Only on 48: ‘No’ vote reveals rift between Russellville Councilman and Electric Board

WAFF 48's Margo Gray reporting
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 7:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2023 at 4:06 PM CDT
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RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A war of words is playing out in the City of Russellville between a city councilman and the head of the city’s electric board.

It came after a special council meeting held on Friday to reappoint an electric board member with councilman Darren Woodruff as the only “No” vote.

Woodruff has been open about his criticism of the Russellville Electric Board and voted against the reappointment of James McDuffa for a second term but that vote goes much deeper.

”I do not approve of the actions this board has taken the last three years, I would not reappoint any of these board members,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff has been recently criticizing the Russellville Electric Board on his Facebook page by citing records to prove the board collected more than $200,000 in bonuses going back to 2013. He claims the board racks up expenses, all on the utility customer’s dime while on its yearly beach conference complete with lavish meals.

Russellville Electric raised the utility rate by 3.1 percent for customers last July due to “declining revenue.”

Woodruff started a petition on with more than 800 signatures calling for the Board General Manager, Charles Canida, to be terminated.

“It’s just the usual suspects and we disregard that stuff. We’re not going to participate in a “tit for tat” with anyone, especially on social media. Our board members decided among themselves that they wanted to do it, in lieu of all this. So our board members, all with the exception of Councilman Woodruff returned theirs,” said Canida.

Woodruff says that is only half the truth and it does not factor in previous years. While on the board, Woodruff said he self-reported the bonuses to the Ethics Commission and was advised not to pay it back until the investigation was over. The Commission cleared the board, in turn, clearing Woodruff. Canida said the electric board has a yearly audit completed and TVA monitors its finances.

Russellville resident, Gary Blackburn isn’t buying it and says he has reported the board to the state ethics commission.

”Too much spending going on, frivolous spending, and appeared to be illegal activity taking place by the board,” Blackburn said.

When he received his response letter, Blackburn said the Commission told him it had no jurisdiction over the matter. “If the ethics commission doesn’t have jurisdiction [over] it then who does?” said Blackburn.

”Anyone can come down. Our records are public record, and they’re welcome to come down and view anything they want to,” said Canida.

WAFF 48 will continue to look into it, this story will be updated once there is more information.

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