Under-the-Lid Deal?

SAN JOSE, CALIF., Mayor Ronald Gonzales, chief budget aid Joseph Guerra and San Francisco-based Norcal Waste Systems have been indicted in a case centered on misrepresentation of fees. The allegations against Norcal include conspiracy, bribery and misappropriating public moneys. In addition to those charges, Gonzales is accused of falsifying a public record.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney is alleging that in 2000 Gonzales and Norcal held a secret meeting during which the mayor offered to add $11.25 million to Norcal's contract for integrated waste services if the company would convince subcontractor California Waste Solutions — which was supposed to sort and process recyclables — to use Teamsters in San Jose rather than employees represented by the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Union. Both parties, however, allegedly agreed to present the City Council with a proposal that omitted the additional cost — intended to cover the additional $2 million per year expense for using the Teamsters — and then add it later through an amendment after the proposal had been approved.

“Norcal Waste Systems denies any wrongdoing in connection with its bid for a garbage and recycling contract with the City of San Jose,” the company said in a statement. “Norcal committed no crime, either in the bidding process or in the performance of the contract.” A request for additional comment from the company's attorneys went unanswered. Gonzales and Guerra also have denied the charges.

According to published reports, Norcal could have to pay $27,000 per count in addition to $11.25 million in restitution.