Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
"You get what you are organized to take!"
MWRO News & Reports
Water Rights in Detroit: Residents Demonstrate
Against Recent Increase in Water Rates. BlackBox Radio,
A-Infos Radio Project (Broadcast Quality Programming via the Internet)
Summary: A report from a March 12th water rights protest in Detroit, just days after the City Council approved a hike in residents' water rates. This increase in water rates comes at a time when over 45,000 Detroiters have already had their water shut off. This report was recorded by Max Sussman and broadcast in Ann Arbor on WCBN, 88.3FM.
(In the photo to the right, Maureen Taylor, MWRO State Chair, talks to journalists from the BBC World and Sweetwater Alliance about the devastating conditions in one eastside Detroit neighborhood. Sadly, a frozen dead cat can be found to the right of her feet).
BILL MCGRAW: Many are thirsty for income
BY BILL McGRAW
March 15, 2006
(reposted from the Detroit Free Press)
How many people in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties live beneath the poverty level?
The question arose last week during the debate over water rates for customers in Detroit and the suburbs. Some City Council members wanted to delay raising rates for Detroiters until Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration came up with a plan to lower water bills for the city's poor people. In the suburbs, the individual cities would have to come up with similar plans.
According to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, of all the people living below the poverty level in the tri-county area, 54% live in Detroit.
With Detroit having less than 25% of the metro area's population, poverty obviously is much more concentrated in the city.
In Detroit, 33.6% of the population lives beneath the poverty level, which is defined as $19,157 a year for a family of four.
In Oakland, 5.3% of the people live beneath the poverty level. The figure is 6.7% in Macomb, and 20.1% in Wayne County, including Detroit.
Another measurement of wealth is median household income, and that figure has been falling across metro Detroit since 2000, due, no doubt, to the region's poor economy.
In Detroit, the estimated median household income in 2004 was $27,871.
In Oakland, it was $63,035.
In Wayne, including Detroit, it was $40,322.
In Macomb, it was $53,039.
Audience members cheered when City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta entered council chambers Friday for the vote over water rates. But it was a different story when he left the session.
Many in the crowd were associated with the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. They saw Kenyatta as an ally because he voted in the majority two days earlier to approve rate increases for suburban customers only.
On Friday, though, Kenyatta voted for the higher rates for Detroiters, too, and that did not set well with many in attendance. After the vote, when the councilman came out to talk to audience members in a hallway, people got in his face, yelling and cursing.
The scene became so volatile that plainclothes Detroit police officers took Kenyatta by the arms and ushered him into the safety of a nearby office....
Contact BILL McGRAW at 313-223-4781 or [email protected]. Free Press data analyst Victoria Turk contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.
Crimes of Poverty: A Long Winter Ahead in Metro Detroit. In Critical Moment, Fall 2005.
Critical Moment is a political newspaper working to provide a forum for education, debate, and dialogue around the political issues affecting communities in the Southeast Michigan area. Critical Moment aims to support movements for social justice by giving voice to those excluded and misrepresented by the dominant media. Offering critical perspectives on contemporary social justice issues, Critical Moment aims to develop connections between local organizations and activists and to promote communication and coordination between local, national, and global social justice movements. Critical Moment is a free journal available at community spaces and shops throughout the Southeast Michigan area.
Workers Picket Mayor's Mansion
April 24, 2005 ( reposted from Michigan Citizen)
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT — Community members and city workers marched on the Manoogian Mansion April 16, demanding an end to water shutoffs and protesting nearly 800 planned layoffs. TrueVision, a British TV station doing a documentary on water rights across the world, covered the march.
“Mr. Terminator, where’s MY Navigator?” shouted one worker as the march converged on Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s official residence on the Detroit waterfront.
“There’s somebody on this picket line who hasn’t had water in their home for over a year,” said city council candidate Maureen Taylor of the Welfare Rights Organization. “There are 45,752 addresses that have had their water service interrupted, but they aren’t shutting off service to big businesses.”
Dave Sole, president of United Auto Workers Local 2334, , which represents water department chemists, said that instead of cutting bus service and privatizing city departments, the administration should demand sacrifice from those responsible for the city’s crisis.
“The banks collected over $360 million in interest payments on Detroit’s debt last year, which would cover the $300 million budget deficit this year,” Sole said. “Big companies get big city tax breaks, and the war in Iraq took over $400 million in Detroit citizens’ tax dollars last year. We must build one big movement to demand change.”
The march’s organizers, who are also calling for a National Conference of Cities in the fall to address the crises cities across the country face, can be reached at 313.706.2985 or visit www.mwmdetroit.org.
"United States: Refusing to Back Down" by Maureen Taylor (report on Detroit utility crisis)
"Turning off the Taps in Motor City," Changing Currents Earth Report series on the world water crisis.