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Citizens fight Kelda subsidiary Aquarion in privatization struggle -

Keep It Public! | 25.02.2005 21:07 | Social Struggles

Holyoke Massachusetts residents are fighting privatization of their sewage system by the Aquarion Company, owned by Kelda Group, formerly Yorkshire Water, a UK company. Citizens packed a recent public hearing and have overwhelmingly opposed the contract with Aquarion. Holyoke City Council to vote on Tu. 3/1/05. Take action:

Below is a letter to the editor from a Holyoke resident...

Dear Republican Editor:

I am writing in response to the advertisement on page B4 of the Thursday Feb.
24 Republican, which starts off in big print with "HOLYOKE ACT NOW OR PAY
LATER!". I'm assuming that this ad was placed by the Aquarion Company, although
nobody is taking any credit. Perhaps whoever is placing the ad isn't proud
enough of their position to identify themselves?

The ad includes misrepresentations of the financial issues, as well as of the
realities of the CSO abatement situation, and, understandably since it
doesn't support their position, no acknowledgment of significant issues for workers,
and for the city's ability to retain its qualified personnel if the contract
goes through.

Furthermore, the blatant use of scare tactics ("HOLYOKE ACT NOW OR PAY
LATER", and completely inaccurate statements about dramatically higher sewer rates)
suggests a lack of grounded, sensible reasons for choosing their company, as
well as providing a lot of information about their overall management style.

The residents of Holyoke are, in fact, smart -- without being told (as the ad
says) that "the smart way" is to choose Aquarion. We are noticing both the
condescension, and the emotional manipulation of this effort to take over
control of the Holyoke public sewer system.

Hundreds of residents have been showing up for public hearings and meetings,
and the vast majority of those choosing to speak at these meetings are
addressing the problems with the proposed Aquarion contract, and expressing their
opposition to the contract. While the City Council remains divided, thoughtful
analysis of the issues is taking place, and questions about the pros and cons
of this important issue are beginning to be addressed.

I would urge citizens to be in touch with both City Councilors and the Mayor
with their views. So far it seems that only the Mayor and a bare half of the
City Council (considering those who are on the fence) support this contract,
while the majority of citizens, based on both public meetings and discussions
door to door, oppose it.

If the residents of the City, after considering all the issues, support the
Aquarion contract, then so be it. But if the great majority of the residents
of Holyoke are opposed to the Aquarion contract, then it is up to our
representatives, the City Councilors, to represent us in this decision-making process.
In order to do this, our City representatives need to know, one way or
another, what we, the people, think.

If for nothing else, I would thank Aquarion for placing an ad that so clearly
demonstrates not the issues, but their character and ethics as a company.
The people of Holyoke are paying attention.


Shemaya Laurel

Keep It Public!
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