Harry Bethel imageFollowing publication last week of the article, Why did They Lie, about the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority [FKAA], we received a call from former City Commissioner Harry Bethel.  Mr. Bethel had been head of Customer Service at FKAA for many years after retiring from a similar position at Keys Energy Services.  Mr Bethel indicated that contrary to what was stated in the article, he did not “get the push and resign” but rather had made the decision to retire at the end of August 2008, effective January 2, 2009 after many years of hard work.

According to Mr. Bethel he was put on paid administrative leave pending his retirement, shortly after submitting his letter of resignation, by then Executive Director Jim Reynolds who was eager to have Colleen Tagle fill the job. The day Mr. Bethel decided to retire, he said, three other members of the Customer Service team decided to retire along with him.

The following is the paragraph in the article that Mr. Bethel refers to:

“Later, new blood on the FKAA board was pushing for reform. Mary Rice and Rose Dell with the support of Executive Director Jim Reynolds began to slash at the $100K club. They pushed for installation of electronic water meters. (The old mechanical ones were reportedly counting a fraction of the water used by some big commercial consumers.) The changes were met with opposition from insiders like Harry Bethel. He got the push and resigned. So did Kathryn Ovide, who was earning more than $100,000 a year overseeing the agency’s secretaries and human resources department. The “reform,” however, was short lived.”  [Full article here]

Here is a transcript of a follow-up email sent to us by Mr. Bethel, after asked whether and why he had opposed the installation of modern automated meters and why so many people in his department decided to leave all at once.

Naja,

First of all let me say as a Department Director, I am not there to be a rubber stamp, it is my obligation to myself and the Company to let you know my feelings and why but the bottom line is that whatever the final decision is, it is my job to make it happen and get us to completion. My reason for opposition was not that strong, I just told them that it was expensive and I didn’t think we were ready for (AMR) Automatic Meter Reading at that time. I had more Utility experience than anyone in FKAA, I had just retired from (CES) City Electric System, now known as Keys Energy with 29-years, starting as a meter reader and retiring as the head of the Customer Service Dept.

Second, as I told you we had a very loyal team with tremendous experience and knowledge between the four of us and a total of approximately 108-years with FKAA plus my 29-years with CES. They all said when I retired they would also leave because they did not want to work for anyone else. But there is no question that the leadership was in total disrepair. Everyone knew that Colleen Tagle could get whatever she wanted and that was scary. She was very, very close with Jim Reynolds Executive Director and also a business partner with Kerry Shelby Deputy Executive Director and to be honest she was not very well liked.

Take care.

Harry Bethel

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Here are documents pertaining to the retirement of Harry Bethel and others in the FKAA customer service department. [provided by Mr. Bethel].

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