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City hires negotiator to work with LCEC

By Staff | May 10, 2016

Despite opposition by Council-members Marilyn Stout and Rana Erbrick, City Council voted Monday night to hire Stuart Diamond to represent the city in negotiations with LCEC on a new franchise agreement.

The contract with Diamond will cost the city $49,500.

“I am not in favor at this moment in time to move forward with this item,” said Erbrick. “It seems to me, why would we hire someone now when negotiations can’t happen until after the Public Service Commission issue? I get it, I see there might be some background stuff going on, but I also see a lot of duplication of effort here.”

Stout added, “I would prefer to see the city and LCEC pay a mediator together to work for both sides with an open mind. When I see LCEC not negotiating while the PSC lawsuit is pending, it makes no sense to enter into a contract at this point in time.”

Stout went on to point out the city has paid attorney Brian Armstrong $177,400 so far. Adding another $49,500 brings the total to $226,900. With April and May charges to come from Arm-strong, the city is approaching $300,000 with no actual negotiations so far.

“That is not something I can feel good about,” said Stout.

Councilmembers Richard Leon, Rick Williams and John Carioscia weighed in on the favorable side.

“It’s good to have a new face, get a fresh perspective and a new set of eyes looking at it,” said Leon.

“We have one of the best attorneys representing us so we have an obligation to bring in the best negotiator,” said Carioscia.

“A successful negotiation takes two things, knowledge and talent,” said Williams. “We can read his book, but we would not have the talent to go and be a good negotiator. We’ve spent a lot of money and gotten nowhere, but in the overall scheme of things I think it will end up saving us money in the long run.”

Council’s vote was 5-2 with Councilmember Jim Burch absent.

Other agenda items

Council unanimously approved and ratified a tentative agreement between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police union to modify the wages section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding officers, sergeants and lieutenants.

In response to a request by Leon, Mayor Marni Sawicki set a special workshop meeting for May 23 in order to discuss possibly taking another look at the 4 a.m. bar hours extension ordinance. The two-hour extension on weekends was defeated last month when, after one year, the experimental ordinance expired.

Leon, who has led the initiative from the start, made some changes to the ordinance in hopes of convincing those on council to approve the extension this time.

That meeting to start at 2:30 p.m. in conference room 220A in City Hall is open to the public.

Council members also approved the purchase of more lots in Northwest Cape to continue to assemble the necessary parcels for the Festival Park project. Acquiring the most recent lots, the city will now hold 410 of the 517 needed to begin the project.

Next meeting

Council members will discuss the city’s future capital projects and review its five-year asset improvement plan at a special workshop meeting at noon today in the Nicholas Parkway Annex building conference room.