No Water for You

No Water for You

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The city of Detroit, Michigan, is one of the most devastated cities since the economic disaster of 2008. Southeast Michigan now faces the most serious problem since the banking industry destroyed our economy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has declared that for the people of an impoverished area of the state, there will be no water for you.

When governments fail at the business of managing a country or a city, the people pay. And, if Philadelphia is called the city of ‘brotherly love,’ Detroit can be labeled the ‘city without a heart.’

“It’s disappointing that Judge Rhodes denied relief to the neediest people, despite recognizing that the City of Detroit has no idea which customers have a long-term inability to afford their water bills,” said Monique Lin-Luse, assistant counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“Thousands of people in Detroit remain without water service, including the elderly, the disabled, and families with small children,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Without a clear plan for helping people afford their bills or appeal incorrect bills, the water department shouldn’t be in the business of turning off anyone else’s water.”

Detroit’s bankruptcy was the result of a decline in revenue. Depopulation and long-term unemployment have lowered the city’s income due to decreases in property tax and income tax.

In order to avoid certain long term cost such as pensions for city employees, the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, claims that the city’s long term debt is 18 billion dollars. This figure is considered irrelevant to the bankruptcy hearing. The number Orr claims as an immediate shortfall due to revenue shortages is 198 million. Financial experts say that this figure is also inflated because pension costs are included in the fiscal estimate.

All this has led to a shutoff of water to the city’s most needy and poor. Rebuttal by city officials states that every entity the city operates must be profitable in order to continue operation of city run agencies including police and fire protection.

Alice Jennings was the plaintiff’s lawyer before Judge Rhodes. She said that they were not asking for free water; they are seeking affordable water. She also points to the fact that federal mediators saved art works at the museum with what was labeled the ‘grand bargain,’ but failed to save a major necessity for the poorest of the city.

“We need to evaluate how many people are without water and the safety and health risks involved,” she said. “Come up with the grand bargain to save the health and safety of the children and seniors.”

“It’s disappointing that Judge Rhodes denied relief to the neediest people, despite recognizing that the City of Detroit has no idea which customers have a long-term inability to afford their water bills,” said Monique Lin-Luse, assistant counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“Thousands of people in Detroit remain without water service, including the elderly, the disabled, and families with small children,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Without a clear plan for helping people afford their bills or appeal incorrect bills, the water department shouldn’t be in the business of turning off anyone else’s water.”

Until further action is taken through appeals, the word to the poor, elderly and disabled is ‘no water for you.’

James Turnage

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/detroit-bankruptcy/2014/09/29/water-shutoff-moratorium/16451483/

http://www.demos.org/publication/detroit-bankruptcy

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James Turnage is currently a writer and editor for The Public Slate, a subsidiary of the Guardian Liberty Voice. He is also a novelist who is in the process of publishing his fourth effort. His responsibilities include Editing, reporting , managing.

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