Sunday, January 31, 2016

Corporate win: WI set to sell local public water systems

[Updated 1/28/16, 11:45 a.m., from 1/27/16, 7:17 p.m. Further updated 12:24 a.m. 1/29/16, 1/31/16, 1:06 a.m. and 2/7, 5:55 p.m.]

Bizarre and damning enough that Wisconsin is tolerating well water pollution, but now right-wing ideologues at the State Capitol are about to intentionally commit yet another FUBAR when it comes to undermining drinking water safety: 

The corporate-obeisant GOP-controlled Wisconsin State Senate is poised in committee Thursday to join the Assembly's shameful initiative and enable local governments to sell their water systems to out-of-state, private-sector businesses, proving that Bucky has learned nothing from Flint's water travails, and the consequences of losing control of its drinking water system and supply and flushing it down the drain.

Key language from the bill text:
The bill applies to the proposed sale or lease of a municipal water or sewer utility and does not affect proposals involving other types of utilities. Also, the bill applies only to sales or leases to investor-owned public utilities. Under the bill, a referendum on the proposed sale or lease is not required unless, within 30 days after the municipality adopts the ordinance or resolution required under current law, a petition requesting the referendum is filed with the municipal clerk. The petition must be signed by a number of the municipality's qualified electors that is at least 25 percent of the votes cast in the municipality for governor in the last general election. If a petition is not filed within that deadline, no referendum is required and the municipality must submit the proposal to the PSC. If a referendum is held due to the filing of a petition within the deadline and a majority approves the proposal, the municipality must submit the proposal to the PSC for approval.
And you need a wider lens to see the updated, bigger picture here and then, also, here.

Sunday update - - The Wisconsin League of Conservation voters has weighed in with a strong statement in opposition, as has Clean Wisconsin, and others.

Saturday update - - The bill was written at the request of a Pennsylvania company which already controls 200 systems in eight states, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Friday update - - Note these details in this Wisconsin State Journal report:
The proposal, scheduled for a vote in a state Senate committee Thursday, would make a public referendum on the sale of water and sewage disposal systems optional instead of mandatory as is currently the case.
And if residents gathered enough signatures to force a vote, it would take place before the terms and conditions of a sale are known...
The legislation was introduced at the request of a private water and sewer corporation based in Pennsylvania that may wish to acquire water utilities here, said Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, the proposal’s lead author.
An excellent analysis here, and a big national picture story here, and more from Milwaukee Riverkeeper, here:
Access to critical water services, such as clean drinking water and effective sewer systems, are at risk as private companies vie for control over our public water supplies. AB 554/SB 432 makes it possible for communities to transfer water utility management from the public sector to the private sector, which means out-of-state and potentially multi-national companies will assume control of our public water supplies with less oversight. 
Water privatization most often leads to declining quality of service, higher water rates, less accountability and oversight (private companies do not face elections or have to share information), and a loss of public sector jobs.
Not just across the country, but across the entire globe, water privatization has failed to increase the access to or quality of water supplies for communities time and time again. AB 554/SB 432 is now threatening to do the same in Wisconsin.
For more information on water privatization, check out the website from Food and Water Watch’s Water Privatization: Facts and Figures.
And remember the financial disasters when parking and road tolls were privatized in the midwest by wrong-headed politicians who left taxpayers with even bigger bills. 

Beware the siren song...including the notion that the WI DNR would be a strong monitor, which right now is a joke.


Anonymous said...

Talk about weakening the DNR. Corporate influence over state politicians would mean very lax enforcement over state and federal regulations.

Who's the sponsors of the bills and the donors to the the sponsors???

Anonymous said...

This bill was authored by Republican Tyler August at the request of a private enterprise out of Pennsylvania. What on earth are Republican legislators doing under the threats and intimidation of Walker, Vos and Fitzgerald? How much donor money came into campaigns as a result of this proposal. August is up for re-election and if the people of the 32nd district return him to office they are not paying attention to what theses Republican legislators are doing to our state and the people of Wisconsin. August says this is a good deal because it would avoid referendums and the state would still control rates. Since the Republicans have gained total power they no long want referendums or local controls; they want to call the shots. The PSC is under their thumb and that means that politicians would control the rates not the state. I now pay $20 a month for electricity that is shut off 9 months per year for a cottage. The PSC made this happen because Walker, Vos and Fitzgerald ruled that it should occur. The PSC is Walker appointed so we all know the cronies follow orders from the Capitol. Wake up Wisconsin and vote the Republican legislators out of power this's the only way to save our state.

my5cents said...

