Flint Residents Can’t Catch A Break with New Trash Collection Dispute

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Long before the “Flint Water Crisis” brought national attention to the City of Flint generations of “Flintstones” at home and abroad worried about the path the city they love and call home has taken. Decades of governmental and societal neglect had already set in back in the 90’s, General Motors had long abandoned the city that helped make them a Fortune 500 company, and the state of Michigan seemed to have alternate plans for the second largest African American population in the state.

Lack of employment opportunities lead to a mass exodus from the city, according to the U.S. Census more than 20,000 citizens relocated between the years 2000-2010, causing two of the city’s Educational Institutions to shutter their doors Flint Northern and Flint Central.

As if the economic despair and toxic water were not enough for the citizenry to bare, City Council and the Mayor have decided to once again put their constituents in harms way with an act of civil negligence surrounding trash collection in the city.

Any reasonable person would believe, that the politicians who also live in the same environment would attempt to make sure the city would not have to suffer through any unnecessary hardships, but as usual, the elected officials are proving they do not hold the city in the same regard as those who put them in office.

According to MLive, the dispute stems from the city council’s decision to reject a new contract Mayor Karen Weaver hoped to sign with a company called Rizzo Environmental Services instead of the current trash collector, Republic Services. Members of the city council “questioned Rizzo’s ties to former Mayor Woodrow Stanley and potential ties the company may have in Canada,” as reported by MLive.

WJRT reports the City Council has issued a statement describing the decision to stop trash pickup as exclusively Weaver’s decision, but a legal battle is continuing over who will actually assume the contract.

Earlier, MLive reported City Council members requested more time to read through Rizzo’s $17.4 million contract offer, which undercuts Republic by $2 million. Read Full Article

In recent history, the only other American city that has been subjected to such bickering between Mayor and City Council was Gary, IN. In July of 2009 the Mayor and City Council of Gary, IN engaged in shenanigans, which created an 11-day halt in trash collection in the city. Similar to Flint, the issue that caused the stoppage was not financial despair because the city had the funds for trash collections, but the matter at hand was who would collect the trash.

The fact of the matter is I am sure that budgeting city services probably is not an easy task, however it seems that when these services become privatized contracts become somehow subjected to cronyism. Budgeting in general requires one major task which is to find quality services for the cheapest price, so the decision over who gets the contract should be cut and dry.

Power of Older Adults vs. the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

What century is this? I have been obsessed lately with the retrograde decision made by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. Not only is it an outstanding example of the ongoing abasement of women and women’s health needs, it is a blow to the entire concept of democracy. This decision rips the fabric of our Constitution’s Establishment Clause and the division between church and state that this country was founded on. Additionally, it represents the continuation of the constant humiliation and oppression of over half of this country’s citizens.

images (51)The Hobby Lobby decision also reintroduces the antediluvian concept of women as children unable to make decisions about our own bodies. Not since the abolition of slavery have men had the right to own women’s bodies. Yet the men who serve on our country”s highest court and who voted to allow the erosion of our constitution, are determined to take us back to a very dark time in history and many people don’t understand why?

Perhaps, the most perverse dimension of this decision is that it gives control of our bodies to corporations. The thought of it makes me want to throw up! If this isn’t a call for single payer health insurance, I can’t think of an another example that so clearly illustrates why the concept of health insurance being tied to ones employment is no longer a viable option. In this age of technology, international commerce, and the rise in freelance and “permalance” employment, it is an arrangement that has seen its time. (“Permalance” is a vehicle used by employers who do not want to provide benefits, including healthcare, at all.) Now, added to this is the privilege given to employers by our Supreme Court to be able to determine the healthcare needs of their employees.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have asked me, “what can we do?” The expected outcry against this violation of human rights is from women of child bearing age. And, they should be screaming from the rooftops. We, as aging boomers and seniors, need to use our voices too. More important, however, is using our right to vote while we still have it to demonstrate how disgusted we are with those in power who would like us to be irrelevant. Seniors, both men and women, represent the highest voting demographic in the United States. We need to leverage this statistic wisely.

Our uteruses may no longer be fertile. Our minds, however, are more fertile than ever before. We now possess years of accumulated wisdom, and it is our responsibility to share. This, along with our determination as voters, enables us to exhibit a strength and power that we have shown before…during the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement (We did do that once, didn’t we?), the Anti-War Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement. We started those movements in the 60’s, and now we are in our sixties. We can’t quit now. If we want our daughters and granddaughters to know that they have to be vigilant in order to be free, we need to lead by example. How? First, by using our voices, and second by using our vote. Or, maybe it’s the other way around.

Yes, we are stuck with this Supreme Court shaped by George W. Bush during his second term in office which doesn’t mean that the tide of public opinion evidenced by who we vote for will not have a role to play as we move forward. As social workers, citizens, and long time members of our society, our individual and collective consciences demand we lead the way. We are not divested of our responsibility to society as we grow older; it’s the other way around. By virtue of our lives lived, the experiences we’ve had, and the wisdom we have gathered, it is incumbent upon us to take a leading role when speaking up for social injustices wherever we see them.

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