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Warren needs to fix broken government

DEAR EDITOR:

As councilman representing people who elected me, I have a duty to protect our citizens by asking questions and holding officials and administrative directors accountable, particularly on health and safety. Raw sewage in basements is a pertinent subject.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the director of Water Pollution Control (WPC) reported about the EPA calling him. He said an anonymous councilman reported sewage water in basements. That councilman was me. I called the EPA because neither the director, council committee Chairman Larry Larson nor council President Jim Graham had responded to many emails I sent.

During the meeting’s reports from directors, the WPC director referenced the last time the EPA was called it cost the city $70,000 because WPC was out of compliance. He blamed his predecessor, despite being the responsible party in charge for almost 10 years now.

WPC Director Haller said I was just looking out for my ward as if only the 5th Ward flooded and nobody else in the city did. He added I was being self-serving, attempting to seek help and guidance for the people and representing folks that have sewage in their basement.

On Sept. 13, the city experienced massive flooding of sewage into basements. A hearing was held in which WPC Director Haller promised to give results from $96,000 “study” to citizens in a January public hearing. This has not happened, despite that the “study” was delivered Dec. 31 to the EPA.

Mr. Haller has failed to respond to several emails from me. Chairman Larson failed to schedule hearings. There is no plan to address the city allowing sewage to back up into people’s basements. This is clearly a public health risk. Society’s best defense against disease is proper sewage treatment.

During the council meeting, when WPC Director Haller completed his report, I asked council President Graham to speak. He denied my request. This is highly usual.

I asked for a point of order, and the majority of city council voted against discussing this public health issue. As an elected representative, I was prohibited by our city council from doing our jobs. We should seek answers and solve problems for citizens. Sewage doesn’t recognize ward boundaries. This is a citywide problem that it seems President Graham would rather not address.

I believe the president was out of order, and by consequence, the entire council. Perhaps citizens need to look at a new form of government, like a charter. Perhaps our system is so badly broken we don’t hold ourselves accountable enough that we should seek to create a new form of government.

KEN MACPHERSON

5th Ward Councilman

Warren

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