The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

August 16, 2008

Water board actions need investigating

Public should question if interests are being served

The actions of the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority board grow “curiouser and curiouser.”

Board members’ explanations to the public grow more and more vague.

This begs the question: What is going on in the minds of these officials who were appointed to serve us, and why is no one in authority questioning the actions of this board that is apparently governing itself and answering to no one?

Those who have dared question the actions of the board are being removed from the inner sanctum, as was the case in April when the board’s legal counsel Jim Moffatt was fired suddenly after he said he raised issues about whether some activities were ethical.

On Thursday, General Manager Tony Sneed was dismissed.

Board president Mark Yarbrough’s only reason for the action was: “The board is just moving in a new direction.”

On Friday, Authority controller Harvey Cooper was dismissed.

Moffatt, Sneed and Cooper had been vocal in their disapproval of the relationship between board members and the authority’s longtime accounting firm, Christopher, Durham, Pepper and Armstrong.

While a board certainly has a right to hire a firm of its choosing, and CDPA has a long history of respectable service, these members have been working with the same firm for 20 years and some say paying accounting fees far higher than those paid by other systems, which does not appear to be in the best interests of Limestone County.

Many public entities rotate accounting firms to avoid the appearance of favoritism and to maintain public confidence. A vital component of maintaining public confidence is the realization that it’s a two-way street: Respect your customers and taxpayers and they will respect you.

The water board is showing a blatant disregard for the rights of the public they have pledged to serve by tossing out vague double-speak responses to justifiable questions about what they are doing.

This board seems determined to draw a cloak of mystery around its activities and, in the process, raise the collective eyebrows of the public.

We have no confidence in this board.

That is not how public servants should behave if they have the community’s best interests at heart.

Residents deserve better from their public servants.

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