Episode 907 | PRC Sues Newspaper

Episode 907 | PRC Sues Newspaper


>>I’M GENE GRANT HERE AT
THE TABLE WITH THIS WEEK’S LINE OPINION PANELISTS.
THE STATE PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION FILED A LAWSUIT
AGAINST THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN TO BLOCK PUBLICATION
OF SOME INFORMATION THAT WAS RELEASED TO A REPORTER,
STEVE TERRELL, IN A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST, AND PNM IS
ALSO SEEKING TO JOIN THAT CASE TO BLOCK THE RELEASE OF
THE CONTRACT DETAILS OF THE SAN JUAN GENERATING STATION.
BUT THE PRC WITHDREW THE LAWSUIT THIS WEEK, LAURA
SANCHEZ, AND IT SEEMED TO ME AND EVERYBODY THAT IT WASN’T
THE LAWYERS. THERE WERE 1st AMENDMENT
ISSUES HERE ALL OVER THE PLACE, AND THAT THIS SUIT
WAS KIND OF NUTTY. WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
IN YOUR SUPPOSITION, WHY DID THEY WITHDRAW THAT SUIT?
>>WELL, THEY VOTED — THE COMMISSION, ITSELF, THREE OF
THE MEMBERS VOTED TO WITHDRAW.
THAT DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THE CASE ITSELF
DROPPED. I THINK IT’S STILL MOVING
FORWARD I’M HEARING AS OF THE TAPING OF THE SHOW.
THE ISSUE IS THAT THEY RELEASED THIS INFORMATION
WHICH HAD BEEN UNDER A CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT.
SO ANYTHING THAT GETS FILED IN THESE CASES, SOME OF THEM
IS TERMED CONFIDENTIAL, SOME OF IT IS NOT.
NOW, THE ISSUE HERE WAS A STOCK PURCHASE AGREEMENT, AS
WELL AS A COAL SUPPLY AGREEMENT.
SO THIS IS ALL RELATED TO THE COAL SUPPLY, THE FUEL TO
ACTUALLY POWER SAN JUAN GENERATING STATION.
PNM HAD BEEN UNDER AN ORDER TO ACTUALLY PROVIDE THESE
PUBLICALLY, SO THEY WEREN’T GOING TO BE FILED
CONFIDENTIALLY. THEY FILED A MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION WHEN THEY ACTUALLY DID FILE THESE
CONTRACTS WITH THE COMMISSION BACK BY
JULY 1st, AND AS A PART OF THAT MOTION FOR
CONSIDERATION, THEY ASKED THAT IT BE TREATED
CONFIDENTIALLY, AND THE PRC AGREED.
SO THAT’S THE ISSUE. THE PRC HEARING EXAMINER
AGREED TO TREAT THIS CONFIDENTIALLY, AND IT WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY, THERE WAS A
REQUEST MADE UNDER A INFORMATION OF PUBLIC
RECORDS ACT REQUEST, AND IT WAS MADE TO THE PRC BY STEVE
TERRELL OF THE NEW MEXICAN, AND IN BEING RESPONSIVE,
THEY GAVE THESE TWO AGREEMENTS OVER.
SO THAT’S THE ISSUE THAT CAME UP.
NOW, I THINK MUCH OF THE DYSFUNCTION HERE IS THAT THE
DECISION TO MOVE FORWARD WITH A LAWSUIT, ESSENTIALLY
A RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST THE NEW MEXICAN TO PUBLISH
THESE THINGS, DIDN’T SEEM TO REACH THE LEVEL OF THE
COMMISSIONERS, AND ANYTHING THAT GETS — YOU KNOW,
WHENEVER THE COMMISSION IS INVOLVED IN LITIGATION, IT’S
SUPPOSED TO BE BEFORE THE COMMISSIONERS AND THEY’RE
SUPPOSED TO CONSIDER IT. BUT IT APPEARS THAT THE
CHIEF OF STAFF OR SOMEBODY AT SOME LEVEL — OF COURSE,
THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE CHIEF OF STAFF — MADE THE
DECISION TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE LAWSUIT.
AND THE COMMISSIONERS PULLED THE REINS BACK AND SAID, NO,
WE JUST CAN’T DO THIS, THIS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, THERE’S
A LOT OF ISSUES, WE’RE NOT LIKELY TO WIN.
