How ironic that Detroit (“straits” in French), located between Lake St, Clair and Lake Erie, is a desert:
Detroit officials are fuming after two visiting United Nations lawyers scolded the city for cutting off water to delinquent customers and described the shut-offs as a “human rights” violation.
The response follows a three-day visit to Detroit — which desperately is trying to bail itself out of bankruptcy — from two representatives with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“It is contrary to human rights to disconnect water from people who simply do not have the means to pay their bills,” Catarina de Albuquerque, one of the two representatives, said Monday at the conclusion of their visit.
Is that her real name or her porn name?
Anyhow, “Catarina”, we have a quaint custom here in America with which you may not be familiar in whatever third-world sphincter from which you hail. No, not paying our bills—whatever lingering responsibility we felt we had toward national fiscal sanity was declared uncool in the Year Zero of our lord and savior, Barack Obama (mm-mm-mm), 2009.
It’s called clean water. Clean. C-l-e-a-n. As in no bugs, bodies, silt, dirt, e coli, Ebola, etc. I know, wacky, right? So, any resident of Detroit (of those few who are left) is welcome to carry two buckets and a pole down to the Detroit River, fill ‘em up, and haul the riches back to their hovel, free of charge. But if they don’t want to come down with cholera, they pay the price required by the water bureau to guarantee clean water. Unlike the federal government, Detroit can’t just print money.
The policy change shuts off water to businesses and residents who either are 60 days past due or owe more than $150.
Detroit — the country’s largest municipality to file for bankruptcy — reports making 27,000 shut-offs from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30.
Most shut-offs were halted for several weeks this summer to give residents an opportunity to enter a payment plan, but they have resumed with 5,100 shut-offs in September alone.
Detroit officials have defended the decision, arguing that customers collectively owed more than $115 million in delinquent water-and-sewer department payments before the city took action and that their efforts are improving the situation.
Some look at $115 million and see red ink; the UN sees black skin:
“I heard testimonies from poor, African American residents of Detroit who were forced to make impossible choices — to pay the water bill or to pay their rent.”
Touching, I’m sure, but their race is irrelevant. Not only because it’s just plain irrelevant, but because Detroit is over 80% African American (and probably poor in a similar percentage). The odds of a person in this predicament being black are so high as to be conceded as a certainty.
This is what Detroit is doing:
Detroit is helping residents by improving customer service, getting 33,000 people in the payment plans and cutting residential calls for water assistance by more than 50 percent.
What else does the UN suggest?
De Albuquerque and Farha, also known as U.N. special rapporteurs, cited such other problems as the city’s drastic population decline, rising unemployment and the utility passing on higher costs associated with an aging system.
De Albuquerque said she has seen shut-offs in other U.S. cities and developed nations, but nothing like Detroit. “Our conclusion is that you have here in Detroit a man-made perfect storm,” she said. “The scale of the disconnections in the city is unprecedented.”
De Albuquerque and Farha say the mayor’s plan to help delinquent customers fails to help the chronically poor and those who face shut-offs. Farha also said at least some residents said their past-due bills were the result of city billing or accounting errors.
However, they called their conversation with Detroit officials “constructive.” They also said they can’t enforce recommendations but want to help the city and residents resolve the situation.
As usual, the UN has been SO helpful.
Hey, I remember where I saw “Catarina de Albuquerque”! It was either in Star Whores or Driving Into Miss Daisy. I’ll get back to you.