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E-M:/ more on the water wars in Michigan



There is a good article on the water wars in Michigan at www.michiganimc.org and cut in below. The profiteers are making a grab at Detroit's municipal water as well as mining the aquifer in Central Michigan to bottle Ice Mountain brand water for everyone to consume. The result is that an essential resource is being turned into a commodity that can be withheld from living beings in lieu of the ever important dollar. ----------- Water Rights Activists Greet Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick At Central Michigan University. 04 Feb 2003 Central Michigan Sweet Water Alliance takes Detroit Message "Turn the Utilities Back on!" To Mayor Kilpatrick as he visits Mount Pleasant, Michigan to deliver speech. In solidarity with the thousands of Detroiters who have had their water turned off in the last three months Central Michigan activists decided to call Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick out. Activists from the Mount Pleasant area Sweet Water Alliance, a group dedicated to supporting individuals right to water and directly combating water privatization, seized on the opportunity to be given a chance to ask Kilpatrick face to face about the detrimental conditions that many citizens of Detroit now live in. Handing out over three hundred information flyers entitled “Tell Kwame To Turn On the Utilities!” and containing the contact information for the DTE departments behind the shut-offs activists hoped to educate the audience on the issue and show Kilpatrick that people inside and outside of Detroit are paying attention. “Water is a right and fundamental to life. It should not be taken away because of lack of funds or lack of profit,” stated one activist, “It behooves us to bring this issue to the foreground, even at such an event as this, caring and concerned human beings should band together to struggle for equity in the distribution of our natural resources and for social justice when a patent injustice such as water shut-offs threatens the safety and welfare of so many thousands of people.” According to Marion Kramer, president of the National Welfare Rights Organization, a major reason for the recent and dramatic increase in utility shut-offs in Detroit has been caused by the new welfare program’s removal of the direct payment plan that had taken care of utility bills for recipients. The direct payment plan was removed without informing welfare recipients and because of this many bills accumulated over time were presented in full to rather staggered Detroit citizens. Many people already struggling just to survive now were faced with hefty bills they could ill afford and as the delinquent bills went unpaid, DTE and the Water Department began cutting off services. In the past year over 9,000 households have had their water, gas, and/or electricity cut off putting the number of people without proper access to resources crucial for life well over 40,000. A large portion of those facing future shut-offs and who have already been cut-off from utilities are the elderly, the disabled, and the young; those least able to defend themselves. Mayor Kilpatrick did not expect to be greeted with the attention of the water rights activists, but had been briefly informed of the activists presence by his security team who had arrived in Mount Pleasant an hour before him. Knowing he would have to address the issue while he was there he entered the center of the auditorium’s stage with a cool self-confidence. What Kilpatrick did not expect was the placement of a 10’x5’ banner across the auditoriums balcony, with the words “Detroit Supported Kwame, Kwame should support Detroit! Turn On The Utilities!” painted across it. The banner apparently hoped to display the message to Kilpatrick that the people who put him in to office deserved something back in return, that something being his attention and permanent access to utilities. Unfortunately for Detroiters faced with continued shut-offs and miserable living conditions Mayor Kilpatrick attempted to blame them, the victims, for their current situation. Kilpatrick stated that the persons’ who had their utilities shut-off were simply being lazy and did not come in on time to negotiate a ‘proper’ payment plan. John Keesecker, a member of Sweet Water Alliance, stated in response to this, “Mayor Kilpatrick made an obvious attempt to shift responsibility for the shut-offs from the utility providers to individual residents by saying that all residents receive advance notice before the shut-offs happen, which has been shown to be wholly fictitious.” He continues, “The water, heat and electricity shut-offs should not be ordered in the first place. First because these essential services ought to be treated as a human right, and second because there is a larger issue to be addressed here when thousands of Detroit residents cannot afford to pay for them at all.” For more information regarding the ongoing utility struggle in Detroit and other water related issues you can get involved at http://www.waterissweet.org A fourth demonstration in a series of four is planned for Feb. 10th, 12-1PM at the Detroit Water Board building, 600 Randolph, Detroit, MI. Organized by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) and the Sweetwater Alliance. For more info call MWRO @ (313) 832-0618 or 313-410-4155, or by email stopperrier@yahoo.com



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