Springfield, MO

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Letter To The Editor

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In a letter dated April 8, 1997, Mayor Lee Gannaway wrote to state Sen. Morris Westfall in support of legislation then before the state Senate. House Bill 620, subsequently passed into law, restricts the areas in which municipally owned utilities might offer telecommunications service.

The letter recently came to light as an exhibit in a filing by Southwestern Bell in the Federal Communications Commission case considering the legality of Missouri's law. The challenge to the law was brought before federal regulators by a group that includes City Utilities.

The following is a response to Mayor Gannaway's letter.

As a resident of Springfield, a customer of City Utilities, and a single member of the Board of Public Utilities, whose responsibility it is to oversee the operation of this valuable community-owned asset, I think I owe it to myself and the customers that I represent to tell you that I am deeply troubled regarding your letter to state Sen. Morris Westfall concerning City Utilities.

Some would suggest that I not address these issues at all, that I should not make waves or seem contentious, but in my mind, your letter raises serious questions that I can simply not ignore.

So, in the spirit of improved communication, I am asking you to help me understand some of the things that you wrote in that letter. I have questions on the following items:

Why did you tell Sen. Westfall and other state legislators that CU was in the banking business?

Especially since the employees of the city of Springfield have a credit union and credit unions are independently owned and operated by the credit union members.

Why did you tell them CU was in the child care business?

Especially since you knew that the independent child care center was a joint effort of Drury College, The Springfield News-Leader, public library, Greene County, City Utilities and Springfield Public Schools, and is also being used by employees of the city of Springfield.

Why did you tell them that CU is in the real estate business?

Especially since you knew that CU involvement in the Partnership Industrial Center was requested by City Council and is a joint effort of the city of Springfield, City Utilities and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

Why did you tell them that CU does not have to make a profit? Especially when you know that no utility could operate without a profit and survive.

As the mayor of Springfield, out of fairness, and consistent with your desire to improve communications, why didn't you send CU a copy of your letter and give it a chance to respond?

Why is your name, identifying you as the mayor of Springfield, and your letter to Sen. Westfall being used by Southwestern Bell against me and the customers I represent?

Why did Southwestern Bell have an unsigned copy of your letter? The only logical conclusion I have is that you sent it to them for their comments and approval prior to mailing it to legislators.

Why did you go to Jefferson City to lobby the legislators on behalf of Southwestern Bell in an effort to keep City Utilities out of the telecommunications business? Especially since City Council approved by a 6-3 vote that City Utilities' entrance in the telecommunications business would benefit the citizens of this community.

And finally sir, and I suppose this is dependent on your answers to the questions above, why do you think you should, or can continue to, serve the citizens of Springfield if you have used your office to represent Southwestern Bell and your own special interests and not those you were sworn to serve?

Randall D. Ebrite[[In-content Ad]]


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