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Water bill picked up at DWSD office

DWSD bill picked up at center billed amount differs

Water bill sent to house

DWSD bill sent to house billed amount differs

The Detroit Water Project has an open Github with information on what is being done. Tiffani Ashley Bell is a Code For America fellow leading the effort from San Francisco. I'm a few days late in looking into this and the project has growing press coverage. The claim is they have matched up 1,700 donors to residential accounts in arrears. They have tracked $15,000 in bills paid in the short time the site has been live, which I believe was July 19.

I've been on the front line looking at the water shutoffs as a SYMPTOM of a greater root CAUSE that isn't being addressed. If in fact people are paying those bills it simply is treating the symptoms... the greater cause remains to be addressed that puts people into the situation of needing assistance.

And then there's this... is the bill even correct??

Billing Errors by DWSD Revealed

Moratorium Now! has been on the front line assisting those in need. Their Freedom Fridays series was early in the fight to bring awareness. This Friday at 4:00 is Freedom Fridays #11 gathering in front of the Water Board Building at 735 Randolph between Bates and Farmer.

Today Moratorium Now is providing proof of billing problems with Detroit Water & Sewerage Department's (DWSD). The problem lies mostly with houses going through the conversion from the old meter systems to these new smart meters. One bill sent to the house indicated usage of 1,800 cubic feet of water. A visit to the billing office requesting the statement indicates 1,100 cf. There's a significant difference between 13,464 and 8,228 gallons = 5,236 difference or 63.6% increase.

Treating Symptoms is OK

I'm not of the mind to discount or disregard the project and its merits in the moment. What is needed is to ensure that what could become a dependency on the project does not occur. That's why bringing out the CAUSES and fighting for those are so important before questioning caring for the symptoms.

Funding the Fight To Cure the Causes

It will become a problem fighting the causes if all funding goes into handling the symptoms. I'm opposed to heavy handed management that doesn't take care of the needs. There are plenty of non-profits and foundations that spend lots of money on managing situations instead of ground level work in the field. The Peoples Water Board Coalition is not deeply funded by any means. The coalition barely has money to print information sheets or flyers. It has no sponsoring foundation. It truly needs donations to continue working on the CAUSE of the problems in Detroit when it comes to access and affordability of water. Donations are handled through EMEAC with a note to direct funds to Peoples Water Board Coalition. This is a link through Peoples Water Board Coalition to the EMEAC donations page at Network For Good.

  • The Emergency Manager's interest is to bring those accounts current to demonstrate its possible and lure in privatization. The people oppose privatization!! Creating a systemic crisis is a common way to move service out of the public into private control.
  • Affordable water means looking at the price structure responsibly. It means looking at the errors being made and a system of integrity and fairness.
  • Access to work opportunities needs to be IMPROVED - not by increasing police coverage of upset bus riders - fix the PROBLEM not treat the resulting symptom!! Mayor Duggan FAILED his "give me six months to get buses working" campaign pledge. He's playing along with the Emergency Manager but telling the press he's opposed.

Getting to the causes in a crisis is extremely important. Of course treating the symptoms is needed as well, especially when they are life threatening. Being aware of what a symptom is versus a cause requires some thought and investigation. Something two developers from other areas of the country would be hard pressed to do without cooperation from feet-in-the-street locals.

Originally posted to Fuzzytek on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks and Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    Stephen Boyle 2014 Green Party candidate US Congress MI-14

    by Fuzzytek on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 10:10:52 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, Fuzzytek. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Republished x2.

  •  Absolutely agree... (0+ / 0-)

    ...but still made a pledge.  Here's why:  systemic problems and issues absolutely need to be addressed and fixed.  But those will take time, and in the meantime, there are real people with a real need for water.  That's good enough for me.  

    And of course the overall push is for privatization, and showing that bills in arrears are collectible is supposed to make the Water Board more marketable.  And that is PRECISELY why the Water Board is opposed to this effort (see this article with quotes from a Water Board spokesperson: ).  This crowdfunding effort actually undermines the Water Board's premise that bills are collectible, because as it picks up steam and notice, they won't be able to claim that the bills were paid by residents-able-but-unwilling (a ridiculous premise, but one that is out there).  If crowdfunding undermines their claims, that's good enough for me.

    I've also had some people IRL say, "But how would I know if the people whose bill I'm helping to pay deserve it?"  Ugh. Because there are poor and deserve-to-be-poor?  I remind these folks, who come from the same faith tradition as me, that Jesus never used a litmus test for those he helped.  And that's good enough for me.

    "Wage love." Charity Hicks

    by DoReMI on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 11:23:01 AM PDT

    •  As an aside... (0+ / 0-)

      ...the woman in the blue shirt in the middle of the Guardian photo is a Kossack. I met her, but for the life of me, I can't remember her name.

      And so it is clear that I am not disagreeing with you, the second thing I did when I was finished with NN14 was make a donation through the EMEAC page.  I am blessed with just enough extra to make that possible.  If one is not, then the choice has to be guided by one's own principles and priorities.

      "Wage love." Charity Hicks

      by DoReMI on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 11:30:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And another thing... (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but this situation just riles me up!

    Note the comment from the Water Board spokesperson in the Guardian article I linked above:  

    Bill Johnson, a spokesman for Detroit’s water and sewage department, said the agency was not aware of Turn on Detroit’s Water and is not affiliated with it. “It is not something we sanction or approve of,” Johnson told the Guardian.

    Johnson said that if people are having trouble making payments, they do not need to rely on an outside source for help, because the agency has alternative payment plans available. “I would encourage people not to involve themselves in that,” Johnson said. “If they have a problem, we consistently say, bring it to us – come into one of our customer care centers and we will address the problem.”

    Now look at this:  
    Downtown Customer Service Center - Water Board Building
    735 Randolph Street, First Floor (enter off Bates Street)
    Monday through Saturday 8:30am - 5:00pm, (closed on Saturday from 12 to 12:30pm)

    Eastside Customer Service Center
    13303 E. McNichols (1 1/2 blocks west of Gratiot)
    Monday through Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm

    Westside Customer Service Center
    15600 Grand River (1 block west of Greenfield)
    Monday through Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm

    For the entire city of Detroit, there are 3 customer care centers.  I don't know the geography of Detroit as well as some, and I don't know the bus lines at all.  But it seems to me that the limited number of care centers is a problem in and of itself, particularly if one does not own a car.  I would have to imagine that getting to one of the centers by bus could eat up half a day.  And what if you are working poor?  Are you supposed to give up a large chunk of your workday, with no pay, to make this happen?  The Water Board spokesperson really seems clueless about the realities of living-while-poor.  If the Water Board wants any sympathy, they might start by remembering who they are supposed to be serving.

    "Wage love." Charity Hicks

    by DoReMI on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 11:47:58 AM PDT

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