It took 30 years, but with Rick Snyder's ink on TeaPublican EM legislation, L. Brooks Patterson hovers over his long-sought goal, ready to pounce: Control of Detroit's multi-billion dollar water works-a coming reality within the egis of Snyder's retro - Jim Crow EM Plantation regime. City residents and their elected officials are to be disenfranchised and shutout of power.
Tyrannical state-controlled bureaucracy and highly-paid corporate lawyers replace local sovereignty and are commissioned to do as they please, no public control or limits on their entitlement to carry out radical liquidation of assets, destroy or ignore labor contracts,hire and fire at will, obtain new bids or cancel others, etc. Gone are the civil servants of yesterday, like Detroit's 19th century benefactor Chauncy Hurlbut, whose dedication and generosity to the common good made the Water Works possible.
|Detroit Water Works (Cira 1910) (Burton Collection Detroit Public Library/UofM)|
Privatizing and cannibalizing of Detroit's waterworks is but one of a longer list of "crown jewels" long lusted for, coveted by special business and corporate interests. The list includes, privatizing Cobo Hall, seizing Detroit City's electric grid, and privatizing conversion of Detroit Metro Airport into the part of the (Business Leaders for Michigan) BLM's expanded Aerotropolis scheme. And wait there's more.
The Old Curmudgeon Triumphs in His Dotage
L. Brooks Patterson's decades long, bitter battle with Detroit Water & Sewerage Department is about to payoff super big time. Patterson's Snyder backed and immanent multi-billon dollar "asset grab" is just an EM maneuver or two away!
Before the Reign of EM begins in earnest, a bit of local history.
The Sunday Detroit News, January 29, 1995, ran an editorial debate between Kay Everett, a Detroit City council member and the brash and bodacious L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive; the topic: Liquid Assets, "Should Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department Be Regionalized?"
Councilwoman Everett's position:
"The system is not for sale." "...(W)e (Detroiters) must be prepared to fight. The attempt to take our precious jewel, our water system, is real...we will not accept a friendly or otherwise takeover of our company."
In this historic, published News debate, political powerhouse Patterson laid out his position and harked back to the über conservative Heartland Institute to frame Brooks' stated 1996 aim: privatization and take over of Detroit Water & Sewerage.
"The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is operated by the city of Detroit and it is governed by a seven-member Board of Water Commissioners, all of whom are appointed by the mayor of Detroit. Four of the board's members must reside in the city of Detroit, and three others are chosen to represent Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
"The suburbs' lack of adequate representation on the board is ironic considering that the 120 communities, which contract with the Detroit department for wholesale service, account for 73 percent of the total water usage. The irony continues when one realizes the water system was built and expanded primarily with federal grants and user rates, not on the backs of Detroit taxpayers."
Patterson, is a wizard at casting canards to make his head-bashing claims, back in 1996 this was his choice of anti-Detroit put down:
"For more than 20 years, the suburban users have been treated to continual horror stories, including allegations of mismanagement, fraud, bad debt, no-bid contracts, exorbitant rate increases and hundreds of thousands of dollars in late penalties to Detroit Edison. Is it little wonder that the suburban users who are locked into a monopolistic system look for alternatives?"
To hone his boisterous negative zingers, Patterson's infamous trademark "gift", Brooks in 1996 harked back an additional 21 years to "April 1974 and May 1977," to cite certain past operations violations.
Has Patterson pursued an alternative to build newer and modern water and sewer system(s) for his Oakland County's municipal units and/or those total 120 communities which need service in the last 30 years? (Such a system Brooks could have controlled and managed at will.) No. Then, as now in 1995, Boss Patterson, ever the godfather of suburban politics and patronage, was looking for "privatization" or as it now stands and is altogether possible: The EM forced/outright sale of the Detroit Water & Sewerage to a private corporation or business combine.
Patterson's citing of the rad right Heartland Institute's proposal, September 1992, Brooks felt he had found a "convincing argument for privatization." Said Patterson then:
"In order to meet the growing needs laid out by the EPA....many communities across the nation have sold their waste-water plants to private firms, allowing private firms to build, run and operate new plants [along] with units of government, and contract with private firms to take over the management of government-owned facilities."
