Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Silence isn't necessarily golden

Regular reader Dick Monahan posted this comment to another post about the city taking 115 Water St. by eminent domain:

And another question. According to the Daily News story, no one told the land owners that the taking was on the agenda last night. If true, that is really dumb. If the land owners appeal, they can drag this thing out for years.

Unfortunately, the Daily News' website seems to be experiencing difficulties, and I can't get to/link to the story Dick references.

All I can say is - it was in the Current that the City Council went into executive session last Wednesday to discuss this matter, and that it would be on the agenda at Monday's meeting. I do not know, however, why the DN did not pick up on it.

I can guess, but I don't know.

Whether or not the City had any obligation to notify the owners, I can't say.


Ari Herzog said...

I wasn't privy to executive session minutes but when I walked out of the room, the only people remaining were city councillors, the city clerk, the mayor, legal counsel, the DPS director and related stakeholders.

If you noted the stakeholders, Gillian, as I did, who do you think they were?

Gillian Swart said...

And the auditor, Julia Godtfredsen, two members of the Sewer Commission, Kent Nichols (who is a contractor), the project manager (ditto) ... Ari, I'm not sure I understand your question ... since I presume it is the ratepayers who will be footing the bill for this, I guess we were "stakeholders." You and I, Bob Cronin and Dawne Shand, that is. We had to leave.

Dan Sweeney said...

The process of 'taking' is required at any level of 'purchasing' for public ownership, even if the price was/is or may be agreed upon. The formality of the 'City' accepting the 'taking' or ownership of the land is to be voted upon as a 'taking' and recorded as such for legal terms. Value may be determined by other means, not necessarily or singularly in a court suit. Statements from the 'sellers' confirm that the process was on the table and the 'taking' does not change the purchase process. Public notice posting of meetings being met, the attendance is the responsibility of the public, not the agency. Knowing that an 'Executive Session' is published on an would confirm the attendance requirements in advance (or should to reasonable people).

What is the shame in the reporting are the statements referring to 'hostile' are being highlighted when only those on the negotiating team are privileged to the actual actions at hand and they are not allowed to respond to the process until the deal is settled and becomes a public access record. The 'friendly' taking would see the same process, but does not sell papers. Assuming the worse and most volatile path is what sells in a society that is generally too lazy to find information and fact in person and relies in second hand reporting to represent their positions in our community. Most all meetings on this project have been held in posted public meeting environments and now the 'commenter's' come forward to place their opinions on every aspect of the process in absence of the work it takes to get to this level of action. Ergo the need for 'Executive Sessions', to accomplish a legal task!
Assume that the 'owners' are represented by at least competent lawyers or legal representation and would have been advised of the complete process of selling their property to a government entity. Aparently not the case with our own representatives in office!

Gillian Swart said...

To be fair, Dan, I was right there when Mark Reich described it to Katie as "hostile;" I don't think she can be blamed for reporting what he brought up out of the blue. She even had him repeat it.

Dan said...

Oh...thats right! the property deal is not complete to date, but assumed as a 'hostile' taking, just because an attorney used the singular comparison to a complex issue? So, if the situation could be settles as a 'friendly' taking, the possibility just goes away with the partial explanation of the two methods of settling the issue? To be fair, the reporter should have reported the full extremes of a taking of property. I think the report as read by the sellers 'assumes' that there is no other path the city is willing to take and encourages a suit to recover more than a reasonable 'sale' can produce. A wrong message sent to the parties still negotiating this deal.
A standard pratice lately of reporters spelling out half of a story and not researching the issues. ;)

Gillian Swart said...

uh-oh. Well, you're not going to like my story for the Current any more than you like the one already out there, then. Probably even less.

Dan said...

Won't know till I read it, will I?