Tens of thousands of Houstonians have now watched Mayor Sylvester Turner lose his cool when questioned about the City of Houston’s new recycling deal.
No wonder there are questions.
The City of Houston was in the final negotiations on a contract with a Houston company that could have saved Houstonians 25 to 40 million dollars a year on recycling and ended the need for expensive landfills. Turner killed the deal and now wants a much more expensive contract with a European company.
Now the Chairman of the Houston company Eco-Hub wants investigations into possible bid rigging and ethics violations. At a Wednesday morning news conference, George Gitschel released a letter to the City Controller, Chris Brown requesting the probe.
The City Attorney ignored a bid protest from Eco-Hub filed in December of 2016, but used the corruption complaint to keep secret e-mails sent or received by Houston Solid Waste Boss Harry Hayes. Mr. Gitschel claims Hayes fought Eco-Hub to protect Republic Waste and their lucrative landfill contract.
Mr. Gitschel is also pointing a finger at Marvalette Hunter, Mayor Turner’s new Chief of Staff. Gitschel was using Hunter to lobby for his company, but now thinks she was playing him. Hunter never registered to lobby for Eco-Hub, a violation of City Ordinance. Mr. Gitschel is now calling on City Attorney Ron Lewis to probe Hunter’s possible ethics violations and require her to disclose who else she represented before becoming Chief of Staff so that taxpayers see potential conflicts of interest.
Mr. Gitschel wants the City of Houston to release all e-mails sent or received by Solid Waste Boss Harry Hayes. The Mayor has refused to release any e-mails, and not just on the current recycling bidding. The City of Houston won’t release records on Mayor Turner’s deal with Waste Management last year, that ended free recycling for Houstonians.
Mr. Gitschel is also calling on the European company FCC to disclose the names of any Houston based consultants or companies being hired as part of the recycling contract. If City Council approves the controversial new recycling deal, FCC stands to make more than 50 million dollars.
The City of Houston was awarded a one-million-dollar prize from the Bloomberg Foundation for the Eco-Hub idea. The company proposed reducing garbage trucks route from three to one and putting all trash and recycling in just one bin. The company would then sell the recycling materials for new products. Eco-Hub claimed the state of the art recycling facilities it would build would eliminate the need for landfills. Mr. Gitschel says that threatens the garbage industry. Houston has become a big headquarters for the trash industry.