Illinois vs. Tennessee – (ECWd) –
Once again, we find other states setting the example as to how to deal with bad actors in local government.
Imagine a government utility company failing to provide water at times, including unclean water for years and then finding out there was self-dealing and failure to comply with numerous laws by those in charge of the utility. Add to that a Board President contracting with the very utility that he is in charge of. As if that is any surprise, imagine that the Board President claims attorneys allegedly endorsed the self-dealing.
In Illinois, we see this type of thing all the time and have found it practically takes an act of God to get anyone to pay attention and actually take steps to fix such problems. Recent examples can be found in Shelby County where the former State’s Attorney ignored the disclosure of destroyed records in the Sheriff’s office by the forensic auditor. With no call for even an investigation to get to the bottom of why records were destroyed, we should not be surprised that the official Facebook page of the same former State’s Attorney was deleted, along with all the comments made by members of the public, which are in fact public records. We understand other records were also deleted from computers but since this is Illinois, move along, nothing to see here.
Not the case in Sevier County Tennessee, where the East Sevier County Utility District found itself in the middle of being exposed for massive malfeasance and failure to follow the most basic rules and laws that apply to them.
Water customers, according to the reports exposed in this article, indicated some people went without water for weeks and months at a time.
The Comptroller’s office said ESCUD abdicated its responsibility and didn’t “take proactive action in the best interest of the district.” After the Comptroller’s investigation, the 106-page report found some very concerning issues.
- Conducting business with a party that has a conflict of interest with the district;
- Failing to ensure that the utility’s rates are fair and reasonable;
- Failing to seek opportunities to upgrade or replace failing infrastructure, leading to frequent
interruptions in service;
- Failing to control and implement a plan to control excessive water loss;
- Failing to negotiate an operating agreement which ensures the best use of the district’s funds;
- Failing to comply with state laws regarding training reporting requirements;
- Illegal payments made to Commissioners
Board members were replaced and steps were taken to replace the utility provider, and in a matter of months, customers are receiving water without the shutdowns they experienced for as much as ten years. The new provider replaced water lines which were a major contributor to the utility losing as much as 66% of the water. WLTV8 reported on the welcomed fixes in this article.
Here in Illinois, such malfeasance has become such a common practice that it appears to be part of our culture. In fact, it’s so bad that there are people that justify violations of the law based on how they feel about the person rather than what the law says. When emotion rules the path of our government rather than rule of law we have truly lost a properly functioning society.
We can only hope that the recent 73 indictments handed down to public officials are the beginning of more accountability for those handling our tax dollars in Illinois. (Coles County ASA 32 count indictment, Wapella Township Road Commissioner 23 count indictment, Oakland FPD father-son trustees 18 count indictment)