What happens when one looks closely, line by line, and sentence by sentence, at a municipal presentation? Last week, I gave an overview of a 12.3.13 presentation on a plan to use Whitewater’s digester to import waste from other cities into Whitewater. Today, I’ll go through that presentation closely, and list questions that anyone would reasonably ask upon hearing it. I’ll list those questions below, and also in a new post entitled Question Bin, where I will store questions that arise throughout this series. Like the Working Bibliography, and the Series Page, a Question Bin will be useful to keep track of information, and useful to craft formal inquires.
(Quick update: I have added a new entry to the Working Bibliography, of Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper’s 5.1.15 City Manager Update in which he mentions a presentation that will likely include waste importation into Whitewater.)
Questions from the 12.3.13 presentation:
1. Whitewater’s Wastewater Superintendent Tim Reel (Reel) mentions surveys [of agricultural interest] for a 2004 proposal for a public-private partnership digester proposal that “never came to fruition.” Does the City of Whitewater have those surveys? Why didn’t that plan come to fruition?
2. Reel mentions a 2010-2011 project with “Green Energy Partners” (known in Whitewater as Green Energy Holdings). Why does Reel say the project was from 2010-2011, when Council actually voted in closed session in June 2012 (with – by municipal accounts – about nine months of behind the scenes work prior)? Does Reel have the dates wrong, or were private conversations going on for a longer period?
3. Reel describes a proposal from Green Energy Partners, rather than Green Energy Holdings, a distinction that, to my knowledge, no one in city government has made. Did Reel always know that these projects from Northern Concrete Construction (NCC) used different names? Did then city manager Brunner and then asst. city manager Clapper also know that NCC used multiple business names in various target cities?
4. If either Reel or others knew that NCC used different names in different cities, “as they were known financially,” then what do they think those financial reasons are?
5. Reel mentions that GEH rented two suites at the Innovation Center. Why doesn’t he mention that the bills were unpaid, and that GEH stiffed the city for rent and furniture costs?
6. What does the selection of the defaulting GEH say about the actual business acumen of Messrs. Brunner, Clapper, Reel, and the Whitewater Community Development Authority?
7. When Reel says that this [waste importation] is a project “after-the-fact,” “separate,” “and standalone” of other wastewater projects, what does that say about the importance of the project? If it’s not integral, but in fact superfluous, what burden of proof should a waste importation project meet?
8. Reel mentions an 11.5.13 meeting (four actually) with stakeholders for the project. Who attended that meeting? Who invited them? Were notes taken?
9. Specifically, who was the liquid waste hauler at the 11.5.13 meeting? Who invited that hauler? Was that hauler previously known to anyone in the city or CDA?
10. Reel mentions a discussion of liquid waste stream volumes took place at the 11.5.13 meeting. Who mentioned that volume? What was that volume?
11. Reel says that digesters are becoming “more commonplace” because one reads as much in the newspapers. What data reliably show what Reel alleges, apart from an unspecific claim about newspapers?
12. Reels says Whitewater is a convenient location for potential waste haulers to dump waste. Which waste haulers, from where, and what kind of waste? Where do they dump now?
13. Reel mentions an agreement with Trane about an energy-savings performance contract. How did that project go?
14. Reel says a waste importation program would not require a rate increase (would have no net cost). Does he still contend as much?
15. At this time (12.3.13), Reel contends Trane would guarantee savings. Does he still contend that Trane, or any other vendor, would guarantee a result or pay the city in compensation for under-performance for waste importation?
16. What’s Trane’s relationship to the digester, or even the city, now?
17. Reel mentions Black & Veatch (B&V) as a possible subcontractor to Trane. Are they still involved? Reel invited B&V to participate. What’s Reel’s relationship, if any, to B&V? How did he learn about them?
18. Why does it seem to impress Reel that B&V would have someone connected to performance contacts?
19. What is the availability and diversity of outside waste to be imported to Whitewater?
20. Reel mentions that despite possible corporate guarantees, the City of Whitewater would be responsible for finding and securing waste to be imported to Whitewater. If Whitewater has to secure waste from other cities, and would be responsible for any failure to secure, how comprehensive is a corporate guarantee for energy performance?
21. Reel mentions other places that use digesters. Why does he think they are like Whitewater’s situation? Are they like Whitewater? Why doesn’t he show how they are alike, if they truly are?
22. What’s high-strength waste?
23. Why does Reel think engineering firms want a deal with Whitewater? He says it’s because they see viability in a project, but these firms don’t guarantee availability of supply.
24. City Manager Clapper mentions that corporations guarantee savings, but Reel says these corporations don’t secure supply. So why does Clapper think there’s a meaningful corporate guarantee if the city has a burden for supply?
25. City Manager Clapper mentions industrial strength waste. What does he think that would entail?
26. Reel admits that the city still has a volume of supply risk. So who in the city would be responsible for supply? Would that person have the resources to indemnify the city? That is, could Reel or Clapper personally indemnify Whitewater for failure to deliver so-called adequate amounts of waste. Would anyone at the CDA be able to do so?
27. Could Reel or Clapper personally indemnify Whitewater and all her residents for any health or environmental damage from waste imported into the city?
28. Reel says he has had conversations with waste haulers, and those haulers could guarantee a volume, but not as much as the contractors would like. How much less?
29. Who were the waste haulers to whom Reel spoke? How did he learn of them? What is his relationship to them? Did anyone in the city or CDA assist Reel in these contacts?
30. City Manager Clapper mentions the he would, along with Reel and “Chris” [Asst. City Mgr. Chris O’Donell], personally make contact with waste haulers. How did those discussions go?
31. To whom did Messrs. Clapper, Reel, and O’Donell subsequently speak about waste importing into Whitewater? How many meetings have they had, with whom, and were any notes or records made?
32. Councilmember Ken Kidd mentions that Reel has talked to him (Kidd) personally and he (Reel) is more excited in those situations than when the “cameras are rolling.” How many side conversations by 12.3.13 had Reel had with Council members? How many has he had since? How did he contact members of the Council, in what settings, and were any notes taken?
33. What does it say about Reel that by Councilmember Kidd’s account he, Reel, takes a different approach when not at a public meeting?
Original Council Common Presentation, 12.3.13
Full Council Video https://vimeo.com/81042136
WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, 5.12.15: Fifteen Months Later, at the School Board. (I’ll add another post in WGTB this week, jumping ahead in the story by fifteen months to discuss a more recent municipal presentation on waste importation.)