Thursday, March 25, 2010
Pittsburgh City Councilman and Patrick Dowd today called for the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to resign his post. Dowd is also a member of the sewer authority board. The move came as council was holding a public hearing into the controversial line insurance being offered to ratepayers. Yesterday Executive Director Michael Kenney disclosed he held a 20% share of water line warranty company “Utilishield.” Utilishield does not have the Pittsburgh contract but the co owners of the firm also own Utility Line Security and Resource Development and Management. Both of those companies do have contract with the PWSA. Dowd says he has been asking Kenney to make full disclosure of his businesses interests for months but has had no luck. Now he says he has no confidence in Kenney and he says other ratepayers should be suspect of contracts let under his leadership. Dowd admits that there is no law that requires Kenney to make such disclosures but he says it is a clear ethical issue. He says he will call for a new bidding process for the warranty contract. Dowd says it is very possible that the contract with Utility Line Security is the best option but the public needs to see that there is no appearance of conflict of interest. The controversy over the line insurance did not originally stem from how the contract was bid or who held the contract. The controversy revolved around a change from an opt-in program to an opt-out program where all ratepayers are charged $5.00 a month unless they ask to not have the insurance. In the past rate payers had to ask to be part of the program. Many apartment dwellers and commercial water users were upset that the insurance for which they were being charged would not even cover their lines.