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Public Access Still Lacking

May 17, 1987

As reported by Jill Stewart in her story, "Pollution Solution" (Times, April 12), clean-water activists are indeed pleased that Judge Harry Pregerson has given us status as friends of the court in the U. S. EPA efforts to bring into compliance by 1998 the $3-billion-plus Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant.

As friends of the court, we expected to have access to city records pertaining to Hyperion.

Maureen Kindel, president of the city's Board of Public Works, was quoted in the article as saying, "Information is just not getting out like it should" and "We know our credibility with the public is terrible, and we are really working to overcome this very kind of thing."

The city's most recent efforts to overcome its credibility problem occurred when the city refused to provide copies of documents from James M. Montgomery and CH2M-Hill (consulting engineers employed by the city) because both firms have claimed that these proposals contain "proprietary" information and have requested that the city treat their proposal as being confidential.

We were told the city attorney has denied our request for these proposals.

What we have here is the privatizing of municipal facilities with consultants who claim that their proposals to spend taxpayers' money are trade secrets. How convenient for the politicians who don't want the truth to come out.

If the public is not permitted to see this "public" information and if the Sierra Club, granted the status of friend of the court, cannot see this information, then the public good has been finessed once again by arrogant and cunning politicians giving lip service to their "credibility" and determination to clean up Santa Monica Bay.



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