Heated exchange over contract for trash in Chinatown unfolds in City Council: ‘This is my solution to an immediate crisis’

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FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — A heated exchange took place in City Hall between City Council Members on Thursday after they discussed City Council President Miguel Arias’ move to award a contract of taxpayer money to an outside vendor to clean up Chinatown.

City Councilman Garry Bredefeld called the process “corrupt,” because Arias didn’t go through the bidding process.

City Clerk Wilma Quan said it should have been put out to bid and that the cleanup is something the city could do at a lower cost.

“I believe that it should have either been put out to bid or this is something that we should have done internally through the department of public utilities,” Quan said.

Originally, the contract with Olympic Property Services was to not exceed $250,000, but Arias changed it during the meeting to it not to exceed $143,000.

Arias said he’s been waiting for city staff to clean up Chinatown for 18 months.

“This is my solution to address an immediate crisis in Chinatown,” he said.

Olympic Property Services is owned by political analyst Jim Verros.

Arias said this has nothing to do with politics and the reason the vendor was chosen is because they’re also the vendor for high-speed rail.

“It makes sense to hire the same contractor who is cleaning up the parcel across the street to clean up the sidewalk on this side of the street. Because when that doesn’t happen, the pile of garbage continues to grow and higher and higher,” he said.

He added that the garbage is a fire hazard.

The proposal passed 6-1, with Bredefeld voting no.

Arias said the contract has a 6-month pilot, adding that if the city is prepared in that time period to bring it in-house, they’ll bring it in-house.

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