Our History

                                                                                 History of FSFAC

 

    The success or failure of any American or World-wide community is measured   by how the most vulnerable members of that community are treated. These citizens have the most difficulty dealing with local, state and national government entities. They can have their everyday lives affected by having needed services taken away without notice and without the knowledge of what rights they have in any given situation. These vulnerable members of the community are the people who live and work in poverty.

The Foundation for Service and Fairness to All Citizens (FSFAC) was formed due to the need to ensure, protect, and uphold the rights of all citizens, concerning all services provided by local, state and national government entities, especially the rights of citizens who work and live in poverty.

The United States Census data from 2012 shows that twenty-eight point one per cent (28.1%) of the people in Macon County, Alabama lives below the poverty level. In Tuskegee, Alabama, the county seat, one-third (1/3) of all residents are poor. This one-third (1/3) live on low wages and forms of government entitlements  including, Social Security Retirement and Disability Benefits, Veterans Compensations and other earned, fixed income, governmental benefits. The citizens also live on other fixed income government assistance such as Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income and Veterans Pensions based on need.  Data collected by the American Community survey between 2008 and 2012 showed that at least 443 people in Tuskegee Macon County walk to work daily.

The idea for FSFAC was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in the year 1997. That year, the Citizens of Tuskegee, Alabama and Macon County found themselves being held hostage by an oppressive, city-run utility system, The Utilities Board of the City of Tuskegee.  The Utilities Board of the City of Tuskegee ("The Board") was formed in 1972.   Now named the "Utilities Board of Tuskegee", The Board is a member of the American Public Power Association.   On February 1, 1997, The Board entered into a Trust Indenture (The Bond Issue) with Regions Bank in Alabama. The stated purpose of the trust indenture or "loan" was for "improvements" to the utility system. The amount of the bond issue was sixteen million, six hundred and seventy thousand dollars. ($16,670,000.00)

By June 13, 2002, The Board was in material default on the Bond indenture.  By Court order, a receiver was appointed to make all the decisions and handle day-to- day operations for the Utilities Board until the bond indenture was repaid. The Citizens of the City of Tuskegee and Macon County were never given an accounting of how the money from the bond indenture was spent nor were they told how, despite paying their household utility bills monthly, the Utilities Board managed not to make timely payments on the bond indenture. As the only paying customers of The Board, the Citizens of Tuskegee and Macon County, Alabama, had never been given any information about their Constitutional rights regarding fair and equitable billing practices.   This violation of rights was made clear when one customer received an unbelievable bill for one month's utility service in July 2002.

Like most of the people in Tuskegee, the customer was an elderly individual whose income was her retirement benefits. She lived alone in a modestly-sized home, not far from Tuskegee University.  The normal monthly bill from August 2000 through June 2002 for this 88 year old customer was never more than $125.00 monthly.  The utility bills usually covered the days from the 16th of each month through the 17th of the following month. The bill would then be due on the 10th of the next month. This customer received a bill in June 2002, for service from May 16, 2002 through June 17, 2002 in the amount of $104.71, due by July 10, 2002.  As usual, she paid the entire amount of her bill on July 5, 2002.

The next bill she received for utility service from June 17, 2002 through July 14, 2002 was $5344.51 for one month's utility service. There was an error in the amount of water usage shown on the bill. This bill was due on August 10, 2002. This represented an increase of more than 40 times her highest utility bill.

Knowing that this had to be in error, the customer called The Board and asked that her bill be corrected.  Instead of correcting the bill, The Utilities Board of the City of Tuskegee first insisted that the bill was correct and that if payment was not made by August 10, 2002, her services would be cut off. The elderly customer kept calling, so The Board sent out an employee to re-read her meter. She was then told that she must have a water leak in her toilet that made her water usage greater than normal, so she should pay the bill. Several other employees were sent to her home on three other occasions, with other explanations about the bill, including, there must be a water leak under her house, her water meter had leaks and she should have it fixed( although any repair of the water meter is the Board's responsibility).  She was also told that she had the "greenest" lawn in town so she must have been watering her grass and that was the reason for her abnormal bill. The bottom line was that she needed to pay the bill of $5344.51 if she wanted keep her electricity and water on.  Exasperated, the elderly woman contacted Tommie Johnson in order to resolve the issue.  Tommie asked that the Utilities Board provide all the information about how the bill was calculated and asked for the historical information such as all bills for more than 3 years before the excess bill was calculated.  At first there was little response from the Utilities Board, so Tommie filed complaints with the Board, the City Council of the City Of Tuskegee, and The Office of the Attorney General of the State of Alabama and other state and Federal agencies. From July 2002 through October 2003, Tommie helped the elderly customer fight the injustice of this bill. Finally in August of 2003, one year later, the elderly customer's bill dispute was settled and she was billed a normal bill and not required to pay the excessive charges.  To date, there has been no accounting as to how this excessive bill came to be nor has there been any account  as to how and why The Utilities Board of the City Of Tuskegee went into material default on the Bond indenture  or for what purpose the bond was actually used.

     Tommie soon found that this elderly citizen was not the only one who had their ability to live and work placed in jeopardy by the arbitrary policies and procedures of local, state and national government agencies so he began talking to other people who had never known that they could file any sort of complaint when services were not provided.  He was personally responsible for hundreds of complaints concerning basic services being filed and passed out thousands of complaint forms for complaints to be filed by other citizens about the many services for which they pay but don't always receive proper service.

Tommie decided that people should know their rights and have the tools to protect and use those rights to make their lives better and their communities stronger.   The Foundation for Service and Fairness to All Citizens (FSFAC) was born from Tommie's determination to serve not only citizens in the Tuskegee Macon County, Alabama community but citizens and people all over the world.

Tommie Johnson's daily commitment: We must keep working and fighting for justice.  "Making Justice Work For All Citizens."