Citizens Water hears ACED presentation, and current salaries of CEG’s management

On April 17th,  I attended the regular meeting of the Technical Advisory Group of Citizens Water.  Robert Sparks, Director of the Anderson Corporation for Economic development, had asked to make a presentation and brought 2 engineers from DLZ and one from SESCO.

As I expected, their presentation was focused on the water supply/drought management rationale.  In fact, he listed the objectives in relative order of importance— water supply, flood control, and recreation.  He said that the original objective had been redevelopment.    He also said that they had preliminary conversations with state and federal regulatory agencies and said that none of them had put any “fatal flaws” in the path.  Notably, he also said that their communications with regulators had been entirely verbal because any written communications/documents would have been publicly disclosable under the freedom of information laws.  Translation: secrecy is the preferred method of operating for the Anderson Corporation for Economic Development.

Today’s post by the Advance Indiana blog (shown below) lists the high salaries paid to management personnel at Citizens Energy group, of which Citizens Water is a subsidiary.  It’s pulled from an on-line database supplied by The Indianapolis Star.  There is a petition for substantial rate increases for sewer and water currently pending before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.  Ironically, at an April meeting of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, a Citizens water representation said the company (which is by statute a unique public charitable trust) is very aware of rate affordability issues, and told the audience that there were 180,000 people in Marion County who were at or below the federal poverty line.

Water and sewer services promise to be increasingly costly in the future.  And if the Anderson Corporation for Economic Development is able to persuade Citizens Water to participate in the development of its stunningly expensive “reservoir dream”, it is probably safe to say that those costs would increase even more.   Hold onto your wallets.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Citizens Energy Officials Grossly Overpaid

The Indianapolis Star has provided an up-to-date online database of salaries paid to various public officials in Indiana. Fortunately, the database has included officials of Citizens Energy, the nonprofit public utility that operates gas, sewer and water utilities for Indianapolis consumers. The pay to top officials of the utility is outrageous. Citizen’s CEO, Carey Lykins, is the highest earning public official in the state of Indiana, receiving a salary of $2.9 million. There are 16 top officials earning more than $250,000 a year. This is an outrage and the IURC should start scrutinizing their double-digit rate increases and asking why the top officials of the company are feasting at the expense of Indianapolis’ utility consumers. Obviously, there is no body on the board of directors overseeing Citizens Energy who is the least bit concerned how inefficiently this utility is being operated or you wouldn’t see so many employees earning outrageous salaries. Some of these positions are simply made up positions to provide a high-paying job to appease someone, which may or may not require any actual work or knowledge. Seriously, does Citizen really need to be paying someone nearly a half million dollars a year to be in charge of community relations or customer relations? What a joke.

Carey Lykins, CEO-$2.9 million
Margaret Jean Richcreek, CAO-$1.4 million
John Brehm, CFF-$766,000
John Whitaker-Chief Legal Counsel-$706,000
Robert Hummel, VP, Human Resources-$642,000
Lindsay Lindgren, VP, Water Operations-$542,000
Jeffrey Harrison, VP, Engineering-$532,000
Yvonne Perkins, VP, Community Relations-$484,000
Michael Strohl, VP, Customer Relations-$460,000
John Lucas, VP, IT-$452,000
Aaron Johnson, VP, Strategy & Corporate Dev.-$369,000
Latona Prentice, VP, Regulatory Affairs-$355,000
Christopher Braun, VP, Energy Operations-$354,000
Kristine Kuhn, Director, Internal Audit-$268,000
Matthew Klein, Director, Resource Planning-$260,000
Blair Dougherty, Controller-$259,000

Advertisements

Creation care for our White River

Among many historic sites which would be inundated by a planned Mounds Lake reservoir, Mounds State Park, with its pre-historic earthworks dating from about 12,00 years ago, stands out as the most significant.  In addition to the threatened cultural sites, as we go forward in scrutinizing the proposed plan, let’s also be mindful of the need for Creation care, and the need for protection from the guardian spirits, per the following excerpt from A Dream of the People —

“… Our ancestors taught us to live in harmony with the land,

and they also taught us to live in harmony with all of creation.

