The Herald Bulletin

February 15, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Bad timing for Smith administration

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- —

In politics, like with most things in life, timing is everything.

The administration of Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith couldn’t have picked a worse time to divulge that Tom Brewer, superintendent of the water department, was given a $21,000 raise in December.

The announcement by the administration came just two days before the Anderson City Council was being asked to approve an ordinance to raise water rates by 47 percent.

City officials negotiated the 28 percent pay hike for Brewer, raising his salary to $93,700, to entice him to remain in the city’s employment. The raise in pay came after the majority of city employees were not given a pay increase for 2014.

As expected, Brewer’s pay increase was mentioned by residents opposed to the rate increase and by council members during the Thursday meeting.

When asked about the pay increase Pete Heuer, chairman of the Board of Public Works, said the council could ask questions during the budget review process.

“I think Tom Brewer does a wonderful job and has done so for many years,” Council President Pam Jones said. “After those budget hearings we had no knowledge of a raise.”

Councilman Ty Bibbs said during the budget talks there was no mention of any raises. He asked if negotiations were taking place at the time with Brewer.

“Negotiations were going on at the time, but not been finalized,” Heuer said.

Let’s make a deal

For the first time in memory it appears that Republican Rodney Cummings will be running unopposed in the November election for the office of Madison County Prosecuting Attorney.

Over the decades the prosecutor’s race ranked as high as the sheriff’s contest when it came to voter interest.

There were monumental battles over the years between Democrat William F. Lawler Jr. and Republicans Erskine Cherry and Cummings. In recent years Cummings and Democrat Thomas Broderick Jr. fought for the office.

How times have changed.

Currently the incumbent judges in the four courts that will be on the November ballot have no opponents and none are likely.

Courthouse insiders indicate that the judges lined up along party lines to insure that there would be no new judges elected in Madison County in 2014.

There were potential Republican and Democrat candidates looking to run for a judgeship in Circuit Court Division 2 against incumbent Democrat George Pancol and against incumbent Republican David Happe in Circuit Court Division 4.

Once the dust settled, the veterans on the bench prevailed and it was decided that there would be no contested races for the judgeships this year.

Unusual campaign contribution

After Deena Watkins filed for the Democratic Party nomination for the South District member of the Madison County Board of Commissioners last Friday, she had already received her campaign contribution.

Watkins was holding an envelope with a $2 bill given to her in 1984 by long-time Lapel school government teacher Lucille Rockey.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Sundays. Contact him at Ken.DeLaBastide@heraldbulletin.com or (765) 640-4863.