggestion made its way around the 12 member cities and agencies for consideration, the city of San Carlos also raised the possibility of adopting a code of conduct. The idea came before the newly tweaked SBWMA board but fell flat.
The board generally felt that their own city or agency’s code of conduct and the financial conflict of interest forms they complete for serving covered the need, said Monica Devincinzi of SBWMA.
A portion of the board expressed a willingness to revisit the discussion at a later date if warranted but at last week’s meeting took no immediate action, said San Carlos Vice Mayor Mark Olbert who represents the city for the SBWMA.
The SBWMA board already has a financial conflict of interest code in place. A previous code adopted in 2006 was limited to the contractor selection process but it was suggested a new one could be expanded to other specific actions like operating the Shoreway facility.
Adding the technical advisory committee will have no fiscal impact on the SBWMA but each member agency may incur some cost for staff time spent on committee business, according to a staff report from SBWMA attorney Robert Lanzone.
The committee will have regularly scheduled monthly meetings as long as there are items that need review, Devincinzi said.
The SBWMA, also known as Rethink Waste, negotiates waste rates for its member agencies and oversees the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos which provides recycling. Members are Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District.
Despite numerous calls over the years to change the board to one of elected officials, the agency resisted and kept appointed staff at the table until the 2013 task force recommendation. The change required eight of the 12 members to agree which they did by late July.
Interestingly, a few months after the task force made its recommendation to change the board makeup, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury issued a report calling for the exact opposite. The jury called a change unnecessary because elected officials already have sufficient influence on major decisions like contracts and rate increases.
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