Tag Archive for Detroit Water & Sewerage Department

Decision Time: DW&SD Rain Tax Comes To A Head In Court

Detroit Water & Sewerage Division Has Colluded With Trial Lawyers To Avoid A Constitutional Test Of Their Outrageous 'Stormwater Fee'

The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department’s Non Residential Drainage Rate became a political hot potato in 2013 when the City finally started applying this breathtaking, disguised tax to all non residential properties within the City.  Mayor Duggan is scraping the bottom of the barrel for every revenue dollar he can find.

Prior to 2013, the City of Detroit only extracted this rate from 12,000 non residential property owners, although 41,237 non residential property owners should have been paying it. They also extracted this rate from the State of Michigan and Wayne County for roads in Detroit, after a lengthy appeals process which ended in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Detroit shielded politically preferred and connected property owners from this tax for 35 years, notably the politically powerful black churches.  But that ended in 2013 when the City of Detroit “discovered….that there are some errors with respect to our billing of stormwater charges”.

This rate, which is often referred to as a stormwater fee or the rain tax, is not inconsequential. It is now $ 660 – $ 750 per acre, per month. Run of the mill churches with on site parking were rudely surprised with $ 3,500 monthly charges in 2015, on top of their already expensive water bills. They thought as religious entities they were tax exempt. Tee-hee.  No one in Michigan is truly tax exempt!  Michigan Public Act 178 of 1939 (MCL 123.161 et seq.) converts unpaid DW&SD stormwater fees into a property lien, same as unpaid property taxes, so these fees quickly result in property foreclosures.

Ever wonder why Detroit has such a problem with commercial property blight? Now church blight is in the offing.

Non residential property owners in Detroit have just received a legal notice in the mail announcing a proposed settlement of a Wayne County Circuit Court class action case filed by Michigan Warehousing Group LLC and Midwest Valve and Fitting Company against the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department over the DW&SD’s outrageous stormwater fee. This case is identified in the Wayne County Circuit Court as 15-010165-CZ. The parties reached a settlement agreement which is carefully constructed to cripple legal challenges to the constitutionality of the stormwater fee in higher courts and handsomely pay off the trial bar.

The settlement notice fails to inform non residential property owners that another, far more comprehensive class action law suit is progressing in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Detroit Alliance Against The Rain Tax v. City Of Detroit in the Michigan Court of Appeals, Case Number 339176, just got consolidated with a similar suit on 24 October and appears ready for litigation – also as a class action.

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Corruption or Incompetence?

Oakland Macomb Sewer Interceptor Costs Now At $ 335 Million And Climbing, Cue The Lawsuits

The City of Sterling Heights announced on their FakeBook page Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Macomb County over their $ 22.2 million portion of the cost for reconstructing the collapsed Oakland Macomb sewer interceptor (OMI), as apportioned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (MIDDD). Sterling Heights believes that the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) “did nothing to abate the conditions that likely caused the December [24th] 2016 collapse”. Sterling Heights believes their contract with the MCWDD covers the operation and maintenance of the OMI interceptor.  This may be a little tricky to prove, since the OMI is actually run by the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (OMIDDD), an entity independent of and superior to the MCWDD.

Sterling Heights’ contention is that proper maintenance on the OMI by the MCWDD would have prevented its collapse. Maybe. The OMIDDD has already spent $ 170 million on rehabilitation of the OMI since they bought it in 2009. Supposedly the entire 21 mile length was examined and rehabilitated. That rehabilitation effort ended just months before its December 2016 collapse. That collapse suggests that the OMIDDD rehabilitation didn’t do much good. Anyone care to speculate why? Your choices are corruption or incompetence, or both.

This is now a Michigan wide story because our state government will be providing at least $ 5 million of the $ 75 million repair costs for the December OMI collapse. The much debated $ 3 million legislative grant and another $ 2 million from MDEQ.  That $ 75 million is just the current estimate, for the currently acknowledged deterioration of the OMI. Given the Granholm Administration’s role in suckering Oakland and Macomb counties into the OMI purchase, the State of Michigan probably has a lot more responsibility.

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Rip Off

Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft

Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.

The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.

Where will that $ 210 million come from?  GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.

Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.

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No Chemists!

Governor Snyder Continues to Demonstrate The Finesse Which Made Gateway Great

Snyder Flint Press Conference 27 January 2016Governor Snyder announced the remaining members of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee today. No chemists. Not one person with a chemistry degree. Undoubtedly, a fine collection of worthy government officials. Four ‘field experts’, none of whom are chemists. Medical doctors are not chemists. Public health administrators are not chemists. Civil engineers are not chemists. Materials scientists are not chemists. Chemists are chemists. Chemists know things:

Thermodynamics
Kinetics
pH
Equilibrium
Redox

The lead in Flint drinking water is, at its core, an issue of water chemistry. Water chemistry was allowed to go completely berserk at the Flint Water Treatment Plant for 18 months. Flint’s distribution system has been severely damaged. Fixing that damaged distribution piping is a venture into uncharted territory. Only an inorganic chemist with a command of thermodynamics, kinetics, pH, ICP-OES analysis, and the equilibrium of redox reactions will successfully navigate this uncharted territory. Not another lying MDEQ clown, either. They had their shot and blew it. Why the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee is necessary in the first place.

