Originally published November 11 2014
UN representatives meet in Detroit to discuss water shutoffs as residents demand income-based water pricing
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Is shutting off water to residents in Detroit who are months behind on their bills a concern for the United Nations, an organization that is funded primarily by the United States? Of course not; Detroit -- being part of the U.S. -- does not fall under the UN's jurisdiction. So why has the globalist organization sent representatives to the Motor City?
According to local reports, a pair of UN "human rights experts" went to Detroit to see what impact the city's decision to demand payment of overdue water bills or shut off water service to non-paying customers was having.
CBS Detroit reported that the city's mayor, Mike Duggan, along with the Detroit City Council, were expected to meet with the representatives ahead of an expected news conference last week.
'Unwarranted' shutoff actions are the only way to get Detroiters who owe to pay
The UN officials -- Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Leilani Farha, and Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque -- informally stopped by neighborhoods where water has been cut off to some residents. The officials had already heard from some city residents who had lost their service due to non-payment of their overdue bills. Beforehand, several hundred city residents had turned out at a public hearing on the shut-offs.
"We only owed like $220 or something and they threatened to cut us off... I just thought it was unwarranted because the bill is really low," one resident said.
Only, in total, the bill which the financially strapped city is dealing with over unpaid water service is anything but low; it is in the millions of dollars, and that is a cost that city taxpayers have had to bear -- mostly by those who have paid their bills.
CBS Detroit reported that the city water department said more than 27,000 shutoffs had been made between January 1 and September 30. Shutoffs were stopped for a number of weeks this past summer to give customers an opportunity to arrange payment plans, and many did. However, the city resumed the shutoffs, and in September they rose to 5,100.
Civic organizations who are opposed to the shutoffs appealed to the UN for support, and while representatives from the globalist organization indeed came to the city, Detroit officials are under no legal obligations to make changes recommended by the UN, and the UN has no authority to impose solutions.
Indeed, the UN's presence in Detroit is troubling for a number of reasons, including hypocrisy. In addition to the fact that the UN has no authority in the U.S., Detroit -- despite its fiscal problems -- still does a much better job at offering basic services to its residents than cities in most other UN-member nations whose officials have not had to deal with "special UN rapporteurs."
In addition, as Natural News has reported, state Judge Steven Rhodes ruled in October that the city can continue the process of shutting off water to any non-paying customers, as reported by Reuters. Rhodes added that his court does not have any jurisdiction over the issue, and that suspending the shut-offs for a period of six months would contribute to further depleting the city's finances.
'The last thing Detroit needs is a hit to its revenues'
"Detroit cannot afford any revenue slippages," Rhodes said in advance of continuing his ongoing hearing regarding the city's plan to finally exit the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
"As it prepares to show the court its plan is feasible... the last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues," the judge said, according to Reuters. Rhodes further stated that there was a very strong correlation between the disconnections of water service and city officials' ability to collect bills that are late.
As Rhodes alluded to, the problem with Detroit not collecting its water bills is that the city simply cannot afford them. Also, when city officials enacted the shut-off moratorium, revenues fell dramatically; but when residents understood that they either had to pay up or risk being shut off, the opposite happened -- collections skyrocketed. As USA Today reported:
The tactic appears to be effective in getting people to pay up. The water department said it collected about $2.5 million in water and sewage bills for all of 2012 and again last year. About $3.7 million was collected through the first nine months of this year.
Another idea that has been floated: Make those with higher incomes pay more for their water.
Gloria House of the Detroit People's Water Board, an activist group that essentially wants those who owe for their water to get it for free, said in a statement, "The only humane course of action in a city with the highest poverty rate in the nation is to have people pay for water based on income."
This socialist approach may fit well with a left-wing Obama Administration agenda, but the effect of this kind of policy would mean that those who are productive and have incomes would be paying the bills of those who aren't contributing (but only taking).
As of October, Detroit's water department was $42 million in the red.
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