Bad public policy

The Anchorage Assembly, apparently in the interest of speed, has approved a $100,000, sole-source contract for a study on how the city would build a waste-to-energy incineration plant.

The money would come from the Solid Waste Services budget and the study would be completed within 90 days, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

The study does not commit the city to build the up to $400 million plant, which would take years to build.

Lest we sound like worrywarts, we get it that the Eagle River landfill has about 42 years of operation left and that an incineration plant could increase that nearly three-fold. And we understand that burning garbage and solid waste sludge could produce electricity.

What we do not get is a $100,000 sole-source contract for the work.

We are not alone apparently. While the Assembly approved the study Nov. 19, the ADN reports, members Tuesday questioned giving the sole-source contract to StreamlineAM LLC. They wondered, as they should, why that contract instead of the city’s standard bidding process.

Anchorage Solid Waste Services Manager Mark Spafford says Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wanted the study quickly and StreamlineAM was the best company for that, the ADN reports.

Sole-source contracts for anything other than absolute emergencies are anathema to good government and generally are restricted to smaller amounts of money. Bidding processes, after all, are in place for good reasons. They save taxpayers money and they ensure government and its friends in the private sector play fair in a transparent system.

Large, sole-source government contracts inarguably are bad public policy. The Assembly should move to put the contract out for bids.

4 Responses to Bad public policy

  1. Marge December 1, 2019 at 6:39 am

    I researched StreamlineAM and if it is the same one on line ,here is what I found in Anchorage. Operating 7 years generates an annual revenue of $132,966 in revenue, employs 2 people.(Contact: Todd Helgeson) Absolutely should the Assembly put the contract out for bids. in my opinion, It is just another spend-a-wits for We the people of Anchorage. If this company is not in Anchorage then outside AK?

    Reply
  2. OG_Lila December 1, 2019 at 7:43 am

    I wonder who….or whose brother? sister? cousin? aunt? uncle? needed a few bucks in a big hurry!

    Reply
  3. Will Gay December 1, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Probably a subsidiary of Begich Worldwide Holdings. A sole source contract for MLP/ Chugach “deal”. Another sole source contract for the Port “crisis”. Now we have a “fast track” study at Solid Waste Services. Think ADN or KTUU will do any Pulitzer Prize investigative journalism? Not a chance! They will help spin it.

    Reply
  4. Morrigan December 1, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Google “municipal incinerators” on the internet, stick your cut-and-paste on company letterhead, get a hundred large for it… is Anchorage a great city or what?
    .
    42 years left in the landfill, may we ask who reached that profound conclusion and how? Mind, not 41 years, not 43 years, but it is a crisis that shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste (!), a crisis ripe for all sorts of bid rigging, cost overruns, bureaucracy growth, mismanagement, union-management team expansion, and sole-source contracts…
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    in other words, just another day at the muni office…
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    which is why we call BS on the $400M sticker price and the 10-years supposedly needed to erect this modern-day wonder, which of course, will be obsolescent in 3, and require all sorts of contract modifications, additional costs, more bureaucracy, and of course, sole-source contracts to modernize.
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    No? Think SAP, think Port of Anchorage… triumphs in municipal project management, yes?
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    You’d think for a hundred large the overpaid engineering geniuses in Alaska’s university system could deliver an engineering package for an incinerator, a big box that burns stuff and generates a little electricity in the process.
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    But no, either they’re not geniuses or it’s more important to skim a hundred large outta petty cash and slip it to our favorite consultant nobody’s heard of before now.
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    You’d think any self-respecting Native Corporation could put up a turnkey incinerator project for half the price in half the time.
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    No? Think Fire Island wind power. Google what they build worldwide.
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    Yes, Mr. Editor, large, sole-source government contracts are bad public policy, but let’s not expect Anchorage Assembly to put the contract out for bids.
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    Why, you might ask… What if skeptics, non-team players start filing Freedom of Information Act requests for details about the incinerator contract -and- another hundred-large no-bid contract our Anchorage Assembly gave Thomas Meacham for legal services involving “natural resources law”, while Meacham represents “Friends of Stewart Trail”, a non-profit created to seize private landowners’ property instead of asking permission to cross it?
    (https://anchorageak.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=anchorageak_26dd71b1832c9155a75f2f6aab58bee9.pdf&view=1)
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    What if skeptics, non team players start filing FOIA requests for details on -every- no-bid contract our Assembly’s awarded in the last 10 years?
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    Sure the Assembly will “question” the largesse but members won’t do anything about it.
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    Why not? Recall the Prime Directives for local government: first, Thou Shalt Get Money; second, Thou Shalt Not Mess With Anything Outside Your District, Lest Vengeful Colleagues Return The Favor When You Need Votes or Money.
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    No, Mr. Editor, it doesn’t make things right. But it makes them understandable.
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    Until we find our own Donald Trump(s), “understandable” is about all productive Anchorage residents have right now.

    Reply

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