To the editor:

Recently, I was shocked to learn that our city administration had lied to our community about hiring the PR firm, Hennes Communications. Back in April, when Resolution 2018-R32, a piece of legislation authorizing the mayor to enter into a $50,000 contract with Hennes was tabled due to public outrage, our communications director claimed that hiring the firm had nothing to do with a referendum challenging the NEXUS settlement, stating, "It’s not really a crisis." At this point, Hennes had already been secretly working for the city for a month, producing a "draft communications strategy" with positive spin for the city’s decision to settle with Nexus, and put the referendum, signed by more than 1,500 residents, in a negative light. Residents thought the use of a PR firm was off the table. We were horribly misled.

At the July 10 council meeting, two out of three members of the finance committee claimed they were not informed of the contract that hired Hennes for $10,000. The City Charter clearly states that the mayor must inform the finance committee within 30 days of entering into any contract. Once again, Mayor Gerard Nuegebauer has violated the City Charter.

Here are a few questions I have for the Mayor and council members: Why were Councilmen Shaughnessey and Dyer the only ones with questions about the Hennes contract? Did Mayor Neugebauer meet with NEXUS officials in his home, alone, at any time, as reported by former NEXUS employees, councilmen and residents? Why was Hennes already hired when 2018-R32 was tabled in April? Why were FAQs revised on the city’s homepage to erase the fact that the city would not lose the $7.5 settlement money if the pipeline was not installed? Why is the city wasting $400 an hour for a PR firm to fight the referendum? Why are we not spending any of the $7.5 million, to help the homeowners with tier 3 well testing, safety buffers, automatic shutoff valves, gas detection systems, odor additives and reduced property taxes? Shouldn’t we be moving parks away from the pipeline, so our children can be safe when this time bomb actually explodes?

At last week’s council meeting, President Humphrey offered to pray for the very people who had just outed the city’s secret agenda. No thanks, Mr. Humphrey. How about we pray for you?

Sincerely,

Phil Ridgeway

Owner, Phabulous Phil’s Barber Shop

Resident, City of Green