OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – After Waste Management lost a $1 billion contract to pick up Oakland's garbage, the company is trying to put a ballot measure on the November ballot to overturn the city's decision. Officials are accusing Waste Management of dirty tricks as they attempt to gather signatures.
City leaders said signature gatherers have posted signs claiming garbage rates would go up under the new deal.
Councilmember Pat Kernighan said it's the complete opposite. "I just think it's sad that a corporation that wants to serve Oakland citizens would lie to them," Kernighan told KPIX 5.
Kernighan said the signature gatherers even approached her over the weekend, telling her recycling will be phased out under the new company.
"He said 'Well, because for the next 10 years, your garbage is not going to get sorted. All of it is going to go to the landfill.' I said, 'Really? What basis do you have to say that?'" she recalled.
The Oakland City Council awarded the garbage contract to a smaller company, California Waste Solutions, which would charge less than Waste Management.
About 22,000 signatures are needed for Waste Management to place a referendum overturning the council's decision.
KPIX 5 brought pictures of the signs to Larry Tramutola, the political consultant for Waste Management who is behind the petition. "If somebody does that and puts that out, we'll have them take that sign down, that's not part of our policy."
Tramutola would only say they're not behind the wrong information and blames the signature gatherers. Those people generally get $2 for each signature.
Reporter Da Lin went to a booth for the petition outside of a grocery store on Monday. The posters are gone, but a signature gatherer confronted him after declining to read some articles and sign the petition.
"I was a comparative literature major at UC Berkeley, I suggest you learn how to read, and maybe take some reading comprehension tests," the signature gatherer said.
Waste Management said it has received about 13,000 signatures for the referendum. The company needs to gather the signatures before the end of the month.
The company is also suing the city to try to get the contract back. Waste Management said it has been collecting garbage in Oakland for a century. They argue it's risky to give the contract to a newer company that they said does not have the infrastructure to service Oakland.
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