CITY HALL — Seeking to avoid the nickname “Wal-Mart by the sea,” coined by members of the public, City Council voted down some contracts that would outsource city jobs at their last meeting.
During council’s discussion of the consent calendar on Aug. 26, members of the public and city workers bashed three items that would have tasked private companies with city jobs that some believe would be better handled in-house.
Council rejected one item, which could have awarded millions of dollars to two private custodial companies for work on the Santa Monica Pier, the Public Safety Facility, the Civic Center, and other public properties, unanimously.
Former congressional candidate Marcy Winograd, the mastermind behind the proposed pony ride ban, sounded the alarm last week, noting that these moves could lead to the replacement of longtime city workers.
City workers, members of the public, and several council candidates urged council to vote the contract down.
City Hall has custodial contracts in place through the end of the year, allowing officials time to sort out next steps.
After rejecting the contract, council asked city officials to return for a discussion of City Hall’s policy regarding the use of in-house versus private labor.
Council approved two other items, both involving the Big Blue Bus, with caveats.
One of the items, a contract for maintenance services at BBB facilities, was approved 4 to 1, with Councilmember Kevin McKeown casting the lone dissenting vote. He argued for a shorter-termed contract.
“I think we’re giving clear direction and will in a subsequent meeting that we want to reverse the trend of privatizing,” said Councilmember Ted Winterer. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Councilmember Gleam Davis amended City Hall’s recommendation, requiring city officials to come back with an update on this contract before extending it.
The third contract, for BBB detailing services, was approved unanimously. Detailing, an eight-hour process of deep cleaning that buses undergo two to three times a year, has always been done in-house, said BBB’s Director of Transit Services Ed King.
About five in-house employees could complete the job, he acknowledged.
Several council members expressed an interest in moving in that direction but acknowledged that it would take time. The previous detailing contract expired on June 30 and the buses haven’t been detailed since.
“Our options here seem to be to have dirty disgusting buses,” McKeown said, ” or to award this contract in the short-term with the understanding that we have a 30 day cancellation possibility.”