In Patterson's 1995 print debate, he cited again a litany of other Detroit based flaws and problems as proof of the need to take from Detroit city the control its Water and Sewerage department. Brooks laid down a challenge:
"[Detroit] prove to us, your suburban customers, that the water and sewer services are delivered in the most cost-effective manner possible. If not, then it's time to consider other options such as privatization or, absent that, the development of a new Southeast Michigan Regional Water and Sewer Authority..."
Stealing Detroit's Crown Jewels: Brooks Patterson's Big Grab - Detroit's Liquid Assets
As Detroit Councilwoman Kay Everett effectively pointed out in her rebuttal:
"Today (1995), we deliver water to 120 communities in eight counties. That's 43% of the state's population! The fine work of our 2,817 (1996 total employee count) dedicated employees should be applauded. We provide steady, quality, reliable sewerage treatment services for 75 communities, which is 35% of Michigan's population...note our (1995) rates are fair and reasonable. The rates charged our suburban customers are MARKED UP GREATLY BY THOSE DEPARTMENTS WHEN THEY SELL IT RETAIL TO THEIR CUSTOMERS-ant the hike is blamed on Detroit. In short, THE SUBURBAN GOVERNMENTS ARE MAKING MONEY ON OUR WATER!"In 2012, nearly 20 years later, during the latest skirmish in this 30-Year War the battle continues with the same attackers, from the same trenches, with the same ammunition, but now supported by the Snyder shock doctrine of the Emergency Manager/Martial Law. The defense this time is manned by Michigan State Senate from Detroit Coleman Alexander Young II, in a well-crafted Op-Ed on the Huffington Post March 9, 2012 in "The Well is Running Dry":
"Efforts are under way to seize control of Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department, taking it away from the people and putting it into the hands of a private company. If this happens the people of Detroit will have no well at all.
The legislation introduced that would take control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department out of the hands of the people of Detroit and into the hands of a governing board comes from the play book of the Mackinac Center (for Public Policy). This conservative, pro-big business group has a long history of supporting corporate interests over the needs of people. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is the third largest provider of water and waste water services in the United States. It currently runs as a non-profit basing its rates solely on the costs of providing services. If the Mackinac Center had its way, Detroit Water would be turned over to a private corporation, whose sole motivation would be profit. As water is an essential element for life, the people of Detroit would have little choice but to pay the increased rates charged by the new corporate owners of our well.
Water is a precious, life-giving resource, not a commodity to be exploited by greed. The only way to ensure it stays that way is to keep Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, our well, in the hands and control of the people."
|Centuries Apart: Public Service vs. Private Profits from Public Services|
Chauncy Hurlbut (Left) Civil Servant and Detroit Water Works benefactor (c.1855)
and L. Brooks Patterson (Right) Public Profiteer / Profitizer (c.1995)
Patterson is still around in 2012, 17 years later. He, as a gnarled fixture, is about to succeed in his decades-long power struggle with Detroit. As so clearly shown in the dictatorial tyranny surrounding the debacle of the current Pontiac EM regime located in Patterson's County, the Detroit Water Department will go on the block and with stunning speed. What could not be accomplished by Boss Patterson via compromise or regional cooperation will now be done via the extreme powers of a Jim Crow/Teapartisan assisted legislative super-majority, whose radical franchise of EM Plantations (metastasizing across Michigan) will make it "legal" for L. Brooks Patterson et. al. to "steal" one of the crown jewels of the Motor City. This action in no way improves life in urban Detroit, it acts recklessly, further impoverishing and humiliating a majority minority city.
This kind of maneuver is what clever race radicals can do, utilizing the power of legislation and the police powers of the state, to put/keep feared minorities under the thumb of the New EM "Jim Crow" régime and in their place-said to be in the "best interest of the general public" - total control under the repressive EM plantation scheme. EM includes fire and police protection, maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure (roads and bridges), tens of thousands of abandoned homes and buildings, and much more.
Detroit is learning what it means to be separate and legally unequal without franchise, without regress, without local control. These wrongful acts of Dillon & Snyder Inc. will serve to illustrate how eerily like indentured servitude, or life under slavery just surviving on a Dillon/Snyder EM plantation can be.
