City of Austin

On December 8, 2009, TDS sent an email to City of Austin officials and to the Solid Waste Advisory Commission in opposition to City staff's proposal to extend an existing recycling contract with a company called Greenstar. In January 2010, City staff disqualified TDS from submitting a response to the City's Request For Proposal to operate a material recycling facility ("MRF") and to provide other services. City staff had insisted TDS's comments on a separate Greenstar contract issue violated the City's Anti-Lobby Ordinance. The City staff's decision made no logical sense since, at the time of the disqualification, TDS had not even submitted a proposal to the City and was not yet even qualified to be disqualified. The staff's motivation became clear when City staff submitted their own response to their own Request For Proposal, and staff signed its own anti-lobby compliance certification that they would not talk to Council and staff (even themselves) about their RFP response proposal, and after scoring their own proposal favorably. Apparently staff was just trying to eliminate TDS as a competitor. In any event, the City Council threw out all of the proposals and ultimately awarded TDS all of the short term (2 years) recyclables processing services and a minimum of 2,000 tons per month (about 44%) of the long term (20 years) MRF contract.

TDS received a favorable ruling from federal district court judge Lee Yeakel on TDS's challenge to the disqualification, on March 20, 2014 requiring the city to remove the disqualification. City staff filed a request for the courts reconsideration (which was denied), which further demonstrates that the staff's interpretation of the City's Anti-Lobby Ordinance is inconsistent with past enforcement of the ordinance, and we believe constitutes a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. City staff's application of the anti-lobby restriction unreasonably restricts public speech and infringes on the rights of TDS and other citizens to communicate with its governmental representatives, while staff seeks to limit the competitive rights of TDS and other haulers, recyclers and composters within Austin's jurisdiction.

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