Thursday, September 29, 2011

Copper Wire Theft and other Missing Millions

Comment Up

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.


Anonymous said...

The theft of copper wire on I-95 often takes place during the day. The thieves are getting caught, but it is still an expense to reinstall all the wiring.

I found a couple of interesting items related to the Utilities Department on the City website. First, there is an invitation to bid for "Water Plant Landscaping and Irrigation Improvements" complete with plans drawn up by Mock-Roos & Associates. Bids are due on Oct. 18th. Second, there is an RFP for "Utility Billing and Customer Service Operations" with responses due by October 24th. According to the RFP. the "project scope will include onsite management and staffing of the utility customer service office, to include preparation and mailing of all electric, water, and wastewater utility bills; meter reading services; receipt and deposit of all utility bill payments; and operation of a telephone center" for a two-year period.

This spend-spend-spend attitude is amazing. I wonder if the current meter readers know they be replaced?

Anonymous said...

Much of the missing equipment can be traced to the companies who were hired to do the initial conversion. Much of the copper conductor went with them also.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the competent people you speak of, oh that’s right they don’t exist. If you and others ever knew the waste and incompetencies that happen at the utilities you’d faint, the copper wire issue is only one item in a long list on problems, yet they are entrusting the 13.2 kV conversion to the same group, expect the same results.

Anonymous said...

Ex city manager Paul Boyer and ex attorney Larry Karns know where the wire went. Good luck getting them to talk. Becky the current leader of the black hole club needs to be hauled into court to testify about the theft going on in the utility.Becky who also happens to be an FMPA cheerleader needs to be fired. Only in Lake Worth could such an incompetent get a job. Lake Worth is like the damned island of misfit toys-for employees!

Anonymous said...

I love my meter reader. Hope that is not true.

Anonymous said...

Boyer and Karns don't know where the wire is, but the remainder of the comment is right on the mark.

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