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев 1834 – 1907

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev
Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев
1834 – 1907

No one will trust Flint water until its chemistry is brought under control and that will require adult supervision – a genuine chemist. Detroit Water & Sewerage water is not a magic bullet. Detroit’s water works in Detroit’s distribution system. Detroit’s distribution system has not been damaged by 18 months of reckless water chemistry.

Flint’s water chemistry needs to be fixed, yesterday. New lawsuits against the State of Michigan are being filed every day. The latest filed this morning by the ACLU and a host of liberal pressure groups takes a new tack, alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Suffice it to say, Michigan has no viable legal defense against this suit.

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Bureaucratic Capture In The Flint Water Fiasco, An Echo Of Proposal 1

Snyder's Email Dump Is Most Notable for What It Doesn't Show: Management

Snyder Steudle Image 1Governor Snyder went way out on a political limb supporting Proposal 2015-01. By the time this limb broke off at the polls on May 5th, his only remaining allies were MDoT, MITA, and Michigan’s nitwit media.

MDoT’s Director, Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. received lavish, flattering coverage in our nitwit media throughout the road funding proposal campaign. The Transportation Asset Management Council, an MDoT tool, packaged an avalanche of lies in glossy pamphlets for public consumption. An entirely fictitious Washington think tank, TRIP, used inside MDoT information to issue even more incredulous lies. Governor Snyder parroted these titillating lies thoughout his Proposal 1 media campaign. He was entirely comfortable promoting the agenda of his ‘technical experts’.

Pre SB 571 campaign finance law allowed us to watch MITA spend $ 5.4 million supporting this turkey, more than half the total spent by Safe Roads Yes! The Michigan Infrastructure and Transporatation Association is ostensibly a bunch of independent, competitive contractors. Somehow a fractious bunch of competitors planned and executed a well coordinated – if entirely devious – political campaign.

How did they coordinate?

How did this presage the Flint water fiasco?

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Headlee Evasion Caused Flint’s Water Quality Fiasco

Water Has A Very Special Attribute In Southeast Michigan

Water is Money Image 6You probably think the water which comes out of the taps in your house is for drinking and washing. You would be wrong. Michigan drinking water is first and foremost a mechanism for Michigan politicians to evade limits imposed upon them by the Headlee Amendment. You probably think Michigan water systems have quality as their top concern. You would be wrong. Michigan water departments are directed to maximize revenue by their political masters. These unfortunate facts are the genesis of Flint’s sorry water quality.

Michigan’s lefties and the ignorati in our media have fabricated a popular history of the Flint water situation which begins with Governor Snyder and his emergency managers on 25 April 2014, the date Flint started drawing its drinking water from the Flint River. Craven emergency managers appointed by Governor Snyder plotted to poison Flint residents to save a few bucks. The truth is rather different.

The history of this calamity actually begins in 1978, when the Headlee Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution was passed by outraged Michigan voters.

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Legionella Pneumophila

Legionella Pneumophila Image 1aDo you remember reading any stories about a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Genesee County during 2014 or 2015, or this year before last Wednesday? I don’t, and neither does Google. Nor do companies which specialize in tracking Legionnaires’ Disease. It was a real shock when Governor Snyder announced Wednesday that Genesee County had recently experienced 87 cases of this disease, 10 of which were fatal.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services quickly put up a ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’ web page describing two sequential Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks. A first outbreak from June 2014 to March 2015, followed by a second from May 2015 to November 2015. This web page provides a dead link to a June 2015 preliminary report and a live link to a May 29, 2015 dated summary of the report created by Susan Bohm of the MDHHS Communicable Disease Division on June 4 2015. The Bohm summary was then modified by someone on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 3:21:26 PM. The Bohm summary only covers the first, June 2014 to March 2015 outbreak, not the subsequent May 2015 to November 2015 outbreak which was developing as her summary was being written.

Governor Snyder said on Wednesday that he had just become aware of this outbreak. You are expected to believe that functionaries deep in the bowels of MDHHS were not communicating with either the Governor or their own superiors, for six months. The Bohm summary specifically and painstakingly categorizes those victims of the first Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak who were exposed to Flint water. Flint water quality was a blazing issue at the beginning of June 2015. This report and the Bohm summary didn’t make it to the Governor’s office at the speed of light? No one in the Michigan government would lie to the public, would they?

