RW Beck Study-Part 1: Open Government

City Manager John Lawton received the Review of the Proposed Highwood Generating Station from the City's consultant, R.W. Beck, Inc. Thereafter, on March 2, 2007, he was "pleased to present" it to the Mayor and City Commission.

He describes the Review as analogous to a financial audit. R.W. Beck did not create all the design and feasibility work done to date, it merely reviewed portions of that work and compared it to its own benchmarks and/or assumptions. Manager Lawton was careful to add the following:

[J]ust as the City’s financial auditors review confidential personnel records, Beck’s study reviewed a large amount of Southern Montana Electric’s proprietary, confidential information in their analysis. This confidential information was used in the study, but will not be generally available.
Regular readers know that SME has already "declined" to provide me with basic organizational, management and financial information. Any hopes we may have had of gleaning this information from the Beck study have now been dashed.

This is also significant because, as will be seen in later postings to come on this subject, some of the conclusions of R.W. Beck are based upon SME's representations about their own projections or calculations. Thus, City of Great Falls taxpayers are a 25% shareholder in an entity that assures its 'auditor' (Manager Lawton's word, not mine) that certain matters have been appropriately considered. The taxpayer/owners, though, are not entitled to know just what that information is; I guess we are supposed to trust them.

Why so secretive?

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