Apr 13 2009

Pious Mouse Wash 3

Spectra Speak:  “Reaching Mutually Agreeable Resolution”

Conventional wisdom says, if you are proud of your work, you sign it.  The Spectra Energy “Inquiry Report:  Response to Benard Allegations,” is anonymous when it comes to pride of authorship.  It admits only that:

“An investigation team consisting of three high level Spectra Energy employees whose responsibilities do not involve the Project [i.e., Steckman Ridge] were assigned to perform an internal inquiry ….” [p. 1 of report, p. 4 of pdf, “Inquiry Report – Response to Benard Allegations” filed with FERC 1-22-09]  spectra-energy-inquiry-report-1-093

In response to my question, I learned that the members of this high-level team are:

  • Tom Stanton, Associate General Counsel in Spectra Energy’s Waltham, Massachusetts, office;
  • Jim Haynes, Vice President of Human Resources, Houston;
  • Katherine Maidens, Right of Way Manager, Houston.

I was further informed that the report was reviewed and edited by Joe Ramsey, Group VP and Richard Kruse, VP of Regulatory Services and Chief Compliance Officer.

The report was also touched to some extent by Vinson&Elkins, which describes itself as “a Global Law Firm Serving Business Clients.”
Link:  http://www.vinson-elkins.com/

Interviews with 17 property owners were conducted by Messrs. Ramsey and Haynes and, of course, Ms. Waller.  Her participation, as previously noted, was in violation of the original protocol for the alleged investigation established by Mr. Kruse; and not acknowledged in the final report submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  (See “Pious Mouse Wash 2,” post for April 10, 2009.)

There are repeated references in the 32-page report to “reaching mutually agreeable resolution through negotiations.”  Or similar words.  For example, page 22 of the report (p. 25 of the pdf), we find:

“… it is the Project’s intent to amicably resolve all outstanding concerns to the mutual satisfaction of the landowner and the Project.”

But we’ve seen this movie before.  For some time during 2008 (before it was pulled down), Spectra Energy proudly ran a 3-minute video of then-CEO Fred J. Fowler in which he declared:

“We define success by building mutually beneficial relationships … and conducting our business with an unwavering sense of integrity, stewardship and accountability.”

While the report takes pains to define “lying” (apparently for good reason), it does not explain what Spectra Energy means by the “mutual satisfaction of the landowner and the Project.”

Would mutually beneficial relationships mean, for example, that property owners could expect the same lease agreements that Spectra Energy (and gas companies) gives for use of public lands that are under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Game Commission?  Note that public lands means the taxpayer (e.g., property owners) paid for them.

Uhm, no – that’s not going to happen.  How could we dare think that citizens should receive the same treatment that big business gives to government (taxpayer funded government)?  Sorry, we got a little light headed there.

Instead, property owners who deal with the gas industry soon learn to translate “Spectra Speech.”

For example, Property Owner Jim Gipson tells a hilarious story about his offer to Spectra Energy to give them his property rights for free.  As Gipson told the Spectra Energy agent, if the company would give the gas to the elderly and the needy for free, he would give them his property rights for free.

The Spectra Energy representative howled in protest, “No – we can’t just give it away!”  To which Jim replied, well you want me to give away my property rights for free so you can charge somebody else for the gas storage under my property!  You can see and hear Jim’s story on our website video.

Perhaps the theologians at Spectra Energy – and elsewhere in the gas industry – could explain what is meant by “mutually beneficial relationships?”  Hint:  We’re back to words vs. deeds, principles vs. platitudes.

Since the company is interested in definitions, perhaps they will like this one.  It is a definition of fraud by William K. Black, former Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention, who now teaches Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  Black was interviewed recently on Bill Moyers Journal.

Link: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

“Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, ‘I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value.’  And as a result, there’s no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that’s what we have.”

That is worth repeating when it comes to gas industry and Spectra Energy behavior:  “And the essence of fraud is, ‘I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value.’”

Sound familiar?  And it is not the same as lying.

More to come about Pious Mouse Wash – stay tuned.

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