Council members delay passage of recycling deal amid questions

A controversial $48 million recycling contract did not get a vote Wednesday after tough questions were raised by council members over how the city chose the vendor in the contract.

The 15-year deal was set to be voted on by the council, but was held back after a contentious discussion between council members and the mayor, who supports the deal.

Today's discussion follows a four-hour hearing Tuesday where serious questions about the selection were raised.

Mayor Sylvester Turner strongly pushed back on the issues raised.

"If it doesn't pass my standard, I will toss it and start anew," Turner said. "I am not going to toss this."

Council members wanted clarity on how a selection committee scored the vendors who submitted bids to provide recycling to the city.

"It smells, it stinks, it's rotten," council member Dave Martin said, echoing comments from Tuesday's session.

Martin points to a matrix where the city scored four companies who submitted bids.

"The winning company came in last in three of the nine categories," Martin said. "They won in one category: price. But on operations? Dead last."

Martin wanted to know how Fomento De Construcciones Y Contratas, the winning company, scored 50 percent higher than the nearest competitor when he said the difference in pricing was separated by a small margin.

The city was comparing apples and oranges in its presentation to council members, said council member Greg Travis.

Travis suggested the numbers didn't fit the actual submitted bids and the way the request for proposals was written was favorable to FCC.

Among other issues raised by council members: the length of the deal, comparisons with the deal FCC has with Dallas, why city land isn't being used for the process, a "Hire Houston First" credit, whether or not city staff responded to requests for information and why council members were asked to sign a secrecy deal before getting to look at information related to the contract.

"It will be my recommendation we reject this RFP," council member Mike Knox said. "I think we can do better. I know we can do better."

Mayor Turner said that won't happen.

Council members held the issue for one week. Barring any changes or the mayor removing the item, it will appear on the agenda again July 26.

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