Former council president comments on water

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— Former City Council President Kevin Bennett came before the council Tuesday night casting criticism on the current president and asking the council to equalize sewer rates between the city and other water and sewer districts.

Bennett was the only audience member who spoke during public comment on the water and sewer issue. But the room held a few formerly elected council members and some Old Town residents who waited out an hourlong executive session to hear public comment.

Bennett's comments were sparked by remarks that City Council President Kathy Connell made at last Tuesday's meeting expressing disappointment at a letter released to the public by a council member. The letter was sent by Mount Werner Water District asking the city to enter into negotiations over a 1980 wastewater treatment plant agreement that expires in 2005.

Bennett said Connell's remarks were out of line since the letter was a public document coming from one public entity to another regarding a public facility and not marked "confidential."

"I am interested, some members of the public are interested and I think a lot of people in Old Town are really interested. Why would the public be interested in the city renegotiating with the district? Could it be the direct effects on everyone who pays a sewer bill in the city," Bennett asked.

At last Tuesday's council meeting, Connell said she changed her policy of copying letters addressed to her as council president and passing them on to the six other city council members. She called the action of giving the letter to the public an ethical, moral and professional violation.

"We have had an apparent breach of which a letter that came from Mount Werner Water -- just wanting to talk about starting some wastewater agreements -- got in the hands of the public, who has already contacted our legal counsel to make this a political ballgame," Connell said. "Anyway, I have now changed. I will not be sending out copies, and I will be marking confidential on them."

Connell later emphasized that the policy has changed only in that she would first read the mail addressed to her before passing it on to other council members.


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