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Roseville supes opponents Duran, Rockholm raise election stink over trash contractor donation charge

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County Supervisor Rocky Rockholm and challenger Jack Duran are warring in a late-election tilt over contributions from the umbrella company that operates the county’s Materials Recovery Facility. Duran called on Rockholm Wednesday to return what he said are $25,000 in campaign contributions received from Norcal Waste and its affiliate Nortech Waste LLC since 2004. Rockholm is countering, accusing his opponent of a smear campaign based on “half truths” and “outrageous accusations.” Election Day is Tuesday. “He even uses words like ‘corruption’ and ‘bribery’ in his latest hit piece, which insinuates wrongdoing where there was none in the awarding of the county’s waste-management contract six years ago,” Rockholm said. As a city of Roseville representative, Rockholm was chairman of the Western Placer Waste Management Authority in 2004, when the board voted 5-0 to award Nortech the contract to operate the Lincoln-area garbage disposal and recycling facility. The contract is up for renewal in 2012. Duran, who is attempting to unseat Rockholm after one term as District 1 supervisor, issued a statement Wednesday demanding the incumbent give back what the $25,000. Duran’s campaign said Norcal Waste, now known as Recology, has a “checkered past” that includes a 1999 conviction of a Norcal executive and consultant for bribing public officials in San Bernardino County and implication in a 2006 bribery scandal involving the former mayor of San Jose. “Rockholm’s relationship with Norcal Waste and Nortech Waste symbolizes a pattern of poor judgment he has exhibited throughout his scandal-riddled term as supervisor,” Duran said. Rockholm is firing back, describing the allegations and demand to return the campaign donations as a “crock of baloney.” “As a retired veteran police officer who spent my career combating wrongdoing, I am offended by his words but I won’t strike back with negative campaigning,” Rockholm said. “I will defend my honor and that of the four other elected public officials who voted for the highly efficient waste-management operation other jurisdictions are trying to emulate.” Duran said the first of 14 Norcal/Nortech/Recology contributions came one month before Rockholm voted in favor of the $125 million county contract. The second one – for $5,000 – came a month before the start of Nortech’s contract with Placer County and a month after Rockholm announced he was running for the Board of Supervisors. “Norcal and Nortech money has continued to flow into Rockholm’s campaign coffers ever since,” the Duran campaign stated. Rockholm said Duran doesn’t have “a shred of evidence” that something wrong occurred “other than what resides in his fertile political imagination.” “His wild accusations against me and other honorable elected representatives from Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin are completely baseless, without any foundation,” Rockholm said. Rockholm added that he was putting his faith in the intelligence of voters and their ability to “recognize garbage when they see it.” Duran said the issue is a simple matter of right and wrong. “It’s time to stop pay-to-play politics as usual in Placer County government and time to start putting taxpayers first,” Duran said.