Both TV stations were present as well as the Tribune.
Not surprisingly, some citizens who commented were concerned that the study would not be unbiased. This concern is not hard to understand given the less than openness our city has demonstrated in this endeavor.
When a comment was raised about access to the "secret box", they indicated they have gotten everything they have currently asked for. They did not say that they had asked for access to these off limits documents. Mr. Abromaitis said they were more concerned about the future rather than the past.
Many thanks to Mr. Greg Jergeson, chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission, who indicated that "sometimes the past does inform the future". He also mentioned that the PSC has been involved with four contested cases involving ECP and went into some detail about those. He gave the name of the attorneys involved with those cases and indicated that the PSC is interested in helping to facilitate their study and gave them contact info. (As of last night, Mr. Jergeson said the PSC had not yet been contacted by the consultants). As a side note, see here for Mr. Jergeson's opinion regarding HGS and ECP.
I was quoted in the paper as saying "the public never had an opportunity to weigh in on this". This is an accurate quote, but falls short of my other comments. I did not come with prepared remarks, but based upon my recording, here is what I said:
The public never had an opportunity to weigh in on this. So in other words, as a constituent, I and everybody else here in Great Falls never had a chance to say yes, we're in favor of this, no, we're not. So I do understand that you want to move forward and that's what we all want, but I would also like for you to take into consideration, that if we do elect to continue in this endeavor, how can we balance that out with a municipality continuing to do business with a private enterprise, which is SME. Personally, I don't think public entities should be involved with private, just because the rules are different. This is what has contributed to a huge part of our problem and this secret box. It's a big deal, a very big deal. Citizens should never be shut down from access to what their government is doing. And that's what's happened here. In a municipality it should never be the case where citizens just don't know.
And so I ask as you are going through your process, you keep that in mind and how can we reconcile the two, if in fact you do elect to suggest that we continue to go forward with this.
Their report should be completed in about six weeks. It is not their intent that their findings be kept confidential, but did say they can't dictate what their client, the city, will elect to do with their report.