‘How not to run a city utility’


By Max R. Weller

Consider the editorial in today’s Daily Camera. Excerpt copied below:

Speaking before the Boulder City Council last week, Karen Daly of north Boulder could have delivered an angry denunciation of the city’s indifferent reaction to a Feb. 15 water main break that turned Norwood Avenue into a river and nearby basements into bitter flashbacks of the 2013 flood.

Instead, she did something more devastating. As only a former elementary school principal could, she conveyed her critique of Boulder city officials in the quietest, saddest tone imaginable:

The reason I’m speaking to you tonight is to convey my disappointment with your response to our Feb. 15 water main break and subsequent flooding of over 20 homes. I’d like you to consider our recommendations.

I’d like to acknowledge first the quick and kind and very professional response from our police and our firefighters that showed up. They came quickly, they did what they could, but more important to note, they were not equipped or trained to deal with what could have made a difference, and that would have been to turn off the water.

The damage to more than 20 homes is expensive and extensive. Here are the reasons that I’m so disappointed in your response to our flood:

There’s been a blanket denial of responsibility, no offer of assistance in any form. No one showed up the next day as a cleanup crew with brooms or shovels to help us, and Norwood Avenue is still a muddy mess. There was no plan provided to us to seek ways to improve testing and monitoring of our crumbling lines.

There’s no plan or ways to seek to improve your response time to water main breaks. There’s been no apology. There’s only one letter of sympathy, from someone that you contract with, to us. It was condescending and it felt like a legal dodge to us. There’s been no statement of responsibility from you, however small. There’s no good faith citizenship to your good citizens.

At this point, your actions are like the actions when I was an elementary school principal of a bully, and no learning or healing is occurring right now. Here’s my recommendation:

Please consider that our children are watching you right now. Take responsibility. Provide at least an elementary level of apology. Provide acknowledgment to us that you guys made an error, the city made an error, however unintentional.

Try restorative practices and talk to us. We have some good ideas to share with you. Train the firefighters or the police to turn off the water so that it doesn’t take an hour and a half. They’re quite competent. And relying on one lonely person for all of Boulder . . . to turn off the water demonstrates incompetence. Please develop a plan to better deal with and monitor our crumbling infrastructure.

Thank you for your time tonight.

The sad fact of it is that members of Boulder City Council, ALL of ’em, are too distracted with the pretense of Leading The World on issues like Diversity (we’re NOT diverse, being as lily-white as Provo, UT) and Climate Change (we’re NOT helping with over 50,000 workers commuting to their jobs here from more affordable cities nearby, creating a huge carbon footprint). And BCC simply shrugs off the issue of hundreds of transients flocking here for Free Stuff, leaving it to the corrupt shelter/services providers (their creed: More Homeless People = More Money).

To top it all off, Boulder City Council wants to take over the local electric utility . . . Yeah, right!

Having said this, I must also say that Boulder has the city government it deserves. I’d wager that Karen Daly of north Boulder has voted for most of these city council ninnies at one time or another.

Dan Spiegler builds a dam in front of his house on Norwood Avenue during a Feb. 15 water main break in north Boulder.

Dan Spiegler builds a dam in front of his house on Norwood Avenue during a Feb. 15 water main break in north Boulder. (Paul Aiken / For the Camera)

I don’t have any answers, and I think things in general will continue to deteriorate just like the rotten old water lines.


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