When is a bribe not a bribe? That’s a questions being asked in Lee County, my hometown of Sanford being the county seat. The answer is simple: When Duke Energy extends the cash and the Lee County Commissioners decide to take it. That’s what has happened recently—Duke Energy putting $12 million of unmarked bills in an plain manila envelope, and the County Commissioners lurking in the shadows, taking the money, though this was done in public view—so there would be no objection from the local lawmakers in relation to the dumping and storing of coal ash in Lee County. It looks, smells and feels like a bride, but it’s legal, and that’s too bad.
Duke Energy, the nation’s largest energy company, has issues all over the place with coal ash as a result of operating coal burning power plants for eons. The issue surfaced, so to speak, when there was leakage in a major Virginia-North Carolina river. So, Duke Energy, the villain in this story, has to secure the coal ash and store it some place for the safety of mankind. The perfect spots seem to be an old clay (for brick) mining area of Lee County in the Colon community and nearly directly across the Cape Fear River in the Chatham County community of Brickhaven in another clay mining area. Unlike their Lee County brethren and to their credit, the Chatham County Commissioners have refused to take a bribe from Duke Energy. Instead they continue to fight against Duke Energy’s plan.
Reasoning for taking the money includes the thought Duke Energy will gets its way no matter what so why not get paid for it. In that regard, the Lee County Commissioners are shirking their duty of protecting the citizens there. The commissioners should be fighting the dumping of coal ash every step of the way instead of going with the flow and taking part in the bribery scheme. It would be interesting to see how many Lee County Commissioners have received political contributions from Duke Energy executives. There must be some skeletons in their closets. It would be a good story for the local newspaper, The Sanford Herald, to pursue.
The Lee County Commissioners should be ashamed of themselves for jumping into bed with Duke Energy which has not been fined enough and not been held responsible enough for its wrong-doing. Only when the current and former Presidents and CEOs of Duke Energy agree to dump and store the coal ash in their own residential backyard should other sites be used. What the Lee County Commissioners have done is no better than the deliberate pollution by Duke Energy. Unfortunately, in this case, offering the bribe and taking the bribe seem to be perfectly legal. Hopefully, when the next election rolls around, the citizens of Lee County will remember and vote the crooks out.
Dictionary.com word of the day
argot (noun) [ahr-goh]: the special vocabulary of a particular profession or social group