Detroit citizens' freedom and franchise, local control and autonomy, are not high priorities for L. Brooks. He's about to grab a coveted Detroit's Crown Jewel; delivered to him on a silver platter. If it weren't quasi-legal (to be challenged by ballot initiative and court action) under TeaPublican EM legislation, it would be a historic miscarriage of justice and miscarriage of equal rights strongly akin to the injustice enforced upon Dred Scott.
In point of fact, legal or not, EM will be condemned far into the future as a failure of democracy and basic human rights for all Michigan citizens. Gov Rick Snyder and the Republicans will soon own the future of the City of Detroit, something they are very ill-prepared to handle.
Dancing a Jig on the Grave of Mayor Bing's Administration
Detroit News' Hank Payne jubilant ebullience over the immanent fall of Detroit's Mayor Dave Bing and the all encompassing imposition of "plantation style" Dillon/Snyder total Detroit Emergency Manager dictatorial control is evident in his recent opinion. What's so grand about all local rights of governance and voter sovereignty about to be indefinitely suspended/eliminated. Helpless Bing and Detroiter's will only be allowed to watch as municipal assets are put up for grabs via the Business Leaders for Michigan (Former Detroit Renaissance) game plan.
According to Payne in "Bing's failing franchise", March 9, 2012, shortfall finances have Detroit on the block for hostile takeover and conversion to an EM Plantation by as early as next month:
"Nearly three months ago, Treasurer Andy Dillon issued a preliminary state review of city finances detailing a bleak picture of a metropolis heading for April insolvency. With long-term debt at $12 billion, the city was paying out $597 million in debt payments. That is, more than its Big 3 revenue fund generators - income taxes, property taxes, and casinos - combined ($538 million)."
EM's Winners & Losers
The EM plantations include the same ideological spirit; the bare-knuckled and partisan attacks such as John Engler & Co. rolled out as prototypes of top down control back as far as 30 years ago. Now on steroids, via the TeaPublican takeover of the state legislature, statewide civic mayhem gains momentum with what appears to be unrelenting attacks and unlimited aggression against the autonomy of local units of governance, workers, the poor, the elderly, our children, and public servants by Snyder and Teapartisans, strongly supported by such big money as the Koch Bros.
L. Brooks Patterson is beside himself with greed and a filled with sense of vindication in his over-30 year struggle with Detroit centered on regional water and sewer service. The EM plantation will yield a multi- billion dollar bonanza for Patterson and Detroit's suburban rivals. The takedown of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is but the first of several multi-billion dollar "legalized" swindles about to be extracted from Detroit citizens. Bad things will happen; forced to their knees by the repression mapped out by the Business Leaders for Michigan and their CEO-style head honchos: Andy Dillon and Rick Snyder, Detroit city will be less well off, less viable in the end. The corporate looting of Detroit under EM Plantation control is about to begin, the process is even now well under way. The direct consequences of this neo-Jim Crow action include strong blowback that will negatively mark our state for years to come.
Dictatorship by means of aggressive, radical Teapartisan legislation gives freewheeling "overseers" the full run of their repressive EM Plantation(s).
Is there an Republican "exit strategy"? It's far too soon to even consider how the GOP gets out of the economical, social, racial and civic mess they are so deeply and undemocratically stuck in long term.
On the Reader:
Histories of the Detroit Water Works by Detroit Water & Sewage Department: The Firts 300 Years (DWSD, Michael Daisy 2002) - Detroit's Water Works Park a gateway to the past (DetNews Laurie J. Marzejka 2000) - Detroit’s Vast Water System: A Tangle of Regional Resentment (Michigan Land Use Institute Dave Dempsey 2006) and Water wars: A deep history runs beneath the battle for Detroit’s water department (MetroTimes, Russ Bellant 2002)
On Emergency Management issue in "A Shout Out to the Overlords of Michissippian EM Plantations (Michigan Emergency Managerment)" and "High up in Jim Crow’s Nest: Constant Cawing Incites Civic Upheaval by the Detroit News - Michigan View" and a previous piece on L. Brooks Patterson in "A Political Marriage from Hell: The Blonde and the Political Godfather"