From late 2012 to late 2013, the PSC joined other local organizations in opposing a city contract with the French company Veolia. We successfully stopped the contract. Our effort and other anti-Veolia efforts worldwide successfully pressured Veolia to end their investments in Israel's system of racial oppression.
Time line of events
August 31 – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay accepts on behalf of St. Louis a trophy and a $15,000 award for “Best Tasting Water in America”. The award is given out by Veolia Water North America.
May 17 – The Show-Me Institute publishes a study by David Stokes advocating the privatization of the St. Louis Water Division. The Show-Me Institute is funded by Rex Sinquefield, Slay's top fundraiser. (Source: Riverfront Times)
June 7 – Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford, top managers from the St. Louis Water Division, the head of the Board of Aldermen's Public Utilities Committee Matt Villa, and representatives from Anhueser-Busch InBev meet at City Hall to discuss the future of the water division. Anheuser-Busch InBev promises to look at the books and do their own analysis for free. (Source: Riverfront Times)
June – Veolia hires St. Louis attorney and lobbyist John Temporiti to help with “contract procurement process”. (Source: Riverfront Times)
September – Veolia tours St. Louis Water facility. Rainford and Water Commissioner Curt Skouby deny privatization rumors.
October 6 – Several managers and other employees of the St. Louis Water Division attend a Veolia presentation, along with Veolia's attorney Temporiti. Veolia proposes substantial cuts to current staffing levels at the Water Divison. Many employees are upset. (Source: Riverfront Times)
December 2010 – Veolia sends a letter to the City of St. Louis proposing a "Try Before You Buy" $250,000 contact with the water division to create a parallel command structure to cut costs. Without the support of the Water Division the proposal goes nowhere. (Source: Riverfront Times)
January 14 – A search committee made up of Skouby, the water division’s Chief Financial Officer Jim Kummer, and a representative from the Board of Public Service choose Kansas City-based firm Black & Veatch to access all aspects of the water division's operations and make recommendations. The cost of the contract is $245,100. (Source: Riverfront Times)
March – Skouby tours Veolia facility in Buffalo, New York. Slay administration denies rumor that there are any current plans to sell the water division. The Slay administration says that they would consider selling the division in the future if the price was right.
May – Black & Veatch receives a letter saying that "it will not be necessary to execute a contract for these consulting services at this time." The recommendations from the search committee never made it out of the final Estimates and Apportionment (E&A) Board. (Source: Riverfront Times)
February – St. Louis hires Black & Veach to draft a public notice asking an outside consultant to assess the financial state of the water utility. The cost of this contract is $245,100, the same price for which it had been willing, a year earlier, to do such an assessment on its own. Black & Veatch sets up a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. (Source: Riverfront Times)
July 17 – RFP goes out. Four firms answer the RFP: Johnson Controls, Missouri American Water, Siemens, and Veolia North America. A 5-person selection committee is convened, consisting of: Skouby, Kummer, Tom Shepard from President of the Board of Alderman Lewis Reed's office, John Zakibe from Comptroller Darlene Green's office and Sam Dotson, Director of Operations for Mayor Slay (now police chief). The committee chooses Veolia. It passes 3-1 with one abstention (Yeses – Zakibe, Skouby, Dotson) – No (Kummer) – Abstain (Shepard). (Source: Riverfront Times). Shepard says he abstains because he is concerned that not enough information is known about Veolia and that two of the references it provided did not return calls.
December 4 – A Water Department worker opposed to the Veolia contract leaks news of the contract to the Riverfront Times. The Riverfront Times publishes online the first-ever article in the St. Louis area about the proposal, written by Jessica Lussenhop, just 15 days before the final vote is set to take place by Board of E&A, which gives final approval on city contracts.
December 6 – Second online Riverfront Times article by Lussenhop is published, with critical commentary from Food and Water Watch, bringing up concerns about Veolia related to the environment, graft and fraud, Veolia's treatment of workers, and water quality issues at other water departments led and run by Veolia.
December 15 – The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) learns that the final E&A Board vote on the proposed contract between Veolia and the St. Louis Water Division is on the agenda for the December 19 meeting. It consists of Mayor Slay, President of the Board of Alderman Lewis Reed, and Comptroller Darlene Green. St. Louis citizens quickly begin to mobilize to stop it.
December 17 – Slay takes Veolia off the agenda. PSC slows down mobilization, seeing there is more time.
