Status Report

Regular readers (all 3 of you) know that I have been trying for a while to obtain documents evidencing and supporting the City's proposed venture into electricity generation. On Monday morning, January 22, 2007, I hand delivered a letter to Coleen Balzarini, the Executive Director of Electric City Power. In that letter I requested production of certain documents. Shortly after the letter was delivered, my paralegal received a call from Jordan Love, the "Administrative Officer" for ECP, inquiring about what we wanted. She referred him to the letter.

I hadn't received the documents so yesterday, in response to a piece on Firefly's website, I posted a piece asking where our Mayor, Dona Stebbins had been on this whole issue. She promptly responded with a promise to help me get the information I seek.

I received an email from Mayor Stebbins today indicating that the City Manager would like to set up a time to meet so that he could answer my questions about Electric City Power. I responded that I thought any meeting would be premature since I have not reviewed the relevant documents. Until I have a chance to see the binding legal documents, I cannot formulate in intelligent line of inquiry; any questions would be a shot in the dark. I identified for Mayor Stebbins what documents I believed I would need to see in the short term although ultimately, I would like to examine all of the relevant documents. For now, I would like to start with the following:

Electric City Power Articles of Incorporation.

Electric City Power resolutions, if any, and agreements, if any, between it and any other persons or entities.

The feasibility study referred to in the November 4, 2003, Agenda Report.

The document or documents that evidence Electric City Power (or the City's) ownership of and/or joint venture with SME. This would include, I think, any stock purchase or other equity purchase agreements and/or any joint venture agreements, and any other agreement or document that evidences or obligates ECP or the City to contribute additional sums.

Mayor Stebbins made inquiry on my (our) behalf, and let me know that our City Clerk, Peggy Bourne, planned to "pull the documents together in the next couple days and have them delivered to [me] no later than Tuesday afternoon." (This is a quote from Ms. Bourne, not Mayor Stebbins. "Tuesday afternoon" would be January 30, 2007.) Now mind you, we had originally been assured on December 14, 2006, that these documents would be forthcoming.

I responded to Mayor Stebbins as follows:

Again, thank you for your help on this. I hope you know me well enough to know that I am not trying to be intentionally difficult on this matter, but I am extremely frustrated and, frankly, suspicious of staff's handling of this entire matter. Between you, me, and the fencepost, Dona, I think something's up. I don't know if the documents are missing, or don't exist, or what, but I have been practicing law for almost 20 years and during that time have spent countless hours trying to obtain evidence. A response like I have received in this case suggests that something is amiss.

We were initially assured on December 14, 2006, that these documents would be provided. The woman in Ms. Balzarini's office said she would have to 'gather up' these documents and get them to us, and that she would do so. A month later, we had heard nothing.

I hand-delivered a letter to Ms. Balzarini on Monday morning, January 22, 2007, seeking these documents. Before noon on that date Jordan Love, the "Administrative Officer" for Electric City Power contacted us to find out what documents we wanted. My paralegal directed him to the letter we had just hand-delivered to his Executive Director, and she had the clear impression he would get them to us. Then, nothing, until you intervened.

Now we are told that Peggy Bourne, the City Clerk, (whose job is the "creation, maintenance and preservation of public records.") needs to "pull together" the documents and it will take five days to do so.

With all due respect to the City Staff, doesn't the City use files? All this gathering and pulling together, coupled with the month-long delay, seems very unusual to me. If one were to ask me to produce the contract on a particular transaction, I would walk to my filing cabinet, pull out the file, make a copy, and be done. In fact, I do that very thing on almost a daily basis.

How is it, then, on a transaction that will ultimately involve over a hundred million dollars, the various transaction documents seem scattered to the four winds. Did
no one anticipate that the public might wish to examine them?

I am certainly mindful of the fact that City Staff does not exist to do my bidding, although it does exist to serve the public. I have met Peggy Bourne, and I know
she works hard. I never intended that anyone drop everything to get me what I want.

That being said, it's been well over a month and, from the appearance of it, no one has done a GD thing so far. (Sorry about that) Am I going to file a lawsuit if I don't have the documents by tomorrow? No. But I think this is total B.S. Our patience is wearing thin.

I am sorry to be harsh to you. I know you are only trying to help. I know that you are one person at the City who knows exactly how I feel from having been in my position.

I received a response from our Mayor this evening assuring me that she will work with me to get my hands on these documents as soon as possible (I do not feel comfortable posting an email message I received from someone without their permission, permission I do not have.)

I will say this, though: While I do not have the documents yet, I am convinced that Mayor Stebbins is sincere and will work to help me obtain them. I appreciate her hard work because I know she has many more important things to do than to assist a citizen with what should be a minor, simple issue of obtaining public records.

Thank you, Mayor. And for the rest of you, I will keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

One question I have is:

Why did they repeal the citizen right to vote AFTER they approved and moved forward on the coal plant and was that legal?

See GF Trib: Aug 20, 2006

"The city approved a nonvote general obligation debt for the power operation, Balzarinini said. That debt simply becomes part of the city's budget, and the city can't levy mills for it. The bonds would not increase taxes. "

GeeGuy said...

I have to tell you, I believe in starting at the beginning. I have not even made it to the finance part yet, let alone this whole voting issue.

For now, I just want to find out how this deal is actually structured.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, (CCE) Citizens for Clean Energy has been asking these questions and more for the past year with the same silence or incomplete responses from all parties concerned!