- Cullman, Alabama

October 18, 2010

The people should decide future of our water

By Zeb Little
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN —   After reading the guest column in last Sunday's paper, I appreciate the writer's

concern for those who would be affected by a potential Duck River project, but I find it

sad that the writer seemed to have no such concern for the rest of the taxpayers of

Cullman County who have just seen their water system taken over by an unelected cartel.

  The people's near-unanimous opposition to Wayne Willingham and Doug

Williams' actions has never been about Duck River or Smith Lake or even the

Tennessee River. People are angry because, in a backroom deal in the dead of night,

Willingham and Williams stole Cullman County's water system and $30 million in assets

from the people and handed it over to an unelected board.

  The people of Cullman County have made their voices heard on this issue over

and over and over again: they are opposed to the GUSC and SCCD cartels controlling

their water. They are opposed to the way that this deal was set up away from the public

eye. It was illegal and it was dead wrong.

  Now, Willingham and Williams are forcing the taxpayers to pay their personal

legal bills to the tune of $172,000 now and possibly millions down the road. They are

forcing the taxpayers to foot the bill for a contract of hundreds of thousands of dollars for

David Bussman as the head of the GUSC/SCCD. They are forcing the entire county to

purchase water from their unelected SCCD cartel, meaning they can jack up rates as

much as they want whenever they want. This is unacceptable.

  This should have been a local issue decided by the people. However, the two

commissioners' decision to set up permanent unelected boards has made it a legislative

issue. I reaffirm my commitment to pass a constitutional amendment that will let the

people vote to take back their water and set things back like they were. It is not my job to

determine what our future water source will be, but it is always my job to protect

Cullman County taxpayers from people trying to milk the system for personal profit. This

corruption must be stopped. The opposition to this corruption goes across party lines:

both Democrat and Republican county commission candidates have taken a stand

against this water takeover.

  I hesitate to guess what Wayne Willingham and Doug Williams have planned for

their special Commission meeting next Tuesday, Oct. 19 but their past actions suggest

that whatever it is will not be good for Cullman County. The people sent Willingham and

Williams a message at the ballot box, but they continue to ignore that.

  Next Tuesday's meeting is a great chance to remind them of that message: give

back our water. The people of Cullman County should determine the future of our water

- not unelected boards, not two rejected County Commissioners, not judicial activists on

the Supreme Court. I, for one, will do whatever it takes to set things right and take back

our water.

‰ Zeb Little is a state senator from Cullman who serves as Senate Majority Leader.