Why the GRU complaints

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.

There was recently a clip on the local news showing a gentleman's dissatisfaction with the "Community Energizer Award Breakfast" sponsored by Gainesville Regional Utilities.

Subsequent to that, there has been a flurry of emails circulating around from individuals also expressing dissatisfaction with the event. One such email stated that the breakfast was "infiltrated" by former GRU employees.

I am a former GRU employee, having served for nearly 30 years, and I am appalled and insulted by that statement. As a citizen and taxpayer in this community, I do not have to "infiltrate" public meetings. We attend them by right.

Moreover, due to my long history of community service in Gainesville and having received the city of Gainesville first "Employee Volunteer of the Year Award," I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the event and I was more than honored to do so.

There is nothing unusual about GRU sponsoring such a breakfast for those who give back to this community. For years, GRU has sponsored numerous events, such as the March of Dimes, United Way, Environmental Ambassadors, Cotton Club, Dr. Martin Luther King Commission of Florida, Williams Elementary and many, many more.

The Community Energizer Breakfast is no exception. Recognizing people like the four outstanding citizens selected this year was the right thing to do. Their community service records are impeccable. They have donated, among the four of them, thousands of hours of community service, and they deserved such recognition.

One has to wonder if all of the disdain for GRU really is about the awards breakfast or is there really an underlying motive. One thing I learned very quickly during my tenure at GRU was that many folks seemed to know more about managing a utility organization than the people who actually operate it on a daily basis.

Nona Jones, GRU director of Community Relations and Government Affairs, whose office coordinated the event, has been personally and undeservedly castigated. References have been made to her husband and father-in-law, who are both ministers and had nothing to do with the program.

Jones does not deserve this type of treatment. She was simply doing her job. One may not approve of how GRU operates; however, I look forward to the day when we can begin to express our dissatisfactions with some civility.

Like GRU, virtually all utility companies have staff dedicated to community service. This makes good business sense. Giving back to the community they serve demonstrates to their customers that they care. I am proud to have been a manager and executive at GRU and I'm proud of their efforts to support the community.

Albert E. White,


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