Thursday, January 7, 2016

Michigan City, State Officials Thought Giving Children Lead Poisoning Is OK If It Saves Money

The nation's worst scandal, lead poisoning due
to Michigan government ineptitude or worse,
is not getting enough attention

Under mounting pressure MIchigan Gov. Rick Snyder requested the Obama administration declare a federal state of emergency in Flint over the poisoned water crisis.

Obama quickly made that declaration Saturday.

Of course, it was the Snyder administration's actions that ultimately led to the mass lead poisoning of Flint's children because of the bad water, as Snyder and his minions were trying to save money.

Of course, "saving money" led to this tragic and expensive disaster.

The emergency declaration will free up $5 million to federal aid, which would go toward trucking clean water into town and distributing water filters in the hopes that will help.

Obama was forced to deny Snyder's request for a disaster declaration which would have freed up more money to rescue Flint from its bad water.

However, disaster declarations can only be made if there was a natural disaster. This was man made. Flint would have been better off, in one sense, had a big tornado trashed the city. Instead, conservative politics trashed the city, with Ma Nature havng nothing to do with it

I'm all for Obama's decision to declare a federal emergency in Flint, The people there need all the help they can get. But as a taxpayer, I resent the politicians who, in trying to demonstrate how "fiscally conservative " there are, ended up costing taxpayers like me and you all this money to help Fiint.

Meanwhile, Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders said Snyder should resign from his position as governor because of the Flint Water Crisis.

Said Sanders in a statement: "There are no excuses. The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint's water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov. Snyder should resign."

The nationwide anger at Snyder is really - finally - building now. This has become a national story, and the pressure on the Snyder administration is intensifying, which is great.

Saturday, when Sanders first Tweeted his desire for Snyder to resign, I retweeted and responded. "...or face criminal charges."

I don't think I've ever gotten so many retweets and likes from any comment I've ever made on Twitter.  This is out of about 17,500 Tweets I've posted since June, 2011.

I do think there will be a lot of investigations into Snyder and the managers he appointed to ruin run Flint.

I hope justice is served, and if there was indeed criminal wrongdoing by Snyder or anyone in his administration, they go to jail for a long, long time.


There's been an unfolding scandal in Flint, Michigan that I can't believe hasn't gotten more attention than it has.

An unknown number of children have suffered lead poisoning due to apparent incompetence and a potentional cover up by the ironically named Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

This bad acting might go up all the way to the Michigan Governor's office.

Luckily, the media - and the nation - are finally paying more and more attention to this crisis and scandal, but still not enough is being done.

They were involved in what was to be a money saving move to stop buying expensive drinking water from Detroit and take the water from the Flint River instead.

The only problem is the Flint River is wicked polluted and those pollutants are corrosive. So the corrosive water wore down lead pipes in the Flint water system, and people were drinking water heavily laced with lead for months.

The basic questions are: Did politicians know that kids and families in Flint, Michigan were being poisoned by high levels of lead in drinking water? And did they do nothing because it would have cost money to fix the problem? And would spending money ruin their conservative bonafides? And were those conservative bonafides more important than the health of Flint's children?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder finally apologized for the fiasco over the New Year's holiday, but was he culpable in this, too?

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into this, and Dan Wyant, the head of the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (MDEQ) has resigned. The federal Environmental Protetion agency is also investigating.

The MDEQ continuously denied there was a problem for most of 2015 even as evidence mounted that there was a dangerous problem with Flint's drinking water.

None of this would have come to light had it not been for some dogged heroes. One was the Flint Journal and its parent media company, MLive, which pursued the story relentlessly. (Pulitzer Prize for them?)

MLive has a handy dandy chart that cuts through the complexity of this thing and gives you a flow chart of who were the good guys and who were the bad guys here.

There were major heroes to this story as well.  Michigan Public Radio kept at this, too.

A huge assist came from ACLU of Michigan, which kept hammering away to get documents proving the problem. Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards got involved and proved there was indeed a crisis with lead and contaminated water.

Other hereoes include Erin Brockovich, who used her fame to try to broadcast the problem to a larger audience. There were Flint residents like Melissa Mays who would talk about this to anyone who would listen.

