Sep 112015
 

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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 September 11, 2015  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #131, News  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Harry Bethel, In Response to ‘Why Did They Lie’ [Sept 4th Issue]”

  1. Mr. Bethel, will you first explain how your son, Robert, was able to start work at FKAA two years before he graduated from high school, and during his final year at high school he was employed (and paid) at FKAA for a 40 hour work week? Exactly how did he work a full-time FKAA job during his Senior at high school while also maintaining his scholastic requirements?

    I have his complete FKAA personnel file. How was he able to be absent from work at FKAA for 410 hours in 2014? Why did he want to have his lunch break before 9 am?

    Only after you answer these questions will I will begin to give any credence whatsoever to your response today.

  2. People at FKAA claim Colleen knew details of corruption and that’s why her employment case was settled well- with a gag order. Oh, to subpoena her! I hear she is in New Mexico now. I’m looking.

    The AMR meters were a huge, expensive mistake. They are no more accurate than what they replaced, except they were new. The batteries do not last 5 years as claimed, and a whole new AMR top ($100) is put on because the battery is hard wired. Their advantage is in the data-logging, where, for example, an unexplained high water use can be dated. The biggest disadvantage is that nobody visits the meter every month. They get buried, leaks are not discovered, tampering goes undetected, and more. The meter readers are still occupied all month, so nothing was saved in employment. My first thought was somebody got a kickback from Neptune.

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