Tell City Council what you think about water rates issueBy: Travis Mickel
To all affected by the Lincoln water scandal:
On Jan. 23, our City Council had the opportunity to begin repairing the breach of trust they created by illegally overcharging Lincoln residents millions of dollars for water.
Unfortunately, they voted to refund the least possible, exacerbating the division between them and us.
Someone has said, “All bureaucracies do one thing above all others - protect themselves.”
Their decision was a great example of this, allowing them to keep millions of illegally obtained dollars.
They voted to erect a bureaucratic barrier between them and the citizens, making excuses instead of restitution.
Let’s briefly explore their excuses.
Statute of Limitations
If you steal a car and get caught after the Statute of Limitations expired, you still must give the car back. You can’t keep it. But that’s what the council is doing.
Gifts of public funds
The lawful prohibition against gifting public funds to private individuals was enacted to shield the public from the government inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to singularly benefit a person or cause dear to the said government.
It is a travesty to take something implemented to protect the public from fraud and abuse and use it to subject the public to fraud and abuse.
Disregarding the ‘public purpose’ or ‘public trust’
Even if you erroneously conclude returning illegally taken money to be a gift of public funds, you still can’t ignore the fact it is OK to give a gift of public funds if it benefits the public trust.
Returning the money would definitely benefit the ever-faltering public trust.
Interestingly enough, the council has pursued the one path that will lead to the most liability. Giving the money back to its rightful owners is the best way to limit liability.
A final point. If we allow our City Council to illegally take our money and keep it, what is to prevent a future City Council from intentionally overcharging, knowing we will do nothing?
Citizens of Lincoln, please come to the City Council meetings and let your voice be heard. They are the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 6 p.m. at City Hall located at 600 6th St. in downtown Lincoln. Anyone can speak for up to three minutes. Please do. When the council hears enough voices, they will listen.
It is never wrong to do the right thing.
Travis Mickel, Lincoln