SO THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED AS OF WEDNESDAY, IS THEY
DECIDED TO PULL IT BACK. NOW, THE HEARING WAS
SUPPOSED TO CONTINUE, AND PNM AND ALL THOSE OTHER
COMPANIES CERTAINLY HAD AN INTEREST IN TRYING TO KEEP
THOSE CONTRACTS CONFIDENTIAL STILL, BUT STEVE TERRELL
PUBLISHED A STORY AND LINKED THOSE TWO AGREEMENTS ON THE
WEBSITE, AND SO THEY’VE BEEN PUBLISHED AT THIS POINT.
SO THE ISSUE OF HOW MUCH IS THE STOCK PURCHASE
AGREEMENT, HOW MUCH ARE THEY PURCHASING THAT FOR, IS
ALREADY PUBLIC.>>THERE’S NO STOPPING STEVE
TERRELL, BY THE WAY. THAT’S THE LESSON HERE.
JANICE, THE QUOTES FROM SOME OF THE PRC COMMISSIONERS ARE
UNBELIEVABLE AT THIS POINT. WOW.
OR MAYBE THEY’RE QUITE BELIEVABLE, I SHOULD BACK UP
A LITTLE BIT.>>WELL, ONE, I COULD NOT
SUBSTANTIATE A PLACE WHERE THE COMMISSION HAD VOTED TO
ACTUALLY FILE THIS SUIT. THAT, IN AND OF ITSELF, IS
PROBLEMATIC. HOWEVER, AS A STAFF MEMBER
FOR ANY AGENCY, IF YOU HAVE PROMISED ANY ENTITY THAT THE
INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY STUPID IF
YOU THINK YOU CAN GIVE IT TO THE MEDIA AND THEY’RE GOING
TO GIVE IT BACK TO YOU. IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT
BASIC RULE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY EXCEPT, CAN YOU
SAY INCOMPETENT? THE WORST, THE FALL-OUT OF
THIS IS, BUSINESSES CANNOT TRUST THE PRC.
WHAT THIS SAYS IS, IF YOU GIVE THEM SENSITIVE
INFORMATION, THE PRC CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO DEAL WITH IT.
>>THAT’S A BIG DEAL. EXPAND ON THAT A LITTLE BIT,
BECAUSE THAT’S A FAIRLY HEAVY CHARGE.
AND I’M NOT SAYING YOU’RE WRONG, BUT THERE ARE A LOT
OF IMPLICATIONS HERE.>>ABSOLUTELY.
AND BUSINESS DOESN’T MIND PLAYING BY THE RULES.
IF THEY KNOW THAT IT IS OPEN, THEY’RE GOING TO
PRESENT IT AS IF IT IS OPEN. BUT IF IT IS TRULY
CONFIDENTIAL OR SENSITIVE, AND THE AGENCY SAYS, WE WILL
TREAT IT AS SUCH, AND THEN YOU GIVE IT TO THE NEWS
MEDIA — WHY WOULD GOOGLE WANT TO COME BACK IF THEY
HAD SENSITIVE INFORMATION?>>THAT’S A FAIR POINT.
GO AHEAD AND FOLLOW-UP ON THAT.
>>GOING BACK TO THAT, RIGHT ON.
AS A BUSINESS OWNER, I HAVE PARTICIPATED IN RFPs AND
SO FORTH, AND ALL OF MY PRICING IS OUT THERE.
ALL, YOU KNOW, MY SPECIFIC TRADE SECRETS AND MARKETING.
AND THEN, BOOM, IT’S OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE.
IF THERE WAS AN UNDERSTANDING THAT IT WAS
CONFIDENTIAL, RIGHT, AND AN AGREEMENT, IT SHOULD BE.
BUT THE BIG QUESTION IS, YOU KNOW, WHAT’S CONFIDENTIAL
AND WHAT’S NOT CONFIDENTIAL. I THINK THAT’S WHAT’S ON THE
TABLE HERE. BUT IT WAS DEEMED AS
CONFIDENTIAL, AND THE FACT THAT IT GOT INTO THE HANDS
OF MEDIA IS LIKE, SORRY, NOW IT’S JUST UP ON THEIR
WEBSITE.>>THAT’S RIGHT.
