Member Appreciation Picnic, 9/14/14

Sunday, September 14, 11am-2:30pm, Lake Temescal, Landvale Picnic Area, 6500 Broadway, North Oakland. Join us for a day in the sun with food, games & fun. Family, friends and dogs are welcome.

Free activities include delicious BBQ, Meditation, Bocce Ball, Croquet, Frisbee, Cornhole, Hiking & more!

NCRA will provide all food & drink – for members, Zero Waste Youth Convergence list members and folks under 19. $5.00 donation requested from non-members, adult family members and friends. No one is turned away from lack of funds. Need a ride? NCRA can help! Let us know when you RSVP. Please RSVP by Sunday, 9/7/14 to We look forward to seeing you there!

NCRA is now active on Twitter @NCRARecycles & Instagram: ncrarecycles. Join the conversation for Zero Waste!

Member Interview – Doug Brooms, 08/14

I’m a Bay Area native. I grew up in Oakland, received a BS Degree in Engineering at San Francisco State in 1970, and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 1972.

One of my favorite defining moments was when I worked as a student engineering trainee at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo in 1967. There for 3 months, I designed an air conditioning system for a data center, including all the duct work drawings and A/C specifications. When I returned to work the following summer, all the work had been completed, and the building was considerably cooler. It was my first and lasting validation as an engineer. During 1969 and 1970, 15 months were spent working at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab on an assortment of mechanical projects related to high energy physics research.

From 1972 until 2008, I lived in San Jose. The first 22 years were spent working at IBM, mostly in Advanced Technology and Product Test on high speed printers and disk storage devices. Then-after was a detour selling life insurance, securities, financial and legal services products. Upon returning to Oakland in 2008, my next pursuit was in renewable energy and energy efficiency, taking course work and receiving various certificates.

I first discovered NCRA at the August 2011 picnic and felt an instant camaraderie. NCRA advocates pro environmental policies and principles that long have been near and dear to me. I started attending NCRA events and occasional Board meetings. I formally joined NCRA in 2013.

I have sustaining commitments to waste reduction, climate protection and environmental stewardship. I’ve been an ardent recycler for over 20 years. It’s a personal crusade to be involved in the recycling industry. One of the more important issues we need to address is education and outreach to build awareness around over-consumption, and how to conserve resources and recycle more. We need to get out of that “garbage as usual” paradigm and gravitate toward a Zero Waste mentality.

I’m the recycling coordinator at my eleven unit multifamily residence. Working through property management, recycling participation has improved from infrequent to typically two full carts each week. I’ve had a few opportunities doing recycling and landfill diversion work at public events, which is gratifying work.

People might be surprised to know that I’m passionate about and involved in various social and environmental justice causes. I support campaign finance reform, climate change and global warming initiatives, and campaigns to shift our dependency on fossil fuels towards renewable energy alternatives. I sign petitions in opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and support GMO (Genetically Modified Foods) labeling.

To stay in shape, I typically run at least 500 miles and bike at least 1500 miles annually. I have run at least one marathon each year since 1994. I typically ride with the Oakland Yellowjackets Cycling Club at least monthly. I enjoy doing videography, shooting occasional weddings and NCRA events. I have a mild addiction to Sudoku, favoring the more difficult puzzles. Usually when I attend street fairs, I bring my tambourine just in case.

I enjoy travel. Apart from my nephew’s wedding in San Diego in 2012, my last real vacation was in 2006. I went on a 7-day cruise to Mexico, San Diego and Catalina. Eventually I would like to visit Australia, as it’s the only continent I haven’t visited, other than Antarctica. I’d spent three weeks in West Africa in 1993, two weeks in Brazil during Carnival in 1994, four weeks in China and Asia in 1995, and several trips to European countries.

How would I describe myself in three words? Caring: I care about a lot of things. Dependable: If you ask me to do something, it will get done. Good-natured: I maintain a glass half full attitude.

Book: The Waste Makers by Vance Packard. It was a very impactful book for me.
Magazine: No favorite, though I used to favor National Geographic and subscribe to vegetarian and health magazines.
Music: Progressive Jazz, Blues and old Motown
Movie: Avatar
TV Show: 60 Minutes (also 20/20 and nature shows).
Sports: Cycling and running
Board Game: Backgammon, although not lately.
Website: Google
Animal: Dogs
Season: Summer
Restaurant/Meal: Herbivore on Shattuck
Place to Visit: Paris, France. I’ve been there 3 times.
Time Management Technique: Planning ahead and having contingency time for any unanticipated delays.

Graft in Awards of Solid Waste Franchises – How Shocking

A monthly feature, exclusive to NCRA News, from NCRA general counsel and Board member John Moore, concerning recent legal decisions relating in some manner to Zero Waste.

