Thursday, May 29, 2008

Residents flood sewer and water meeting .. but is it too soon for pitchforks and torches?

I wish I could have attended the S.O.S. (Save Our Sewers) meeting last night. The ABJ estimates about 150 were in attendance.

I was already committed to an interview in downtown Akron for a story that runs next week, so I couldn't be in two places at once .. and with only one nightside photographer who was shooting my story, there was no way to get anything from the meeting on the 10 p.m. news.

The group contacted me earlier this week about two national experts coming to town to talk about the good and bad of privatizing utilities. Mostly bad I take it.

I think it's great that this many people are passionate enough about the topic to come out to hear more, and when it comes to a multi-million dollar utility, I think it's right to skeptical.

Still, I think most people want to wait for Mayor Plusquellic's study group to report back with some specifics for the plan before passing judgement. The possible benefit -- yearly scholarships for local graduates to the University of Akron -- is certainly worth exploring.

Anyway, I would like to have heard more of the arguments from those who are steadfast against the idea. For the record, in my conversations with the Mayor, he's been focusing on selling or leasing the sewer system whereas the S.O.S. website provides a top 10 list on why privatizing the water system is a bad idea. Aren't they two separate entities?

I would have liked to have heard what alternatives S.O.S. would offer that might lead to the same goal of higher education for Akron's brightest. Can anyone argue against trying to attain that goal?

Obviously Mayor Plusquellic and others are passionate about exploring the sale/lease idea because of the upside of the benefits ... and obviously, the group opposed to the idea -- led by a group of well-known anti-Plusquellic community folks -- is just as passionate about making sure that Akron voters have all the information so they can make an informed decision. In S.O.S.'s case, they'd like it to be mandatory that citizens vote on the plan before any deal becomes reality.

Isn't there a way to combine both groups' passion towards a real solution here?

I have faith that if the Mayor's group finds that the idea isn't in the best interest of the Akron citizens, that they'll advise him of just that. I look at how hard city hall has fought to protect the water rights of the Cuyahoga River over the last 20+ years .. so it's reasonable to think that the same caution would be taken in relinquishing anything water related.

But until that group has made its report, making an assumption that it won't work is like saying you don't like a movie you've never seen .. or disliking someone you've never met.


Village Green said...

Free tuition -- who can argue against that? Yet, somehow, somebody is going to be paying for it. The way it is told to us so far is that leasing company will give Akron money to use for scholarships, yet there will be no rate increases and environmental issues will be taken care of. Hmm. A mention of "tax write-offs" is given as a reason why a corporation would want to lease our sewer system.

If taxes are written off, other taxes will have to be increased in order to make up the missing revenue. Sounds like we the people might be paying for this in the end.

Anonymous said...

The private school children would not be included in this scholarship program. This is wrong-we parents of private school children pay property taxes for the public schools and we also pay for sewer. Our children should be included in this program.
I am wondering why this issue has not been mentioned.