January 26, 2014

PUBLIC FORUM: Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014

Asking board to stepup to the plate

An open letter to the Logansport Utility Service Board:

Please consider your power and your duty.

You have power. The City administration cannot abolish the Utility Service Board. The Board can only be abolished by a public referendum. I.C. 8-1.5-3-3 (g) Your Board relationship with the City Council is controlled by law. You are only required to submit a budget and recommend reasonable rates to the City Council. Otherwise, all utility matters are your exclusive business, including the award of contracts for “purposes that are necessary for the full and efficient construction, management, and operation of each utility.” I.C. 8-1.5-3-4. That is your duty. You did the unusual act of relinquishing your duty for one year. I am asking you to exercise your power and do your duty.

When you authorized the Memorandum of Understanding that Mayor Franklin could negotiate a public-private partnership with Pyrolyzer LLC, you handed over your duty to set electric policy. You limited that handover specifically for the duration of the RFP (Request for Proposals) process.

Remember how Franklin, Pyrolyzer and your own lawyer have strictly enforced your one-year handover of your duty. Remember the flurry of letters designed to keep you out of negotiations. It would be a mistake to choose to entangle yourselves further with the Mayor and his Council, but that is what the City’s amendment to Ordinance 2013-47 attempts to do.

You will recall that at your last meeting, December 2013, with your handover ready to expire, Franklin told you that he sought an extension at least until April. His City Council had already passed an ordinance for such an extension on first reading.

On January 3, 2014, at the last minute, Franklin changed what he had told you. What started as the ordinance for an extension was amended to include 1) an admission that there are no contracts to award pursuant to your RFP, and 2) an attempt to broaden the scope of what your RFP advertised. As to the first point: If there is no public-private agreement between the City and Pyrolyzer, then, according to the law and your RFP, the RFP process is terminated. That means that your temporary handover of your duty is also terminated. As to the second point: The scope of the RFP process cannot be broader than what you advertised. And look at what that broader scope is. The City Council’s amended ordinance says that you are handing over your duty with no time limit. But, as we have seen, the city administration does not have that power unless you hand it over again.

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