Saturday, February 28, 2009

Looks Like Pete Kelly was Right

Situations like this are why I try to qualify everything I say. The world is complex. I think we like sports because at the end of the game, things are resolved. There's a winner and a loser. Decided. But the rest of life isn't that simple. And with the various drug and other scandals in sports, sports isn't that simple either. Thus making categorical statements can easily lead to foot-in-mouth disease.

Unbeknownst to me, when I posted about the BP-ARCO charter on February 2, Dermot Cole had the previous day published an article in the Fairbanks Newsminer on the same topic. But he'd done a lot more checking of the facts. (Thanks to the person who emailed me that article.)

The charter does not spell out an expiration date for the contribution plan and the other commitments.

The document does have language, however, which says that as of this month, no one can go to court and allege that charter is being violated.

It amounts to a backhanded expiration date.

After Jan. 15, 2009, there can be “no action alleging a failure of performance,” the charter says.

BP and ConocoPhillips will continue to make contributions to the university and other causes in the years ahead, as they value the good will this engenders.

But it’s worth pointing out that their recent change in policy is linked to the 10-year expiration of the charter agreement. . .
I have asked Attorney General Talis Colberg for clarification on the issue and for his view of the significance of the expiration date on the various elements in the charter.

The agreement says that while the state could have brought legal action to enforce the environmental stipulations, the provisions on Alaska Hire and charitable giving are “corporate citizenship commitments to the Alaskan community at large.”

“The parties do not intend for these other commitments of Section II to be enforced by lawsuits and no right of action is created with respect to them,” the charter says.

In a second post on this topic, I was way too emphatic on this. But I'm glad to see that I did put this qualifier in there:
Maybe I'm wrong, but what was the point of the State signing an agreement with the oil companies outlining conditions for BP's purchase of ARCO if the conditions are not mandatory?
I still find it strange that the then Governor, Tony Knowles, would agree to something that isn't enforceable. But I have no idea of what all was going on in the negotiations over this. Perhaps the oil companies flat out refused to sign the agreement without that clause.

I, of course, should have read the whole charter carefully. But at least I wrote at the time:
But we were in high gear preparing to go to Thailand and what with the traveling and getting into things here, I didn't get around to posting that agreement. (It's down below) I haven't had a chance to study the whole charter, but I expect there is plenty to chew on. [emphasis added]

For the time being, let's just look at the part that discusses community charitable contributions:

Lesson for next time: Even if you can't read the whole document, you can at least use the search feature to see if your key terms (in this case "charitable") show up again somewhere else in the document.

So, Conoco-Philips folks, when your blog bot got you to the previous posts, why didn't you just make a comment to clarify things?

So, sorry Pete, I was wrong and you were right on this.

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