No need for rush to judgment on Utilities

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We have so much going on in Colorado Springs right now. Too much, really, to add something more of huge importance. Just to make the point, let’s share a quick list of immediate priorities:

The city faces a growing urgency to address its approach to oil and gas drilling inside the city limits, clearing the way for exploratory wells at Banning Lewis Ranch.

The election buildup will begin now on the local level, thanks to our various races plus some much-anticipated ballot issues, and with mail ballots going out in just about a month.

Memorial Health System will join forces with University of Colorado Health on Oct. 1, with the rising likelihood of a huge legal battle as the Public Employees’ Retirement Association now wants to tie up all funds related to the lease.

The city clerk’s office will be presenting its City Council redistricting proposal, which has to be acted upon quickly since the six new districts will be on the municipal ballot next April.

Both the city and county are heading into their 2013 budgeting season, while still assessing the financial and economic impacts from the Waldo Canyon fire — not to mention the actual cause.

Yet, in the middle of all that, we learned this week that local developer Steve Schuck is pulling together leaders from across the community for a meeting on Sept. 20. Schuck wants to find out whether it would make sense for the city to sell the electric portion of Colorado Springs Utilities, and he doesn’t want to wait until next year. So he’s bringing down two resources from Denver: Del Hock, former CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado; and Bill Vidal, former public works manager for the city and county of Denver (and interim mayor in 2011, after John Hickenlooper became governor).

Schuck insists he’s on a fact-finding mission without preconceived notions. But it’s clear that he doesn’t trust the City Council, or Utilities management, as they analyze the situation and whether to shut down Martin Drake Power Plant. So he’s pulling together his handpicked group for a two-hour session.

It would be one thing if the meeting were open to any interested parties, including the local media. But that’s not happening. It’s closed to outsiders, even though one of the invitees is Wayne Laugesen, editorial page editor of The Gazette.

We believe it is wrong to have a meeting of this magnitude, invite one media outlet and no others. In fact, we encourage Laugesen and The Gazette to turn down his invitation — unless Schuck allows any interested media to send representatives. Readers of this and other newspapers, along with our four TV stations’ news viewers, deserve to know the details, not just those that come through a single filter.

And, once again, what’s the big rush? We have enough going on in the next few months. Steve Schuck could do all of us a big favor and postpone that meeting until after the Nov. 6 election.

Regardless, though, we don’t need more secrets. That’s not how government is supposed to operate.