Clewiston's McCarthy seeks return

By Raoul Bataller

CLEWISTON, FL (Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016) — Kevin McCarthy is running again for City commission. At last night's candidates forum at the Clewiston Country club he recalled his family's service to the community. 

During former Utilities Director McCarthy's tenure, sweltering widows in Clewiston were adjusting their thermostats because they couldn't afford his rates. McDonald's owner Steve Nisbet presented figures showing his Clewiston restaurant paying significantly higher rates than elsewhere. But the third town administration to fail in 15 years, Clewiston town manager Steve McKown's three years ago, loved the rich electric department as a revenue source to help pay such exhorbitant expenses as $700,000 for the golf course, pension fund mismanagement, etc.

Town electricity bills were high under the paradoxical political control of a family, Dan and his son Kevin McCarthy, owners of Glades Gas, a distributor of competing energy.Hard questions could have been asked sooner about Glades Gas's connection to the high cost of electricity here before McCarthy's resignation was accepted three years ago.

The breaking point came when McCarthy, in his "my way or the highway" politically divisive way, pitched a Honeywell salesman's million-dollar energy-saving program. Had it been accepted by the City commission, skyrocketing electric rates would have, at least briefly, made Glades Gas rich.

Town Manager Al Perry boasts now of utility costs so low that they make it look like Perry's decision to bring in Danny Williams to replace McCarthy may have been the single best decision Perry has made. Williams is the leading information technology expert in the area. Costs are now down, an alternative to a 20-year contract with Honeywell is in place at a fraction of the cost, and shabby maintenance no longer marks Clewiston's Utility department. The Florida Municipal Electric association, in a monthly bill comparison for January 2016, said Clewiston has the lowest residential bills in the three categories of 1,000 kWh;1,200 kWh; and 2,500 kWh.  The little paper out in the country tells it like it is.