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Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Ind. Gov't. - "Jasper biomass lawsuit pricetag exceeds $500,000 (so far)"
From the Dubois County Free Press, a lengthy story by Matthew Crane. It begins:
Jasper — The City of Jasper’s defense in the lawsuit filed by Healthy Dubois County, Inc. in August of 2011 has cost city utility ratepayers over half a million dollars so far.As the fascinating history in the story lays out explains, this all began with alleged violations of the Open Door Law:
The city has paid Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP, the firm representing the city, $514,547 on a nearly monthly schedule over the course of the 25 month litigation. These payments are made by the city’s electric utility through a special account funded by ratepayers’ utility payments.
On August 5, 2011, the Jasper Council and Utility Service Board approved the lease agreement with Twisted Oak in a joint special meeting. Twisted Oak Corporation, founded in 2003, is a firm from Atlanta, GA, interested in converting the Jasper power plant from a coal-fired power plant to a biomass power plant.There is much, much more to read in this story.
Dr. Norma Kreilein, Rock Emmert, and Healthy Dubois County, Inc. (HDC), a grassroots organization composed of local citizens concerned about the health and economic impact of a biomass burning power plant being developed in Jasper, filed the original lawsuit concerning alleged violations of Indiana’s Open Door Law August 5, 2011. After the hearing in December of 2011, special judge Lucy Goffinet ruled in favor of the City of Jasper.
Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP had billed the city 722.80 hours at a cost of $190,952.50 to get to this point.
HDC filed an appeal, and a three judge panel of the Indiana State Appeals Court reversed Goffinet’s decision based on several factors including questioning the members of a group of volunteers who met to work out essential details concerning the contract with Twisted Oak. In the ruling by the appellate court, HDC was allowed to depose members of this controversial volunteer group that met without public scrutiny about 12 to 15 times during negotiations with Twisted Oak CEO Jay Catasein.
The firm billed 436.7 hours from January 3, 2012 to January 3, 2013, the timeframe it took to get through the appeal, for a total of $109,081.00.
Since January 3, 2013, the city has paid Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP an additional $214,513. 50 for 691.9 hours of work in preparation for the second trial scheduled for January 16 and 17 of 2014.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 2, 2013 11:29 AM
Posted to Indiana Government