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PRESS RELEASE -- Green Party demands PWSA remains public and accountable to voters

posted Jul 18, 2018, 2:19 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 18, 2018
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact: Tim Jones, Chair, info@alleghenycountygreens.org


The Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) strongly opposed proposals for privatization, including so-called “public-private partnerships,” at a Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) public hearing held today. GPOAC members warned that any privately-owned, for-profit business runs antithetical to our human right to water as guaranteed by the Pennsylvania constitution Article I Section 27.

GPOAC members additionally rejected Mayor Bill Peduto’s “blue ribbon” panel recommendation for a restructured, “self-perpetuating” board. A “politically independent” PWSA as suggested by the panel is one further removed from public accountability and oversight. PWSA board members should, like other public positions, be directly accountable to the voters they serve.

GPOAC members demanded that PWSA remain a public utility accountable to the residents of the city. A publicly-owned, democratically-run PWSA with proper funding and support from city council is necessary to address issues and rebuild community trust. The PWSA decision-making process should be opened up to include more members of the community in important water decisions that affect their lives, in keeping with the Green Party value of grassroots democracy. Both privatization and the “blue ribbon” panel proposals cut out democracy and public accountability and increase the odds of corruption.

Jay Walker, Green Party candidate for state representative for the 23rd district, spoke from prepared remarks at the hearing. “PWSA must remain publicly owned, publicly managed, and directly accountable to voters by means of city council as it is now,” Walker said.

Mayor Peduto had originally called for the “blue ribbon” panel in 2017 to investigate ways of reorganizing the PWSA amid concerns of growing debt and several public relations incidents. Peoples’ Gas, a San Francisco-based private company, has since started a marketing campaign in favor of a private takeover of PWSA. As shown in many examples nationwide, including Pittsburgh’s own history with the French company Veolia, water privatization leads to higher costs, inaccurate billing, and unsafe water, and most fundamentally, violates public ownership and right to water for life.

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