Archive for Water

Jun
10

Asheville Wins Water Lawsuit

Posted by: | Comments (25)

Photo by Gordon Smith.

Photo by Gordon Smith.

Wake County Superior Court ruled Monday in favor of the City of Asheville in its lawsuit opposing a state law transferring control of the city’s water system to a regional authority.
Asheville officials said Monday that Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. ruled state lawmakers last year violated the state constitution and failed to compensate for the cost of building the water system.

The Asheville Citizen-Times cites the mayor on the court ruling:

Mayor Esther Manheimer said that by taking the city’s position on four of the six legal points at issue, Manning’s ruling would be more difficult for the Court of Appeals to overturn. The decision does not address the two other points the city raised, that the law was an unlawful interference with the city’s contract with bondholders.

Manheimer called the ruling “great for Asheville.”

City legal staff certainly deserves a nod for all the hard work. But nobody worked longer hours and more doggedly on this fight — including all the round trips to Raleigh for hearings — than local activist Barry Summers.

But Summers and other opponents of a regionalized system had better be ready for the next round. The state will likely appeal the ruling. The law’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, called the court ruling “the first step in a very long journey.” And should the ruling stand, Moffitt might legislate again if he can find support among his colleagues for a more broadly written bill that puts more of their cities’ infrastructure in the crosshairs.

Unless Moffitt loses his House District 116 reelection bid this fall. A recent poll PPP poll released by his opponent, Brian Turner, showed Turner with a slight lead and 49 percent of voter with an unfavorable view of Moffitt.

Another day in Wake County Superior Court yesterday in the case of “Moffitt v. Asheville,” Judge Howard Manning Jr. presiding. Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson were on hand for the hearing in the lawsuit challenging Moffitt’s “Regionalization of Public Utilities” law that forcibly transfers control of Asheville’s water system to a new regional authority.

Much hinges on whether or not Moffitt’s bill was deliberately written to evade the state’s constitutional ban in Article 2, Sec. 24 on enacting local legislation “relating to health, sanitation, and the abatement of nuisances.” Asheville activist Barry Summers was there to remind attendees — graphically — not of the water system’s history, but of the legislation’s.

While both McGrady and Moffitt watched the proceedings in court, Asheville’s attorney Dan Clodfelter disagreed with the state’s assertion that the bill was not local in nature. An attorney with the Charlotte-based law firm Moore and Van Allen, Clodfelter himself served as a state senator until last month, when he was named the mayor of Charlotte.

The bill does not specifically name the city of Asheville. But Clodfelter said it was clear that was lawmakers’ intent, rather than creating a statewide bill with a general set of principles to administer.

“Our constitution says what it says,” Manning said, indicating that the constitutional question was the crux of the case. Expect an appeal, however Manning rules.

Moffitt v. Asheville is a style of legal shenanigans we have seen emerge over the last decade from Wall Street to Jones Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. That is, to push the limits of the law to the breaking point and beyond, to knowingly step over the line and — using the law itself for cover — to arrogantly dare anyone to push back. If no one does, or if they do and fail, those who twist the law to their own ends succeed, and the boundary between the legal and the criminal moves again, and not in the direction of the public good. Rinse, repeat. Thus, torture becomes “enhanced interrogation,” fraudulent securities become top-rated investments, and public investments in schools, water systems, highways and airports slowly become the private wealth of oligarchs. Like watching an accident in which everything goes into slow motion, it is happening before our very eyes. Because it transpires in remote meeting rooms under color of law, we the people are not supposed to notice.

(Original post has been corrected. Rep. Nathan Ramsey was not in attendance Friday, but was cited in reporting as an original sponsor of the water bill.)

Mar
09

Next He’ll Privatize The Air

Posted by: | Comments (3)
YouTube Preview Image

The billboard pictured here is real, it’s located in Lima, Peru, and it produces around 100 liters of water a day (about 26 gallons) from nothing more than humidity, a basic filtration system and a little gravitational ingenuity.

Clever idea. And it looks like they give away the water to the poor. Socialists.

Comments (3)
Jan
20

No Problemo. Shower Away.

Posted by: | Comments (2)
YouTube Preview Image

You always knew that someone in authority would simply declare the drinking water safe no matter what the truth, rather than, you know, tearing out and replacing fouled piping in 300,000 homes and the surrounding environs.

On January 18, 2014, Dr. Ben Stout, an ecologist from Wheeling Jesuit University, took water samples from the kitchen faucet and hot water tank of an unflushed Charleston, West Virginia home. Stout is testing for crude 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston, West Virginia into the Elk River on January 9 (possibly January 8). Residents in 9 counties receive their water from the Elk River.

Stout suggests that people manually flush their hot water tank for the 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol is likely forming an oily ring in the tank. The 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol smells like cherry licorice, is light, oily and floats to the top of water.

Comments (2)
Dec
29

Aquapalypse Now Redux

Posted by: | Comments (4)

Rep. Tim Moffitt’s legislation to terminate (with extreme prejudice) the city’s control of its water system is in the courts. So it’s been quiet lately. Still, file this away for future reference. If things don’t change in Raleigh soon, you might need it.

This report from Europe is from last March, but does this sound familiar or what? [Emphasis mine.]

