Judge drops bomb on illegal water rate hikes in Flint, MI: Ruling breathes life into fight for water rights

Marchers on the “Water Justice Journey,” a 70-mile march fromDetroit to Flint, MI to unite people statewide in a fight for water as a human right. PHOTO/VALERIE JEAN

Marchers on the “Water Justice Journey,” a 70-mile march fromDetroit to Flint, MI to unite people statewide in a fight for water as a human right.
PHOTO/VALERIE JEAN

 

FLINT, MI — After months of demonstrations, public forums and court challenges, residents of Flint, Michigan, are emboldened by a court decision in their quest for quality, affordable water. Water shut offs, coupled with over 13,000 property liens caused by exorbitant water rates, have become too common in a city known for its labor legacy.

Now a decision lawsuit filed by ordinary citizens, with an extraordinary local attorney, Val Washington, gives residents hope. The suit charged the city with illegally raising water rates 35%  in 2011 under the auspices of the then Emergency Manager regime. Relying on a recent Court of Appeals decision, which found that Emergency Manager’s do not have the authority to violate or neglect local ordinances, despite their dictatorial powers.  (This could have implications for other municipalities and school districts trapped in the mire of dictatorship.) The suit also charged that the city raided water and sewer funds in 2007 to pay off a lawsuit.

Judge Archie Haymon’s decision was bold and decisive. The temporary injunction highlights:

Suspend All Water Shutoffs

Suspend All Property Liens

Suspend Water Service Fee (Average $60.00 per household)

Reduce Water Rate 35% to satisfy illegal rate hike in 2011

Return $15 million to Water and Sewer illegally taken in 2007

With the dismantling of Democracy taking place all over the state of Michigan, with the end game to totally expropriate public assets, particularly water, citizens have been forced to turn to the courts for relief. Unfortunately, there has not been much success in this arena. The Federal courts have made it clear that we have no Constitutional right to water (including the bankruptcy judge in the Detroit case.) Yet, the struggle continues and it’s no surprise that Flint found that needle in the haystack even for this partial victory.

Due to the flurry of appeals, and with the city playing the “bankruptcy card,” the victory may be short lived, but inspires us to fight on, recognizing water is a human right.

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One thought on “Judge drops bomb on illegal water rate hikes in Flint, MI: Ruling breathes life into fight for water rights

  1. Our water bill has trippled since we moved to Flint. We lived in Grand Blanc and our water bill was less, way less we were paying less for clean water! Not tripple for dirty, contaminated filt! Since we have moved we pay more in one month than we did every three months in Grand Blanc! And did I mention it was Clean water, useable water!! Over charged for filt we are forced to use and expoxe our selfs and children to led and other nasty things! What kind of city mayor dose this to his people?? Who? What? Is this!!

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