December 18 – Slay quietly puts Veolia back on the agenda less than 24 hours prior to the vote. PSC mobilizes to convince the E&A Board to delay the final vote on the Veolia contact given community concerns.
December 19 – In less than 24 hours, representatives of PSC meet with representatives from the offices of Reed and Green; organize over 200 calls in to Slay, Green and Reed; and pack the E&A meeting, urging the city to research the company before approving any contracts with it. PSC alerts the media. At the meeting, Slay suggests that the contract be approved. Reed expresses opposition. Given the outpouring of community opposition to Veolia, Green, the deciding vote, decides to send the contract back to the selection committee for an investigation of Veolia. PSC sends out this press release. The Riverfront Times, St. Louis Public Radio, Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada all cover the story.
January 1 - 15 – PSC reaches out to other concerned St. Louisans, forming the Dump Veolia Coalition. Early participants include PSC, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Sierra Club Eastern Missouri Group, the St. Louis Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. The group launches the St. Louis Dump Veolia Facebook page.
January 11 – Despite the agreement at the previous E&A meeting to investigate Veolia before approving the contract, Slay puts the contract on the agenda for the January 16 E&A meeting.
January 14 - 15 – Dump Veolia Coalition organizes call-in action urging the E&A Board to make any investigation public. (As suspected, it was later confirmed that there had been no investigation.)
January 14 - 15 – Palestinian Freedom Riders, who have challenged Veolia's segregated buses in Palestine with inspiration from the U.S. Civil Rights Freedom Riders, write to Darlene Green asking her to reject the proposed contract with Veolia. Zakaria Odeh of the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem and a group of Israeli citizens write to Darlene Green asking her to reject the proposed contract with Veoli.
January 15 – Slay takes the Veolia contract off the E&A agenda 24 hours before the vote.
January 16 – Citing the history of changing the agenda last minute, St. Louis Dump Veolia brings 60 people to the E&A meeting. Attendees line the halls to the mayor's office with signs expressing their various concerns about Veolia. The meeting is moved to a larger room to accommodate the uncharacteristically large crowd. Veolia stays off the agenda. Observing the significant concern about Veolia, Green proposes a public hearing on the matter. At the end of the meeting, Reed addresses the people in attendance and expresses his opposition to the proposed contact. Slay subsequently addresses those in attendance, defending the contract. The meeting is covered by St. Louis Public Radio, the Riverfront Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mondoweiss, the St. Louis American, the St. Louis Jewish Light, the Jewish Forward, and La Jeune Politique. Green sends this letter to Reed calling for a public hearing.
January 22 – St. Louis Water Division workers send the coalition this statement "St Louis Water Division Workers Want St Louis to Dump Veolia."
January 24 – Dump Veolia Coalition launches a petition calling on the City to reject the contract.
January 24 - March 6 – Dump Veolia Coalition members attend mayoral debates, forums, fundraisers, community meetings and Democratic Party Ward meetings to push Reed and Slay to publicly state their positions on the proposed Veolia contract.
January 30 – Issue of Veolia contract is asked at first mayoral debate. Reed stakes out a firm and public position against the proposed contract. Slay defends the proposed contract. From this point forward, Reed makes his opposition to the water contact a top issue in his campaign.
February – John Temporiti registers as a lobbyist for Rex Sinquefield's political firm Pelopidas and as a lobbyist for Veolia Water North America. (Source: Riverfront Times)
February 2 – Members of PSC confront the mayor about Veolia's involvement in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
February 5 – Epiphany United Church of Christ issues official letter urging St. Louis to Dump Veolia.
ebruary 7 – Water contract is the cover story in the print edition of the Riverfront Times. Jessica Lussenhop lays out the history of the contract, including Veolia's hiring of John Temporiti and the advocacy of Slay's funder Rex Sinquefield for water privitization.
February 9 – Citing the history of introducing the Veolia contract to the E&A agenda last minute, St. Louis Dump Veolia mobilizes community members to attend the February 20 E&A meeting.
February 11 – Issue of the proposed Veolia water contract is the top requested question at the second mayoral debate. St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon cover the water issue as part of their debate coverage.
February 20 – International water justice organizer and Veolia expert Kristn Urquiza from coalition partner Corporate Accountability International flies to St. Louis to show support. Slay issues a statement that the proposed water contract with Veolia is "on hold" and won't be on the E&A agenda and no decision will be made until all relevant parties are heard. Citing the broad public opposition to Veolia and the complete absence of public support for the contract, more than 75 supporters of the Dump Veolia Campaign attend the E&A meeting with a unified message: "Dump Veolia Today." Reed proposes that the original selection committee reconvene and chose a different company. Before and after the meeting, Dump Veolia members talk to representatives of the staff of Reed, Slay and Green. The hearing is covered by the Riverfront Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KSDK Channel 5, the St. Louis Beacon, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.
