The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

February 18, 2013

Council decision raises questions

GREENVILLE — We have several questions regarding the Greenville City Council’s decision to exclude four city council members and several key staffers from initial negotiations between the city and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems on a new lease agreement.

We can certainly understand the need for a non-disclosure agreement when defense contracts and national security interests are involved. But:

– City Manager Steve Alexander is paid to run the day-to-day operations of the city. Public Works Director Massoud Ebrahim has extensive experience helping oversee the operations of the Greenville Municipal Airport-Majors Field. They would both bring experience and valuable information to the negotiation process. Why are they not included in the committee that will be privy to the initial negotiation process?

– Each city council member is responsible to the voters in their precinct for their decisions. Several city council members said that it would be easier for them to weigh the pros and cons of the lease agreement when it comes time to vote on it if they have full access to the negotiations from the very beginning. Obviously, most of the negotiating process will occur between the law firm the city hired and L-3’s lawyers. Would being involved in the process give these council members more information as they prepare to vote?

– Mayor Steve Reid indicated in his comments last Tuesday night that the city and L-3 desire to build a sense of trust. What would be a better way to initiate this sense of trust than to have all of the key players involved in the process from the very beginning? Would having all of the city council members in the loop during the initial negotiations be detrimental to the city’s relationship with L-3 or the negotiations?

We believe these are questions the city needs to answer.

To our readers: These negotiations between the city and the largest employer in the county will have a tremendous impact on you and your family. What is your opinion on the non-disclosure agreement? Email your response to editor@heraldbanner.com and let your voice be heard.

A recap of the city council meeting where the non-disclosure agreement was passed can be found at www.heraldbanner.com or in the Feb. 13 edition of the Herald-Banner.

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