On Aug. 5, the Empire ran a front page story about city funds being used to pay legal fees for Andy Bronson, the wastewater utility superintendent who pleaded guilty to violating the federal Clean Water Act.
Bronson diluted wastewater samples with tap water and was secretly videotaped by other employees. The city manager recommended payment of legal fees. Several members of the Juneau Assembly were quoted as saying that Bronson was "set up." One member says there is more to this story than we're being told. To date, no one has added to this information, giving this the appearance of a cover up more than a set up.
The whistleblowers who videotaped the violations are heroes who risked their jobs to record and report illegal behavior. Why were these people afraid to go to the manager? Is he part of the problem? His recommendation to pay legal fees could certainly buy a lot of silence if Bronson had any information that the manager did not want to become public.
The $96,000 would have been better used as a reward to those who uncovered and reported this crime. Why hasn't any recognition been given to the employees of the plant who did this? Are they being treated as the proverbial "bearers of bad news?"
Had Bronson been sent on his way without benefit of legal fees, I would have felt the problems at the sewage treatment plant were solved. With the Assembly agreeing to pay his fees on the recommendation of the manager, I now think there is a bigger problem resting either with the manager, the Assembly or both. If clarification is not forthcoming outside the political process, I hope the fall campaigns for three Assembly seats will provide some light on the issue.