Here is how taking an extra step in reporting turns a sensation into possibly a non-event.
The representative of the architectural firm of Cooper Carry insists that no one from their firm was involved in the decision to not meter the Marriott Hotel separately from the Convention Center. (The hotel and convention center are billed together for electricity and gas.)
Bob Neal, head architect for the Lancaster Convention Center Project, represented to a NewsLanc reporter that the decision for joint metering would have been made by others than his firm and referred the reporter to the Convention Center Authority.
Publisher Robert Field later spoke with Neal, mentioned Field’s background as a veteran builder, and posed the same question. Neal again insisted that the decision was up to the owners and his firm was not involved.
Field reminded Neal that, as architect for the project, his firm was responsible for all decisions. Not to have reflected upon and advised concerning such a decision would likely raise the question of malpractice.
Neal at that point discontinued the conversation and hung up the phone.
NewsLanc was tempted to run with a story that suggested concealment by the architects, but the goal was to find out who made the metering decision, and Field was not satisfied that Neal properly understood the implications of what he was saying. So he placed a call to the architect listed as the lead principal of the firm, Pope Bullock, who was not available. Field described the situation to Bullock’s aide and, within the hour, Bullock called from his vacation.
According to Bullock, he recalled Tom Smithgall and Mark Fitzgerald of the High Group instructing them how to meter the project. Cooper Carry would have provided advice if asked, but he asserted they were not. He indicated that he felt that both Penn Square Partners and the Convention Center Authority were represented at the meeting but could not recall the names of others who might have been present. (Smithgall and Fitzgerald of High may have been authorized to speak for both entities. Smithgall has been on vacation and has not yet been reached.)
It yet remained a great story until Bullock said that there could be valid life safety reasons among others for the design. He said he knew of several joint projects designed in the same manner. He also claimed that energy use could still be properly allocated.
NewsLanc is skeptical about the latter assertion. Sure, if the electrical system branched behind the main meter in a manner that facilitated sub-metering, this would be the case. But in that circumstance, the LCCCA would not be struggling with how to access costs.
Smoking gun? No. End of story? Hardly. NewsLanc doesn’t just report. We investigate.