Detroit: Cutting Off The Water

… BUT SUBSIDIZING A HOCKEY ARENA? If you don’t work, you don’t eat … at least that’s what Coolio once said. And apparently you don’t drink either.  Or take a bath.  Or wash your dishes. In Detroit – a.k.a. “America’s Chernobyl” – a monthlong moratorium barring government from shutting off…


If you don’t work, you don’t eat … at least that’s what Coolio once said. And apparently you don’t drink either.  Or take a bath.  Or wash your dishes.

In Detroit – a.k.a. “America’s Chernobyl” – a monthlong moratorium barring government from shutting off the water service of individuals who are delinquent in their bills is coming to an end.  How many people are delinquent?  As of last spring, roughly half of Detroit’s 170,000 water customers.

According to The Detroit News, 24,400 city residents are currently on payment plans, while 17,000 had their service suspended from March through July (which  is when the moratorium on shutdowns went into effect).  The average residential delinquency totals $540 – while the average monthly bill is roughly $75.

Despite famously going bankrupt a few years back, city taxpayers are on the hook for roughly 60 percent of the Detroit Red Wings’ new $450 million arena – part of a $650 million downtown renewal project that’s subsidized largely by property taxes.

Sheesh …

In 1960, Detroit boasted the highest per capita income levels in America.  From 2000-2010, though, the city lost a quarter of its population – and it has lost another 4 percent since then.  Now 38.1 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line …

More than 78,000 homes in the city are abandoned – and an estimated thirty percent of the city’s 140 square miles is either vacant or falling apart.  Forty-seven percent of the city’s residents are functionally illiterate.  Sixty percent of its children are living in poverty.  Half of the city’s street lights don’t work.  Two-thirds of its parks have been shuttered.  There are more than seventy “Superfund” hazardous waste sites within the city limits.

Viva government-subsidized “urban renewal!”

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Squishy123 August 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm

“We President now, Obama gonna pay my bills”.

soxinsc August 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Sic, you gotta have your peoples do something about the headline and link colors on this page. They’re so yellow they’re almost invisible.

Mike at the Beach August 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Some super-smart interwebs consultant must have said, “Use puky yellow a lot- it renders really well on most screens and makes for more hits!”

Dave Chappelle August 27, 2014 at 8:05 am

I heard about that interweb stuff on the google.

Cup half full August 26, 2014 at 4:22 pm

There’s a certain irony associated with certain residents of the Great Lakes state being unable to purchase water.

Karolyn August 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm

This is so sad.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Conservatives don’t care what happens to what was once America’s industrial capital. Especially southern conservatives. Detroit is black, unionized, and northern. The fact that it is America seems to little sway their opinions.

The fact that taxes from then-more-prosperous Detroit (and New York, etc.) helped lift the south out of its largely self-imposed dark ages a few generations ago (e.g., rural electrification, soil conservation) seems lost to them too. “What have they done for US RECENTLY?” “Us, do for them? Are you crazy?” “And quit leaning on my Honda.”

A few bread crumbs sir? August 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Yes sir, the South should be thankful to the North. Just like Iraq should be thankful to the US for rebuilding its bridges.

Mike at the Beach August 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Now THAT’s well said…

TontoBubbaGoldstein August 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Just like Iraq should be thankful to the US for rebuilding its bridges.

…which were destroyed by Iraq’s “largely self-imposed dark ages”, no doubt.

euwe max August 26, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Those Muslims need a good talking to.

Sailor August 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Well said.

euwe max August 26, 2014 at 9:51 pm

seems to little sway their opinions.


Now look here. I’ve been trying to figure out what this is for years. I know something about passive voice.. and stuff.. but this was new to me when I first saw it. I’m sure that I’ve similar, but I can’t recall another master.

You didn’t say “to sway their opinions a little” or “to say their opinions little” you said “to little sway their opinions” – now that, to me, doesn’t even MEAN the same thing. How did you do that? Is there a book I can read that tells me when to put the adjective first and tie it together with the overall tone?

I know this isn’t *it* – there’s all sorts of stuff like this that conveys information differently, and makes the paragraph glisten… I know it’s not Strunk and White.. what the hell is it? Do I have to read some huge civil war epic or something?

