Blackwater Current

This blog is the result of extensive reporting by Joseph Neff on Blackwater since 2004, when his series, "The Bridge," chronicled the death of four of the company's contractors in Iraq. His subsequent reporting has revealed more about the events of that day as well as the multi-layered contracts that add millions to the cost of running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Manager acknowledges street, water goofs

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City Hall has been caught in some compromising positions lately, such as tearing up streets that were just repaved to replace a water main and docking a homeowner's bank account almost $83,000 for an erroneous water bill.

Those instances came up Tuesday night when City Manager Tom Bonfield (left) went to the InterNeighborhood Council to talk about the upcoming $20-million bond referendum for repaving streets.

Bonfield was asked how borrowing $20 million for streets might affect the city's similarly overdue maintenance on water and sewer lines. He explained that money for streets and money for water/sewer come out of two different pots. So, he said, the one doesn't affect the other.

"These two projects do intersect though," responded INC President Tom Miller, "in that we have to tear up the streets in order to do the pipes. We just resurfaced Englewood Avenue [in 2008], and now we're tearing Englewood Avenue up to replace water mains."

"That," Bonfield replied, "is a major screwup."

He went on to say the city "has systems in place now" to keep that from happening again; still, there's no guarantee the city won't have to re-repave a street if there's a sewer collapse or utility break or some other unforeseen calamity.

To which Miller said, "If you get that person to pay that $83,000 water bill you could probably pay for some of that."

Bonfield could only smile and say, "All right."

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About the blogger

Jim Wise is a Durham News/N&O reporter and columnist who follows city and county government land-use and neighborhood issues. He's author of "Durham: A Bull City Story" and "Durham Tales: The Morris Street Maple, the Plastic Cow, the Durham Day That Was and More ... "