Birmingham Water Works customers ask chairman to resign following felony ethics charges
Birmingham Water Works Chairman Sherry Lewis back at the head seat of the board table Thursday, less than 24 hours after turning herself on felony ethics charges.
Lewis made no mention of her arrest or the charges against her.
She attempted to lead the meeting as simply business as usual, but water works customers wouldn't let the meeting end without asking her to resign.
Dorothy Northington told the board she's a customer concerned about rates going up. Then, she made the morning’s first mention of Lewis' arrest.
“I woke up to shocking stuff on TV about chairperson,” said Northington. “…I don't know how, why, is it true? I'm thinking as a leader, the chair lady should step down and resign from the WWB period. Because It's not fair to us.”
The request was echoed by Charlene Cannon, who also began with concerns about rates before addressing the chair.
“I don't know you Ms. Lewis,” began Cannon. “You might be a lovely person. I'm sure you are. But I'm asking you to step aside until this is cleared up. It looks bad for the county. If it was me, I would do the same thing.”
“You see the thousand-pound elephant on the table here and it has to be addressed,” said Issac Ballard, a retired 21 year employee with BWW.
“I've heard you're a very faithful lady,” Ballard continued. “You should embrace that faith and do what you have to do. But for now, as you heard, you need to step aside.”
While Lewis gave no reply to customers or reporters, her colleague Dr. George Munchus agreed to answer questions after the meeting.
“This is still the United States of America and all of us are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” said Munchus.
Munchus says he's focused on engaging the community more to try to restore trust.
“As a result of what has happened, the board is still strong,” said Munchus. “We're still going to have open and public meetings. We're going to welcome the dialogue from the media and at this point I think we're simply going to have to wait and see what her intentions are.”
Lewis' attorney Brett Bloomston, told ABC 33/40 his client has no intentions of resigning her position on the board.
Water Works spokesman Rick Jackson emphasized the commitment to customers.
“We will be reviewing everything that’s going on here,” said Jackson. “The general manager will come back in detail and make a statement as to what we’re going to be doing going forward.”