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February 1934: Albany, PSC clash over WG&L rates

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

There are some in local government in Albany who would tell you that the state has been "meddling" in local government affairs since time in memoriam -- or at least since James Oglethorpe first waded through the swamps of Savannah.

It would come as no surprise, then, when in February 1934 the city took legal action against the Georgia Public Service Commission after the PSC ordered the city to lower the electric rates set by the board of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission.

Action on the issue was instigated when the PSC issued an order in January 1934 demanding that WG&L lower its electric rate. The City Commission then met in a special called meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25, and voted to create a resolution "denying the right of the service commission to supervise or alter Albany rates."

The following Monday, Feb. 27, Albany City Attorney, S.B. Lippitt presented the resolution and a motion to bar the PSC from tampering with the rates to Fulton County Judge E.E. Pomeroy. The Atlanta judge granted the temporary injunction and ordered that a hearing be held on March 16 to hear the PSC's argument in the case.

The case would linger on until, in 1935, a landmark decision was issued in the city's favor by the Georgia Supreme Court, in which justices stated in their opinion, "citizens of the municipality ... own the plant which supplies the electricity and water(,) (t)he remedy of any ill that can be anticipated rests with the owners of the plant, the qualified voters of the municipality, at the ballot box."

Almost 76 years later, that same case was used again in Albany to deny an injunction against WG&L filed by a lawyer representing three clients who contend that the city has no right to almost $90 million in credits paid by WG&L rate payers as a hedge against deregulation.

In other news from February 1934:

.955Happy Valentine's Day, Charley

On Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- an Albany woman was arrested after she shot and killed her husband whom she told police had repeatedly beaten her.

When the man, Charley Cain, "pointed a gun at his wife and promised to give her a one-way ticket to the next world, Eddie Lee Cain, the wife, didn't like that idea," according to The Herald.

"She took Charley's gun away from him and fed her spouse such a steady diet of lead that Charley could not digest it. When Police Officers C. Ray and E. Burnett reached the scene, Charley was quite dead."

The shooting was reported to have happened at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Washington Street.

According to the paper, Mrs. Cain worked at the local cotton mill and that when she got off work that afternoon, her husband trailed her from the mill to the scene of the shooting, threatening her frequently, it says.

"Finally the woman became irritated by Charley's abuse and, taking his own gun away from him, killed him."

E-mail government reporter J.D. Sumner at j.d.sumner@albanyherald.com. Heritage Albany is a weekly column looking back on Albany's history as part of The Albany Herald's observance of its 120th anniversary this year.