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Morning Report: Would-Be MTS Contractor’s Record Isn’t Spotless

A transit officer at the La Mesa trolley station / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

The Metropolitan Transit System is poised to move forward with a private security contract with a company boasting a stellar record of avoiding use-of-force incidents, one of its latest bids to transition away from a historically punitive enforcement approach.

But as Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt discovered, security contractor Inter-Con Security Systems may not have the spotless record it has touted [1] as it vies to replace longtime MTS contractor Allied Universal.

MTS’s security force is made up of code compliance officers who enforce fare violations and quality-of-life offenses and contracted security guards, some of whom are armed. After calls for reforms, MTS officials are proposing that the agency’s board move forward with an up to $66 million, five-year contract with Inter-Con, which has pledged to focus more on retaining and training its guards and improving interactions with riders. The company also has contracts with Houston’s transit system, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Yet Allied Universal, which sent formal protest letters to MTS after Inter-Con was selected in a procurement process, pointed to several past lawsuits that Inter-Con was named in that it claimed involved use of force.

In response to that criticism and questions from VOSD about those cases, Inter-Con has qualified its record while still maintaining that its track record is “best-in-class within the industry.”

People’s Ordinance Complicates Efforts to Follow New Recycling Law

The city is set to spend about $30 million to allow residents to recycle food scraps in compliance with a new state law. The Union-Tribune reports that the city expects to buy about 250,000 green recycling bins [2] and kitchen pails so it can follow organics recycling law SB 1383.

But as the U-T notes, the city can’t pass along all those costs in the form of increased trash bills as cities elsewhere are poised to do, thanks to the People’s Ordinance, which requires the city to pick up trash at most single-family homes without a special fee. The controversial policy means the city doesn’t have funds other municipalities count on to pay for things like public safety and infrastructure – and has now left the city picking up a new tab.

Lisa Halverstadt revealed earlier this year that City Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera, who chairs the City Council’s environment committee, wants to trash [3] that ordinance. He plans to have the committee take up the issue later this year and consider a ballot measure among other options to nix the law.

News Roundup

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.