Selling Out Workers and Taxpayers Isn’t Corruption, Just Politics

Former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, his chief budget aide Joe Guerra, and a garbage company have been on trial in California for their part in “negotiating a deal with Norcal Waste Systems Inc. for San Jose’s trash-hauling contract. They were accused of secretly agreeing to give Norcal an additional $11.25 million in public money in exchange for the company having its recycling subcontractor, California Waste Solutions, switch to the Teamsters union and pay employees more.”

The case originated in the 2000 contract negotiations between Gonzales and Norcal for garbage pickup and recycling services. Prosecutors accused Gonzales of promising to use city money to cover pay raises for the firm’s workers without informing the City Council of the arrangement if Norcal allowed the Teamsters union to represent workers at its recycling subcontractor.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, even though the basic facts appear to be correct, Superior Court Judge John Herlihy decided that prosecutors have “mistaken ordinary political back-scratching for bribery.”

In dismissing the corruption charges against Gonzalez, Judge Herlihy wrote, “This is not bribery. This is politics.”

There is only one way to read this decision. In California, selling out workers and taxpayers isn’t corruption, just politics.