Jul 162014
 

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, In re: City of Detroit, Debtor Objection to “Plan of Adjustment”

Testimony by Kristen A. Hamel, Detroit resident and homeowner

July 15, 2014

In recent weeks, Detroiters have been experiencing the inhuman austerity agenda of Gov. Rick Snyder and Emergency Dictator Kevyn Orr. Thousands of families have had their water cut off, and tens of thousands more face imminent shutoffs if a mere $150 is owed.

The situation is so outrageous that a United Nations commission has condemned Detroit’s water shutoffs as a violation of international human rights. Freedom Friday marches starting at the water department building have been going on for weeks because no one should have to face forced deprivation of water, the most basic necessity of life and health.

The Detroit Free Press reported Orr’s office calling the water shutoffs “a necessary part of Detroit’s restructuring.” The real agenda is to make the water department more attractive for privatization to union busters like Veolia Corp., known worldwide for its crimes against humanity, especially against the Palestinian people.

While the poorest Detroiters have their water cut off for owing $150, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Loop Financial and Morgan Stanley were paid $537 million in termination fees on interest rate swaps out of $1 billion in bonds issued from 2010 to 2013, bonds that were earmarked to fund repairs of the water infrastructure system, not line the pockets of these four banks.

Orr, while cutting off water to the poor and raising water rates, has not taken one step to recover this $537 million giveaway to the banks. Orr and Buckfire were also ready to hand over hundreds of millions to Bank of America and UBS on the interest rate swaps associated with the pension obligation certificates. Because of community outcry against these swindles, they were forced by this court on two occasions to go back to the negotiating table.

As you have stated on prior occasions, Judge Rhodes, the buck stops with you in these bankruptcy proceedings. Continue reading »

 July 16, 2014  Posted by at 2:18 am Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 032014
 

Appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

ushrn_web_logoA Call for Assistance in the Efforts to Halt Racism, Racial Discrimination and Acts of Genocide Directed Towards the People of the City of Detroit in the United States of America

The following draft appeal was submitted and accepted by the United States Human Rights Network (USHRN) to be included in their report related to the gross human rights violations being committed inside the country. This appeal is an important contribution to the annual submission by the USHRN that is designed to point out the violations by the U.S. government of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The appeal requests the direct intervention by relevant UN agencies including, but not limited to, the High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Geneva, Switzerland.

This appeal is directed towards the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and all other agencies of this international body concerned with the prevention and halting of institutional racism, racial discrimination and genocide. Two organizations which have played a leading role in opposition to the imposition of austerity, the racist denial of the right to vote and due process under the law in defense against the predatory actions of multi-national corporations and international financial institutions in the City of Detroit, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), founded in 2002 and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, founded in 2008, are making this appeal to the United Nations due to the failure of the local, state and federal governmental structures to uphold the fundamental civil and human rights of the majority African American population of Detroit, but not limited to this predominant segment of the people, and encompassing all those who are impacted by the current policies enacted by a system of emergency management, forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the City of Detroit.

We are charging that deliberate actions by the State of Michigan through its Governor Rick Snyder and majority right-wing legislative bodies are calculated and well-planned to foster the disempowerment of the African American people. This program is specifically designed to destroy the political and social gains made by the African American people, but also severely impacts negatively the labor movement, social justice organizations and all other historically affected groups facing national discrimination and class oppression in the United States.

The Nullification of the Elections of November 2012

Continue reading »

Jul 132014
 

nnu-detroit-water-rally-loc

 

Lay the blame for the manufactured crisis at the feet of those responsible: Wall Street Speculators, Gov. Rick Snyder, and Kevyn Orr

Join Registered Nurses as they declare a public health emergency and demand a moratorium on the unprecedented water shutoffs. Nurses, Detroit residents, clergy, labor, environmentalists, Netroots Nation opinion leaders, and others will march and rally to condemn this violation of human rights. Gov. Snyder is allowing the tragedy to continue with an endgame of privatizing the public water department — the latest in a string of gifts to Wall Street. The historic transfer of public wealth to private hands overseen by Snyder has cost the public jobs, pensions, vital public safety services, and our civic jewels. Now they have come for our water. – National Nurses United, July 9, 2014

