In Michigan, residents of Pontiac are questioning why their emergency manager struck a deal with a water company that's been indicted for felony violations of the Clean Water Act. Chris Savage at Eclectablog broke the story a few weeks ago:
...in addition to dissolving Pontiac’s Planning Commission and replacing it with hand-picked, unelected members, (Emergency Financial Manager Michael) Stampfler privatized the water treatment services and hired United Water Services to takeover that role...United Water was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice last December for violating the Clean Water Act...(If you haven't been following, emergency financial managers are corporate stooges appointed by the governor and given dictatorial power over local governments. It used to be called taxation without representation, now it's called "value for money.")
Pontiac is pissed. Reports the Oakland Press,
The wastewater treatment plants are a controversial topic in the city, with many people fearful the facilities will be sold off for pennies on the dollar.
Residents have been using Facebook to gripe about the deal, arguing Stampfler is continuing his push to privatize services and eliminate jobs.
“After what he did to our water and sewer department, he should have charges brought against him for conspiracy with United Water services, but then everyone knew Stampfler’s background and work history when they sat back and just let this guy come in and take over,” resident Marcia Battles wrote.
“The (emergency manager) acts like every employee for the city is rotten to the core, doesn’t trust or respect any of us and yet hires a bunch of criminals being brought up on charges for corruption and pays them with our money,” resident and activist Mona Hofmeister wrote.Savage, bless him, is working to repeal the taxation without representation law. There's a town hall meeting in Ann Arbor on Saturday to talk about it, and a legal challenge will be announced today (stay tuned).
The Italian people are pretty ticked off about water privatization as well. Food & Water Watch reports Italian voters blocked the government's attempt to privatize water earlier this week. According to F&WW,
The Italian government had initially pushed for private sector assistance to repair an aging water system, and they passed a law that would privatize water by the end of the year. But, Italians already had a poor taste of what water privatization would be like after some communities had to deal with mismanaged water resources at the hands of a few multinational corporations. Boosted by support from the Roman Catholic clergy and others who demand that water be treated as a human right, the people of Italy have called for their water to be managed by a public entity.
57 percent of eligible voters turned out to the polls and voted by an astounding 96 percent. This is certainly a victory for water advocates around the globe. Water privatization typically leads to higher consumer costs and services that are managed with an emphasis on profit over quality and safety.F&WW has a web page about water privatization around the globe. Check it out.