Friday, March 14, 2008
My Refusal to Resign emailed to Ed Kitchen
In 1999 I was informed in writing that I must either RESIGN as Greensboro's Water Conservation Manager or be FIRED. I replied with the following email to City Manager Ed Kitchen with a copy to the HR Director. IF YOU ARE A GREENSBORO WATER CUSTOMER YOU MUST READ THIS EMAIL AND SEE HOW YOUR CITY GOVERNMENT WORKS! From: Baron, Mike Sent: Monday, March 22, 1999 4:44 PM To: Kitchen, Ed Cc: Kerr, Larry Subject: False Statement made in 1999 Water Department Video The new Water Resources video in which I had no involvement states, “Greensboro has a growing demand for water.” That is patently false. Everyone in city management knows that Greensboro has a declining demand for water. The programs I have managed for five years have caused real water demand to decline. How can we say in a video that Greensboro water demand is increasing? The reverse side of my City ID badge states that our City Code of Values is “Honesty, Integrity, Respect, and Stewardship.” Those are my Christian values as well. Spreading the lie that water demand is increasing violates our code of HONESTY. Deliberately selling down the reservoirs to achieve an end is poor stewardship. The City’s fraudulent reporting of increasing water demand has gone on for three years now. Do you not worry that you and your conspirators will eventually be found committing fraud? In your March 9th confidential memo warning me of my tenuous employment status you wrote: “Success in achieving our desired outcomes will be difficult if you do not exhibit a strong sense of being part of a broader team effort.” The City’s “desired outcome” is maintaining an increasing water demand—for the explicit purpose of forcing the approval of the Randleman Dam. Apparently in your minds the ends justify your false reporting. This “broader team effort” you want me to be part of is a fraud against the public. You are violating the public’s trust. I cannot be part of a “team effort” that hoodwinks the public into funding unnecessary water projects. My conduct and my communications demonstrate that I have tried repeatedly to join the “team.” I have been unsuccessful. My first three years I was not even invited to attend water department meetings. This anomaly stuns everybody who ponders it. It’s convenient to assign this failure to me, but frustrated water conservation colleagues across the US complain of not being on their water department’s “team.” It’s not the person, it’s the position. Water Conservation does not belong inside a Utilities Department that sells water for profit. My water conservation program has existed in a hostile environment since its inception five years ago. Utilities Departments are engineering driven. Only engineering solutions are seen as answers to problems. “Non-structural” proposals like water conservation and rate restructuring go nowhere. The Utility funds itself through the sale of water, so by nature the Water Resources Department is a sales organization. My written job description states that I will cause water demand to decrease. I have. That means because I have succeeded sales (profits) have decreased. Ironically, if I fail at my job I am secure until I retire. Larry Kerr has informed me that we are now at an impasse. He presented management’s two options to me---resign, or be terminated. I will not resign because I have done nothing wrong. I did what I was hired to do. My written job description stated that I would cause real water demand to decline during the second year of my program. We’ve won back-to-back 1st place Municipal Water Conservation Awards from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It says Greensboro Water Conservation is the best municipal water efficiency program in the southeast United States. I achieved what I was hired to do and with very little cooperation from the Water Resources Department. And because my program was not expanded, I never received the salary increases I was promised. My family of four continues to suffer on my paltry income because my program was not expanded as promised. (Greensboro started me at 28K and I finished at 36K. My salary was 40% lower than what other WC Managers in the US are paid.-- 2008) For three years now I have realized that I was hired to develop a “token program” that was never intended to accomplish anything. Management assumed that despite a new water conservation program, demand would continue to soar well beyond the safe-yield of our reservoirs—and NC and the feds would be forced into approving the highly controversial Randleman Dam. Now I am accused of not being a “team player.” Fraud and water management failure will remain concealed by the elimination of a “problem employee.” I have demonstrated to everyone how we could achieve an even greater decline in water demand, and clearly you, the Water Resources Department, the mayor and the City Council are not interested. You have stated repeatedly that water is the number one issue (threat) to the City of Greensboro. Your team wants that threat to continue—to force the approval of the dam. In your minds the end justifies your dishonest means. Unfortunately my employment and my family are expendable pawns in your grand scheme. I refuse to participate on a team that reports to city ratepayers and city taxpayers in 1999 that water demand is growing when we’ve known for three years now that it is declining. Greensboro has the lowest-priced water in North Carolina and yet we discount it to large users. That makes no sense at all—unless you are trying to sell the reservoirs down. We foolishly encourage irrigation through ordinances and discounted rates. We operate a tiny under-funded award-winning water conservation program that produces water cheaper than our own plants can make it. In good conscience I cannot participate on a “team” who stands before news cameras and reports “We are doing everything possible to conserve water” when the exact opposite is true! I refuse to resign because I did exactly what I was hired to do and I did it exceptionally well. I am weary of managing a water conservation program that was intended to be nothing more than propaganda to achieve the forced approval of a controversial dam. What has happened to me is a travesty—an injustice of immense proportion. Mike Baron Water Conservation Manager Department of Water Resources City of Greensboro, NC Copyright © 2008 Mike J Baron All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of the owner.
Posted by Mike J Baron at 11:40 AM