The Metro East Sanitary District’s board may be the perfectly evolved government entity — answerable to no one who cares and with the fiscal restraint of an inebriated mariner.
Board members are appointed to their $15,000-a-year gigs by Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, but when a reporter began asking questions he sure was scarce and his administrator was quick to back away from any responsibility for the district. “This is not a county operation or anything like that,” county Administrator Joe Parente said.
The questions were about district Executive Director Bob Shipley and his driving abilities. Shipley has managed to wreck his 2011 Ford Expedition five times in three years, leading to $18,400 in body work.
Take the original price of that upscale SUV, add the auto body repairs and the cost of fixing those he hit, and taxpayers spent about $60,000 so Shipley had a vehicle.
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An old pickup truck, or possibly a Smart Car with rubber baby buggy bumpers added, might be a more appropriate vehicle for “Crash” Shipley. Also, how about investing a few hundred in a defensive driving course for him?
The other problem is that all those repairs, plus others, were done by district Board President Andy Economy’s auto body shop. Economy did $33,150 in district vehicle work during a three-year period.
District lawyer George Filcoff belatedly gets the ethical issue here, but not necessarily the responsibility to taxpayers: “He doesn’t need this business,” Filcoff said of Economy.
Maybe not, but most people have trouble imagining a small business person who wouldn’t want or need $33,150 in extra business. It might not make him rich in a world that pays $15,000 for showing up for two meetings a month, but it is a lot of tax dollars that are doing nothing to make our levees safer or treat any sewage.