D.A. investigates possible conflict of interest for councilman

By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

INGLEWOOD — The Los Angeles County District Attorney is reviewing a complaint that a member of the City Council has a possible conflict of interest related to the city’s trash contract.

The D.A.’s Public Integrity Division is reviewing the complaint, which alleges Councilman Eloy Morales is possibly in violation of Government Code 1090 for reporting income received from a subsidiary of Consolidated Disposal/Republic Services, which has held a trash contract with the city since 2012, assistant head deputy Bjorn Dodd confirmed Nov. 16.

At the Nov. 14 City Council meeting, Morales made a motion to increase trash pickup costs to accommodate service time changes he lobbied for earlier this year.

Councilwoman Gloria Gray asked city staff to provide information on the proposed rate increases but Mayor James T. Butts Jr. interjected to provide an answer alluding to the special rate adjustment request being at the behest of council members.

“The first increase is produced by the federal government as applied by the [consumer price index] and happens every year and the special rate for the new time window which is what Councilmen [Eloy] Morales and [Alex] Padilla lobbied for and it covers the cost of doing business of picking up trash in a shorter time window as well as amortization of new signage in the city,” Butts said.

The first rate increase took effect March 21, which included the special rate adjustment. Morales made the motion to increase the rate with Councilwoman Dionne Faulk providing the second. Minues from the March 21 meeting indicate that Padilla was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

Morales made the motion to increase the trash rates Nov. 14, with Faulk again seconding.

Morales previously reported making at least $10,000 from Pacific Waste and Recycling, which is owned by Consolidated/Republic.

The possible conflicts were first reported in 2017 which pointed out Morales was a paid consultant of a company owned by Consolidated/Republic Services, Pacific Coast Waste, but he stopped reporting the income on his annual statement of economic interest form once it became public.

Morales also continues to be listed as a senior strategic advisor with Lee Andrews Group, which has contracts with various public agencies, that overlap with Inglewood.

During the Nov. 14 council meeting, Morales wanted it “on the record” that he disagreed with the new 7 a.m. trash pick up start times stating they were an inconvenience to families needing to get to work and their kids off to school. Residents in Morales’ district reported that despite trash increases being assessed citywide, signage in their neighborhoods are covered in plastic bags.

The D.A.’s office is now charged with determining whether Morales is in violation of Government Code 1090 which has no statue of limitations.

Government Code Section 1090 prohibits an officer, employee or agency from participating in making government contracts in which the official or employee within the agency has a financial interest.

Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at emiliesaintjohn@gmail.com.