Post 16 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.
To see the direction a project takes, and the momentum it builds internally, a clip from Whitewater’s 6.2.15 council meeting serves well.
Throughout my posts, one will find there are dozens of moments like this, brief exchanges or comments that illustrate something more. In the clip above, Councilmember Ken Kidd expresses impatience with a proposal for an independent study of the recommendation of Whitewater’s current engineering vendor, Donohue:
So then are we going to have a third independent if there’s a [laughter]…are we going to break the tie if there’s not agreement?….We worked really hard to choose somebody we trusted, and then we’re going to say Cameron go find some guy that’ll come in and are we going to trust that person? I mean, it would be nice if somebody with credentials comes in and says, ‘this is the best plan I’ve ever seen’ and that’ll be easy. But if he doesn’t, then I think we have to at least think about what’s our next step. Then are we going to engage an alternative engineering firm?
Small segments will prove useful for a separate written and separate video documentary about this project. Everything so far is just a collection of notes and questions toward that goal.
Here, Dr. Kidd confuses the difference between a third-party study and a truly independent study. Trane or Donohue have certainly been third-party consultants, but they are not independent of financial gain in the outcome. Each has had a greater financial gain in approval over rejection.
A genuinely independent review would have been conducted for a set price, without the prospect of additional gain for the reviewer following a decision on the project. Neither Trane nor Donohue have conducted that sort of study. (There’s much more to say about the actual scope of their studies, as the city administration has dictated that scope.)
(In his time on Council, Dr. Kidd has yet to see a truly independent engineering study for Whitewater on waste importation. An earlier Strand study is worth considering, but it was before Dr. Kidd’s incumbency, and offers a very mixed picture for waste importation, so those enthusiastic for the project are presumably less inclined to consider it. That, too, is a subject for another day.)
Donohue, Trane, and Black & Veatch were likely part of waste-importation discussions from at least 11.5.13.
It was Dr. Kidd’s political decision and judgment to support not just Donohue (now) but also Trane (previously). Looking at the Trane presentations, and knowing that there’s still more to discuss about how Trane’s relationship developed, it’s fair to consider his present confidence in light of his past support.
Ken Kidd was party to conversations with Wastewater Superintendent Tim Reel about waste importation even before Reel’s 12.3.13 presentation, and he [Councilmember Kidd] mentioned on 12.3.13 that Reel has talked to him (Kidd) personally and he (Reel) is more excited in those situations than when the ‘cameras are rolling.’
Dr. Kidd declared, on 2.14.14 and before any ‘study’ results from Trane or Donohue were completed, that concerning the importation of waste from other cities into Whitewater, “clearly it is better to be early in the game than late in the game.”
Dr. Kidd ventured his support before any of these reports were in; it’s hard to see how could be part of any group that put in ‘hard work.’ There’s no published information that he’s put in any work at all on the waste importation project, other than offer enthusiastic public words of support, and conduct at least one (perhaps more) off-camera conversation with Reel or others. If he’s done more on this use of the digester, then the city should publish his additional work.
Original Common Council Discussion, 6.2.15
WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.