Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mysterious meter maids

The content of an article in yesterday's Shreveport Times is just too tempting not to comment on. A local resident has become a "water meter watchdog." This local man, Robert Feather, has made it his mission to find out who exactly is reading the city's water meters. The official answer is Port City Utilities, a company registered, according to the Secretary of State's office, to a man who died 5 months ago. What Feather's discovered is typical of Shreveport in a sad kind of way. Feather has the support of his city councilman, Thomas Carmody and the article notes: "In a series of letters to City Attorney Ramon Lafitte, Carmody questions whether the city's contract with Port City Utilities is legally valid. Carmody's chief concerns:" "The Port City Utilities contract, executed by Richard Johnson, indicates the limited liability corporation had no other members or a board of directors, and none was listed on the contract." "Johnson died March 20, and no new registered agent has been named. According to a check with the Louisiana secretary of state's office on Thursday, Johnson is still listed as the company's sole registered agent nearly five months after his death." "The only address for Port City Utilities, as confirmed by the secretary of state's official records, reflects Johnson's address." "Carmody wants to know who's getting paid each month when the city cuts a check to Port City Utilities." Is it so wrong to want to know who gets paid when the city writes a check to Port City Utilities? According to Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower it is. The article quotes Hightower as accusing Carmody of conducting a "witch hunt" in order to drag former Senator Greg Tarver's name into the whole affair. You see, Tarver's relatives populate 50% of the board of Port City Utilities. And remember, the person listed as the point of contact and chief decision-maker for Port City Utilities is now dead. Is Hightower concerned? Well, no. According to Carmody the mayor's position is this: "It doesn't matter who the city of Shreveport contracts with to provide services, as long as the services are provided." If that's an accurate representation of the mayor's beliefs about contracting city services then it explains a great deal about why things are the way they are in Shreveport.