Mayor Jim Newberry's criticism of Kentucky American Water's "greed" reminds us of that scene in Casablanca in which Capt. Louis Renault, played by Claud Rains, says, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here," while pocketing his winnings.
Renault was putting on a show for the Nazis; Newberry for voters. They are equally believable.
If the mayor wanted to protect consumers from what he now calls "greed," he shouldn't have rolled over like a trained pup three years ago when Kentucky American was pushing through probably the most expensive solution imaginable to Lexington's water needs.
When he could have made a difference, Newberry seemed to think that putting arguments over water behind us was worth what he now calls "an unfair and extreme" increase in rates.
At that critical moment, Newberry's campaign had pocketed thousands of dollars in contributions from the water company's executives, employees and associates, some of whom have also contributed to his re-election.
So now as Lexington residents and businesses are stuck paying for a $160-million treatment plant in Owen County and 31-mile pipeline, Kentucky American is doing what it always does by collecting the higher rates before the PSC rules on its pending rate request.
The company does this with the understanding that amounts above what's eventually approved will be refunded to customers.
This inspired Newberry to fire off a stinging rebuke of his supporters at the water company: "Good judgment would have required them to wait a few more days for the commission's decision before imposing an exorbitant increase. Greed made them move forward."
It would have been more believable if he had said: "They should have waited until after this election to stick it to my constituents."