Complaint filed against water board

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

An ethics complaint has been lodged against the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board.

Less comprehensive than the ethics complaint lodged in 2001, Monday’s filing by Selma local, Gene Hisel, echoed the 2001 filing’s complaint against the salaries collected by board members.

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In 2002, the salaries were found by the Alabama Ethics Commission to be unethical.

The matter was turned over to then Alabama Attorney General, Bill Pryor, for review.

In an election year, the matter remained untouched by Pryor.

“No action was taken,” said the attorney general’s office.

“That’s all we can say on the matter.”

Hisel says, “he didn’t want any trouble from anyone.

We’ve got another election year and another Attorney General now.

We’ll see.”

Hisel issued a release stating:

“I have filed complaints with the Alabama Ethics Commission against the following members of the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board:

Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, Lee Goodwin, Johnnie Leashore, and Samuel Randolph.

It is my opinion that they are using their public office for personal gain.

“While I cannot say much about the complaint, I have filed it to settle the continuing controversy about the extraordinarily high salaries of members of the Water Board.These high salaries include more than $19,500 a year paid to Mrs. Crenshaw and $9,600 a year paid to Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Leashore, and Mr. Randolph.

My belief is that State Law requires Water Board salaries to be approved by the Selma City Council.

The most the City Council has ever approved for a Water Board salary is $350 a month.

“This matter has been before the State Ethics Commission before and needs to be resolved once and for all. My understanding is that in 2002 the State Ethics Commission ruled that these high salaries for the then members of the Water Board constituted a violation of the State Ethics Law.

I trust that what was illegal in 2002 is still illegal today.”

Board vice-chair Leashore said, “We inherited this problem from the last board.”

Requests from city council President George Evans on Monday to have the board report monthly to the city council with updates, were met with harsh refusals from board members and councilpersons Crenshaw and Leashore.

“We meet the third Monday of each month and if you want to know what’s going on, you can attend a meeting,” Leashore said.

Evans said that “as long as something needs corrected, let’s correct it.

When do we start doing what’s right?”