Is it prose from some long dead southern scallywag?

Stunk & Blight August 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm

“I know it’s not Strunk and White.. what the hell is it?”

I remember buying Strunk & White as a college freshman, reading it, and thinking, “God, that’s pedantic.”

euwe max August 26, 2014 at 11:08 pm

well, yeah. Have you ever *read* a college newspaper?
It should be required reading in junior high.

idcydm August 27, 2014 at 7:55 am

Reading should be required in junior high.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 27, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I’m probably channeling someone. Were that I knew who(m).

euwe max August 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Walter Cronkite?

TontoBubbaGoldstein August 26, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Detroit is black, unionized, and northern.

For a moment there…TBG thought you made the connection!

EJB August 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

“America’s Chernobyl”

An economic disaster is no where near a proper comparison to a nuclear disaster.

MashPotato August 26, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Why not? In both cases, you can’t take a shower.

kirby August 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Is this where T-Bone is getting his inspiration? And all the time I thought he was emulating Marion Barry, hanging wid de ho’s

George August 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm

The Downtown Development Authority’s diverted property taxes must be paid toward downtown development by State law, and the State of Michigan is selling the bonds that will pay for 56% of the arena and entertainment district’s construction, not the City of Detroit or Wayne County. The diverted taxes are also repaid by the State of Michigan’s General Fund. The DDA and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation are responsible for the rink deal and its construction; the City Council signed off on it.

It’s the City of Detroit’s Water Department that thought it was a brilliant idea to convince “scofflaws” to pay their water bills not by sending shutoff notices but by literally shutting off water supplies. Several aid organizations and advocacy groups got the City to stop the practice for nearly two months, and the City did extend a this-past weekend window to help people get on payment plans to slowly but surely get out of delinquency…

But it’s the City’s heavy-handedness that’s to blame here–and while the optics suck, and there’s obviously no justification for public subsidization of a for-profit sports facility–the City is not shutting off its residents’ water to “pay for” the arena. That’s simply untrue.

CNSYD August 26, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Sic Willie don’t need no stinkin truth!

Tazmaniac August 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Another Democrat Mogadishu cesspool. at least Kwame doesn’t have to worry about the utilities getting cut in the Federal Pen.

(*)(*) August 26, 2014 at 6:19 pm

The entire city is a ghetto.

Guest August 27, 2014 at 9:12 am

The TV show “Hardcore Pawn” shows how desperate some people in Detroit are. It gives us an idea how desperate those people are by their trying to sell anything to get money. It reflects the city.

EREY August 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm

That’s why the natives call it “Detroilet”. What is a shame is the quiet loss (sale) of artwork from the Detroit Museum of Art, which was one of the finest collections in the U.S. Local corporate funding dried up a long time ago. Sad.

It's Howdy Doody time August 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I seem to recall a great wail over possible sale of Howdy Doody, do you know if that occurred or did they retain it/him?

Thomas August 26, 2014 at 6:50 pm

California is next.

I was born in Los Angeles just about the time they were finishing the Los Angeles River, all three million barrels of concrete worth. We would walk in the river during dry spells. LA has a history, the Valley as well, has a history of bank washing, life taking floods. 50 inches fell in five weeks in during the winter of 1861. Taxpayers spent a lot of money for damming and debris basin projects to protect property and life. However, ground water levels dropped 2-20 feet per year in the 1930?s. *hint*

Now for the blame.

6 million people called LA County home in 1960. The flood control projects did also preserve rain water run off as insurance against drought. The more LA grew, the more her reservoirs were drawn down to flush the toilets and water the lawns. 12 of 14 Governors for California since 1917 were Republicans. Flood control funding was cut 2’3rds after Reagan left in 1975. Since 1978, the leadership of California was hijacked by Liberal Democrats. They simply spent California’s revenue on bovine sewage pet projects ignoring water usage and history. Typical “live for the moment, if it feels good do it” thinking brought us to this point. At this point, we need to divert water to farmers as a national priority. The “citizens” of California are expendable. They need to move. Too bad, really. LA really was a sweet spot till Democrats fucked it all up. Food and industry should be California’s priorities period.

