Summertime in Detroit is always a good time. The Riverwalk is alive with people enjoying beautiful days by the Detroit river. Lunchtime at Campus Martius is the new hotspot for everyone working downtown Monday-Friday. A cleaner and ever improving Belle Isle continue to host all comers looking for outdoor fun but this summer, there is a dark cloud hovering overhead.
In March, The Detroit Water and Sewage Department began hiring contractors and sending them out to shutoff water to those who owe $150 or 60 days delinquent in paying their water bill. On top of this, an 8.7% across the board rate increase. The first people targeted of course were the people. Average people in Detroit are trying to make a comeback after the economic downturn. I am all for paying your bills but there are 3 glaring points that make the execution of this very wrong.
1. Detroit is the only city targeted. The Department of Water and Sewage covers 40% of ALL MICHIGAN not just Detroit. I have a hard time believing that Detroit is the only city with massive delinquent water bills. Why not a total sweep of all areas?
2. The numbers don’t lie. Although the unemployment rate went from 24.8% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2013, the median household income in Detroit is 38.5% less than the Michigan average and 45.85 less than the national average. The poverty level in Detroit is 157.4% greater than the Michigan average and 112.1% greater than the national average. (Source: areavibes.com) Many citizens are still playing economic catch up with less than adequate income. The Water Department itself shed 81% of its jobs. Those who remained see wage and benefit cuts.
3. Favoritism. The advantages of the top 1% have been well documented. It appears it applies to the water as well. While the Water Department was going after the little guys, big businesses were riding massive overdue bills without a care. VARGO GOLF owes for 2 properties. One for $478,207.59 ($437,714.11 past due) and the other $109,897.25 ($100.527.58 past due). Even the state of Michigan itself has a nice hefty bill $86,889.73 ($70,426.02 past due).
Recently, as many as 1000 people have marched and rallied downtown with more protest to come, Canada has offered to bring water over for the less fortunate. The United Nations has declared water a human right. What will the out come be? We will have to wait and see. It has become clear that if you are willing to take water from the poor, then you are willing to take anything from anybody. Especially if its for politics. Holla if you hear me!