Something’s a little off with The Town Talk‘s editorial understanding of the nuances of the proposed power supply agreement with Cleco, and given the fact that they have access to the same exact body of information as I do, I have to seriously question the their understanding and perspective on this story. Their belief that any proposal is being rushed seems to be, well, rushed.

From today’s editorial:

A RARE PUBLIC HEARING on a proposal to end Alexandria’s fraud lawsuit against Cleco Corp. left residents attending Tuesday’s meeting with no commitment from city officials that rate payers would receive money. Pending before the City Council is a proposal, hashed out in private, for Cleco to pay the city $29 million up front and guarantee under-market electricity rates for 13 years. In return, Cleco would gain control of the generating capacity of the city-owned power plant. If approved, the proposal would end the city’s lawsuit, filed June 22, 2005.

WE THINK: It’s disturbing that city officials chose to make residents wait until two days before Christmas for a first chance to ask questions about a settlement tied to a lawsuit that is three-plus years old. The same can be said for the city’s decision to schedule the matter for a yes-or-no vote Tuesday, two days before New Year’s Day. All the more reason to pay attention to this: If the city turns down the deal and takes its case to court, it stands to: 1) lose everything on the table; 2) win something less than what has been offered; or 3) win triple the damages awarded by the court plus court costs plus attorney’s fees.

The first sentence is completely bogus. The basic thesis of the proposed agreement was that the provision of under-market power would immediately provide for savings that could not be realized in any other market, but that, also, rebates could be and should be considered separate from the proposed power supply agreement.

The second sentence is also completely bogus. The $29 million provision for D.G. Hunter represents only a portion of the proposed agreement, and the paper neglected to discuss value of the entire package.  BOOS to the paper: The City spent over an hour explaining this, yet, for some reason, the paper still doesn’t get it. (You can watch it all, on repeat, on Channel 4 in Alexandria).

Perhaps the timing and sequence of events did not conform with the newspaper’s ideal schedule, but the paper’s underlying implication (of an attempt to minimize input and exposure based on the timing of public meetings) is reckless and misleading to the public. However inconvenient it may have been to the news cycle, things sped up at the end of the year. You’d think a newspaper would understand a thing or two about deadlines.

And we should all ask: Upon whose expert opinion is the paper basing their hypothetical belief that the City could win triple the damages? Who, exactly, believes this in their expert opinion?

Since the retirement of Mr. Gunn, it seems like The Town Talk hasn’t been paying attention or giving appropriate print space to the Cleco case, and now, they’d like to delay and evoke skepticism as a stopgap measure. And given the significant layoffs in its news room, I can’t blame them for being a little spread thin.

Basically, they’re saying: It’s the holidays. Don’t expect us to pay attention.

Well, PAY ATTENTION.

BE SERIOUS.

But do your homework beforehand.

It’s difficult to understand how anyone could conclude that an entire month’s worth of public and televized meetings would represent an attempt at rushing an agreement.

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