We understood that everything around us was alive

and that we had a responsibility for all our relationships,

both in the seen and unseen worlds.

We sought the protection of guardian spirits….”

Excerpt from A Dream of the People, The Archeology of Anderson Mounds, Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana  by Donald Cochran and Beth McCord, Ball State University, June, 2001

 

 

“Community Discussion” and “Connect!” themes were a disingenuous sham at April 30th meeting at Anderson University

On April 30th, 6 members of the Heart of the River coalition attended the third so-called “community discussion” on the planned dam and reservoir on White River.  The coalition is a grassroots group of nature lovers seeking to increase public awareness about the potential effects of such a large and impactful project.

Our 6 representatives, comprised mainly of polite seniors, were treated rudely by the proponent (Anderson Corporation for Economic Development) and the event organizer (Connect! MadisonCounty).  They directed the security force to arbitrarily suppress our efforts to use the lobby outside the auditorium to inform attendees that they could join the coalition and seek answers to the many outstanding questions which exist at this early stage of the process. 

First, they ordered our one small (11” x 17”) sign removed from the lobby of the auditorium.  The sign (“Doubting the Dam”) was affixed to a canoe paddle. They said there were rules which prohibited signage.  When I asked to see a copy of such rules, the security person just sneered and ignored the request.  They did not ask the promoters to  remove their promotional signs in the lobby.  Threatened with forcible expulsion, we reluctantly removed the sign.

Our group continued to offer our half-page flyer to persons arriving.  We were well received by almost everyone entering the lobby, and many signed-up for our email list.  Yet after about 15 minutes, another security person asked us to remove our flyers and flyering conversations from the building.  When I asked why, he said that “word had come down that flyering is not allowed”.  When I noted that Connect! MadisonCounty  had several tables of promotional material and many staff and various consultants in attendance, he replied that they had rented the building and that they were thus “the client”.    

The “community discussion” session inside the auditorium was virtually the same format as the previous two– highly pre-scripted and carefully orchestrated to promote the dam and discourage public criticism.  Several times, ominous reference was made by the moderator to the necessity for the audience to be civil, e.g. no public outbursts, and the great job the security staff had done to maintain good order.   It was amazing how they dared to refer to the evening as a discussion while aggressively repressing any hints of criticism, disagreement or dissent.

According to the printed program, the “Community Discussion” was sponsored by three local entities:  Community Hospital Anderson, St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, and a private floor covering company.  The two hospitals, as public interest organizations, should be concerned and embarrassed by such shabby treatment of the public who went to considerable effort to attend the event and to advocate simply for full public disclosure and a complete and comprehensive review process.  Personal health is partly dependent on happiness (and the absence of undue stress), and some studies have shown that good governance and unfettered access to public process are, among other factors, directly correlated to personal happiness and thus our health.  By the active repression of public response, the event was neither an honest “community discussion” nor an effective way to “connect” the community, as was billed by the promoter and the sponsors. 

Going forward, hopefully the two hospitals, and other event sponsors, will insist on fair and courteous treatment of the public, including any dissenters, as the process of necessary further studies and public review unfolds over time.  As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote in support of open public process, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Clarke Kahlo

 

 

Inspirational river wisdom should also guide the long process of dam definition and review

The process of discovery and review of the plan for a dam and reservoir will likely be a long one.  Future decisions as to whether to proceed with next steps will be made on the basis of relative need and purpose, engineering analysis, projection of future conditions, extent of social and environmental impacts, public input, politics, and other factors.  But will the spiritual element also be considered?

We are early in the process.  A cursory initial “feasibility study” has been produced by the dam proponents.  It seemed like a marketing tool because it did not much address the disbenefits and downsides– of which there are many.  The ACED will soon start a Phase 2 feasibility study which will supposedly provide definitive detail.  They say it will take at least 6 months to complete.

