By Jeff Jobe
Last week I shared with our online readers that I felt Glasgow could actually breathe a sigh of relief. We had 7 of 12 city council members agree with our mayor to help fund a true independent consultant regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority 20-year agreement.
I went so far as to say no matter what the consultant recommends I was ready to accept it and put the last several years of drama behind me. Seeing our mayor and city council negotiate a resolution was good for our community. Hearing several opinions helped explain various points of view; some we can understand, some we can support, others we disagree and a few that just made it clear they didn’t want an independent opinion.
When the smoke cleared and the vote was taken, a strong majority agreed with Mayor Harold Armstrong, the advice conveyed by City Attorney Danny Basil and his shared discussions with the Kentucky League of Cities. It seems the path they chose to take was because it was the right way to do it.
Yet this wasn’t good enough for Glasgow Electric Plant Board Chairman Tag Taylor as he determined on his own, independent of the GEPB board attorney Ron Hampton, that it just wasn’t right for these elected officials to offer their opinions on such matters and how dare they even suggest helping to pay for something they hadn’t officially decided to do.
Ironically, both Taylor and board member Libby Pruitt Short were outspoken supporters of hiring a consultant 30-days ago in a previous meeting and hinted for support in getting help to pay for it. That meeting had an entirely different tone and clearly something made this personal in the past 30-days and our community got caught up in a temper tantrum.
I’ll accept some of the angry energy thrown at our community because my company upset the duo since that time. I’ll accept my role in this temper tantrum we all witnessed but I want our readers to know exactly why.
Since the October meeting, we followed up on a lead from three of Short’s friends indicating a possible conflict of interest and worry associated from an incident where her son’s girlfriend was driving an SUV and collided with EPB Superintendent Billy Ray while he was riding his bicycle. We reached out to Short and asked why she didn’t disclose it. Taylor was furious and refused to confirm or deny if he had knowledge of it.
We also followed up on an interview that was requested by Taylor, which manifested itself through a podcast accompanied by Short. In this podcast the tone had started to change for them as Taylor went on and on about why TVA was the only choice for Glasgow because of the tremendous expenses associated with power line upgrades.
He claimed that with his calculations, he found the costs to be in excess of $100-million for line upgrades to what EPB currently has access to because of TVA. He went so far as to say using other providers would be like “driving to Florida on a spare tire.”
I personally reached out to one of those spare tire providers and found that they have numerous industrial parks, subdivisions, and even some of our larger factories being serviced at this time right here in Barren County.
However, the breaking news aspect in this conversation was that I had learned the East Kentucky Power Company has the same lines Taylor referenced actually calculated in their 2020-21 budget for upgrades.
I immediately shared this contact information so that Mayor Armstrong and Taylor could confirm independently. One would think our community saving the estimated $100M needed to secure our residents the 20-30% savings would be something the chairman of the board would be happy about. Yet again, Taylor spewed with disrespect for attempts to get him help for problems he said would stop us from moving from TVA.
The third and final dilemma I was made aware of was the impression being sold that our community would lose the opportunity to secure a certain company if we didn’t sign the 20-year contract. I reached out to state government and the actual property owner himself. Each said there is no such demand or threat at all. Again, I gave Taylor, Short, and Armstrong this information prior to the Tuesday EPB board meeting.
Taylor ignored the wishes of the elected officials we chose to serve us, and he and Short ignored the elimination of expense of $100M needed to secure their customers a tremendous savings once the current 5-year notice was given. But the dastardly part of this most recent EPB board meeting was that we got to see what hate and anger looks like as they could have quite possibly jeopardized our community and a private property owner the opportunity to partner with a fine company because he spoke openly about something that was never intended to be made public.
They rushed a vote simply because they know Jeff Harned’s term expires at end of the year and his vote was needed to protect the status quo.
This was the most blatant example of how deception stole any hope of truth I have ever witnessed. A sad day for Glasgow.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at email@example.com. Read his previously published commentary at sckentucky.com