Minutes before midnight Tuesday, City Council members resolved a two-year controversy by unanimously approving a $9.3-million settlement with Orange Resource Recovery Systems and Orange Disposal Services, trash hauling companies owned by the Hambarian family, the city's exclusive hauler for 43 years. The council also approved a 10-year contract with USA Waste of California, also known as Waste Management of Orange.
"This agreement fulfills the city's goals to provide low rates and good service, and it brings a lot of certainty that we wouldn't have if we went to court," said City Atty. David De Berry. The settlement will not preclude criminal prosecution of Jeffery Hambarian later this year, De Berry added. Hambarian, the former vice president of ORRS, is accused of bilking the city out of more than $4 million over a 13-year period.
The Orange County district attorney's office began investigating Hambarian in 1997; the fallout has rocked local politics. "It's been an embarrassment to the city," said Councilman Dan Slater. "And finally, we're moving on."