The fundamental question here is whether the Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks are related to the coincidental Flint drinking water quality – or lack thereof. Governor Snyder and MDHHS say such a connection has yet to be made scientifically, but they are investigating. Marc Edwards, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech said “that it’s not 100% sure” that the outbreak of Legionnaires’ is tied to the change to Flint River water, but the association “looks very strong.”

Professor Edwards agrees with Governor Snyder and MDHHS that, even if the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak is associated with Flint River water sourcing, the risk is over now that Flint has returned to Detroit water. However Ms. Bohm’s summary declared the first June 2014 to March 2015 outbreak over, just as the subsequent May 2015 to November 2015 outbreak was developing.

Are outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease in Genesee County now history?

Did Flint’s October switch to Detroit water end the possibility of another outbreak?

Will corrosion control measures really suppress Legionella pneumophila in Flint water?

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Chemistry, The Problem is C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y

Flint Water Quality is Now a Presidential Campaign Issue

Lab Rat Image 4Governor Snyder’s many attempts to deflect responsibility and and tamp down adverse media coverage of the Flint water situation are failing miserably. Snyder cannot make a public appearance without getting peppered with antagonistic questions about the circumstances behind the Flint water sourcing change. National International media are now all over this story, and their coverage is ugly. Democrats are having a field day promoting the ‘uncaring Republican’ meme. This story is going to really hurt the Republican Party’s 2016 Presidential nominee unless it is spiked quickly. Hillary Clinton is already using it.

Snyder’s ineptitude at handling the Flint situation, plunging from a deep hole into the abyss, also creates great risks for taxpayers across Michigan. We have already pointed out that skilled, predatory legal vultures are circling the Michigan Treasury. The torrent of adverse publicity will predispose any jury they impanel to hammer the State of Michigan financially. Now a variety of self-interested parties within and without Flint are proposing an avalanche of new, State-paid goodies for the citizens of Flint. These acts of contrition will be paid for by Michigan taxpayers who played no role in the Flint water situation and will not receive any benefit from a lavish expenditure of their hard earned dollars.

Snyder’s political career is over, but he will enjoy his remaining days living in well earned obscurity akin to his mentor Bill Milliken. You can safely bet that our accountant-in-chief will use his single real world skill to avoid paying the penance for his decisions. Michigan taxpayers, Republicans, and conservatives will take the big hit here.

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Unconstitutional: Great Lakes Water Authority Lease Violates Michigan Constitution

--- Absence of Enabling Legislation Clearly Violates Article III, Section 6 --- 40 Year Lease Period Clearly Violates Article VII, Section 30

GLWA Detroit Seal ImageFriday, the Great Lakes Water Authority board approved a 40 year duration lease of Detroit Water & Sewerage Department’s assets and operations outside of the city of Detroit. This approval passed by a 5 to 1 vote with only Macomb County’s representative on the GLWA board opposed. The terms of the lease subordinate the DW&SD to the GLWA, a new intergovernmental authority created out of the ashes of the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy by a Memorandum of Understanding.

This deal was constructed as a lease to evade the 1963 Michigan Constitution‘s requirement, under Article VII, Section 25, for a vote of Detroit’s electors to approve the sale of any public utility. However, by constructing the deal as a lease, the City of Detroit is essentially granting a lease franchise covering the DW&SD’s water and sewerage operations to GLWA. The 40 year term of this lease franchise clearly exceeds the 30 year maximum permitted by Article VII, Section 30 of our 1963 Constitution:Michigan Constitution of 1963 Article VII Section 30
Merriam-Webster defines a ‘franchise’ as “ the right to sell a company’s goods or services in a particular area; also, a business that is given such a right”. Exactly the nature of the GLWA lease agreement with the City of Detroit. Should you doubt that the City of Detroit constitutes a ‘company’, Merriam-Webster defines a ‘company’ as “ an association of persons for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise”. Exactly what DW&SD has been doing for over 100 years.

State Representative Kurt Heise (R-20th) from Plymouth has challenged the establishment of GLWA under the 1963 Michigan Constitution’s Article VII, Section 28:Michigan Constitution of 1963 Article VII Section 28
Taken together with the 1963 Michigan Constitution’s Article III, Section 5:Michigan Constitution of 1963 Article III Section 5
it establishes our Legislature’s authority over intergovernmental units. But these two sections do not unambiguously grant the Michigan legislature exclusive authority over intergovernmental units, so there is probably legal wiggle room here.  Contrary to Representative Heise’s contention, a good lawyer could make a case that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court could establish the GLWA under Article VII, Section 28 and Article III, Section 5.

However…..

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We’ll show you!

You’d better not mess with Detroit! Or, you’ll get what’s coming to you!

The latest shakedown of Taxpayers in Southeastern Michigan took an interesting turn this morning.

Not because of its inaccessible meeting location at Waterworks Park in Detroit.

But, because of something that wasn’t expected during the meeting.

{Oh, you’re gonna love this…}

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