At least someone has NRMC details

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

The headline of Tuesday’s edition of The Natchez Democrat read “Hospital bid not ready” and carried the sub-headline “Supervisors know full details, not public.” I’ll take some solace in the fact that our duly elected supervisors are now in the know on this momentous transaction.

Let me tell you what I do not take solace in from that article. More than one of the supervisors were credited with being anxious and ready for the process to come to a close. NRMC CEO Scott Phillips says once the details of the contract are completed he’ll be ready to assemble the board quickly for a vote. “They’re on standby” he said.

Let’s see; the supervisors are on standby for a quick vote and are anxious for the process to close. When that quick vote comes, my guess is that vote will be to accept the bid — case closed. That’s not quite how I envisioned possibly the largest transaction in the history of the county would be handled.

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One new twist this week was the mention of a confidentiality agreement. Mr. Phillips said that confidentiality was crucial to the bidding process and part of a still-existing contract between the hospital and those bidding on the facility.

Having been a part of a publicly advertised bid process before myself, but for the sake of full disclosure a city, not county bid, anyone submitting a bid on a public property, which was publicly advertised for bids, knows full well that their name will be disclosed to the public.

In every case that I am aware of, except this one of course, the number of bids received and the names of those bidders are made public soon after the bids are first received and opened.

The very idea that bids were accepted with an agreement in place to keep the names of the bidders secret, flies in the face of the whole concept of a publicly advertised bid process.

I have to say that I was somewhat surprised to read Kevin Cooper’s editorial on this subject in Sunday’s edition of The Natchez Democrat. Apparently, The Natchez Democrat, or at least Mr. Cooper, has bought into the idea that if we just be patient, be quiet, and allow ourselves to be kept totally in the dark, this secret process will run its course, and things will turn out great.

I do not know why I am the only person who is willing to say publicly that the way this process has, and continues to be handled, stinks to high heaven.

I have had some people privately ask me to back off, and let the process run its course. I have had others privately say that they agree with me 100 percent. What I do know is that I am not going anywhere. I will be paying attention.

And unless I die, or become incapacitated in the near future, I will, single handedly if necessary, continue to fight for what should be public information already!

Chuck Fields

Natchez resident