Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Why is GLBT Attempting to Hide Investors Names Behind a Protective Order

Great Lakes Basin Transportation (GLBT) and Frank Patton have produced the application to the Surface Transportation Board.  Congratulations on making the May 1st extended deadline, even if it took the Washington lawyer to rush it over and hand deliver the application on the afternoon of the last day.   Frank Patton’s lawyer has also delivered a Protective Order asking that the list of GLBT investors beyond Frank Patton be sealed by a Protective Order. 

Protective Orders are not that unusual with infrastructure siting.  At the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Rock Island Clean Line asked the ICC’s Administrative Law Judge to seal the company’s financial information behind an Order of Protection as Confidential and Proprietary.  It’s a bit more understandable that a company does not want a venture capital startup’s financial information open for all of the public to view.  The Rock Island Clean Line llc and it's parent company Clean Line Energy Partners llc is basically broke.  Startups with no real assets have no real source of income beyond the benevolence of investors.   

Frank Patton and Great Lakes Basin is attempting to take this Oder of Protection a step further with attempting to hide the names of investors. This is unusual.  Even the examples sited where Protective Order's were requested are weak examples when compared to a proposed rail line about 280 miles long and requesting over 23,000 acres of privately owned property through eminent domain.  Here's an excerpt from the PO.

As part of the Application, GLBT is filing as Appendix 2 a redacted “public” version of the List of Stockholders, and is filing, under seal, a "highly confidential” copy of the List of Stockholders along with this Motion.  

…ensuring that proprietary and commercially sensitive information in the List of Stockholders and in other documents will be protected from unnecessary public disclosure and will be used only in connection with this proceeding and not for any other business or commercial use.

So what is GLBT attempting to hide behind this proposed Oder of Protection? 

The public has a right to know who actually wants to cut through their homes and farms.  Should a group of nefarious investors be allowed to hide behind a strawman puppet, like Frank Patton?  It's  clear Frank Patton, a retired software salesman is at best a talking puppet for others.  Claiming stockowners names as “proprietary and commercially sensitive information” is preposterous.  If investors want to utilize eminent domain for over 23,000 acres of property from thousands of landowners, it should be public knowledge who is seeking the take by eminent domain. 

It makes a person wonder what Frank Patton is attempting to hide behind this Order of Protection.    Would Union Pacific hide the Top 10 list of investors?  How about CSX?  No.  These railroads are publicly traded corporations.  This information is public knowledge through SEC mandatory disclosures.  There is nothing unusual for the STB to ask for the Top 10 list of investors. 

Is the potential embarrassment and stigma to investors the reason for the Protective Order?  Seeking over 23,000 acres of eminent domain can lead to social embarrassments. 

Do some of the GLBT Investors have a history of nefarious business deals?  Sure, Frank Patton has hinted some of his investors are foreign money. 

Have these investors invested in other infrastructure projects? 

Have these other infrastructure projects gone bankrupt, leaving the government liable to cover the loans but the investors were allowed to walk as the government covered the risk on the project?

If GLBT wants to cut through our homes, we, as a society, have an obligation to keep this process open and as transparent as possible.  We, the people, have a right to properly vet those who desire take through eminent domain and not be railroaded with a swindle. 

So who are the investors in GLBT and what potential scandal is Frank Patton attempting to hide with this Order of Protection? 

The intent of the STB siting process is designed to be open and transparent.  Hiding vital and basic information like the names of the owners and investor should not be allowed.  If the people behind the GLBT llc don’t want to come forward, then cancel this project.

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