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Detroit City Council Actions on Water Rates and the MWRO Water Affordability Program


3/10/06: JoAnn Watson Press Release (Contact: JoAnn Watson or Elizabeth Johnson 313-224-4535)

 "Water is a Human Right, Not a Privilege" say Council Members who demand a Water-Affordability Plan to protect 45,000 households with shut-off notices.

Detroit, MI—Council Member JoAnn Watson was among 5 members of the Detroit City Council who voted to protect the human rights of 45,000 households, or about 180,000 persons who have been subjected to water shut-off notices from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD); and Council Member Watson is proud of the historic stand taken on behalf of Detroit citizens who suffer from the highest level of joblessness and poverty in the nation.

As she cast her vote to increase wholesale water rates, Council Member Watson noted that "Water is a Human Right, it's not a privilege and the Charter of the City of Detroit compels its elected officials to engage in "aggressive" advocacy on behalf of the needs of Detroit citizens, including the provision of an environment that is healthy, safe and sanitary, with access to "clean, drinkable water."  I not only will continue to stand firmly on behalf of the establishment of a Water Affordability Plan, like plans currently provided in 25 other cities nationwide.  I have asked the City Council attorneys to draft language to place a referendum on the ballot so that our citizens can vote to establish a Water Affordability plan as the law of the land."

Council Member Watson added that all cities in the State should look at opportunities to implement a water affordability plan given the economic hardships facing our communities and our citizens.  Finally, Council Member Watson urges Governor Jennifer Granholm to veto the latest effort of Republican legislators who have repeatedly attempted to supersede Detroit's home rule rights and the findings of the Federal government, which has consistently affirmed Detroit's right to govern and control the water system owned and paid for by Detroit Residents.

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Detroit City Council Special Session, 3/10/06 at 3pm

The Detroit City Council needs five members to have what’s called a special session, and they have apparently found the five they needed in order to have a meeting to raise water rates.  They are under such pressure from the Mayor and now from the suburbs, that a reverse vote is possible unless we help them stand up and fight for what is right.

The Water Affordability Program has built in increases that will provide the revenue streams needed for capital repairs and for capital investments toward the future that will perpetually fund this system.  Why this is not a good thing is unfathomable to us, but apparently it is better to operate this system of turning people’s water off rather than implementing a plan that will allow all the citizens, both poor and working, to have and enjoy water.

Again, the troops have to come out and stand for the rights of those who are least among us.  If you are able, attend the hearing at 3pm on Friday, March 10th.  If you are not available, call Council, especially Member Reeves (224-4510) and Member Kenyatta (224-1206) and ask them to not waiver in the face of this pressure, and allow the time to get the Water Affordability Program implemented. 

Call, email, fax, alert somebody somewhere about this tonight!!!

3/8/06: In a 5-4 vote, the Detroit City Council voted to delay a water rate increase for Detroit residents while the investigation of legal provisions of the MWRO Water Affordability Program are underway. The vote came after Councilwoman Conyers called for a vote to increase the water rates but the vote was suspended with an amendment by Councilman Kenyatta. Council members Watson, Collins, Kenyatta, Reeves, and Jones, supported the Kenyatta amendment to separate a vote for water rate increases between the suburbs and City of Detroit because of some DWSD suburban contracts that require 120 days notice for rate increases. No such notice is required for Detroit but the separation allowed the Council more time to get the information it needs about the Water Affordability Program.


3/7/06: On Wednesday, 3/8/06 at 10am, the Detroit City Council is scheduling another water rate vote, and a vote on the Water Affordability Program. Contact your Council members--no Water Affordability Program, no water rate increase!

Come to the Council meeting and show your support!


3/3/06: Another people's victory!! The Detroit City Council did not have quorum for today's emergency session vote on the Water rate increase. Only Ken Cockrel, Jr., Sheila Cockrel, and Alberta Tinsley- Talabi were in attendance for the roll call before the vote.

Following the failed meeting, MWRO members and other Detroit residents went down to the Mayor's office, met with Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, and told him we are against any attempts to raise the water rates while there is still no Water Affordability Program. Later in the afternoon, we met with the Mayor's attorney John Johnson, and the MWRO attorneys to try and work out a preliminary agreement. These meetings will continue next week before another scheduled water rate vote on Wednesday, 3/8/06.

A community meeting to discuss the MWRO Water Affordability Plan will take place Tuesday, 3/7/06 at 2:00pm at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams (east corner at Comerica Park), Detroit, MI 48226. All are invited!

(facing group: Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams; standing left to right: Marian Kramer, MWRO; Agnes Hitchcock, Call 'Em Out; Maureen Taylor, MWRO)




3/3/06: The Mayor Calls for City Council Vote On Water Rates at 12:00 pm TODAY!! Come out and speak out AGAINST the increase and FOR the Water Affordability Program!

In a move against the people's will, the Mayor has called for another vote on the Water Rate increase for the Detroit Water & Sewerage Dept. knowing that two of the members who voted against it--Brenda Jones and Martha Reeves--indicated on 3/1/06 that they would be unable to conduct Council business today because of other obligations. Don't allow this political and immoral corruption to happen!




A victory for the people!!

At the 3/1/06 Detroit City Council meeting to discuss water rate increases and the MWRO Water Affordability Program, five members of the Council--JoAnn Watson, Barbara-Rose Collins, Kwame Kenyatta, Martha Reeves, and Brenda Jones--voted against the water rate increases supported by Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) Director Victor Mercado. MWRO spokesperson Marian Kramer successfully argued before Council members that it was wrong to increase water rates without first implementing the MWRO Water Affordability Plan.


This fight is not over, contact your Council representatives and tell them you support the Water Affordability Program!

At the meeting, the Mayor vowed that his staff would work with the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization to examine how to develop a plan that would help low-income residents pay their water bills, but he would not support the MWRO Water Affordability Program. This is unacceptable! The DWSD and City of Detroit attorneys have had nearly two years to review the Water Affordability Plan, and at the expense of residents who are suffering.

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