13 June 2007

San Jose Justice

Gonzales and his chief budget aide, Joe Guerra, were indicted June 21 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 Teamsters had contributed to Gonzales' political campaigns. Prosecutors conceded that the former mayor had not received any money from the union because of the garbage deal, but argued that he was guilty of taking a bribe by brokering a deal for "indirect future advantage." "This is not bribery," the judge wrote. "This is politics." "It's a wonderful day for me, my staff, my family," Gonzales said when reached by phone. "I feel like the judge's decision does in fact vindicate me, and that was the feeling I felt all along."