n Tuesday, July 29, 2014 Netroots Nation declared a big win in Detroit in an email statement titled, “Victory in Detroit on the Water Crisis!”
So is water now a free human right in Detroit? No, despite the hype of the Nutroots’ declaration of a big win, Detroit water department customers must still pay for their water.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan made it clear water department customers still need to pay their bills:
“When some Detroit residents don’t pay their bills, those bills have to be paid by other Detroiters,” he said. “These unpaid water bills are Detroit’s alone. So all bills that remain uncollected this year must be paid for by higher rates on all Detroiters next year.
We will be developing a plan that allows those who are truly needy to access financial help and allows those who want to make payment arrangements to do so with shorter wait times. As for those who can pay and choose not to, we won’t force other Detroiters to pay their bills.”
No, the big win claimed by the Nutroots in a statement blasted out by an email from the organization’s Raven Brooks was a claim that “control of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department has been returned back to the hands of the people”:
“Kevyn Orr, the city’s unelected emergency manager, relinquished control back to the mayor’s office. It’s expected that the mayor and city council will approve a water affordability plan that caps a household’s water bill at no more than 3 percent of their income.”
The Detroit Free Press article, which was published five hours after the Nutroots email statement, describes Orr’s action as little more than a clarification:
“Emergency manager Kevyn Orr issued an order Tuesday giving Duggan more control over the department while retaining authority over potential restructuring of the department. Duggan had said that he wasn’t in charge of the DWSD under a power-sharing arrangement he and Orr worked out after Duggan’s election last fall. Orr’s order makes it clear that Duggan has the authority to manage the department and make appointments to its board.”
The Free Press article does not mention any plan that “caps a household’s water bill at no more than 3 percent of their income.”
According to the Free Press, Mayor Duggan said that he is working on a plan to better handle delinquent customers with overdue bills — and that may include extending a 15-day pause in the shutoffs.
So unless the Free Press failed to report something, the Netroots are still the Nutroots, and you still have to pay for City water in Detroit.