There is no doubt that the human body needs water and, thanks to the EPA, most places in America have clean water. Whether from a city water system or a well, water is piped into almost every home in the country. Unless that home is in Detroit.
Right now, in that stricken city, 150,000 residents are facing the loss of their water. Because they are late on their water bills — even though they are on payment plans — they will have their water shut off. Without prior warning. Is it any surprise that most of these residents live in poor, black communities?
These citizens are, rightly, confused about the way in which this is being carried out. Community activist Russ Bellant told the Michigan Citizen:
“The families I’ve talked to in my neighborhood and others around the city are confused about why they’re being hit (in this way). Some knew they were behind, but thought they’d have time to pay it. These are people who mow the lawn on the vacant lots next door (to them).”
These are good citizens going through hard times. They are on budget payment plans with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) in an attempt to become current on their bills. But, according to Detroit’s Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr (who ordered the shut-offs), cutting off their water is a necessary evil to pay for infrastructure. Interestingly enough, Detroit raised $1 billion in bonds for that purpose in 2012. So where is that money? Over half of it went to banks to pay off termination fees for an interest rate swap which was based on Gov. Rick Snyder’s bankruptcy declaration for Detroit.
Oh, one more thing… corporations with huge delinquent water bills are not being touched. I know, knock you over with a feather, right? And these past due bills run into the hundreds of thousands: the Palmer Golf Course has a delinquent water bill of $200,000. Sports venues owe $135,000 combined. But none of them are being threatened with a shut-off. No, that’s reserved only for the poor. I could get into the ridiculous injustice of having golf courses get millions of gallons of water while people go without, but I don’t have an extra two hours.
How has Detroit come to this? Blame Gov. Rick Snyder and his updated “emergency manager” law, passed in 2011. That bill allowed the governor to appoint emergency managers to take over local towns and school districts which he deemed were “in distress.” This meant that an emergency manager would be sent to a municipality and dismiss duly elected officials, taking over all financial and governmental decisions. The EM has the power of “… modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.” If you think that sounds fishy, you aren’t the only one.
Rachel Maddow did a report on the EM Law in April of 2011, one month after the law took effect:
Yes, that’s right… this law was put into effect to aid rich developers and corporations. But you knew that.
The people of Michigan voted on a referendum in 2012 to veto the Emergency Manager Bill. It passed 53% to 47%, but Gov. Snyder and his Republican legislature passed a new version of the bill 2 months later. This version gave “distressed” municipalities four Hobson’s choices: “accept an emergency manager, undergo bankruptcy, enter into a mediation process, or join the state in a partnership called a consent agreement.” There is no option to opt out. This bill took effect March 28, 2013. The aforementioned Kevyn Orr was appointed Emergency Manager for Detroit on that date, amid mass public protests and law suits.
Detroit citizens are fighting back. The Detroit Water Brigade provides water and uses nonviolent action to prevent shut-offs. They have set up a registry on amazon.com for those who would like to help.
The Emergency Manager Law is a piece of “model legislation.” This means that other states are trying now, or may in future, to pass the same law in your state. Corporations will benefit from this law — as they have in Michigan — but democracy will be subverted. And, while it may be able to save some towns (and this is questionable), what is sacrificed on the altar of capitalism in the process? Or whom? People should not have to beg for water. Despite what the CEO of Nestles thinks, water IS a human right.
More from AATTP on Detroit.
- Totally Not Racist Black CPAC Speaker Blames ‘Black Liberals’ For ‘Nuking Detroit’ (Video)
- Michigan GOP Official Says We Should ‘Herd All the Indians’ to Detroit, Put a Fence Up and Toss in Corn (Video)
- Must See! Racist Detroit Cops Caught On Camera: ‘Got To Love The Coloreds’
- BREAKING: Detroit Homeowner Charged With 2nd-Degree Murder of 19 Year-Old Renisha McBride (Video)
- George Will: Detroit’s Problems Are Due to ‘Unmarried Mothers’ and ‘Cultural Collapse’
- Bankrupt Detroit 2013: A TEApublican Wet Dream