On May 30, 2014, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, decided an interesting case involving the intersection between the award of a solid waste franchise and the prospective franchisee’s financial contributions to a city two elected officials who would vote to approve the franchise. The case involved the City of Montebello and Arakelian Enterprises, Inc. dba Athens Services (Athens) that had an exclusive contract to provide residential waste hauling services in Montebello since 1962. While the underlying lawsuit filed by the City addressed whether the city officials had violated Government Code Section 1090’s prohibition against city officers being “”financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.” the appeal addressed whether the City’s lawsuit was subject to anti-SLAPP protections. The City also sought an order requiring any appellants found to be financially interested in the Athens contract to disgorge to the City any money they received from Athens. Athens’ executive vice president declared Athens made no promise to contribute to any city council members in exchange for their votes.

Sometime in 2007, while running for city council, Robert Urteaga approached Athens and suggested it submit a proposal to the city council to become the exclusive commercial and industrial waste hauling service in Montebello, in addition to being the City’s exclusive residential waste hauling service. Athens later contributed to Urteaga’s campaign, and he was elected to the city council.

In 2008, Richard Torres, the City Administrator, worked with Athens to negotiate the terms of an exclusive contract, under which Athens would provide improved residential trash hauling services at no increased price and also become the exclusive commercial and industrial waste hauling service beginning in 2016. In exchange for this exclusivity, Athens agreed to make a one-time $500,000 cash payment to the City.

Athens’ proposal was addressed at a city council meeting on July 23, 2008. In a 3-2 vote, Councilmembers Rosemarie Vasquez, Urteaga, and Kathy Salazar voted in favor of the contract and the mayor and another council member against it.

Vasquez ran for reelection in November 2009 and Athens contributed $45,000 to her campaign. She was not reelected. Athens also contributed $37,300 to efforts to defeat the mayor’s reelection campaign, but the mayor was reelected. After the November 2009 election, City voters qualified a special election to recall Urteaga and Salazar. Athens sponsored a “Say No to Recall” campaign to which it contributed $353,912.73. The campaign was unsuccessful, and both Urteaga and Salazar were recalled.

Once approved, the contract required the mayor’s signature to effectuate it. The mayor, however, refused to sign the contract for over six weeks, stating he was attempting to verify its terms and ascertain the legal effect of a pending referendum effort by independent waste haulers in opposition to the Athens contract. On September 12, 2008, the contract was still awaiting the mayor’s signature. Vasquez then signed the contract as Montebello’s mayor pro. tem., stating she was authorized to do so because the mayor’s refusal to execute the contract rendered him “absent” for purposes of the agreement.

Under California law (Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16), a lawsuit “brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances” can be stricken on motion. Once the motion is filed, all action on the main case stops until the motion is decided and any appeal from such decision is also decided. This “stay” action invites SLAPP motions intended to delay the underlying suit. Now that the appeal is decided, the City’s lawsuit may proceed.

As the Court of Appeal correctly observed, in evaluating an anti-SLAPP motion, it must conduct a two-step analysis. First, it must decide whether the defendant “has made a threshold showing that the challenged cause of action arises from protected activity.” (Taheri Law Group v. Evans (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 482, 488.) For this purpose, protected activity “includes: (1) any written or oral statement or writing made before a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law, (2) any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law, (3) any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest, or (4) any other conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.” (§ 425.16, subd. (e).)

Second, if the defendant makes this threshold showing, the Court decides whether the plaintiff “has demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the claim.” (Taheri Law Group v. Evans, supra, 160 Cal.App.4th at p. 488.) Only a cause of action that satisfies both prongs of the anti-SLAPP statute–i.e., that arises from protected speech or petitioning and lacks even minimal merit–is a SLAPP, subject to being stricken under the statute.

The defendant city officers argued that their conduct in connection with the Athens franchise was protected speech. The Court disagreed, citing Supreme Court precedent to the effect, “A legislator’s vote and “acts of governance mandated by law, without more, are not exercises of free speech or petition. The Supreme Court reasoned that because a legislator casts his vote as a political representative executing the legislative process on behalf of his constituents, he has no personal right in his vote. A legislator’s act of voting is therefore “conduct engaged in for an independent governmental purpose,” not an act of communication conveying the legislator’s personal message.

With this skirmish out of the way, the Los Angeles County Superior Court may now decide how much financial contribution by a prospective franchisee to a city officer or elected is too much.

Save The Date 2015!

RU Registration Open! Click HERE!

NCRA Zero Waste Week 2015:

ZWUSA TRAINING – Introduction To Zero Waste, Monday, March 16
RECYCLING UPDATE,  Tuesday, March 17
RACE TO ZERO WASTE, Saturday, March 21