Ignacio De La Fuente served 20 years on the Oakland City Council, but he didn't last five months on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

Committee members booted him Wednesday for never attending a meeting after voters elected him to the post last year.

De La Fuente didn't even attend his swearing-in ceremony in January. "Clearly, he didn't want to be bothered," committee member Pamela Drake said.

De La Fuente, who lost a bid for a sixth term on the council last year, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Central committees make endorsements in nonpartisan races and raise money for Democratic candidates -- giving them varying degrees of influence in counties throughout the state.

De La Fuente had formed a slate of candidates to run in Oakland. But while he was the overall top vote-getter, the rest of his slate lost, leaving him with few allies on the committee.

Even though De La Fuente was elected by popular vote, committee members said they could remove him for violating the rule that members cannot miss more than three consecutive meetings without an excuse.

Drake said the committee had notified De La Fuente that he was at risk of losing his seat, but got no response. Replacing De La Fuente on the committee is Alameda County school board member Marlon McWilson.

Newark switching sanitation companies

Starting June 1, the city of Newark will switch sanitation companies and begin contracting with Republic Services for garbage pickup.

Wait, didn't labor problems force Republic Services to cancel garbage pickup twice last month in Fremont and Union City? Yep, same company. But Newark officials say the city's contract with Republic Services includes financial penalties if there are work stoppages after the first three months of service.

The city can charge Republic Services as much as $50 per missed pickup, said Susie Woodstock, Newark's administrative services director. The sanitation company will have nearly 9,600 residential Newark accounts, and the company is allowed to miss no more than six homes per day. Once informed of a missed pickup, Republic Services has 24 hours to collect the trash and recyclables, she said.

Last month, the Teamsters union called for one- and two-day strikes in Fremont and Union City, in support of striking workers at an Ohio landfill owned by Republic Services (the parent company of Allied Waste).

Newark was not affected because Waste Management is handling its garbage pickup until May 31. So, why not just stay with that sanitation company? First, Waste Management has endured labor issues similar to those of Republic Services, Woodstock said. "I'm not sure we can get away completely from labor issues; it kind of comes with the territory," she said. "Each company works with them the best they can."

Secondly, the city chose Republic Services because its submitted bid was lower than Waste Management's, she said.

Republic's monthly rate for residential pickup will be $27.72, an increase of nearly 3 percent from last year, Newark officials said. For most businesses, weekly pickups are expected to cost about $297 for a 600-gallon bin, a hike of about 6 percent. Businesses whose pickup costs rise higher than 6 percent are encouraged to contact Republic Services to find out how to lower their rates, Woodstock said.

For more information, residents can call 510-657-3500 or go to RepublicServicesAC.com.