In today's Journal story by Kate Bramson, Skeffington is quoted as saying, "We're certainly willing to have discussions with them, but as a private company, our financial information is confidential," our financial capabilities," he continues, "They know our proposal, but we'd be happy to put it in writing."
I read this about a half-dozen times before the absurdity of the statement really sunk in. They'd be "happy" to put it in writing? There hasn't been a hard copy of the proposal submitted to the I-195 Commission already?
Later in the article, Skeffington says, "I know you and other people are eager to have these answers. "You don't negotiate these in public. You sit down with the people who are the parties of interest here, and in our case, it's us and the state and the leaders of the state government."
He compared the taxpayers, whose money would help finance the deal, to "shareholders of a corporation," who don't negotiate all details of a transaction. Company chairmen and boards of directors do that, Skeffington said. Such discussions have taken place "in executive session" in Rhode Island for 25 years, he said, and those detailed financial questions would again be "considered confidential."
I've been criticized over the last couple of weeks for 'caricaturizing' Mr. Skeffington, and while I agree that the level of discourse needs to be raised in Rhode Island, I also believe that Skeffington et al. have done a damn fine job of turning themselves into caricatures.
Lets' not forget, Skeffington will benefit doubly from this ill-conceived deal. The law firm at which he is employed is the contracted legal counsel for the I-195 Redevelopment Commission, and while Skeffington has recused himself as the go-to legal beagle for the commission, I doubt that he will recuse himself from the profits his law firm will cull from their lucrative contract with the I-195ers.
As one internet commenter put it, regarding the art of negotiation, "If the first offer is 'We want everything' the only way to get a fair deal is if the first counter-offer is 'You get nothing.'
The term "unmitigated gall" comes to mind...