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Thread: Confidentiality in the work place.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Confidentiality in the work place.

    Right now in Grand Rapids a possible multi billion dollar development that will bring about 10,000 new jobs will occupy approximately 30 acres along the Grand River in Downtown.

    That is all that anyone really knows for sure about this project. The proposed developer, the use of the property, the major partners involved, and other specifics have all been very hush hush. Even those who are selling their property are required to sign confidentiality documents. LINKY

    Are there things with your jobs that you know, but you are ethically and professionally required to keep your mouth shut? I think that every job has some things like this.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    It's pretty standard here in the the economic development world. Can't talk specifics about virtually anything. In the housing aspect of my job, names addresses, the type of assistance is confiedential.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    What a tragedy:

    Mark London, owner of Sensations nightclub, planned to open a new adult entertainment club --Showgirl Galleria -- on Market Avenue. He signed a 15-day option to sell his business to the developers on March 9, 2006. If the sale goes through, London said he will not open his strip club.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Are there things with your jobs that you know, but you are ethically and professionally required to keep your mouth shut? I think that every job has some things like this.
    I have twice handled special exceptions for women's shelters and by state law we are not permitted to reveal the location in any public records and the file with property information must be locked up.

    I also handled a huge comprehensive plan amendment/rezoning for a 1 million square foot distribution center which I was pretty sure was Wal-Mart (it was). But it was submitted by our Economic Development Commission so when citizens asked I could truthfully say Wal Mart was not the applicant. My boss didn't tell me 'til the case was approved and I didn't ask.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Here too - if someone comes into my office and asks that it be kept quiet, I will do that. There are certain people here that I WILL NOT talk to about it because I know they will blab all over. I personally don't want the reputation of being a blabber mouth, or even the City having that stigma. Plus, you look bad if you do leak the info and the project doesn't go through.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I once signed papers for a previous employer stating that I agree not to talk about certain things for the next 50 years. Subsequent employers have not been that jealous of their secrets.

    Based on job-related knowlege or even things they may have overheard, I'm sure many here can make the claim that they could significantly alter the existing political fabric of their community with just one phone call..... to the press.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    In this case, I believe that the details that have been released and the progress information is a good thing. While Grand Rapids is doing better than many places in Michigan, they still need the jobs, and the redevelopment of that area will be a great thing. If it does not happen because someone will not sell, even without knowing what the development is, that individual will end up with the unofficial blame. So no one wants to be the only barrier in this case.
    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    I once signed papers for a previous employer stating that I agree not to talk about certain things for the next 50 years.
    Yea.. the US Federal Government will do that when you join Men In Black.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Open records are such a big deal around here that almost everything is out. I will not tell if someone just comes into inquire about property, that is really no ones business.
    However, I am required to kept the information about applicants for the sexually oriented business that I have to license. I am glad they put that in there for the employees sake.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  9. #9
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Yeah, that's the norm for economic development. Confidentiality for every project was a given at the point of hiring, and was often reinforced with certain projects--the boss would just say this project is particularly confidential. A few times, the company (or increasingly, their consultant) would have staff sign confidentiality statements before they'd come visit.

    Most of the companies I worked with through consultants were unknown to me, that's one reason the use of consultants is increasing, the company can stay confidential. I'd get requests for info in which the consultant tells as little about the company as possible, but we'd still try to figure out who it was.

    If news that a company is considering relocation gets out prematurely, it could affect their stock (is it a sign they can't afford their operating costs at the current location), trigger mass resignations of top staff, be used as ammunition by unions in other negotiations. News a big rich company is moving to the area could encourage property owners to raise prices; the company would use a consultant to negotiate a fair price. Also, the company doesn't want to be inundated with calls from people looking for work, agents with properties, and vendors looking to sell goods and services. I could never tell what company I was working with and a lot of the time, I didn't know myself. Everything had code names, like Project Cookie, Project Gold, Project Door, just random words.
    Last edited by CosmicMojo; 23 Mar 2006 at 9:47 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    This almost never happens in economic development.

    The reasons are seldom nefarious. A company may be evaluating options for sites and does not want to needlessly concern employees, or perhaps a poor developer is worried that greedy property owners will inflate the value of their land if it is known what he has in mind to build.

    I think that at the time a project goes to a public body for review and consideration, everyone has a right to know the details of who it is and what they intend to do. Up to that point, though, governments and their employees should be able to act with confidentiality.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Anything that is submitted to our department in hard copy format is public information. But we don't go around advertising anything. If someone comes in to talk and submits nothing then it is not.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    With the Sunshine Laws here in Florida virtually everything is open to public scrutiny. The only exception is Economic Development activities. What constitutes ED will likely be a thorny legal issue down the road however.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planner22
    Anything that is submitted to our department in hard copy format is public information. But we don't go around advertising anything. If someone comes in to talk and submits nothing then it is not.
    same here -

    I will speak in confidence with a potential applicant - I just don't take notes and don't keep anything they show me - people need to know they can run by some questions with me w/o fear of making the newspapers or to the Board - it's to earn respect for me so I'm not always the last to know, takes forever to get that

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    detroityes.com has a couple hundred posts about this already.. maybe you should see what we on the other side of the state are saying about your side of the state. Well besides that liberal 'Dammed Republican' rhetoric.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I once interviewed with a municipality and it seemed like a good part of the interview was questions like "Can you keep a secret? Are you sure you can keep a secret?" It was like interviewing for the CIA. I didn't get the job (thank God). Maybe they thought I wasn't secretive enough.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Hmmmm must be some Korean auto manufacturer... LOL, I hear they are expanding. !0K jobs is a few jobs, I hear they pay as good as most unionized plants. In my former position I was a one of a three man show and dealt with quite a bit of economic development issue that were kept on the low-down. In that line of work it is typical. Sometimes a lot of money involved and having a jump on their competition means a lot. Also as SW_ MI_Planner said a lot of times deals don't go down and if you blab and they fall threw its kind of like the boy who cried wolf...

  17. #17
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    How 'bout

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Right now in Grand Rapids a possible multi billion dollar development that will bring about 10,000 new jobs will occupy approximately 30 acres along the Grand River in Downtown.

    That is all that anyone really knows for sure about this project. The proposed developer, the use of the property, the major partners involved, and other specifics have all been very hush hush. Even those who are selling their property are required to sign confidentiality documents. LINKY

    Are there things with your jobs that you know, but you are ethically and professionally required to keep your mouth shut? I think that every job has some things like this.
    Keeping the home address and phone numbers of the code enforcement officers confidential
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

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