Post 35 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.
In this post, I’ll consider the Donohue firm’s second public presentation to Whitewater on a wastewater upgrade.
(Every question in this series has a unique number, assigned chronologically based on when it was asked. All the questions from When Green Turns Brown can be found in the Question Bin. Today’s questions begin with No. 205.)
205. The twenty-five minute presentation begins with mention that it will be for approval of a contract with Donohue. Why presume approval?
206. Donohue representative Mike Gerbitz mentions the forty-five-minute 6.17.14 presentation to Council (the only other one Donohue had yet made to the full Council) as “lengthy.” Is forty-five minutes for a plan that would cost $18.6 million really lengthy? Doesn’t it seem short, in fact?
207. At the 6.17.14 presentation, Gerbitz, Wastewater Superintendent Reel, or City Manager Clapper spoke for over 41 minutes of a 45 minute Donohue presentation. How is less than four minutes of Council discussion due diligence for an initial public presentation? (Even then, wasn’t part of that four minutes occupied with observations from a resident, rather than a questions from Council?)
208. The whole presentation on 7.15.14 is 25 minutes, but aren’t 15 of those minutes just a rehash of the earlier, 6.17.14 presentation?
209. Gerbitz mentions that the digester complex is a separate project (presumably at this point under the aegis of Trane). Later in this same discussion, Gerbitz says that there have been – by his account – three meetings with Donohue, Trane, Black & Veatch, and city officials about the digester. So how separate has the digester project really been, up through 7.15.14?
210. Ken Kidd, councilman-physician, is one of the few people to speak, and declares (regarding the digester) that “you guys play well.” Is that Dr. Kidd’s level of oversight, to observe that others play well? (Hasn’t Kidd, after all, has been a digester-project supporter from at least the earliest moments of public discussion?)
211. Gerbitz tells Council at this 7.15.14 meeting that a plan based on their approval will be submitted to state officials “next week.” What does this say about Gerbitz’s presumption about approval? What does it say about the full Council’s role as an inquisitive, diligent, thorough point of review?
(Gerbitz mentions during the meeting, where his firm is looking to have a million-dollar contract approved, that Donohue has already started with design. Council awards Donohue a $1.168 million contract at this meeting.)
212. Gerbitz tells Council that he’ll not bother them with details or line-items about the project. Does he think those details are insignificant, or does he think that those details are either insignificant or uninteresting to Whitewater’s Common Council?
213. How unimportant are those details, after all? Would Gerbitz be willing to delete or ignore some of them in his planning? That seems unlikely; so why would he presume that they’re unimportant to Council?
214. One knows from City Manager Clapper’s remarks on 6.23.15 that two councilpersons played a role in selecting Donohue. Did a smaller group than the whole of Council play a role in selecting Trane? If so, which ones?
215. How often did that smaller number meet with Trane, Donohue, or Black & Veatch by the time of this meeting? Did anyone take notes?
216. If Whitewater had the choice between removing phosphorous or paying a set amount for its continued presence, which would be the superior option for health and the environment? Gerbitz describes city officials as preferring the least-expensive choice. Are either City Manager Clapper or Wastewater Superintendent Reel qualified to determine which choice is better as a matter of health and safety?
Next: Beginning tomorrow, and continuing for several posts, The Council Discussion of 12.16.14.
WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.