Jul 072014
 

City now looks to be costliest Ch. 9

Bank-RobberBy Chad Halcom, Crain’s Detroit Business, July 6, 2014

Related post: Detroit bankruptcy bills, payments

Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy, which was already the nation’s largest by debt, population affected and number of creditors, now appears to have become its costliest in legal and professional fees after just one year.With the anniversary of its $18 billion Chapter 9 petition coming on July 18, Detroit has been billed more than $75 million in fees and expenses from 19 professional services firms through late June. It has paid out about $64 million of that so far, according to city records, including more than $38 million paid to law firms.According to city records, it still owes another $7.6 million in outstanding balances to the same 19 companies for the same period — mainly due to a bankruptcy court order last September to withhold 15 percent of most professional fees until after the invoices clear a review by a fee examiner. Continue reading »
 July 7, 2014  Posted by at 1:02 pm Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jul 062014
 

In contrast to Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Governor Rick Snyder, and the Wall Street banks, who are shutting off  water to tens of thousands of Detroiters!.

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By Beyene Geda, The Africa Report, July 4, 2014

Ethiopian legislators have ratified an agreement that will see neighbouring Djibouti drawing underground water from the country’s territory free of charge. Continue reading »

 July 6, 2014  Posted by at 2:10 am Uncategorized Tagged with:  No Responses »
Jul 052014
 

By David Sole, July 4, 2014

Detroit’s Freedom Friday fights for water. WW photo: Abayomi Azikiwe

Detroit’s Freedom Friday fights for water.

The shutoff of water to thousands of Detroit homes has become national and international news. An appeal to the United Nations by activists about the inhuman, profit-driven shutoffs has resulted in condemnation of these actions by U.N. officials involved in water and sanitation issues.

“Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights,” said the experts. (U.N. News Centre, June 25)

“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying. In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections,” explained Catarina de Albuquerque, the first U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation. She was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2008. Continue reading »

Jul 042014
 

But cutting water to homes risks a public health crisis.

Instead, the water department should more aggressively target delinquent commercial customers who carry a large share of the unpaid bills. It should enact a comprehensive plan to fix leaking pipes; flooded streets are common here, and water customers — whether the state or ordinary residents — must pay for sewerage, not just running water, and often are billed erroneously for these leaks.

The department must also ensure that water is shut off to abandoned buildings, and eliminate errors in address transfers.

By Anna Clark, New York Times, July 3, 2014Going Without Water in Detroit

DETROIT — A FAMILY of five with no water for two weeks who were embarrassed to ask friends if they could bathe at their house. A woman excited about purchasing a home who learned she would be held responsible for the previous owner’s delinquent water bill: all $8,000 of it. A 90-year-old woman with bedsores and no water available to clean them.

These are the stories that keep Mia Cupp up at night.

Ms. Cupp is the director of development and communication for the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, a nonprofit contracted by the state of Michigan to work as a human-services agency for Detroit. In August 2013, with a $1 million allocation, Wayne Metro became the only program to assist residents with water bills. Ms. Cupp quickly learned that this was “by far the greatest need.”

In January alone, Wayne Metro received 10,000 calls for water assistance, many of them referred directly by the Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage. It supported 904 water customers over 10 months before exhausting its funding in June. Ms. Cupp said Wayne Metro still gets hundreds of calls a day from residents. But it has no way to help them, and nowhere to refer them. Continue reading »

Jul 042014
 

Illinois pensions, like Michigan’s, are constitutionally protected.

Carla K. Johnson,  Associated Press, July 3, 2014

CHICAGO • The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday sided with retired state employees who argue that health insurance coverage is a constitutionally-protected retirement benefit, a ruling that could portend trouble for landmark legislation aimed at fixing the worst funded state pension system in the nation.

The court’s 6-to-1 ruling reverses a lower court decision that effectively allowed the state government to require retirees to pay for a portion of their own health care. The justices sent the case back to the lower court, where retirees can proceed with their challenge.

The ruling centered on the strength of the constitutional protection for state worker benefits, such as health care and pensions. It was quickly parsed for the signals it sends on an even bigger case: a challenge to the state’s sweeping pension overhaul aimed at fixing a nearly $100 billion unfunded pension liability. Unions and retirees are suing over the broader overhaul plan that also reduces some benefits to retirees. Continue reading »

 July 4, 2014  Posted by at 12:15 am Uncategorized Tagged with:  No Responses »