TOM, IT’S INTERESTING WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT A LOT OF
FOLKS ARE FOR TRANSPARENCY, IT’S NOT A BAD WORD IN OUR
STATE RIGHT NOW, BUT IS THERE A LINE FOR
TRANSPARENCY? SHOULD SOME THINGS REMAIN
CONFIDENTIAL DURING THAT NEGOTIATING STAGE?
>>SO, THERE’S A DOUBLE STANDARD, AND THERE’S A
CLEAR DOUBLE STANDARD. BY MEANS OF DISCLOSURE, WE
DO HAVE CLIENTS WHO HAVE INTEREST IN THIS PARTICULAR
CASE. IT’S A DOUBLE STANDARD
BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN ISSUE OF TRANSPARENCY.
YOU HAVE SOME, YOU KNOW, INFORMATION THAT MIGHT HAVE
BEEN MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH CALIFORNIA, THROUGH A CASE
THERE, BUT REALLY THE INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED TO
THE PRC WITH THE EXPECTATION THAT IT WOULD REMAIN
CONFIDENTIAL, AND THAT EXPECTATION HAS BEEN
VIOLATED. SO, WHAT DO YOU DO AT THAT
POINT? AS HAS BEEN VERY WELL STATED
HERE AT THE TABLE, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE FOLKS WHO —
YOU KNOW, REPORTERS ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE IT BACK.
NOW, DOES IT CONSTITUTE THE PENTAGON PAPERS, AS THE
ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL WOULD HAVE US TO BELIEVE?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. THAT’S JUST ABSURD.
SO, LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT IT. WAS THE INFORMATION — COULD
YOU GET IT THROUGH OTHER MEANS?
YES, ABSOLUTELY. IT WAS CONFIDENTIAL FOR THIS
SPECIFIC PROCEEDING, AND I THINK TO JANICE’S POINT,
THIS SENDS A HUGE MESSAGE TO CORPORATE AMERICA WHO MIGHT
WANT TO DO BUSINESS HERE. THEY’RE SAYING, YOU KNOW
WHAT, MAYBE WE OUGHT TO THINK ABOUT SOMEPLACE ELSE
THAT TAKES THIS KIND OF STUFF VERY SERIOUSLY.
>>MAYBE WE’LL GO THE OTHER WAY.
THERE’S SOME PRECEDENT IN OTHER STATES THAT NOTHING IS
CONFIDENTIAL, PRACTICALLY.>>IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE,
THE ISSUE WAS THE FUEL CONTRACTS.
THE COAL, IN PARTICULAR. AND THERE IS SOME PRECEDENCE
IN OTHER STATES, LIKE KENTUCKY, FOR EXAMPLE,
THAT’S A BIG COAL STATE, WHERE THEY HAVE DECIDED
SINCE 1997 THAT CONTRACTS LIKE THESE THAT INVOLVE THE
PURCHASE OF COAL AND SO FORTH ARE PUBLIC.
AND THERE’S BEEN LITIGATION ABOUT THAT, AND THAT’S BEEN
ESTABLISHED. SO NOT EVERY STATE TREATS IT
THIS WAY. IN THIS CASE, AGAIN,
INITIALLY THE HEARING EXAMINER HAD SAID THIS WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE PUBLIC. THERE WAS A MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION, AND THE PARTIES INVOLVED IN THIS
CASE, SOME OF THEM HAD ARGUED THAT IT SHOULD STILL
BE PUBLIC, THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW SINCE THESE
FUEL CONTRACTS WILL AFFECT RATES, POTENTIALLY, YOU
KNOW, FOR MANY YEARS MOVING FORWARD, THAT THEY HAVE A
RIGHT TO KNOW. AND SO THERE IS SOME
QUESTION UNDERLYING ABOUT WHETHER THIS SHOULD BE
PUBLIC. IT ISN’T THE PENTAGON
PAPERS, BUT ULTIMATELY I THINK THE PRC IS LEFT
LOOKING REALLY BAD IN THIS SITUATION.
>>UP NEXT, WHY THE NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF APS IS
GETTING NEGATIVE ATTENTION FOR TEXT MESSAGES HE
MISTAKENLY SENT TO AN APS EMPLOYEE.

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