Unfortunately, there were also a large number of villians here that covered up the problem as long as they could.

From 2011 to April, 2015, Flint city government was under the control of an emergency manager appointed by Snyder, rather than local government. This was because Flint's city budget had ballooned to $19 million.

No matter what the reason for the budget deficit - local incompetence, circumstances beyond anyone's control or a combination - the emergency managers were pretty undemocratic.

The managers reported directly to the governor, and not the people of Flint. The voters of Flint basically couldn't hold anybody accountable for their actions, since the mayor and city council were essentially just there for window dressing.

That lack of accountability helped lead to the debacle, many observers believe, since Flint residents had little ability to demand change or create change in leadership through the ballot box.

Potential villians, then, in this case include Snyder, who only belated came on board to say Flint's water was dangerous. There's Darnell Early, who advocated to switch the water source to the Flint River. He also says it's the Flint City Council's fault, but there's no record of that council deciding to take water fron the Flint River.

Then there's the guy who just resigned from his directorship at MDEQ, who kept saying for months Flint's water was safe, even as evidence mounted that it wasn't. The MDEQ spokesman, Bradley Wurfel, who also recently resigned, kept attacking the credibility of Edwards and his fellow Virginia Tech researchers, even though it turns out they were exactly right.

Were these potential villians just in denial, sticking to their original proposals because they made them and they "had" to be right?  Or was this an attempt at a coverup, trying to prevent word from getting out that the water was unsafe?  Preventing, that is, until they could come up with a Plan B, or figure out a way to shift blame to somebody else?

In any event, documents uncovered showed indications of high levels of lead in the drinking water by July. Yet, this information was suppressed until at least September, and people kept drinking the dangerous water.  Officials tried to poo-poo the situation as a harmless "seasonal change" whatever that is.

Was this situation a "missed opportunity" to release information as one state official said, or was it a coverup?

"Everyting they looked at, they found a problem, and they never told anyone," Edwards said of the MDEQ, according to MLive.

It's certainly not over for soe of Michigan's leaders who might be culpable in this fiasco.

Even celebrities have gotten involved. Filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore is asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Gov. Snyder. 

Cher actually Tweeted that Gov. Snyder should be executed over thiswhich definitely seems a little over the top.

What's way, WAY more over the top is how elected leaders could know something is wrong with the water, that children were being permanently damaged by lead and possibly other contaminants in the drinking water, and still drag their heels.

Again,  it smells like elected officials, including Snyder, might have made their political futures with a fiscal conservative brand more important than the children of Flint, Michigan.

Snyder is refusing to say what he knew and when he knew it in regards to Flint's water, says NBC News. 

If this isn't a scandal of immense proportions, I don't know what is.

Let's hope the Justice Department investigation actually gets some answers, and here's hoping that MLive, Michigan Public Radio and other media outlets- local, national and international - keep the pressure on to get completely to the bottom of this.

Even worse than all this, Flint's water is still dangerous and nobody is really doing anything about it.

True, they're not taking water from the Flint River. They've switched back to Detroit. But the corrosion in the pipes from the previous Flint River water is still very likely leaching lead into the drinking water supply.

You'd think with an emergency declared, you'd get something like big National Guard tankers full of water in Flint to distribute clean water, Red Cross and other big volunteer groups helping, and people going door to door making sure people were drinking safe water.

But, nope. Flint is full of people who are in and near poverty. The economy has been very rough on Flint. In this nation's political world, poor people don't matter, so the residents of Flint, and their children, are still drinking dangerous water that is injuring them.

It's not like they can afford to drive to a suburban Big Box store and buy cases of bottled water. They have no cars and no money to do this.

I guess Snyder's administration's message to Flint is go screw yourselves.

1 comment:

  1. I first heard about this on NBC News several weeks ago, then there was a follow up story when Snyder admitted the water was unsafe so they were switching back to Detroit water. Too late for all those kids who were poisoned and of course the corrosive pipes were and are unsafe. Gratified to see Bernie Sanders calling for Snyder's resignation.