Friday, January 05, 2007

Lawrence Water Deal Not A Done Deal

The Star's Kevin Corcoran reports that a proposed settlement of the Lawrence water utility, which provides for it to be sold to a charitable trust managed by Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, is drawing enough opposition from city council members to block it. There is no mistaking just how bad this deal is for the city of Lawrence. Former Lawrence Mayor Tom Schneider illegally entered into a privatization contract with Lawrence Utilities, LLC, which handed control of the water utility to three of his close political supporters. The private company's investors put only $1,000 into the start-up company but were given a $4.84 million cash infusion, vehicles and assets courtesy of the taxpayers.

My problem with the proposed deal is that it rewards the very people whose mischief got the city into the mess it finds itself. Lawrence Utilities would be paid $7.6 million as part of the deal for what? Doubling water rates? The city succesffully challenged the legality of the contract, a decision which is currently on appeal. Indiana's Public-Private Agreements Act requires such deals to be publicly advertised so the public has an opportunity to comment and prospective bidders have an opportunity to compete for the privatization transaction. Mayor Schneider ignored that public process by cutting the deal behind closed doors. It is inconceivable the city won't prevail in its suit against Lawrence Utilities.


Anonymous said...

The sad fact is, these thieves who started the utility with less than $5,000 of personal money, now have tremendous income and assets to fight with powerful lawyers for years.

They've locked up most of the big law firms with conflict-of-interest retainers. Hell, this smelly deal scared Ice Miler so much they backed away from their original representation of the thieves, and later claimed they were merely providing "Scrivener's Notes." You lawyers know what that means--CYA. Laughable, but still CYA.

Mayor Cantwell thinks enough is enough--and a bird in the hand....ya know?

A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Her heart is absolutely in the right place. For three and a half years Assessor Ricketts, and half the City Council, have dogged her every move. She's helped them out with a few mis-timed mistakes, but none were fatal, or made for personal advancement or enrichment.

I think she's deciding to cut the bleeding and move on. Whether it's prudent is another story, and your questions are proper.

But I won't second-guess her for now...she has way more details than we do. And I'm very sympathetic to her plight. She broke a lot of barriers out in Lawrence, and has had a rocky road.

These thieves who set up the utility, went right up to the edge of illegality, and they know it. They oughta go to jail, but the laws are structured just such that they narrowly avoided criminal acts.

How they can show their faces in that town is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Well shoot, lets give them $7.6m more. Sure makes sence to me. Give me a break. It's all about her re-election period. "Oh I tryied but those bad council people stopped it." This is NOT a skilful plan and the council should and will look carfully at it and, i fell sure, reject it for a improved arrangement. Get it?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Mr. Walker, we get it.

Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

Walker? Ricketts lap dog? What an insult.

Anonymous said...

Insult, maybe. But completely true.

Neither will be attending any Mensa meetings. But they're each smart politicians.