Saturday, April 5, 2008

Losing local services to the County a step towards privitaization

[The following is an open letter to Palm Beach County and Municipal elected officials and residents.]

For those of us who follow global politics and economics, we know the trend of outsourcing and privitizing. And we know the loss of public standards that have come as a result. It´s the reason why environmentalists, labor unions and human rights groups joined in Miami to protest the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meeting. Since the passing of NAFTA in this hemisphere, there has been an emboldened bi-partisan promotion of greed and efficiency over people and planet.

On the local level in Lake Worth, where I live, we are seeing parallel forces at work. While the changes are much more subtle than the police batons in Miami, they are nonetheless unfolding in front of our eyes as municipal services get taken over by Palm Beach County. Autonomy and accountability are foundations of democratic public process. The further that process gets from our hands, the further we stray from democracy. This sad reality was visable in City Hall last week with two prominent agenda items.

First was the issue of losing the Lake Worth Police Department to the County Sheriff, which prompted questions regarding our community control over public services. The next agenda item was about our regional re-use water supply and it resolved my speculation on County services. It came clear while watching Brian Shields, County Deputy Director of Water Utilities and County representative for the East Central Regional (ECR) re-use water treatment facility, use misinformation and false threats to sway the City´s decision towards giving up our re-use water in a 30 year contract--without a vote--to FPL for the private utility´s massive fossil fuel power plant in Loxahatchee.

When you can´t tell the difference between a public employee and a multi-billion dollar corporate giant, the truth is hard to ignore: County takeover of Municipal service is a step toward private control. All who aspire towards democracy are called to speak up while we can. Specifically in regards to the FPL/County water issue mentioned above--watch out Riviera Beach. You´re next...


panagioti tsolkas, co-chair of PBC Environmental Coalition


--> APRIL 10, 5pm, Riviera Beach City Hall, Special Council Meeting to discuss the ECR proposal from FPL/Palm Beach County

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