City of Houston's recycling deal sparks debate

A Houston man is accusing the city's mayor of killing a recycling deal with his company he says could saved between $25 million to $40 million a year.

HOUSTON - A Houston man is accusing the city’s mayor of killing a recycling deal with his company he says could save between $25 million to $40 million a year.

Now that man is calling for an investigation into possible bid rigging and ethics violations.

George Gitschel, the founder of Eco-Hub, says he’s come up with a technology that could eliminate the need for expensive landfills and free up cash to hire police officers and fill potholes.

He says the city was in final negotiations on the contract when the mayor decided to go with a much more expensive contract with a company out of Spain.

Gitschel says he came up with a patented system to separate recyclables from garbage and lets Houstonians throw both into one bin. But Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner says this was a deal that started under the previous administration.

Turner says when he asked for information on the merits of this deal but was instead simply pressured to sign it, he refused. He also says Eco-Hub never submitted a Request for proposal like five other companies did.

But Gitschel says the way that RFP was written never gave them a fair shot.

“I can’t think of too many employees, people who want to be an employee of City of Houston, who would come to me and say, ‘Mayor, you should have hired me.’ And my question would be, ‘Did you fill out an application?’ and the answer is, ‘No, Mayor, but I’m out here, so find me.’ No,” Turner said.

“It was a 55-page document that had two paragraphs on one bin,” Gitschel said. “There was no evaluation criteria, there’s no scoring criteria, there was a qualification that you had to have an operating plant up and running to even qualify for it so there was no way we could do this.”

Mayor Turner also disputes the claim that a letter he wrote to the University of Houston last year was an endorsement of the “one-bin” idea. Instead, he says showing support for a grant at his alma mater.

Gitschel is also trying to get ahold of emails from the solid waste director but says they’ve been stonewalled.

Keep in mind, this new contract with Spanish company FCC is not a done deal. City Council has to approve it first, which could happen as soon as July 19.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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