Why should this information be shielded from the public?
OUR VIEW: Now, We Will Never Know.
We think public officials should ask themselves, prior to voting to close a meeting, Why should this information be shielded from the public?
In an adversarial situation, sure: But all the “adversaries” were at the table Oct. 3 at the PMPA board meeting, so why should the “legal advice” they received be shielded from the public?
The Laurens County Council conducted an executive session Sept. 24 to receive “legal advice” about a recent SC Supreme Court decision. The most logical conclusion would be it was about the City of Fountain Inn winning a case involving infrastructure territory. But Laurens County, as they say, “doesn’t have a dog in that fight”. So why should the county attorney’s advice be shielded from the public.
The Clinton City Council talked about a contract to lease a performing arts theater on Sept. 30. Now, here, maybe. The City’s negotiating partner was Thornwell Home for Children so certainly the City didn’t want Thornwell knowing its negotiation process. They also talked about selling surplus property - for the life of us, we cannot see, Why should this information be shielded from the public.
The PMPA situation is especially frustrating. There is a chance the board was talking about a lawsuit settlement -- now we will never know the thought process among the board that led to the settlement, if there is one. PMPA is a major driver in how much Clinton residents pay for electricity - how they derive their rates should NEVER be shielded from the public and, we believe, neither should their thought processes.
Only through open discussion did we learn that PMPA (Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, based in Greer) is sitting on a $90 million reserve. It is possible that the agency could be compelled by its board to give some of this money to Rock Hill and Greer - because these two cities believe that for many years they have shouldered an unfair burden in financing the operations of PMPA. They were going to file a lawsuit saying that - but Newberry beat them to it, originally to prevent a railroaded vote on a new rate structure. Rock Hill seems to have the votes to get this revamped rate structure through on a full board vote. Clinton and Union are siding with Rock Hill and Greer (Newberry, Laurens, Easley and Gaffney are the other side, Abbeville and Westminster aren’t in the litigation).
The PMPA board met Oct. 2 - 4 in Flat Rock, North Carolina. They heard “legal advice” on Oct. 3 - they never once asked themselves, Why should this information be shielded from the public?