While the Phase 2 feasibility information is being compiled, I’ll offer, among other commentary, periodic wisdom pertaining to the spiritual value of free-flowing rivers.  These will consist of quotations from various sources — leading authors, poets, and river advocates– which I’ve encountered over the years.  This blog’s first post was a quote by Scott Russell Sanders who I met at the Library of Congress at the “Watershed” conference sponsored by the Orion Society in 1996.  The conference was a gathering of educators, writers, and environmental activists.  Check out this great organization’s compelling Orion magazine at http://www.orionmagazine.org.   Scott’s recent book, which I heartily recommend, is A Conservationist Manifesto, 2009. 

Orion has recently published a number of essays by environmental activist Derrick Jensen.  In his book Endgame, Jensen provides the following poignant quote–

“The river spirit is destroyed when you dam the river.  Our people have lived here for thousands of years. When you destroy the spirit of a river, you destroy our culture. And when you destroy our culture, you destroy our people.  If we are to live, the dam must go.”    Milton Born with a Tooth    quoted in Endgame Vol. 2– Resistance, by Derrick Jensen

Anderson Herald Bulletin’s editorial on Paddle Protest

http://heraldbulletin.com/editorials/x1543052657/Editorial-Paddle-protest-floats-good-ideas

May 23, 2013
Editorial: ‘Paddle protest’ floats good ideas

Henry David Thoreau would be sympathetic, maybe proud, with the creativity of a recent nonviolent protest concerning the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir project.

About 50 environmentalists grabbed paddles, kayaks and canoes to drift down White River on a relatively lazy, if slightly rainy, Saturday morning. For four hours, they cruised the river from Daleville to Anderson to call attention to a natural beauty that could be forever altered by building a dam west of Scatterfield Road.

In a project that is estimated to cost between $300 million and $400 million, the river would be backed up to create a reservoir to supplement Indianapolis’ water supply.

In Saturday’s “paddle protest,” activists urged organizers supporting the project to evaluate the feasibility of the plan. Some of the canoeists were focused on the possible damage to the ecology of White River and surrounding natural elements.

While the reservoir project can revitalize Madison County and create new revenue streams and jobs, the project developers — mostly the Anderson-Madison County Corporation for Economic Development — must assure residents that all concerns are being addressed. Ecology and life along the river has to be at the forefront.

Reservoir proponents are currently seeking non-binding resolutions of support for a second phase study from the five affected local government units.

Debate should be welcome. So should smartly organized protests that, in this case, ask questions while serving to educate.

Going back to the mid-1800s, Thoreau, of course, was known for living a simple life for two years at Walden Pond in Massachusetts. From that experience, he wrote “Civil Disobedience,” a primer on civil rights, and essays on nature. Protest, to Thoreau, came from a personal sense of conscience.

When a sense of ethics mixes with nature, we get canoes and kayaks floating down White River. Paddling down a creek with an anti-reservoir sign might not be a significant display of civil disobedience. It is, however, an appropriate and original way to draw attention to the ecological concerns that surround the Mounds Lake plan.

This “paddle protest” might have seemed little more than water enthusiasts finding a reason to canoe for a weekend getaway. But 50 activists found an inoffensive way to bridge ecological concerns with a savvy protest.
Sh

HTR organizes “Paddle Protest” on May18th

On May 18th, we conducted a “Paddle Protest” and paddled White River from the Canoe County rental facility in Daleville to Edgewater Park in Anderson, a distance of about 9 miles. Approximately 50 paddlers participated coming from as far north as Fort Wayne and as far south as New Albany.

Those who had not canoed (or kayaked) that section of the White RIver had their eyes opened wide by the beauty and serenity of the heavily forested, and mostly development-free, riparian corridor.

This was an initial “test run” and, as a result of its success, it will likely be followed by similar on-river educational float trips throughout the summer as well as several land-based guided tours of the natural heritage of the area.

Here is a YouTube video produced by Randy Dillinger.

Speaking Up for the river

Quote

“If enough people had spoken for the river we might have saved it. If enough people had believed that our scarred country was worth defending, we might have dug in our heels and fought. Our attachments to the land were all private. We had no shared lore, no literature, no art to root us there, to give us courage, to help us stand our ground.” Scott Russell Sanders