I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Friday, January 5, 2018
Who Spilled the Beans?
Who spilled the beans and broke confidentiality as it pertains to "Project Fisher?"
More importantly, why do this?
The item was discussed at length yesterday and last night, and the board thoughtfully considered this item and then subsequently voted for a compromise offer to make to this potential Escambia County Employer. It is time to move on, and hopefully we can get this company to locate here with the concomitant 35 jobs, capital improvements, and potential future growth.
But now someone (a public official or employee with intimate knowledge) has clouded the future of this entire endeavor by exposing the name of the company to someone else ( a private citizen not subject to the scrutiny of 288.075), who then subsequently posted the name of this company online, along with the flagship product this company manufactures.
The company more than likely watched the lengthy debate last night, and more than likely they'll be made aware of this breach.
I hope this does not affect this potential deal for Escambia County jobs.....but it very well might kill it. (I hope not--because the majority of the BCC supported this endeavor and we support ones that are similar to this!)
Reaching out through economic development initiatives for qualified, targeted industries helps to diversify our employer base and is a sound strategy for importing jobs and dollars into a community.
But confidentiality is crucial to this work---as cities and counties throughout the nation are in an ongoing, intense, pitched battle for these jobs, companies, and investments.
Confidentiality is vital, and that is why the legislature created section 288.075 to delineate these confidentiality periods and to define what information is to be exempt during negotiations and for how long such information must be protected from eventual release to the public--because eventually, after the negotiations are complete, all of this information becomes a public record. This section of Florida law also describes the penalties for violations. Anyone that is proved to have violated this section is subject to sanctions as described in
Jeb Bush defended the process of economic development and the need for confidentiality in an op-ed a few years back that hit the salient points. Confidentiality is imperative! from his article:
"Confidentiality is important in economic development business dealings. Most companies that participate in the QTI program need to protect sensitive corporate information, which, if made public, could significantly affect their profitability, share prices, employee morale, or result in political pressures and corporate instability. Without a confidentiality provision, most businesses would be unwilling to work with Florida, putting our communities at a competitive disadvantage."
What a shame this confidentiality was breached by an insider and information was passed to a private citizen who can do whatever they want with the information (like post it). What a shame. Reminds me of this scene from one of my favorite movies of all time, Glengarry, Glen Ross. You say the wrong thing as an insider with confidential information--and bad things can happen. You have to know the shot.