OAKLAND -- The company that lost out on Oakland's $1 billion garbage and recycling contract last week has issued a formal protest and could wind up taking the city to court.

In a three-page letter to Mayor Jean Quan on Wednesday, Waste Management of Alameda County President Barry Skolnick charged that the city violated its own contracting rules when it awarded the lucrative franchise agreement to California Waste Solutions.

Skolnick wrote that the city allowed the winning firm to twice change its bid and take on a new partner, Republic Services, after the submission deadline.

The abandonment of the procurement process, Skolnick wrote, is "contrary to the law and unfair to the only proposer who chose to follow the rules."

Skolnick also wrote that the city violated state environmental law by failing to analyze the impacts from California Waste Solutions plan to build a temporary garbage transfer station on contaminated public land.

The Houston-based company has held Oakland's garbage contract for decades. Council members voted unanimously last week to switch to Oakland-based California Waste Solutions over the objection of city staffers who questioned whether the company would be ready to do the job when the contract starts next year.

California Waste Solutions was the low-bidder. A second vote finalizing the contract is scheduled for Wednesday.


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City Administrator Henry Gardner said he couldn't comment on any potential litigation, but said he was working on addressing the claims made in Skolnick's letter. "I need to review it in much greater detail, and go back and examine our record," he said.