"Bless our courageous employees, if they had not come forth, we have no idea how much longer this debacle would have continued"

Submitted by Bob Ford on 2014/05/25 at 3:49 pm | In reply to Newton  ….

Bob_Ford_20082-150x150Newton, please do not drink the “koolaid”. The city rate payers have been investing substantial funds in upgrading our public utilities. I do not consider $4,000,000 to $5,000,000 a year in recent times and more in earlier years, neglect.

If the investments made to date were better thought out/managed, our system would not be facing some of its current problems. The problem is not so much how much has been invested, but rather in how we invested it.

One could well argue that the zero read meter problem and the reuse difficulties did not result from failure to properly invest, but occurred because of poor decision-making and failure to properly manage these projects. Two observations shape this conclusion:

First, many believe that our current meter mess is a result of installing defective meters. It was reported in 2012 that a number of the failed meters were installed within the past few years. For how many years and across how many dollars were the same meters replaced? It was only when line level employees complained to a councilman that action was finally taken to stop the insane meter replacement treadmill. This is an example of failure to properly manage. (Bless our courageous employees, if they had not come forth, we have no idea how much longer this debacle would have continued.)

During the same period as the registers on the meters were not recording, the City entered into an ambitious and expensive program to automate our meter reading program. Millions were spent to provide automated readers for meters that were failing. The millions spent on the automated system could have gone a long way to resolving our no read meter failures. Public utilities should have fixed the meter problem first, before embarking on an expensive new effort. This is an example of poor decision making.

Second, millions were also spent to upgrade our reuse water system. Two large lakes and associated structures were developed. The plan was to pump surplus reuse water to these lakes during periods of low demand and then pump out of these lakes during period of high demand. Unhappily, this multi-million dollar system does not perform the majority of water pumped into the lakes cannot be retrieved. As a result, potable water is being used to augment the reuse system, and during wet periods we are once again dumping water into our estuary. Currently an additional $2,500,000 has been allocated in a further attempt to get this star-crossed system to work.

If the meters had been addressed in a timely and cost effective manner, there would not only be cost savings over our current approach, but there may have been a better income stream. How many miles of sewer could be relined, how many miles of galvanized could have been replaced, if we hadn’t built the Lakes?

So, again, was it “neglect or doing too little” or was it mismanagement and poor planning? Throwing money at the problem has not worked in the past, not certain whether it will work in the future.

Bob Ford

Submitted by Newton White on 2014/05/25 at 7:49 am  in reply to Don Juan

newtonDon Juan,
I have taken the time to talk with current and former folks and know very well where we are with our meters aging out, our too little maintenance of lines and pipes and the all too soon need to upgrade our sewer/reclaim plant to meet new standards. Utilities is not the only place suffering from neglect and facing the high costs of doing to little.

I have no doubt they needed most of the items bought. My focus is that controls and procedures do no exist or were not being followed. Tens of Thousands of dollars were spent without proper authorization and a purchase limit exceeded by nearly double before it was stopped.

Perhaps if these needs were brought back to council the extent of the problems would be coming out sooner. Perhaps if a better look was taken in 2012 we would not have gone a year with as many as 1798 zero reads, according to the memorandum on 4/22/14.

Newton White
Newton@NewtonWhite.us If you want to talk to me I would be happy to hear from you. Online, in person or on the phone…

6 thoughts on “"Bless our courageous employees, if they had not come forth, we have no idea how much longer this debacle would have continued"

  • May 25, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Do not worry, “koolaid” has too much sugar for me. You are correct to be skeptical of where and what it was spent on. I find it wrong that we are in this mess with meters again, we really never were out of the meter mess, anyone would suspect their were more than discovered and replaced under the warranty work. I refer back to the lack of records to know the age and use of meters, that lask was found out as they tried to determine which was warranty and not. Had a plan existed to track age and useful life based on gallons and replace accordingly,we would know. Then to hear another problem is the ancient clay and concrete sewer lines and steel water pipes, it makes me wonder, as you, what was our money spent on all these years.
    The storage lakes I am told are a unique project in that no one anywhere as a similar system that we could learn form. Sadly the options ahead of us are to make changes to fix the failed designs and unforeseen problems, or abandon them and build another disposal system for excess reclaim water or apply for a permit to dump more in the river. I think the river dumping is the wrong way to go, and the last resort as I have seen our river deteriorate.
    Perhaps I misspoke or was just being kind about the past maintenance work. It would really take a lot to find where and when mistakes or misdirections were made and even what we know does not change where we are. Moving ahead responsibly will require an inventory and inspection of the sewer system to determine how much needs to be and in what time frame. On the water meter side data from other systems suggests we are missing a good deal of revenue and the faster we can get it accomplished the sooner we will know what our true revenue is, and where rates should be set.

  • May 25, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    You know this thread was started because of $411,000 spent without proper approval. Lets not forget about that on Tuesday. The ongoing problems with water meters and aging infrastructure that has been neglected by spending in the wrong place or whatever the problems Should Not keep us from the fundamental errors made in over spending.
    They are TWO separate issues.

