The Palmer Post


Ex-Mayor Roasted While Councilmen Late in Paying (if at all) Water Bills by Joey G. Dauben
March 1, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Palmer 75152

This is just a preview of what’s to come in March’s issue of The Palmer Post.

Hypocrisy: Ex-Mayor Roasted While Councilmen Late in Paying (if at all) Water Bills

JOEY G. DAUBEN
Palmer Post

PALMER – Current and former city councilmen routinely paid their monthly water bills late and were not given disconnect notices, an analysis of public documents show.

A large portion of the water bills that were paid late by former Palmer Councilman/Mayor Mike Greenee and Councilman Kenneth Bateman, for example, show that both were late in paying their water bills, and rather than receive a disconnect notice from water utility clerk Charlotte Follis, the councilmen had their late fees waived.

Follis, who declined to comment for this story, has the arbitrary power to waive late fees and instruct Palmer’s utilities department to turn off citizens’ water, according to city officials and public testimony at city council meetings giving her the power.

According to public records, Follis also routinely adjusted her mother’s water bill, crediting back charges for “yellow water” 10 times since March 2007. The only other person in Follis’ neighborhood near Elizabeth Street to have received credits (i.e., lower water bills) for the mucky water known as “yellow water” that appears from time to time in Palmer water lines was Charles Clark, a political supporter of Greenlee, who, several years ago, hired Follis’ mother to work in the Palmer Police Department.

Don Huskins, the former mayor of Palmer and a councilman at one time, was brought before the Palmer City Council two years ago with his wife, Laurie, to address the city council’s allegations that Huskins had instructed Follis to waive one man’s water bill late fee. Mayor Lance Anglin, who also declined to comment on this story, spoke on the public record that he had seen a computer screen showing Huskins’ involvement in the water late fee waiver.

However, in a response to an open records request from Huskins’ lawyer, the city of Palmer could not produce a document, e-mail or other record that city councilmen had alleged existed. Follis, meanwhile, is on a sworn affidavit (meaning she swore an oath to tell the truth) alleging Huskins of instructing her to waive late fees.

Huskins denied her allegations, but the examination of Follis’ records as the city’s water utility clerk reveal that:

Councilman Kenneth Bateman, a political ally of Greenlee and Mayor Anglin, simply did not pay a water bill from March 2007 to June 2007; from July to Aug. 28, there was no payment; he did, however, pay a portion of the water bill shortly thereafter. In fact, Bateman, while Huskins was before the city council with his wife to answer to the late fee allegations, was late in his water bill that night.

The Huskins were on the Palmer council agenda in September of 2007.

“He didn’t say a word [the whole night],” Huskins said. “And now we know why.”

Jeff Vick, another ally of Greenlee and Anglin who votes with Bateman on the city council usually, himself is listed in city records as not paying or not receiving late fees. He was, however, the only councilman to have a disconnect fee, but that was after several years of paying late and not receiving a late fee.

In Nov. 2005, Vick wasn’t disconnected; he didn’t pay in December of 2005; paid half his bill in January the following year, then paid late in Feb. 2006 and once again, in July 2006, he was late in paying his water bill but was not given a late fee or a disconnect fee.

In October 2006, Vick was given a late charge, but no disconnect; in November of 2006, he did not pay the water bill at all, but in December, he was charged a $30 disconnect fee from Follis, the water utility clerk.

In June 2007, Vick received no late fee for paying his bill late; in July, no late fee. September’s bill was paid late, as was November 2007, but no additional disconnect fees were charged.

On the night of Huskins appearing before the city council in Sept. 2007, Vick was sitting at the city council horseshoe table himself late in a water bill with no late fee charged or disconnect notice.

Mayor Anglin, re-elected to a second two-year term last year over two opponents, was paying his water bills late on an almost routine basis up until he filed to run for the city’s top elected spot.

In the analysis of city documents obtained by the Palmer Post, Anglin was never given a disconnect notice for his late water bills, but during the three-month (Feb/March/April) campaign for mayor, he paid his water bill early.

Greenlee, who lost by seven votes in 2008, had routinely paid water bills late, but had late fees waived and never received a disconnect notice.

A family friend of the Greenlee political alliance, Merle Cravens, has appeared before the city council repeatedly over the years to request more time in paying water bills, but has never received a disconnect notice, an issue highlighted by Huskins.

“They never went after her on the agenda,” Huskins said, who recently sued the city of Palmer over the allegations. County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Greg Wilhelm, a Republican from Midlothian, sided with the city’s outside attorney, David Miller, in that Palmer had sovereign immunity and therefore, could not be sued in Wilhelm’s court.

An analysis of public documents from Palmer City Secretary Alicia Baran, who released the legal bills in response to an open records request, shows that Palmer councilmen started consulting with Miller on Huskins’ suit – and were billed – several months before the official vote took place in a special called July 2007 meeting to hire him.

And here’s a chart that shows how many times Palmer water utility clerk Charlotte Follis adjusted her own mother’s water bill:

From May 2006, Palmer Water Utility Clerk Charlotte Follis adjusted her mother’s water bill to lower the payments due to “yellow water.” The chart below is an excerpt from thousands of public documents obtained by the Palmer Post showing those yellow water credits given to Jacque Bonner, Follis’ mother.

May 2006
Credited $47.68

June 2, 2006
Credited $39.88

June 13, 2006
Credited $54.75

Sept. 14, 2006
Credited $27.50

Oct. 16, 2006
Credited $27.50

Nov. 2006
Credited $33

March 2007
Credited $45.50

April 2007
Credited $45.50

Sept. 2007
Credited $52.25

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