Sun, Sept. 22

My Turn: 'New Regime' turns its back on the locals

I've never really considered myself a "good old boy." I've lived in the Verde Valley for 36 years but I still root for the Detroit Red Wings.

I've always tried to just keep my head down and work and let everybody else just do the same. But lately there are some things happening that are downright scary.

For some reason, the "new regime" seems bent on destroying the "good old boys." I really don't know why. I mean think about it. What's wrong with doing a job based on honesty and a handshake? Not enough lawyers involved?

Can't do it with all of the out-of-town contractors that the "new regime" is bent on hiring? Let's see. On one hand we have the "good old boy." On the other we have the "bad new guy." Which do you prefer?

My first encounter with the new regime came about four years ago. I had just finished helping the city repair a storm drain that had been improperly installed by an out-of-town contractor. You know the type. They blow into town, do a half-hearted job, take our money and leave never to be seen again.

With the new Cottonwood Recreation Center, could local contractors have built it? Sure. Could the local subcontractors have handled it? Absolutely! Look around. There is National Bank of Arizona and Arizona Credit Union. And what about Manzanita Medical Plaza and Country Bank and Verde Baptist Church. Those are just the results of my dinky little company.

We have several quality contractors around that could have handled the job -- and tons of subcontractors. To my knowledge, there are two local subs involved in that job for a total of $690,000. My math is good enough to tell me that that's not the 11 percent that's been reported.

They wanted to bring their own team. I would do the same. It's just that my guys are LOCAL! Their money stays HERE and right now we need that.

I digress. So we just completed the repairs to the storm drain and spent several hundred dollars out of OUR pocket doing it to help the City. Why? Because I live here and I want to help if I can and it just seemed like the right thing to do. Kind of "good old boyish" I guess.

We had a sewer tap that needed to be installed on a different project. The procedure is that we dig a hole exposing the sewer main and shore it according to OSHA guidelines. A City employee then installs the tap at which point our plumber connects our building sewer line to the tap.

Simple enough. Up until that day four years ago we had always borrowed the OSHA-approved shoring that the City owned. That day we were told in no uncertain terms that their shoring was no longer available to us. I had to stop and think this through. I had just bailed the city out at one end of town. We were all trying - or so I thought - to accomplish the same thing. And now I was being told to "take a hike."

Since then I have been cussed out using every four-letter word known to the English language by the "new regime" loudly enough that my wife could hear it as I held the phone away from my ear. How's that for a "public servant"?

We borrowed shoring from a "good old boy" in Sedona and complete the job.

So now I see in the newspaper that we have to follow a long convoluted process to hire an architect and subsequently more contractors. Not only that, but the "new regime" is arbitrarily rating these people to see if they qualify. Oh, and surprisingly enough the "good old boys" who built this town and much of the infrastructure in it and who have a vested interest in it since -- HELLO -- we live here and care about Cottonwood don't seem to qualify.

Fortunately, the City Council is not happy with the process. They realize that the "new regime" is sending millions of our dollars out of town to contractors, engineers and architects that could not give a rip about Cottonwood.

The Council is trying to find a way to stop it. They need to know that it is important to you. CALL THEM! Let them know you are in agreement with them.

I guarantee you if the "new regime" is allowed to continue you will not even recognize this city in a few years.

Oh, and by the way, if the city asks me to help out with another storm drain, I'll probably do it. I guess I am a "good old boy" after all.

Bill Bullock is the owner of C&B Construction in Cottonwood.

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