Commissioner Golden brought up copper wire while discussing the beach redevelopment project. This reminded me of our stolen copper wire.
Back around 2006, the City of Lake Worth had a lot of copper wire that was stolen. To this day, the city has no idea who absconded with our property or if they do, they're not talking. Someone was in charge but never held accountable. There was a lot of funny stuff going on back then. Scot Menke, our Internal Auditor, found a lot of "funny" stuff and wanted people prosecuted. Later, our present city manager came on board and fired him. He was just into too much and asking far too many questions.
"In today's market, that wire would be worth between $6 mil and 10 mil dollars," a source said. At that time, I even saw a fellow rolling a container of copper wire up the street on 2nd Avenue North right near our Utility. Thinking he was just a worker, I thought the action was peculiar, just another anomaly in our quirky little city. Afterall, no one would be stealing something in broad daylight, would they? I dismissed my suspicions. On top of that, the guy appeared to be an immigrant and I didn't want my "racist" views to overcome rational thought. "Hey guy, roll that up the street and I'll give you 10 bucks."
Well, that was the wrong thing to do. Right now, there are people stealing copper wire off of 33 miles of some of our major streets and highways around here during the day when the power is off. In Palm Beach County, thieves have stolen 175,000 feet of the valuable copper and auto drivers are left in the dark. Officials are literally in the dark as they have no clue as to whom the thieves are. Read about it here.
They are blaming these thefts on the economy. The economy is only an excuse; SCUMBALLS ARE SCUMBALLS IN ANY ECONOMY. It's when criminals steal our property, our cash or vote on special assessments.
Not that thievery is still going on at our Utility, but Lake Worth Utilities is still the black hole. The Utility makes the most money and spends the most. The Commission did not even query the $1.3 million they want to spend this year on the 138kv tie-line, etc. The main reason that no one ever challenges anything going on at our Utility is because NO ONE KNOWS a damn thing about it. So the Commission happily approves millions. A couple of our experts were fired for challenging lack of controls there that affected Homeland Security--whistleblowers-- and now we are in a big law suit.
One of the biggest problems we have today within our city is that most of our Commission blindly votes and believes in Staff's every word. You have to wonder if they study the back-up or if they even have the time. Commissioner Maxwell has said on many occasion that he either did not have the back-up or got it late. A Department head wants something; he gets it, usually on Consent with no discussion. Our city could be picked clean and they wouldn't ever figure it out even if they were to awaken from that deep sleep...sort of like the followers of Jim Jones.
Now that the Commission has approved the Budget and everything in it, I would hope that the Commission direct that the Internal Auditor not only be independent as a contract employee but to do a little investigative work at the Utility. Let's make sure that millions more are not "missing" and that we can account for all of our property.