5.18.2009

It Ain’t Broke-So Don’t Fix It

By Any Name, It’s Still a Move To Privatize the Water Supply

Cincinnati City Manager today reportedly gave his conditional support to spinning off the Cincinnati Water Works into a separate entity. He claims it will work better for citizens if a regional board takes over governance of the facility. Milton Dohoney says the plan is not a move toward privatizing the water.

But I’m not so sure about that.

Let’s go there shall we.....

The same crappy governance that has this country trying to weather the current economic tailspin is responsible for this move to spin off the Water works to control of a regional board and or private corporation.

Both former presidents Clinton and Bush worked to ease federal regulations on water to allow states more autonomy and independence. In 1996 the EPA issued a report identifying the need for improvements to US water infrastructure.

To make that happen, Congress passed bipartisan legislation in 2001 to fund the water infrastructure renovations.

However, in order for the states to get the mandated federal money, they had to look at alternate management options, like regional boards, and private corporations before they could qualify for the federal money.

Further, the IRS extended privatization contract limits as well as libralized federal tax law to encourage privatization or regionalization.

When the IRS backed off...Foreign Corporations jumped in to buy the waters rights of America as they’ve done worldwide, since about 1988.

American Water Works...a corporation working in Ohio and Kentucky, right now, is owned by Suez Corporation a French Multinational entity..

I’m not saying foreign ownership is bad...but it is about making money off the backs of customers...the name of the game is profit.....

Since 2001 water industry lobbyists have been pushing for more and more tax breaks to complete the private takeover of the water supply...

You will recall that deregulation of the financial industry, the airline industry and housing market, etc is at the root of the current crisis that America finds itself mired in as we speak....

Other nearby cities are paying big bucks to keep control of their water rights...sort of..

Indianapolis....In 2001 the city purchased the Indianapolis Water Company for 522 million dollars. In April 2002, the city then sold out to Vivendi, a foreign multinational corporation for a 20 year 1.5 billion dollar deal. It was a management contract to operate and maintain treatment plants. As part of the transaction, the company agreed to freeze rates for five years and promised not to lay off employees for two....

July 2003, Lexington, Kentucky voted to acquire the local water facility Kentucky-American Water Works Company. . As I said before American Water Works is also a foreign owned corporation masquerading as an American company.

It’s called a condemnation proceeding and is a legal process that would compel Kentucky American to sell itself to the city with the price to be determined by the courts. Lexington is the largest city in recent years to take this step against a local utility.

The city of Atlanta took on a contract for its water....it was a 20 year multimillion dollar deal that was supposed to generate lots and lots of money for the city. All it generated was higher rates and bad customer service and fraudulent billing both to citizens and the city itself. As a result Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin canceled the contract after three years...

Now Atlanta finds it self of having to go back to the old way of doing things, when they should have left well enough alone...

The same "what-if" is in play here in Cincinnati....

Officials have said it is not a broken system....therefore why fix it....

Changing to a regional authority....will raise rates...will cost jobs.... service and repair will suffer .....and it will spread out the responsibility so that no one is ultimately responsible...

The bottom line is that customers get screwed, again...

And I have to ask.....If the city can’t afford to run the water works in the first place...can it afford the extra cost of buying it back....if the regional board doesn’t pan out as advertised

Are we willing to take that chance....

Worldwide.....Water has been referred to as the new oil...It’s where the money is....or where the corporations are betting the money is....

That’s why Coca Cola, Pepsico, and Nestle to name three sell tap water in a bottle. They are making bank because people believe that it’s better if its encased in a plastic bottle. That is not the case...

Coke admits that its product is purified tap water...And unless it names the source of the water on the bottle...chances are that whatever is in your plastic bottle is tap water, too....

You’re better off grabbing a glass and turning on the tap, it is better regulated.

I spent time actually looking for a success story anywhere for a city that has begun to slide down this slippery slope.....

I have not been able to find one....anywhere....in the world....

Water and food should not be used by business to make a profit....ever....

Cincinnati City Council....needs to look harder at the situation...
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