Last year, during Hurricane Matthew, we lost power for three days. This year, for Hurricane Irma, we were prepared for much worse, given how much damage was expected in Florida and along the Georgia coast. But, despite the huge resource sinks caused by both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we only lost power here for a few minutes on Monday. Absolutely amazing, given everything else Georgia Power had to handle in other areas.
This past week, Manassas water customers received bills reflecting the new increase in the water base charge, from $14 to $27 ($25 plus a $2 tank maintenance fund charge). As you will recall from a previous article, this increase was approved, along with an insurance franchise tax, at the March city council meeting. There are at least three things wrong with this base charge increase:
First, as we showed in that previous article, the city has been working hard to hide the money they were already getting by making the budget obscure and mingling the water enterprise fund with the general fund. This allows the money to be spent on practically anything with little to no accountability. As an example, last year’s budget for the water system included line items for streetlights and the mayor’s son and son-in-law (the only two recurring contractors on the budget) on no-bid contracts. Now, there isn’t even that much visibility. If the city can’t be trusted to spend water enterprise money responsibly, and openly report how it is spending it, how can we trust them to demand and spend even more?
In the past months, Manassas officials have been very busy. From announcing a water base rate increase (nearly doubling the cost of the first drop of water from the tap), to passing a franchise tax on insurance, the city council does its best to find more ways to get money from its citizens and water service
fee slaves customers.
And then that same government works hard to keep you from knowing where the money comes from and where it goes.
At the Manassas city council meeting on Monday, 10 Apr 2017, I briefly spoke to a guest speaker before the
show meeting. The guest was there to share her expertise on third party water system management, a topic for an upcoming article. However, like an amateur video accidentally catching Bigfoot playing poker with aliens, a review of this exchange revealed a hilarious reaction by city officials to this brief conversation.
At what point does a public official become too clever, and cross the line into criminality?
Many public officials pride themselves on being very clever, while feigning helplessness or ignorance. Such officials exhibit behavior which is often excused by other officials, although this same behavior, if exhibited by an ordinary citizen, would be considered sociopathic, grossly incompetent, negligent or conspiratorial.
Months ago, we posted an article about an attempted improper budget end run on the part of Manassas city officials. This effort was spearheaded by Councilwoman Tonya Edwards, who insinuated that the Georgia Municipal Association was complicit in this attempt. Thinking it strange that the GMA would assist in such a thing, I decided to followup and ask whether GMA actually provided this advice, and if so, who provided it, and when it was provided. The backpedaling response, as usual, encouraged me to dig deeper. We’ll get to what has come to light in the past week or so as a result, but first let me describe the facts as they unfolded, and what these facts seem to imply.
As mentioned in this post about Councilman Shaun Edward’s bio, Manassas officials have declined to produce specific information about grants received and accounts held. We were alerted to a budget problem when Councilwoman Tonya Edwards, back in October, 2016, called for a shady resolution to allow the city to move money between funds. In response, we sent the city two open records requests, one for the grants which had been received, and another for the accounts held by the city.
Sometimes, working with the Manassas city government is like baby-sitting unruly small children. Just like ill-mannered tots, they don’t mind making up ridiculous criminal allegations, or avoiding discussions with the public during meetings. Or, like a child with cookie crumbs on its face, refusing to answer simple questions about where the money came from and where it went. Currently, they are playing another round of hide-and-go-seek instead of eating their statutory vegetables.
Last week, our attorney sent the city another certified letter, which has languished at the post office in Claxton, unsigned, for a week now. Perhaps they think if they don’t look at it, the Very Bad Things won’t happen.
evil silly little city? Who’s a evil silly little city? That’s right, you are!
At 5:30 PM on the 30th of March, David Hodges will be speaking at the Reidsville Library. David is an interesting man. He is an engineer, and author of “How to Build a Hodgepodge Lodge”. As reviewed by Janisse Ray, this book “… chronicles his experience building his own home, pool and hot tub. It includes how-tos for plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electric work.” David will be discussing many of those topics next week. We really look forward to attending, and hope our readers can be there also.
This one is tough to write. I’ve been hard on various local officials when I think they deserve it, and I have given credit when I believe credit is due. Out of all the shady and evasive actions taken by various Manassas city officials, one such official I have always thought was above that fray was Councilman Shaun Edwards, son of Councilwoman Tonya Edwards.
Unfortunately, that vision was shattered by something I read in the Tattnall paper recently. And that thing was the biography accompanying his nomination as Citizen of the Year, as published on page 15 in the March 2nd, 2017, edition of The Journal Sentinel.
Don’t get me wrong. If Shaun were Joe Citizen, I would have a lot of respect for the man. Outside of the context of his association (by virtue of his council seat) with some of the ridiculous actions of the Manassas government, if you just met him, spoke to him, and saw him interacting with people, any rational person would respect him. Until this expose’ in the paper, and connecting those dots with some of the fishy actions in Manassas, I still held a lot of respect for him. Outside of his involvement with the city government, I would have thought that he would make an excellent choice as Citizen of the Year. But that isn’t what this is about.