Something Smelly in LR Wastewater (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 12:00 am  

(A clarification has been made in this editorial. See end for details.)

Little Rock’s Sanitary Sewer Committee fired Reggie Corbitt last week in a move that should have surprised absolutely no one. Corbitt’s tenure as CEO of the Little Rock Wastewater Utility was dotted with questionable decisions, but the malfeasance uncovered in the past couple of months by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette approached mind-boggling.

Corbitt’s right-hand man, Operations Manager Stan Miller, was allowed to move his mobile home onto utility land and to set it up, at ratepayer expense, and to live there, with his girlfriend, free of rent or utility charges. Corbitt and Miller also gave away hundreds of feet of pipe that belonged to the utility, and wastewater land was apparently used as a shooting range.

Corbitt rejected an offer of three months of severance pay, which seemed generous to us but which is certainly less than the full year of pay and benefits that he had the nerve to propose in exchange for his voluntary resignation. Needless to say, this isn’t how it works in the private sector, where people paid a fraction of Corbitt’s $188,000 annual salary are routinely axed on the spot for infractions that pale by comparison.

The use of the Little Rock Wastewater Utility as a personal playground for the top dogs is sadly reminiscent of the bad old days when Bill Shirron was director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.

A police report on the shenanigans at LRWU has been forwarded to Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley. We haven’t forgotten that Jegley took absolutely no action when the ATRS trustees made a criminal referral after Shirron publicly admitted to faking minutes of a trustees meeting, a felony under state law. We shall see whether Corbitt similarly rides off into the sunset, his only punishment being extra money for no work.

(Clarification, Feb. 6, 2014: The original version of this editorial incorrectly said Corbitt would receive three months of severance pay; that was the commission's offer, which he subsequently rejected.)



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