By now, you must have heard about the poisoning of the water supply with lead in Flint, Michigan. The Emergency Manager of Flint – appointed by, and reporting directly to, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder – decided in 2014 to switch the water supply for Flint from Lake Huron via Detroit to the Flint River to save money for the cash-strapped city. Most of the water pipes leading to residents’ homes are very old and soldered together with lead. The water from Detroit was treated to avoid allowing this lead to leach into the water. When the switch was made to Flint River water, the extra measures need to prevent lead from leaching into the water supply were not implemented. This resulted in almost the entire population of Flint – mostly poor and majority African-American – to drink, cook, and bathe with lead tainted water.
Gov. Snyder was aware of this as early as January 2015, but did not publicly acknowledge there was a serious problem until October of last year. He knew the water was dangerous because at that time, state officials were arranging for the installation of water coolers in Flint’s State Office Building so employees wouldn’t have to use the drinking fountains. This was happening at the same time state officials were reassuring Flint residents that their water was safe to drink.
Snyder finally acknowledged the crisis publicly in his State of The State address on January 19 of this year: “To you, the people of Flint, I want to say tonight—as I have before—that I am sorry and I will fix it.” His “fix” so far has been to hire not one, but TWO public relations firms to try to polish his tarnished image.
He also said this: “I will release my emails regarding Flint so that you have answers. You can find the emails tomorrow at mi.gov/Snyder.” But he didn’t say he would release ALL his emails, and conveniently, Michigan is one of only two states that are exempt from the Freedom Of Information Act, which means he can selectively release emails and we may never know what he is holding back. I went to the website to look for those emails (not easy to find!) and here is the very first one:
Now THERE is some transparency for you!
Besides declaring a State of Emergency for Flint, which does entitle the state to $5 million in Federal funds, the Governor on Friday signed a bill to appropriate $28 million for Flint, to help with the pipe problems and the health issues for residents. The state has also been distributing free water filters for residents, but there is a problem with that too – the filters can only eliminate up to 95 parts per billion of lead from water, but recent tests have shown that the water in some Flint homes contains up to 9,000 ppm, rendering the filters virtually useless. And for all the residents of Flint who unknowingly, for 18 months or more, ingested toxic levels of lead, the damage has already been done – especially for children. High levels of lead can lead to impaired brain development, learning disabilities and a host of other problems that will last a lifetime.
The National Guard has been distributing donated bottled water to residents, and the donations have been pouring in, from celebrities like Cher and bottled water companies, plus countless unknown but concerned citizens from around the state, the country, and the world. Donating bottled water is all well and good, but how does one take a bath or a shower with bottled water? And why isn’t the State of Michigan trucking in purified water in caravans?
The ONLY viable solution to this crisis is to replace the entire water infrastructure in Flint – every pipe leading to every home. There are estimates that the cost of this could be up to $1.5 BILLION.
This story is ongoing and will get bigger and more damaging to the Governor as time goes on. I believe the political life of Rick Snyder is nearing its end. It’s a damn shame it took poisoning an entire city to do it.
UPDATE: And now comes the news that Snyder has appointed a special counsel to investigate whether there was any wrongdoing committed by Snyder or his administration in regards to the response to the crisis. But here’s the kicker: Don Flood, the former prosecutor appointed to the job, is a DONOR to the campaign funds of both Governor Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette!
VOTE AS IF YOU LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, BECAUSE VERY OFTEN IT DOES.