February 27 – Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists hosts a mayoral forum featuring the proposed water contract with Veolia. After confirming his attendance months before, Slay drops out two days before the event.
February 27 - 29 – Reed and supporters of Reed, including the Carpenter’s Union send three campaign fliers to City residents in opposition to Veolia becoming involved with St. Louis's water. Here is one example.
February 28 – Global Water Intelligence publishes article citing St. Louis Dump Veolia as a lynchpin struggle for Veolia's future in U.S. water business.
March 1 – The St. Louis American reports on a legal analysis by the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center that concludes that the contract between St. Louis and Veolia, as it was about to be signed in December, would give substantial control of the water division to Veolia.
March 2 – Jamala Rogers of the Organization for Black Struggle comes out against the contract in the St. Louis American.
March 5 – Slay is re-elected mayor, defeating challenger Reed. The St. Louis American, Riverfront Times, and St. Louis Post Dispatch all recognize Veolia contract as a major issue in the campaign.
May - The St. Louis Dump Veolia Coalition launches its website - http://www.dumpveolia.org.
June 26 - The first hearing on the issue of the proposed contract between Veolia and the St. Louis Water Division is held by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Public Utility Committee. The hearing is covered by the Riverfront Times.
July 2 - The second Public Utility Committee hearing is held. Well over 150 concerned citizens attend to voice their opposition to the proposed contract between Veolia and the St. Louis Water Division. The only people testifying in support of the contract are either Veolia employees or others who would directly benefit as a subcontractor from the proposed deal. The hearing is covered by the Riverfront Times, St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
October 4 - Mayor's office attorney Patricia Hageman sends a letter (shown here) to Comptroller Darlene Green, claiming that Green has a "ministerial duty" to sign the contract with Veolia, even though it has not been passed by the Board of E&A. She claims that the Board of Aldermen has approved the contract already, even though not a single member of the Board of Aldermen believed that approving this contract was their decision.
October 16 - Comptroller Green brings up the issue of the letter at the Board of E&A. The Post-Dispatch reports.
October 18 - Dozens of citizens come to the Board of Aldermen meeting to oppose the contract and let the Board of Aldermen know that Mayor Slay is now claiming that they already approved this contract. This is reported on by KWMU, Fox 2 News, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, AP, the St. Louis Beacon and the St. Louis American. This is the first time since the controversy began that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch publishes an article about the proposed Veolia contract in its print edition.
October 22 - The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial staff write an editorial on the issue of the proposed water contract between the City of St. Louis and Veolia.
October 22 - The Board of Aldermen Ways and Means Committee meets to discuss the letter issued by Hageman. Around forty concerned citizens come to the hearing to oppose the proposed contract with Veolia. The Committee find the arguments given by the Mayor's office to not be compelling. Several Aldermen are concerned about what kind of impact such a move by the Mayor's office will have on the checks and balances of St. Louis government, and the future relationship between the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Slay. The Examiner reports on the hearing.
October 25 - Alderman Terry Kennedy proposes Board Bill 216 in the Board of Aldermen. This bill strikes $250,000 from the 2014 St. Louis Budget and specifies that this is the money for the Veolia contract. The bill also points out that the supposed earmark for Veolia that the Mayor's office claims was in the budget was never "specifically outlined or detailed in the City of St. Louis annual operating plan. St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report on the story.
October 29 - Fifteen members of the Dump Veolia Coaltion come to a session of the Board of Aldermen Ways and Means Committee. One of the primary topics on the agenda is Board Bill 216. During the course of the meeting Mayor Francis Slay's representative Mary Ellen Ponder announces that Veolia has withdrew its bid for a $250,000 contract with the City of St. Louis for services with the Water Division. She then announces that the Mayor has decided to work with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to improve services and infrastructure for the St. Louis Water Division. Committee Chair Alderman Terry Kennedy announces that Board Bill 216 will still proceed, because regardless of the company involved, he is concerned about power and jurisdictional issues raised by the Mayor's office attorney Patricia Hageman's letter to Comptroller Darlene Green. The Bill passes committee by a vote of 5 to 2. The dropping of the contract is first published in the press by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.