What Stops a Trane? – 2017

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 40 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

For months, Whitewater’s municipal government discussed projects that Trane, an outside vendor, would perform.  These projects included processing biosolids (discarded waste and feces) as part of a digester-energy project and a separate energy-efficiency upgrade of Whitewater’s municipal facilities.  Whitewater committed up to $150,000 for the digester-energy study, and over one-million for the energy-efficiency program.  Some of the same representatives of Trane presented the sales presentations for both programs.

Trane’s digester-energy study received enthusiastic support from city officials, including Wastewater Superintendent Tim Reel and Councilmember Ken Kidd (“clearly it is better to be early in the game than late in the game”).

As late as July 2014, the Donohue firm deferred questions about waste processing for energy to Trane, as the leader for that digester-energy project.

Then, by December 2014,  Trane’s status had evidently changed, and that vendor became the subject of two closed-session meetings about possible litigation between the City of Whitewater and Trane.  The agenda items and minutes from those two meetings appear below:

Agenda, December 2, 2014, http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/images/stories/2014-1202_complete_packet_with_links.pdf

C-4 CLOSED SESSION. Adjournment to Closed Session, to reconvene
approximately 25 minutes after adjournment to closed session, per Wisconsin
Statutes 19.85(1)(e):
“Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing
of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever
competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session”,
and per 19.85(1)(g):
“Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering
oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with
respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved.”
Item to be Discussed:
Strategy and settlement discussions related to the Biosolids and Efficiency
Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other aspects of the
project.
Reconvene into Open Session:
Directions to City staff concerning actions related to the Bio solids and
Efficiency Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other
aspects of the project.
ADJOURNMENT

Minutes, December 2, 2014, http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/images/stories/2014-1202.pdf

RECONVENE INTO OPEN SESSION. It was moved by Abbott and seconded by Winship to
reconvene into open session. The Council reconvened at 9:40 p.m.
Directions to City staff concerning actions related to the Biosolids and Efficiency
Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other aspects of the project.
Based on discussion in the Executive Session, no action was taken with regard to the Trane
contact.

Agenda, December 16, 2014, http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/images/stories/2014-1216_complete_packet_reduced_with_links.pdf

C-6 EXECUTIVE SESSION. Adjournment to Closed Session, to reconvene
approximately 25 minutes after adjournment to closed session, per Wisconsin
Statutes 19.85(1)(e):
“Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing
of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever
competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session”,
and per 19.85(1)(g):
“Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering
oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with
respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved.”
and per 19.85(1)(c):
“Considering employment, promotion, compensation or performance
evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body
has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility.”
Items to be Discussed:
Strategy and settlement discussions related to the Bio solids and Efficiency
Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other aspects of the
project.
Union Negotiations with WPPA (Wisconsin Professional Police
Association).
Reconvene into Open Session:
Possible directions to City staff concerning actions related to the Bio solids
and Efficiency Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other
aspects of the project.
AND
Possible Action on WPPA Union Contract.

Minutes, December 16, 2014, http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/images/stories/2014-1216.pdf

Reconvene into Open Session: At 9:30 p.m., the Council reconvened into open session.
Possible direction to City staff concerning actions related to the Biosolids and Efficiency
Improvement Project Contract with Trane U.S. Inc. and other aspects of the project. It
was noted that no formal action was to be taken with regard to the Trane U.S., Inc. contract.

(Every question in this series has a unique number, assigned chronologically based on when it was asked. All the questions from When Green Turns Brown can be found in the Question Bin. Today’s questions begin with No. 261.)

261.  Did Trane complete a full study as contractually promised?

262.  If Trane did not complete a full study as contractually promised, why did she not?

263.  Where is the information, of any type, from that full or partial Trane study?

264.  Is it not clear that Trane’s waste study was or is (a) important to city officials who authorized it, (b) important to the Donohue firm that relied on it as a discarded, unfeasible  alternative, and (c) as public documents that reveal this history of this project and soundness of officials’ confidence in Trane?

265.  Why did the City of Whitewater reach a point where city officials discussed “litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved” and “[s]trategy and settlement discussions related” to Trane’s digester-energy study (among other issues)?

266.  How was the matter with Trane resolved?

WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.

Related posts:

Leave a Reply