Mayor issues statement in response to water shutoff lawsuit

Below is the text of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s statement, released minutes ago.

The city of Jackson is currently being sued by six customers, who argue the city should not shut off water in light of the Siemens lawsuit.

“As I stated when the City filed its recent lawsuit against Siemens, our number one concern is the citizens and residents of Jackson.  One of the primary burdens for many citizens has been inaccurate and exceedingly high water bills.  Addressing this issue has been an ongoing process, and despite the claims in last week’s lawsuit filed against the City, the City has maintained a process for addressing such billing issues since it began dealing with the fallout of the disaster that was the Siemens contract.

We want to make sure the citizens of Jackson are aware that if they receive an inaccurate water bill, the City has a process in place to provide them with relief.  Last year, I issued a Water Sewer Customer Bill of Rights Executive Order that allows for citizens to address any bill through the City Attorney’s Office and the City Council. A link to a digital facsimile of those rights may be found on the main page of the City’s official website. Citizens may also contact the City Attorney’s Office at 601-960-1799 with any questions regarding the process.  

The Customer’s Bill of Rights was created to find a solution that is affordable to the citizen and allows the City to continue to collect the revenue that is critical to operating the water system.

I also want to comment directly on last week’s lawsuit filed against the City. It was filed by a former Jackson City Attorney and his current law partner.  The former City Attorney held that position at the time the current water meter and billing system was purchased from Siemens. In fact, he reviewed and vouched for the legal sufficiency of that contract. In other words, he was a direct participant in the purchase of the system that he now claims has harmed his clients.  His partner was also involved in the City’s purchase of the Siemens contract, serving as counsel on the bond that was issued to pay Siemens $90 million for their work.  As a result, both attorneys are witnesses in the lawsuit their firm has filed.  In addition, the former City Attorney has now sued his former client, the City of Jackson, related to a matter in which he directly participated in as service to its citizens.  Such conduct is highly problematic and will be vehemently challenged on all fronts.

The City intends to address all legal issues in court rather than in the media and the political arena, but it is important to me that the citizens understand that last week’s lawsuit is unfounded.  The City will work with all citizens to address the inaccurate and unfair water bills that have resulted from the deficient performance of Siemens and its chosen subcontractors.”  

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