They won't be happy until they turn the entire state into a polluted cesspool that no one can live in. It's just people though and they need to watch the bottom line don't you know. That's more important to them.

Kristoffer J Martin said...

In light of the recent issues in Flint Michigan, and the preponderance of ethical issues as well as environmental issues, Wisconsin citizens should be pushing hard to prevent this from happening. It disgusts me to no end when I think of the willful destructive legislature that the current State Senate and Scott Walker keep pushing through. I didn't vote for these asinine morons, and yet all us that they don't represent (which is the actual majority of Wisconsin residents) must deal with their sordid and repugnant actions.

Sue said...

Also from the Wisconsin State Journal:
"August said he was surprised by opposition because the state would continue to regulate water quality, sewage discharges and rates paid by customers for private systems just as it does for public ones."
Oh thanks. That's reassuring.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

And who's doing the regulating? Oh, it's Kathy Stepplease and other Walker-appointed hacks at the DNR. And wasn't this also where Scott Super was supposed to go before the United Sportsmen scandal caused him to decide to be a lobbyist instead?

Is August stupid, intimidated by Boss Vos, or corrupt?

Anonymous said...

Is it any wonder Trump is leading in almost all polls?

I have to believe that most Americans don't trust politicians.

nonquixote said...

WPR's Central Time program ran a 6 minute feature on the Senate version of the bill under what appeared to be a self-imposed gag order and refusing the mention of the lead Senate sponsor and author, FRANK J LASEE.

Whams said...

And now we hear that Walker owes over a mill for his prez bid. And we in WI, are supposed to just shut up. No clean water for you because your voice does not matter. Can we FORCE this matter to a public vote? And WITH this acquisition, does it, or will it in the future, give these buyers access to the water itself to sell?

I have nothing to offer but my voice & my time. But if I can help in anyway. please contact me by replying to this comment. I will give you my info.


Anonymous said...

The kind of people who run for office against Koch monsters in Wisconsin will win because the higher frequency of the people of WI is way above the primates in legislature. Look here, e.g., (from Politico: "VandeHei, meanwhile, has expressed interest in moving back to Wisconsin and running for office, a well-placed source said.":

Anonymous said...

So, if Waukesha is allowed to get water from the Great Lakes and then is allowed to privatize, can the buyer sell the excess water for profit?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 AM: Sure - as planned!

Unknown said...

PROFITEERS DEFUND, SABOTAGE, and PROMOTE, the demise of a Government institution or asset. This, in order to later disparage and then point out and say:

"Look what a mess!!! Government is inefficient!!! I you should sell me the US Postal Service for example. I can make it run better and provide a super-efficient service”

PRIVATIZATION is the key for these PROFITEERS to STEAL(for pennies on the dollar) a government asset that cost us US TAXPAYERS Millions of $$$USD$$$ and years to develop.

After buying a government asset PROFITEERS Fire ALL CURRENT WORKERS and GUT & RAVAGE worker’s pension funds. Then these Profiteers hire new workers at MINIMUM WAGE & NO BENEFITS.

Under these CRIMINAL CONDITIONS even a child could run a super-efficient organization.



Anonymous said...

Anon 10:06,

Great point for my reasons to just "NO" to Waukesha. Republicans are helping to kill the application and timing couldn't be better! In fact, I bet Waukesha is one of the first utilities that would be sold because of the radium non-compliance issue and those that might be called to testify in the event of a class action lawsuit.

S. J. Landa said...

Make the private companies purchase the infrastructure that was paid for through tax dollars. Then pass this money on to the taxpayers. This has to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, in today's dollars.

S. J. Landa said...

Make the private companies purchase the infrastructure that was paid for through tax dollars. Then pass this money on to the taxpayers. This has to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, in today's dollars.

Unknown said...

Terrible, terrible idea. I can't believe we're thinking about doing it here in Wisconsin. I just wrote about it in my blog with links to more petitions and articles:

Anonymous said...

If a community water system fails the state tests, is there a provision which allows "emergency management" of a system by the state? Possibly a way to force a cheap sale to a private company?

Certain company is the only bidder in cities across Wisconsin lately...., just saying....