In July we learned that over 60 fire hydrants in Charlestown do not work properly. Many of us were alarmed that an official inspection by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management performed in December of 2018 revealed that current Mayor Bob Hall was notified about the faulty hydrants six years ago but had not taken steps to repair them.
On the second day of August, Bob Hall issued a lengthy statement on his campaign Facebook account in response to an investigative report about the hydrant situation performed by WDRB News. In this statement Bob attempted to divert people from the issue at hand by turning the discussion toward water quality, but also stated that,
“At no point has anyone been in danger because of fire” – Bob Hall, 2019
In his Facebook statement, the mayor provided a timeline that began in 2013 with a “comprehensive” review of the water system that took two years to complete, and offered an assortment of excuses for why the hydrant repair was not performed. This timeline that he proposes, however, is inaccurate.
In reality Charlestown has been without full access to properly functioning fire hydrants for the past twenty years – a time span that includes ALL of Bob Hall’s terms as mayor.
- 1999 – During Bob Hall’s first campaign for mayor he recognized the fire hydrant problem and promised to fix it. He won that election.
- A Bob Hall campaign advertisement in the October 27, 1999 issue of The Leader – “Neglect of the hydrants cost [sic] more than we can afford. We will bring them up to proper working condition. Then by implementing a regular maintenance program they should never get in as poor condition again. We cannot afford to ignore this issue. Higher fire insurance premiums or lost [sic] of our homes is the greater price to pay.” – Bob Hall, 1999
- October 27, 1999 media interviews with the mayoral candidates were published in The Leader. When asked what plans the candidates had for Charlestown Bob Hall said he wanted to fix the fire hydrants because, “There is no excuse for the neglect of the hydrants. The fire department have [sic] voiced concern about this since 1990. We will fix and then properly maintain the hydrants like other towns do.” – Bob Hall, 1999
- 2008 – During Bob Hall’s second term as mayor the Common Council passed Ordinance 2008-OR-5 which ordered the annual inspection and prompt repair of fire hydrants within the city.
- 2011 – A Bob Hall campaign advertisement boasted that “He [Bob Hall] fixed the water hydrants – half of which didn’t work – and installed new ones where needed.” – Bob Hall, 2011 He won that election and began his third term.
- 2013 – IDEM notified Mayor Bob Hall that numerous hydrants were not working properly.
- 2016 – In the first year of Bob Hall’s fourth term as mayor IDEM provided the second formal notice of the inoperable fire hydrants.
- 2018 – IDEM provided a third formal notice of inoperable fire hydrants.
- 2019 – Bob Hall sold the water utility to Indiana American Water, who has – only five months into their ownership – started the process of replacing hydrants that Bob Hall has neglected for twenty years.
November 2019 – Despite his neglect of the fire hydrant issue and failure to keep his twenty year old promise, Bob Hall wants you to reelect him for a fifth term.
The first job responsibility listed for the Mayor of the City of Charlestown is to “Enforce the ordinances of the city.”
Not only did Bob Hall not keep a twenty-year-old campaign promise, he has failed to perform the number one duty of his position by not ensuring an annual inspection as Ordinance 2008-OR-5 mandated – an ordinance he approved with his own signature.
The neglect of our fire safety system has put some of our most vulnerable residents at risk.
IAW is currently replacing and adding needed hydrants across town. Some of the more shocking locations of these hydrants include all four of our schools, our public housing community where many elderly and disabled residents live, and at least one church.
As we filter fact from fiction this election year remember these things:
- Two expert authorities, IDEM and IAW, have classified our non-functioning hydrants as a safety issue.
- This is about safety and responsibility – this is not about who drinks or doesn’t drink the tap water. Anyone who redirects this conversation to the tap water is trying to pull your attention away from the real issues.
- At no point did any court process legally prohibit the city from taking action to make repairs while the matter was adjudicated.
- Repairing broken hydrants did not require the complete overhaul of our entire system.
Charlestown deserves better. Bob Hall has had 16 years as our mayor to get things right, to uphold ordinances, to ensure the effective management of our basic necessities, to provide for our safety. The fire hydrant facts show that he has not done these things.
If you did not perform the very basic responsibility of your job, year after year, you would get fired. So why should Bob Hall be any different?
This November it is time to elect someone who will put Charlestown First and restore community health. To read my plan check out the issues tab of my website here: Treva’s Charlestown First Platform. To see how I’m already keeping my promise to provide transparency and open government even before I get elected, check out my personal blog where I post audio recordings and summaries of every public meeting in the city: TalkingPoli.com
Call or come see me if you want to chat in person – Campaign office 904 Main Street, (812) 896-5647 . I’m ready to move Charlestown Forward by Keeping Charlestown First!
Documents and reports mentioned in this blog can be found here:
- IDEM Report here: IDEM Sanitary Survey 2018
- WDRB News Report here: Documents Show City of Charlestown Knew About Hydrant Problem
- Read the 2008 Ordinance here: 2008-OR-5 Fire Hydrant Ordinance
- City of Charlestown – Mayor Responsibilities link here: Charlestown Mayor Responsibilities
*Sponsored by the Committee to Elect Treva Hodges