Group’s motives unclear

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

During Monday’s Franklin city council meeting, the grassroots organization Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills requested the city provide them access to certain documents that pertain to their complaints about high electric bills. Included in the information they seek, they want to know how many complaints the city has received, the nature of the complaints and what step were taken to resolve the complaints.

They are also asking for specific information regarding the testing of meters and meter-reading equipment. That got us to thinking.

A few weeks ago, members of The Tidewater News’ editorial staff sat down with five individuals who identified themselves as belonging to the CCAHUB group as part of our ongoing investigation into citizen complaints about, and the city’s response to, allegedly high electric bills. Included were group spokesman Dr. Linwood Johnson, Herman Parker, Charles Grant, Brother Bashir and Joe Ingram. During the course of the interview we asked any number of questions, ranging from whether or not they felt the city was intentionally charging higher rates to certain parts of the city (Johnson said no, Parker said yes), or why they had waited so long to complain if they felt this problem had been going on for years (Johnson said residents had finally had enough and felt there were enough citizens joined together to finally make a difference.).

One question we asked, or more specifically the response we received to it, has stuck in our minds in the weeks since that discussion. That question was whether or not they had requested the city to check their meters for accuracy. No one spoke. Only Mr. Grant raised his hand.

When asked why no one else had asked the city check his electric meter for proper function or accuracy, Dr. Johnson said they didn’t bother because they felt that the city would have been unable to properly diagnose a problem if one did in fact exist.

So, again, the ongoing saga has got us to thinking, and we can’t help but wonder at this point what the Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills are actually after.

According to their spokesman, members of the group didn’t seek assistance from the city before lodging public complaints. Days after publicly agreeing to work with city leaders, they staged a public protest and invited television cameras to come along and document it. Now they are requesting documentation to see how the city responded to complaints that weren’t filed properly in the first place.

We are only left to speculate at this point what the their true motives may be, and we will refrain from speculating on the group at large. But we leave you with this: it wouldn’t surprise us to see a name from this group appear on a city council ballot at some point in the next couple of years.