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Sewage spill raises awkward questions for WCC Trustees

Yesterday, the WCC Administration closed the campus to allow workers to repair a broken sewer line that was spilling raw sewage on campus. The sewage spill should raise uncomfortable questions for the WCC Trustees – the first one being “What the hell have you been doing for the last 10 years?” . Another one might be “Washtenaw County taxpayers have sent WCC more than a half-billion dollars in taxes since 2013. Why haven’t you used it to take care of the campus infrastructure?”

Notice that I am saying that the responsibility for the sewage spill falls at the feet of the WCC Trustees. (Mainly because it does.) We elected the WCC Trustees to provide oversight for the half billion dollars we have sent to 4800 East Urine River Drive over the last decade.

As it turns out, sewer lines do not take care of themselves. (Who knew?) Instead of taking steps to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus (by “advising” the administration to spend that money to maintain the damned sewers), they have sat on their hands.

Every year, the Administration presents the “Capital Outlay Plan” to the WCC Trustees. And every year they accept it without reading it. Had they read these Capital Outlay Plans between 2013 and 2022, at least one of them should have noticed that the litany of problems the Administration reports for each building never changes.

For one full decade, the Capital Outlay Plan has offered the exact same assessment of the SC Building’s critical plumbing problems. As I said yesterday, the current sewage spill may be unrelated to any building. But it is appalling that the WCC Trustees accept the same half-assed report year after year without even noticing that nothing changes on the report’s “Deferred Maintenance” section.

WCC Trustees are accountable for sewage spill

I characterized the sewage spill on campus as a breach of the public trust because it is. We send the WCC Trustees to serve the community, and to use the statutory authority they must take care of the College. Instead, they sit at Board Meetings (after having eaten a catered dinner) and accept nonsensical “reports” without ever asking a damned question about what exactly they are being served. Instead of demanding that their Administration address the serious infrastructure problems that are undeniably EVIDENT on the campus, they have the nerve to propose the diversion of the taxpayers’ money to build a campus hotel.

We now have raw sewage accumulating in the public spaces on campus. So, tell us, exactly who is going to take care of a hotel? Because it certainly will not be the WCC Trustees – who share the ultimate responsibility for the condition of the campus. And since they refuse to make the WCC Administration responsible for campus infrastructure issues, the public should hold the WCC Trustees directly accountable.

The WCC Administration has demonstrated that they prioritize the hiring of executives over the maintenance of the campus facilities. The executives will not take care of the campus unless and until the Trustees demand it as a condition of their continued employment.

The WCC Trustees openly refuse to act in the best interest of the voters who elected them. Each of them asked for this position of responsibility. It is time for the voters to hold them accountable for their chronic (and dangerous) inaction.

Photo Credit: jjmusgrove, via Flickr