Imagine Your Traffic Violation Fine Added To Your Water Bill

Discussion in 'News - Breaking News & Political Forum' started by Dellas, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Dellas

    Dellas Well-Known Member

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    https://rewire.news/article/2019/03...id-court-fine-can-get-your-utilities-cut-off/
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    INVESTIGATIONS ECONOMIC JUSTICE

    In This Small Georgia City, an Unpaid Court Fine Can Get Your Utilities Cut Off
    Mar 18, 2019, 11:38am Lewis Raven Wallace

    “The fear and the panic is palpable for people who are in danger of losing their power, losing their water, losing other utilities” due to unpaid fines tacked onto their bills by the city, said one attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights.


    [​IMG]
    Reginald Mack outside the municipal court in LaGrange. Due to unpaid fines, he’s been unable to open a utility account in his own name in the city.
    Lewis Raven Wallace


    At an MLK Day celebration in LaGrange, Georgia, a few years ago, a man approached Ernest Ward, then-president of the Troup County NAACP, about his water bill. The man was upset, confused: He said he couldn’t afford the bill from the city because an old court fine he owed had been added on to it. That didn’t sound right to Ward, who wrote it off as impossibly bizarre.

    But over the years, the local NAACP kept hearing similar stories, until the organization eventually looked into it and discovered the policy is actually part of a city utility ordinance, and had been in place since at least the early 2000s. LaGrange takes unpaid fines from the municipal court—typically for small violations, such as driving with a suspended license or failure to register a pit bull—and tacks them onto utility bills, using the threat of losing water and electricity to try to get residents to pay.

    LaGrange owns and operates its own water, electric, and gas services, which generate a significant revenue surplus for the small city. In an unusual municipal funding arrangement, the city, which has no property taxes, uses this money to pay for other city services.



    The story of LaGrange reeks of the systemic racism in both Flint and Ferguson. Whether it’s framed as a criminal justice issue, a water justice issue, or both, the city’s poorest residents have been living in fear over unpaid fines for years, with many giving up entirely on leasing or owning a home because of their inability to pay, instead living with friends and family or moving to a different town.

    In 2017, the local and state NAACP joined Project South, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and seven individual residents of LaGrange to sue the city for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

    The lawsuit also included a complaint about LaGrange’s treatment of undocumented people, many of whom have been denied utility accounts entirely because the city requires a Social Security number.


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  2. Laela

    Laela In Mela Nation, SMH

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    Population density in Lagrange was 1033 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 48.0% Black, 44.5% White, 4.7% Hispanic/Latino...in latest census (2013).

    This needs to be unconstitutional, as in the situation where enforcement officers used white chalk to mark tires on people's parked cars in Michigan
    Tired of seeing blacks still being usurped by the government every which way they turn.
     
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  3. firecracker

    firecracker Well-Known Member

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    I think California just ruled that was unconstitutional also just recently.
     
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  4. Laela

    Laela In Mela Nation, SMH

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    Yes, I think it's 3 states total... :yep:
     
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