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On our minds: Electricity

Opinion 

Great Falls Tribune

Thanks Bob Jones

Great Falls City Commissioner Bob Jones deserves a big thanks for his efforts to get us out of Southern Montana Electric. I suggest the following steps to clear the slate:

1. Send the $12 million bill to (former City Manager) John Lawton. Lawton forced SME upon city taxpayers while thwarting a public vote on the risky initial and long-term investment of many millions of dollars. Any income he and cohorts received while working on the venture should be recovered and all retirement benefits withheld and applied to the debt they created.

2. The city needs to be forthcoming with any information regarding wrongful acts by SME or former city employees. They need to be careful of bringing in out-of-state experts to manage our city.

3. The commission needs to put into place a law that ensures no one person or group — including the commission — in city government can make decisions that commit public funds for any endeavor, except infrastructure maintenance, in excess of $1 million without a public vote.

In addition to paying salaries of the Lawton crew via property taxes, several local businesses are taking huge losses for building the SME project because SME refuses to pay its bills. As part of the buy-out deal, the city should stand behind these local businesses by forcing SME to pay all local businesses for goods and services still owing.

— Paul Boland,
Great Falls

Editor’s note: Lawton as city manager made recommendations to the City Commission, which in turn cast votes approving the city’s power venture.

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