The People’s Tribune’s Sandy Reid interviewed Shirley Turner who is a leader in the fight for water rights in Highland Park, Michigan. She discusses the deplorable state of the Highland Park schools as well.
HIGHLAND PARK, MI — I have been involved in the water struggle since early 2000. Some people here haven’t received a water bill for over two years, but now they are being sent to various parts of the city. People will not be able to pay. Also, I don’t understand how they can send out a water bill when, one, the machines they use to read the meters are not working properly. Two, they cut the water coming into our reservoir and switched over to Detroit’s water. When they did this, the mayor bypassed the City Council, and didn’t inform the City that he was doing this. Now, no one knows how their bills will be calculated. The Mayor fired everybody that knew about the water plant, from plant to office. Now someone is coming up with a new billing system. Also, the Mayor didn’t inform anyone that they need to boil their water, which is brown and yellowish.
People need to know how much they are charging for every 1,000 cubic feet of water and for the sewage. My bill is $8 shy of $2,500 and $1,900 is for sewage. On my block alone, bills are almost $50,000. There are a lot of people here that receive only one check a month. They can’t afford to pay these bills.
I don’t know what the mayor is trying to do. I feel like there is a conspiracy going on. It’s like with our schools—we don’t have a school district, we have charters—but we still pay school taxes. All of the high schools have been torn down or are at the point of no repair. The school Financial Manager and his team came in and threw away a lot of books. They are not saying they are going to replace the books.
The whole city is in a mess. Now, if they put all of these water bills onto our property, people will lose their homes and be in the street. A lot of elderly people own the homes—where will they go? The City Council and the mayor don’t want to fight for our City and represent us. We elected them to take care of the City. People are angry. We, the citizens, have to stand up.
For more information, contact the Highland Park Human Rights Coalition at Michigan Welfare Rights, 313-964-0618.