Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Eel River Resource v. County of Humboldt (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 5, 2013)

The company doing the trash pickup for residents of the County of Humboldt -- Tom's Trash -- is doing a bad job.  Among other things, it's behind on its payments the County.  So rather than automatically renewing the contract, the County decides to put it up for bid.  Giving certain weights to various bid components, etc.

Both Tom's Trash and Eel River Disposal put in bids.  Eel River has a demonstrably better bid.  On pretty much every metric.  Plus it's at a lower price.  Including curbside recycling.

The County staff thinks it's the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind.  Give the contract to Eel River.

But the Board of Supervisors, in a split vote, nonetheless awards the contract to Tom's Trash.  Because it's a "local" company with a half-dozen or so local employees, and several residents of Humboldt file letters on its behalf.  Whereas Eel River is an "outside" company principally based beyond the County lines.

The Court of Appeal reverses.

Humboldt County has always struck me as sort of an odd duck.  Both politically and -- as one might imagine -- otherwise.  Presumably deliberately.

So when I'm presented with the opportunity to peek under the curtains of its political process (as here), it's always interesting what you find.

The whole thing reminds me of the final line of that famous Roman Polanski film.  "Forget it, Jake.  It's Chinatown."