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Clarksdale Public Utilities.In no particular order, here’s some general opinions and thoughts into the evolving story about our public utility company and its leadership.

Something Material?

ClarksdaleNews has been talking with some CPU officials.  It is clear that some think the investigation will, or has, revealed something of material consequence on our three suspended executives.  What that may be has not been disclosed.  It has certainly been discussed that the public needs to know whatever that might be.  The question has also been asked if we the public might also find material consequence to what CPU thinks is material as well.

Nothing else regarding any outcome of the investigation has been discussed or revealed, but ClarksdaleNews has deducted that one outcome could be insubordination, which would likely have to do with the executives going over the CPU Board’s head to City of Clarksdale leaders, and their reporting of matters directly to the press.  ClarksdaleNew believes it would be unfortunate if this is the only finding (and at this point we have no indication of any finding(s) at all).

A Positive Change in Corporate Culture

It has also been discussed with some CPU officials that many of the public have found a positive change in the CPU corporate culture that has come specifically during the three suspended executives’ administration.  There is interest from these particular CPU officials (there are four of them) about this assertion, and specific examples from citizens have been cited. (ClarksdaleNews believes that they want to make things better.)

A Big PR Problem

All of the CPU officials that have talked to ClarksdaleNews are aware that CPU has a problem with public perception of the current matter.  In discussing this off record, one of the first things each official said was the public has heard only one side of the story.  Each also said that their hands-were-tied because they can not legally discuss personnel matters.  ClarksdaleNews has pointed out that it is absolutely possible to better inform the public without crossing any legal/personnel issue lines, and that one of the perceptions that many in the public have is that CPU is “hiding” behind this personnel issue defense so as to not be candid.

It should be noted that each of the officials  involved in these discussions was interested in discussing this further in hope of finding a solution to their PR problems.  That this is acknowledged is a step toward progress.  ClarksdaleNews, and you we assume, is most interested in seeing that a viable solution is found (it’s rather easy once resolve comes to find a way, and to take consistent action upon it).

In talking about this, ClarksdaleNews also deducts that talking about overcoming whatever legal personnel reporting issues there may be is first met with some measure of fear (this is an observation, not stated).  It’s not overt, and we don’t want to be alarming, but it is rather a deer in the headlights sorta thing.  It seems likely that each could be unsure about finding a solution without a sign-off and/or possible direction from counsel (and without it, there could likely be a continuance of only one side of a story being told, which is our fear).

One particular discussion with a CPU official last week is worth noting.  One of the suspended executives made an allegation that was reported to State officials.  There were CPU names in the allegation. ClarksdaleNews would not include a news report that had already been filed elsewhere about this without seeking comment and/or a retraction.  The first thing the CPU official said was that no comment could be made over a personnel issue, and in so doing a perfectly acceptable retraction was made, written and approved on the spot, and reported to you immediately thereafter.  And, of course, no personnel issues were transgressed. (If there is a will, this is a way; this is just one example of how a solution can so easily be found).

It should also be noted that the comment that was reported by the CPU official did not get, nor require sign-off by legal counsel.


Current state of CPU Personnel

Last evening, one of the CPU officials remarked how well things are going at CPU internally right now, and how well some/many CPU managers are positively engaged with recent changes.  ClarksdaleNews responded that this was a story that needed to be better told, and that it would be quick an easy to speak with some CPU personnel, shoot some positive photographs, and craft a story about it.  It was stated that this is something that public needs to hear, and that this would be an answer to rumor somewhat about town about CPU internal discord and tension, and that there may have been a recent altercation in one of the CPU shops.

A meeting has been set, and a goal of ClarksdaleNews is to get a story out of CPU about truthful internal positives as soon as possible.  Hopefully this will soon come.

About Annie Houston and George Fields

A discussion was also had with another official last night about recent increases in monthly CPU bills.  This has come to the attention of the CPU Board through concerned citizens, which includes Annie Houston and George Fields.

The official responded with what CPU is doing in regard to both Ms. Houston and Mr. Fields, and ClarksdaleNews responded that this is exactly the sort of thing that the public needs to hear, and that this runs contrary to public perception that CPU soars above what the community thinks and/or feels.  What the official said off-record certainly does address that CPU has seen and heard both of these citizens, and has taken some action about it.  (In particular the CPU official expressed care that our citizens should be seen and heard.) Whatever recent actions are, ClarksdaleNews has not yet spoken with either Houston or Fields, but ClarksdaleNews is again hopeful that this can become a reported story coming out of CPU as soon as possible.

Clarksdale utility bills to some.The discussion about bill increases continued, and another CPU official joined in the conversation.   That more of us are seeing bill increases was mentioned.  The new meters and billing technology was also discussed, and ClarksaleNews stated that what the public most wants to hear is that adjustments have been found in the new meters that will cause monthly bills to return to what they were.  “That would go a long way in solving a big part of your PR problem,” is what ClarksdaleNews said.  Both officials acknowledged this, and one said “we are in the middle of a rate review right now.”

Note: this does not necessarily mean that bills will come down, nor necessarily that they might go up, nor is it an acknowledgement that the meters may, or may not need adjustment.  Stay tuned.

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