I am having an “I am woman, hear me roar” sort of moment right now. Let me back up…
I live in a metro Atlanta county that is known for its well-documented corruption. The courts are corrupt, the school system is corrupt, the sanitation department is corrupt… and then, there’s the water department.
The randomization of the meter readings started long ago. The jacked up rates for no apparent reason are no new thing. Hundreds took to the media in the past year looking for justice. I am not one of these people.
If you learn very little about me, learn this: I am a polite, bubbly person. I give everyone I meet a fair shake and I try my best to always be courteous and respectful of everyone with whom I cross paths.
With that said, you cross me… I bury you.
The whole story is long and boring technical, so i won’t get into detail, but basically I was receiving $1,200 water bills for 6 months. Yeah, $1,200. There was no real explanation.. I thought there had to be a mistake, I begged and pleaded witht he water company to double check everything, they said they did and there was nothing on their end and it had to be a leak. I hired plumbers, contractors, home inspectors… no one could find the source of the leak. Again I begged the water company to check everything. Nope, they said, it has to be something on your end. Finally I spoke with a contractor about my options. He said the only way there could be a leak that size with no evidence is if it was in the slab directly in the middle of my house where the water was running straight into the ground. He said I had 2 options: I could pay hundreds of dollars to get someone to come out with an infared camera to find the leak and then have a plumber give me an estimate to rip up the carpet, cut into the concrete slab, find and repair the leak, and then fix my house back. It would take time, be invasive, and very expensive. Or, for the low price of $5,000, I could have the whole house repiped. They could do it with minimal damage and cut down on the cost by me repairing my own drywall. Sold!
So, cutting to the chase, I did that in January. Then, after a full billing cycle passed, I got another water bill… for another $1,200! I called, irate. There’s no way! I’m not buying it! Then, and only then, someone glanced at my account… “Oh, my bad.. these meter numbers got all switched around about 8 months ago, apparently.” o_o
Since then, I have torn this county apart. I wrote a letter appealing to the sympathies of everyone I thought could make a difference… my county commissioner, the president of the water department, the board of public works… everyone. I told my story, but I also played hardball. I made it clear that I’m a single school teacher in this county, a 28 year old homeowner of 4 years, a community activist, and I just didn’t know where else to turn. I played damsel in distress.
It worked, to an extent. They reimbursed me for all the charges, but then there’s the cost of replumbing my house. It was completely unnecessary! Who is paying for that?! The county’s investigation determined they were not liable.
I disagreed. And let’s be real, I’m not really the damsel in distress. I just can’t afford this shit, I shouldn’t have to pay for it, and I’m not going to. Someone else is.
And so began my attempt to sue my county government.
Apparently suing the government is not like suing a normal person. You have to jump through lots of hoops. It’s this sort of notice and that sort of notice… 30 days to respond to this and 30 days to be served with that… It drags on and on. One of the dozens of documents I’ve sent to them over the past few months said that I was willing to take $3,000 instead of the $5,000 I believe they owe me.
Since I never heard back, I’m suing them for $10,000. Come at me, bro.
So today, after 4 months of absolutely no response from them, I missed a call from a strange number during a staff meeting. I listened to the voicemail during a break… It was from the county’s attorney. “Ms. Blake, I was wondering if there was any possibility that we could resolve this outside of court.”
Why yes, there is.
I haven’t yet called him back, but the ball being back in my court is such an empowering feeling. I don’t want to go to court with these people. This isn’t personal. They fucked with the wrong person and they’re going to pay, but I don’t care to make an example of them for the media like so many others are doing. I have a price and I absolutely can be bought.
And while I may be easy, I ain’t cheap.