Out Here: Did Rock Falls follow law?
Does Rock Falls follow a state law that bars it from turning off people's electricity during really cold weather?
The city insists it does. Some say that's not so.
Recently, resident Kerry McGrady, 48, told me the city threatened to cut off his power because he was 2 months behind in his payments. The utility office, he said, planned to turn off his electricity on a day in which the temperature would drop below 20 degrees. The law forbids shutoffs when it's that cold.
The city said it couldn't discuss McGrady's situation specifically. But it assured the public that it follows the law.
We published a story on Saturday about McGrady. As expected, we got a lot of online feedback.
One woman wrote on Facebook, "If you don't pay your bill, then that's your fault and expect to be disconnected."
"Pay your bills; don't expect handouts," a man chimed in.
Others, however, said they weren't surprised by McGrady's situation.
"The city of Rock Falls has played these games for the last 40 to 50 years. Even when [my mother] worked there, they would do this crap," one man wrote.
On our website, one reader took a shot at the city's recent improvements to its utility business office.
"You just knew they were going to put the screws to the people when they redid the utility offices. … I thought the old office was fine and functional. Could have thought of other places to spend money on this town."
We have no evidence that the city has engaged in the practice of cutting residents' electricity on days when the temperature drops below 20.
So we filed a public records request to ask for information for all shutoffs since Dec. 1. Any person can make such a request.
If the city shut off power to residents in that time, we'll check the low temperatures on the days those cutoffs occurred.
Then we can figure out whether Rock Falls followed the state law.
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.