Whitewater’s Common Council Votes to Fund a Vendor Study

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 9 in a series.

Whitewater’s Common Council Votes to Fund a Vendor Study from John Adams on Vimeo.

In this post, I’ll look at the Council’s decision to pay Trane at least $70,000, and up to approximately $150,000, so that Trane could fund its own feasibility study of a digester energy project for Whitewater.

(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. 91.)

I’ve been asked two questions that I’ll answer before beginning. First, the questions in the series have a unique number so that I or others may refer to them, specifically. That’s useful to me for compiling formal requests to the city, derived from this series of posts, and organizing a later, composite work in a different form.

Second, the video clips to which I am referring in these posts are longer than the more concise, quoted segments that I will use in a short-form video account. Some of the claims these gentlemen have made are, to say the least, noteworthy. Later in the series, but before a finished work, I will begin to use shorter clips to illustrate & highlight specific claims that vendors, City Manager Clapper, Wastewater Superintendent Reel, or others have made.

91. Wastewater Superintendent Reel (Reel) contends that the purpose of the project is to realize energy savings. At the Council meeting prior, Black & Veatch’s representative contended that the principal economic gain of the project is tipping fees (that is, money waste haulers pay to truck and dump other cities’ unwanted waste into Whitewater). (See, Question Bin, No. 85.) Shouldn’t Reel concede that the principal plan is a dumping plan? Isn’t calling it an energy savings plan simply a way to latch onto a more favorable-sounding public-relations pitch?

92. Reel says that dealing with ‘biosolids’ has been added to the feasibility study (rather than just liquids) for ‘clarification.’ Why was that entire portion – omitted in a prior draft of the deal? Does Reel think that solids from a digester are a minor matter? What does this say about the thoroughness of the draft agreement developed weeks earlier?

93. Reel says that “this opportunity” came on us “pretty quickly.” Why does Reel think that the opportunity arrived quickly? If so, how did it arrive so quickly?

94. Doesn’t Reel’s own 12.3.13 presentation to Council, listing previous, failed iterations of this same idea, show that there’s nothing that’s been quick or need be urgent about this?

95. Reel confirms that he met with a larger waste hauler (that would dump waste into Whitewater’s digester from other cities that didn’t want it) on 1.29.14. Who was that waste hauler? Why doesn’t he mention that waste hauler’s name?

96. How can residents of the city properly evaluate the project if a city bureaucrat withholds the waste hauler’s name? Is part of Whitewater’s fiscal, economic, and environmental future to be shaped by a single wastewater superintendent’s lack of candor top the very public that pays his compensation?

97. Reel says that the unnamed waste hauler with whom he spoke hauls one-hundred million (100,000,000) gallons of waste per year. How much of that would Reel want directed to Whitewater?

98. Reel says that Whitewater is within the “geographic range” of that waste hauler. What’s that range? Why doesn’t Reel say? Where does that hauler get its waste? Why doesn’t Reel say?

99. Reel also says he received another letter of interest, from another waste hauler. Again, why won’t he speak that waste hauler’s name? Does Reel believe he owes a duty of confidentiality to the waste hauler? If he does, then does he believe that duty of confidentiality to a large commercial business trump a duty of candor to Whitewater’s residents?

100. Reel contends that he is not sure that, if Whitewater does not proceed now, it would have the same level of supposed expertise it has now (Trane, Black & Veatch, Donohue). Why does he think that, that is, if this project should be so valuable by his account, why could Whitewater not find capable vendors at a later time?

101. Reel says a possible discrepancy between parts of the draft agreement in question is “just a language thing.” What does that response say about Reel’s understanding of, and respect for, large-sum contractual agreements?

102. What is Reel’s background, if any, in negotiating large-sum contracts previously?

103. How is it that Trane’s representative (“Rachel”), who Reel claims was responsible for the document of agreement, admits that there was a typo only after someone on Council points it out to her? How is it that she doesn’t even know whether the agreement would allow Whitewater to see preliminary study data before deciding whether to proceed with a second phase of the study?

104. Watching Rachel’s responses, can anyone have confidence in her ability?

105. Why would anyone accept Reel’s assurance that the city will get information apart from the actual agreement language on which the city is voting?

106. Reel contends that there are projects like this in other cities. Why does he not show how his project is similar to the other places that he mentions?

107. Councilmember Dr. Ken Kidd contends that “clearly it is better to be early in the game than late in the game.” Why does he think so (that is, why does he think that it is – clearly – better to be an early adopter on a proposal with fiscal, economic, and environmental impact)?

Original Common Council Discussion, 2.4.14