Why Did I Take On The Sewer Bill?

Nov 09, 2012

The question was posed on Facebook by Dennis Gebelhardt, Journeyman Lineman at Municipal Utilities, in this way:

Mr Becker…If indeed your motivation wasn’t one of personal Gain.. Here is your opportunity to explain. What exactly was your reason to campaign against this Bond Issue?. Remember the Rules are honesty and ethics.

Here is my reply to Dennis:

The ordinance to put this on the ballot was passed on Aug 20 and given to the County Clerk on August 21st which was the very last day to submit ballot info. One would think that a $20M Sewer Bond Ballot issue by City Council would make the front page, but no, it was buried on page 6 in the middle of an article with the headline: City Council Apartment Request Denied (DAR Aug 21, pg 6A).

I asked Mayor DeGaris around October 18th if the sewer bill was going to be on the Nov ballot. He said he didn’t know if it would or not and gave me his view on it.

On Oct 23, the County Clerk published the ballot in the DAR and the language of the Sewer Bond finally made in the paper (as far as I am aware). Because the language didn’t include the amount of increase to everyone’s sewer bill; because the DAR had buried the issue leading up to this day; because the ballot language basically read like voters were just giving permission to spend $20M on the sewer and did not include “and put the mass of the note on the taxpayers shoulders” via their sewer bill: I decided that day to take it on.

Why would the city keep this quiet? Why did they not include the ramifications in the ballot language? Why did the DAR not write about this issue. I felt something was very wrong about this bond. It was during that research that I found in the minutes of the July 16th meeting of City Council that Bach requested $20M but said it might only cost be $15M. It was mentioned we could possibly receive a $3M grant (which could make it $12M). Councilman Johnny Brannum asked about the third option the DNR spoke about and he was told there are only two options being discussed. Brannum attempted to describe the third option and was again informed they were only looking at two options. With the second option being $90M, who wouldn’t chose the first option. For whatever the real reason, this bond issue was put on the ballot with very little discussion. The City Manager controlled the options and argument: $20M is better than $90M and 1% is better than 3% interest.

In my book, asking for a bond that could potentially be $8M more than the cost of the project gives way too much leeway for more corruption. I felt that fighting this bond was a part of fulfilling my vow to our community to oust this corrupt government and I began my campaign to defeat it.

I’ve also been asked “do you have a solution?” or “why do you want us to lose all those percentage points?” I would typically respond:

MU has over $11.5M in the bank and can pay the $1.2M in engineering fees necessary to know the complete/projected cost. The engineering work won’t be completed until the end of 2013. Once known, we would go back to the DNR and request the same bond interest rate they are currently offering and put that to a vote of the people clearly stating the financial impact of their vote. I’m confident our community would pass it just like they passed this bond, because our community is willing to sacrifice to help our community grow, but the Bond we just passed is not good for our community.

Additionally, if City Council REALLY cared about saving the city money, they would use sealed bids to award the engineering contract rather than just giving it to Smith & Co.

  1. thomas

    In reply to the Dar. They will only report like most news broadcast does. They are either bias for whatever reason weather its politics or personal. Most will cast out lies with no ramifications for these actions. Which is sad and should not be allowed. In all honesty though there aren’t enough people to stand up for abetter America or a better community to make real changes. That’s all it takes. One voice is nothing but 50000 voices make things happen.

  2. Ruthie Carter

    I believe that the DAR is either biased or afraid of the city. The job of journalism is to unabashedly expose the dark underbelly of corruption, but the DAR does not always do this. Occasionally they do, but not enough. The DAR has fallen pathetically short of this goal frequently. Are they afraid of the possible repercussions from the city? I can think of no other possible reason why a “newspaper” would not print the truth, the whole truth, about any item concerning either the nation’s or the city’s foibles.

    Some examples of this would be the questions such as: “Where are the front page headlines about Libya and the slaughter of the Ambassador and the SEALS?” “Where are the headlines about Solyndra and the other ‘Green Energy’ companies that failed so the bundlers who ran the companies could return the tax money they received back to the election campaign commitees?” “Where are the headlines about the ‘Executive Orders’ issued by the president? Over 900 end runs around congress – SO FAR!!” “Where are the letters to the editor by persons who lambasted the city over the new hospital and the choice to build out on PP highway?”

    Also, a columnist or letter-to-the-editor writer should be able to express opinions without being censored even if the Managing Editors are opposed to those opinions. Unless both sides of a question or a thought are fully exposed and expressed, the citizenry can not really know or fully understand the full ramifications of the question at hand. I know of several letters about this hospital business that were turned down. One of mine was turned down because it was deemed to be “too incendiary.” Do you remember several years ago when one of the most popular local columnists was summarily fired because she wrote a column expressing an opinion about abortion? We don’t have local columnists that dig around and expose corruption any more. Why not?

  3. Ruthie Carter

    Brian, the last paragraph in your statement above: “Additionally, if City Council REALLY cared about saving the city money, they would use sealed bids to award the engineering contract rather than just giving it to Smith & Co.” is a very good and telling question.

    This is something I’ve wondered for YEARS! Why is it always automatically Smith and Co.? Why doesn’t the city put projects out for bid? There are other engineering companies; Smith should NOT have such a strangle-hold on the city that they automatically get every job. Maybe Smith and Co. know where the figurative bodies are buried?

  4. jerry

    it might help jason if you could post facts..instead of grade school remarks. this is nothing more than politics at its best. a rock has hit the city hornets nest and they are out to sting what ever or who ever gets in the way. so jason do you have any evidence to prove Brian Becker wrong ? the only thing i am concerned about is the rights of private owned buisness .

  5. Mary Jane

    Jason, or whatever your real name is (possibly………let’s say Doug just for the heck of it okay?) Your attempt at trying to discredit Mr. Becker falls terribly short, however, you are doing a great job of making yourself appear as a complete and total moron. You have taunted him to delete your posts, which he hasn’t done. Please Mr. Becker, do all of us mature bloggers a favor and grant his request.
    My prayers are with you and your family. I truly hope others will see how corrupt some of the P.B. council members are and the fraudulent lengths they have gone to in order to deceive the taxpayers of P.B. An investigation is long over due.

  6. Jason

    Why did you take on the sewer bill? because you dont want to pay your own bills and will try anything to get the attention off of your short comings. you have a personal vendetta against the city because they wont let you make money off of them anymore. if they would let you have the free internet you want then all of this would be a non issue and you would be rite there with them in support of this sewer tax and kissing all the butt you need too. ok you can delete this post now like im sure you will and always do.

    1. Brian Becker

      We never purchased Internet Access from the city, Jason. Just connections from us to the customer.