Here is a prediction. If Brown is reelected in 2014, by 2016 my homeland Cal will be Republican again and so shall the WH being as inept and incompetent as they truly are underneath all their flowery drivel.

Native Ink August 26, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Sure… When Mother Nature falters, Californians will prefer Republicans, the party that thinks environmental stewardship is a dirty word.

Thomas August 27, 2014 at 4:29 am

Not quite. Latinos are now in the majority in California. They are not so stupido to keep reelecting Democrats when the water is cut off. Democrats underestimate the Latino vote. The GOP establishment will cobble together an amnesty bill next year and Obama will have to sign it. The second highest ranking Republican in the House is from Southern California which will translate into a California bailout bill. Game-Set-Match. With California’s electoral votes, the WH is ours. Brown could very well be recalled by 2016 considering his mismanaging the drought.

euwe max August 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Way to go, wasteful corporations without any care for the future, workers, or stockholders!

Destroy that environment and economy to make a few bucks – you’ll be dead by the time they convict you.

Bible Thumper August 26, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Way to go Unions who only care for their retirees(many who moved away) and legacy workers and not for the future children.
If Detroit had a law like Scott Walker got, removing collective bargaining rights then Detroit might have been saved.

euwe max August 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Nope. Nothing fixes stupid. Especially when it’s hand in hand with greed and the lazy rich.

CL August 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

How dare these unpatriotic companies not willingly march to their own funeral in the interest of a left wing fairy tale. Executions at dawn for these wreckers and saboteurs.

LOL on the implication that environmental impact has any significant role in Detroit’s woes. The government ain’t broke from cleaning up the environment. When it filed for bankruptcy protection, I believe of its $11 billion in unfunded liabilities, $9 billion constituted pension and health care obligations to (unionized) government workers.

GM went bankrupt for a similar reason, yet you try to spin that as the company being wasteful. If only they had listened to their benevolent unions, who no doubt were sagely advising them against building up huge unfunded liabilities to people who no longer work for the company. That’s what unions do, right?


euwe max August 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

spin that as the company being wasteful.

let’s add stubbornly incompetent and ignorant

CL August 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm

So you believe the automakers were stupid to sign those union contracts? Interesting.

euwe max August 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

CL August 28, 2014 at 7:58 am

What were they wasting their money on, pray tell? I think GM has shown it wasn’t going broke on R&D. The unions were leaching the automakers to death. Yet you assign all the blame to the host for succumbing to its parasites. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

euwe max August 28, 2014 at 8:25 am

I worked as a consultant for them – they were wasteful.

CL August 28, 2014 at 9:50 am

How much higher were GM’s labor costs then those of Japanese companies making cars in right to work states? What percentage of GM’s unfunded liabilities at the time of its bankruptcy was pension and health benefits for unionized workers?

And you want to try to dodge the role unions played by pointing to Perot’s complaint that GM made crappy cars and did not have a culture of rewarding innovation and promising younger executives. Imagine that a company marinated in collective bargaining, where seniority rules and it is difficult to discipline and fire workers, would have those types of problems. Truly shocking.

euwe max August 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

All large companies have bureaucratic inefficiencies and are prone to making poor decisions.

No shit Sherlock.

CL August 28, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Well, Watson, if you are aware of that universal trait you probably shouldn’t rely upon it to try to deflect blame from the unions.

Native Ink August 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm

It’s been a long time coming. I have cousins in Detroit and remember visiting as a young kid in the 1980s. I couldn’t believe seeing modern-looking steel skyscrapers with windows boarded up with plywood.

Bible Thumper August 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm

–If you don’t work, you don’t eat … at least that’s what Coolio once said.–

Will, I understand that you are more of a “gangsta rap thumpa” than a Bible Thumper, but I believe Coolio was quoting the apostle Paul.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 …..if any would not work, neither should he eat.

paladin August 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

Where I live, in Chesterfield County, if I don’t pay my water bill the town shuts it off. They even upgraded all the meters to have a remote control shutoff valve so no one has to visit my yard. When I go to town hall the next day to contritely pay my bill, I usually have to stand in line with a bunch of other similarly contrite local miscreants. Why should Dee-troit be any different?


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