The European Commission has in recent weeks gone on a PR offensive in response to growing criticism of its pro-privatisation agenda for the water sector …

Read More→

Comments (4)
Dec
26

Tim Muppet

Posted by: | Comments (2)

What’s that saying about never going full on something or other?
(Video courtesy of dixiegirlz.)



Video streaming by Ustream

Aug
28

A Big Fracking Deal

Posted by: | Comments (13)

As if the legislature hand not pissed off enough citizens in North Carolina, this item has been flying largely under the radar. Hold onto your groundwater, people, these frackers mean business and they mean to force you into theirs:

Known as compulsory pooling, or forced pooling, the policy allows drillers to tap local natural gas, even if property owners don’t want drillers probing under their homes and farms. Critics compare it to a government’s right to seize private property for the public good, except in this case the parties claiming rights to the land would be for-profit businesses.

“That’s just unfair,” said Therese Vick, a community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “They’re taking control of your property – your neighbors, the government and a commercial interest – and making you sell your resource.”

The idea is not a new one and has been on the books since 1945, just rarely used writes the News & Observer. Now energy companies want to. The delicately named Compulsory Pooling Study Group will be holding a public meeting Wednesday in Raleigh and forwarding recommendations to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It may be the last public meeting before the issue moves to the legislature.

Wonder ow all those “No Zoning” folks out in our bright, red counties will respond once they find out control of their their property has been sold to the highest donors?

Don’t forget, those frackers will need water to frack with. Lots of it.

Aug
12

“We Took That Away From You”

Posted by: | Comments (56)

Transcript of exchange between Chris Pelly and Tim Moffitt – August 5, 2013. Taken from video shot at the event by another attendee. It’s my understanding that neither Councilman Pelly nor Representative Moffitt were aware they were being recorded.

Pelly: If we wanted to join the Culture and Recreation Authority, does the current legislation allow that to occur?

Moffitt: No, we took that away from you. When you filed your lawsuit, we… You did three things: First of all you filed your lawsuit, ok, so we’re not going to let you file the lawsuit on this side and sue the state and charge your taxpayers money but at the same time be the benefactor of this because it’s going to cost people outside the city some of their hard-earned money, so until the lawsuit is settled, we took the Authority away from the city.

Pelly: And does any other city in Buncombe County have the right to join the Authority?

Moffitt: Right now Buncombe County has asked for two years to not allow anybody to join. So they feel it’s going to take two years to kind of get the foundation set, for them to undertake that. So the limitations are going to be based on what the County is willing to do.

Pelly: And there’s a lot I could argue with you about about the issue of the water system, but this isn’t the place to do that…

Moffitt: Well, you know the history I’m talking about, Chris, you can find it. The history you’re talking about, I’m not sure.

Pelly: I have just one question for you.

Moffitt: Sure.

Pelly: Later on today there’s going to be a rally in downtown Asheville, your hometown…

Moffitt: Yup

Pelly: …and the newspapers are estimating thousands of people are going to be there.

Moffitt: Yup

Pelly: Does that give you pause that….

Moffitt: No

Pelly: decisions you’re making in the legislature are concerning people?

Moffitt: No

Pelly: Does it concern you that 86% of Asheville residents voted against the water referendum, for the water referendum that retains the water system?

Moffitt: What really concerns me is that you would actually put a referendum on the ballot that was not about the issue that was actually being discussed. As far as the folks that are participating in Moral Monday, we predicted this would happen in 2011 when it started in Wisconsin and Michigan. We predicted it would be 18 months before it hit North Carolina because North Carolina is considered a purple state. So North Carolina is seen by the unions as a state that they can flip, and if you go back and look at the chatter regarding Moral Mondays, it’s really a union driven event and doesn’t really…

Pelly: Does it affect the future of education and voter identification or any of those issues?

Moffitt: It affects people’s opinions on those things, but a lot of those opinions are not based on fact.

 

In an editorial this morning, the Greenville, NC “Reflector” came out strongly in support of Asheville’s fight to retain local control over its drinking water.

As you may recall, language was added to H94, an environmental bill sponsored by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, language intended (apparently) to strengthen the state’s legal case in its lawsuit with Asheville. The change put Greenville’s water system directly in the crosshairs of Rep. Tim Moffitt’s water grab. As Barry Summers recounted last week, in the NC Senate, Greenville was not amused:

The entire leadership of the town of Greenville, NC was recognized in the gallery, by the Senator that represents them. They are clearly there to give the Senate the stinkeye over the possibility that their water system may get grabbed up in Rep. Moffitt/McGrady/Ramsey’s theft of Asheville’s water.

Greenville got at least a temporary reprieve when the language was stripped.

But the Reflector’s editors, at least, have not forgotten who put a target on their backs or why. In its stinging editorial, Greenville’s newspaper spoke out against the seizure of Asheville’s municipal assets, calling the state’s actions “reckless trampling on municipal authority” and a “worrisome precedent” that could come back to bite Greenville again. The paper urged citizens to not sit by idle and pretend the situation has returned to normal.

No, something is rotten in Raleigh when lawmakers overreach their authority and claim municipal resources for the state without recompense. Just as Greenville should be comfortable in its control over its water supplies so too should other communities. The overreach exhibited in this case cannot be allowed to stand, and this city should be a vocal proponent of Asheville as it continues this fight.