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News ::
Lawrence Greens Win Victory Over Multi-National (english)
07 Aug 2003
Modified: 10 Aug 2003
Lawrence Greens campaign to stop privatization of water system is victorious.
A Victory for Community Activists- Lawrence Water System to Remain Under Public Control

In what can only be described as a huge victory for the community of Lawrence, it was just announced that the mayor and the City Council has decided to listen to the will of the community and terminate any attempts to privatize the water delivery system. This means that Lawrence’s water system will remain publicly controlled and operated.

After going into Executive Session on Tuesday, July 22nd, the Council voted to terminate its relationship with United Water and to begin an attempt at breach of contract proceedings and reclaiming some of the millions sent to United Water as part of the privatization process. The council believes that United Water/French Suez has reneged on the promises it made around issues of defined rate structures for the contract that was to be presented to the City Council for approval.

This was a huge affirmation for those of us (Lawrence Greens, local anarchists, and lots of community members) who worked over the last eight months to stop the corporate giveaway that two mayoral administrations (with an open checkbook provided by the City Council) had pushed for. We knew that privatization was a mistake, but we didn’t know if our fellow residents or our elected city councilors would take the time to see both the short term and long-term danger in the privatization/globalization of our water system.

We knew the reality that twenty years from now there would be wars being fought over water. We knew that many of us believe that “water is a basic human need, and therefore a right, and should not be treated as a commodity’. But we didn’t know if the community and the city council would agree with us.

We knew that what oil is in today’s geopolitical framework, water will soon become. The World Bank has predicted that by 2025, 2/3 of the world’s population will run short of fresh drinking water. The bottom line is that corporations want a piece of both the $82 billion dollar U.S. market and the $400 billion dollar market worldwide. And we knew that to gain access to these markets, corporations would do whatever it takes, including lying, cheating, and/or “stealing”.

We didn’t know if our community would choose public control over the corporate model advocated by leadership in both the Anglo and Latino community, both (R)epublican and (D)emocratic parties. We didn’t know if the community would ally itself with the market forces that have driven the gap between the rich and the poor to historical levels and left most of the country (and the world) feeling powerless and beholden to the corporate model.

The ramifications for the community would have begun on the economic level. Most communities are overextended in terms of revenue for public services. It would have been criminal that during difficult fiscal times, Lawrence was almost misled into handing over one of the few sources of revenue they have under their full control and a public service that pays its own way.

Lawrence also would have lost out on money normally circulated back into the community via a public workforce. We were able to point to many examples both here in the United States and through out the world Lawrence residents also saw the history of corruption that privatization and globalization fosters both here in the United States (watching the example of Atlanta) and worldwide (Indonesia, Halifax)

They saw that privatization and globalization in our local economy leads to job losses. They were informed about what happened in England, the Philippines, Indianapolis and many other examples. They understood the issue of local control based on their own experiences and even what has been presented in a limited capacity in mainstream media. Lawrence residents new that companies are accountable to shareholders, not consumers. They knew that they would be the ones who would get the short end of the stick if a multi-national took over.

Those advocating the corporate model wanted the residents of Lawrence to turn a blind eye to the history of successful water delivery here in the community (while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the destructive history of corporate economics that has ruined our environment, our sense of community, our democracy, and the lives of hundreds of millions of the worlds citizens)

Simply put, Lawrence residents did not allow themselves to be tricked into buying what the “snake oil salesman was selling”. We are proud of what residents of this city did and we hope it will serve as a model to other communities facing off against this corporate machinery. Our thanks go out to everyone who supported “Hands Off Our Water!” here in Lawrence.

Please join us at a benefit for our organization (We spent a lot of money stopping the water takeover from happening), to be held on September 12, at Adam’s Café (225 Essex St. in Lawrence). Ticket’s are $50 and will include a delicious meal and live Latin Jazz. A cash bar will also be available. Please call ahead for tickets to 978-683-3967 or via e-mail

Jonathan Leavitt is the author if this article. Jonathan was the founder of the Massachusetts Green Party and is currently the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Anti-Corporate Clearinghouse. (MACC) PO Box 1382 Lawrence, MA 01842 (978) 683-3967 info (at)

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Good stuff! (english)
10 Aug 2003
Modified: 18 Aug 2003
Wow, great story and well done on your victory. Solidarity from Melbourne, Australia.