  • May 26, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Those on the front line have nothing to lose at this point. Leaving a legacy and integrity is all they can hope for before they all retire. Those running the city have disenfranchised any and all of the employees within the organization that have the knowledge, the desire , or the wherewithal to pick up the pieces and salvage the debacle the former city manager left us with and the current city manager is perpetuating. The present Lifesaver and his MIT interlopers and the incoming wannabee politicians will regrettably form new coalitions that will perpetuate the malfeasance, misfeasance, and literal rape of the citizens of Port Orange.
    Newton White, a Publix Manager, is now a Public Utilities infrastructure expert after a few trips to the reuse lakes and a trip to the reuse water plant. He is an expert on homeland security cameras, and is a regulatory expert. LOL!
    He also thinks that law enforcement, fire science, and public utility professionals that have worked for Port Orange for decades should lose all their sick and vacation accruals and be reduced to what his stock boys at Publix Supermarket receive.
    In the last workshop Port Orange had it was indicated that Port Orange workers benefits fell from the top of the county to mid range. Newton White is proposing that we take Port Orange public safety employees to the bottom of the barrel. The Florida League of Cities or the FCCMA is not even trying to do that. With aging work force and zero succession planning does Newton think kicking police officers, firemen, paramedics, water & wastewater environmental professionals, instrument and lab technicians, and highly skilled labor in general in the teeth is going to help the citizens of Port Orang?. Doesn’t this fool realize the problem is with the southern plantation owner mayor, the CM with the spurious background, and his interloping MIT’s who walk in with six figure salaries, weeks of unearned leave after being fired from their past jobs, and not even having to fill out a city application or undergo a background investigation? It sounds like Newton White will fall right in line with the Allen Green agenda.
    The focus needs to be on a mayor and his plans that have nothing to do with solving the most important problems facing his constituency, but instead is focused on placing the resources of the city on subsidizing Buddy Lacore’s dream project and perhaps his own progeny’s ancillary benefit. AKA Allen Green junior’s positioning in the economic benefit through daddy’s compartmentalizing the family business. The new CM and his MIT’s have been imported to Port Orange by the mayor and are here to keep the mayor’s personal agendas intact while the infrastructure, the succession planning, the asset management plan, and the fiduciary interest of the citizens of this bedroom community are neglected. Greg rodent Kisela needs to keep his job, pad his retirement, and pay the mortgage on Lucy’s petting farm.
    As long as the southern plantation owner can perpetuate his dog and pony show, aided and abated by an interloping city manager, with a spurious background and zero history as a stakeholder in any community he has ever lived in this farce will continue, As long as the present city manager is given carte blanche to hire FCCMA retreads that have been fired, forced to retire, and have repeat offences for malfeasance, misfeasance, or abuses of the employees they manage there is little or no hope for this organization. Stay tuned for what is fixing to break bad regarding one of the rodent’s most recent recruit retreads.
    Just remember the moniker of Rangar Lothbrok From The Halls Of Valhalla. In Valhalla the brave warriors will fight to the death over and over again. They may lose a battle, but they will be resurrected by Odin to courageously fight a glorious battle over and over again until things are righted. Richard Woodman is fighting that battle on a regular basis. Soon a number of other employees will resign or retire and as citizens will join the fight. There are always brave souls that have indomitable will and are willing to sacrifice their personal themselves in battle repeatedly for a higher principal with faith that truth will ultimately prevail. Let me say that I doubt that the mayor and his lifesaver pawn has that integrity and resolve. May we meet them in the halls of Valhalla where the brave will not be forgotten!

    • May 26, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Wow Ranger. I would like to know where and when I have ever said I wanted to reduce benefits for our city workers, IT IS SIMPLY NOT MY WORDS. As for reducing them to that of a Publix Stock Boy you do not know our business, or what we earn in benefits, their would be no reduction. No I have not suggested reducing anyone to the bottom of the barrel. I hold our hard working people in high esteem.
      I find it aggravating, I am not a career utility worker LEO or Firefighter but I have put forth effort to be knowledgeable of the people, facilities and how they function before I express an opinion.
      You have spoken perhaps what you believe to be, but it is certainly not what I represent.
      I welcome you to contact me directly to discuss these things, I would be interested in what you know and have to say. Newton@NewtonWhite.us

  • May 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Your are correct the $400,000 plus should not be swept under the rug on Tuesday night. It is not tens of thousands it is hundreds of thousands. Is that fair to other prospective bidders just extending existing contracts to the tune of $400,000? This is one of the BIGGEST blunders I have seen in Port Orange in some time. Let’s hope we see some actions equivalent to the size of the BLUNDER.
    I know citizens only get their 3 minutes but Council can debate it as long as they wish. Let’s see if this big fish slips right by. In the private sector their would already be vacancies. We are still waiting for the Engineering Consultants report on the boil water fiasco back in March. Mr Kisela promised it on the record at a previous Council meeting. Mayor Green provided a statement regarding the report which is currently on the City Website. I do not believe he mentioned a time frame for completion.
    The public utility spending and deficiency list is growing exponentially. Out with the old and in with the new. We made a mistake so let’s fix it and move on. It is time to stop the bleeding. Mr Ford was correct in his statement that we have provided millions of EXTRA dollars every year. It is not neglect it is Mismanagement.

    • May 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      As you may already know, senior technical staff in public utilities and Richard Woodman had already identified the reason for 18 inch main break and city wide boil water notice. It occured because of using sn improper drill for tapping the line where the dull forced drill bit csused spider cracks thst shattered the pvc pipe that was under pressure. This shouldn’t have been done at mid day on Monday of bike week, with no advance preparations, and with only two relatively inexperienced workers. This was just total mismanagement.
      THE CM and the utilities director were looking to get an engineering firm of their choosing to tell another story anf find someone else to blame and were willing to spenf $30, 000 of the taxpayers money in so doing. It turns out when the report comrd out it will mirror the same assessment that public utilities senior staff and Mr. Woodman made professionally and free of charge. This is the same senior staff that the CM disrespects and has disenfranchised and the same Richard Woodman that the CM has forced into resigning and has constructively terminated. It is time to listen to Ted Noftall and vote this lifesaving rodent out the door.


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