Following the Governor's State of the State speech and email dump, it's clearer than ever that Snyder should resign
The Flint Water Scandal and Crisis, Michigan’s man-made disaster, began almost 3 years ago. Yet Governor Rick Snyder (R), ignored the problem until the national media picked up the story. On Tuesday of this week, during his State of the State address, Snyder mixed fake outrage and tears with finger-pointing and promises of transparency to show his commitment to fixing this scandal/crisis. Now, despite his refusal to do so, it’s time for Snyder to resign.
Crisis by its very nature is paralyzing. It is paralyzing to the people directly affected and to those charged with helping them. Scandal is also paralyzing. Everything grinds to a halt for those in the middle of the scandal.
In Snyder’s case he is plagued by reporters and daily, sometimes hourly, news reports regarding Flint. He is so preoccupied with saving his reputation that little else is accomplished. No matter what has happened, is happening or will happen in the future, his legacy will be defined by the Flint water scandal/crisis. As it should be. He and he alone is responsible for what is arguably the greatest man-made disaster in modern history.
Snyder takes the blame: Kinda, Sorta
Snyder’s State of the State address was an opportunity to show his commitment to cleaning up his mess. It lasted roughly 60 minutes and began with pleasantries. Then he moved into the Flint scandal crisis where he devoted no more than 20 minutes to explain 3 years of failure. He said ultimately he was to blame, but not really because a bunch of people in his administration didn’t tell him about it and I guess he never watches the news or reads a paper. Then there was the Federal Government that also didn’t tell him there was a problem. But never fear the “buck stops with him.”
He also promised to release all of his emails relating to the Flint water scandal/crisis, including those from his personal email account, the very next day in the “spirit of transparency.” Which begs the question “Why was he conducting any government business through his personal email account?” Isn’t this the very thing the Republicans have scolded Hillary Clinton over?
After kinda, sorta accepting blame and promising transparency he went on to business as usual. As Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press so aptly put it, “talking about fixes for the Detroit Public Schools, blah, blah, blah, infrastructure, blah, blah, blah, … the economy, blah.” But “he stopped doing what he should.” What he should do is “turn his entire state of the state into a declaration that when people around the world are talking about Michigan, they are talking about Flint, and nothing else right now is more important then that.”
The Promise to Release His Emails
Michigan is one of only two states that exempts the Governor and Legislature from FIOA laws. This means that, even though government is paid for by the taxpayers, what happens after the election is none of their business.
Snyder has refused calls for transparency and said he would not be releasing any emails related to Flint. However, with the whole world now watching, he declared in the “spirit of transparency” he will release every email from “both his government and personal email accounts” relating to Flint.
Snyder promised this release for the very next day after his speech. Then, as five o’clock drew closer it appeared he would be walking back that promise and the press began to cry foul. Finally, after business hours Snyder released 274 pages of press drafts and reports that were already public information. As you can see, from the first email where even the page number is redacted, unless you have x-ray vision this email dump was ceremonious in nature.
Included in the 274 pages are just 12 responses from Snyder himself. In addition, one very crucial year of this scandal/crisis is missing. The year leading up to and including the decision to switch the water supply to the Flint River is the year he has decided was not important to this disclosure.
Even though this is crucial to the argument he has put forth that Flint, and Flint alone, was responsible for the switch. However, elected officials in Flint had been completely stripped of power by this point. and all decisions were being made by the appointed Emergency Manager.
One central theme does run through the batch of emails: The Democratic Party is somehow to blame, we did nothing wrong, and poor people are dramatic and easily whipped into a frenzy. Snyder’s then chief of staff wrote to his boss that the “children are being used as a political football” and that Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee, Flint, “never misses an opportunity to get the press hounds involved.”
In another exchange, he struggles to understand “how this could be their fault except that (then Treasurer Andy) Dillon signed off on the deal.” They belittled Flint residents complaining by calling them “the anti-everything crowd.” A pediatrician expressing concerns about rising levels of lead in the children had her findings dismissed as “data.”
According to the Metrotimes, the “emails reveal a stubborn, often arrogant administration, and state bureaucracy that failed to protect Flint residents despite plenty of warning about health hazards.” Flint was dealt a catastrophic blow: Not by Democrats seeking a political advantage, not by a natural disaster but by a calculated takeover by inept, power hungry, politicians who cut corners with public safety to save taxpayers a few million dollars.
And Flint residents paid for it with their lives and their children’s health. An entire generation of Flint children now face uncertain futures and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all. To quote the Detroit News, referencing another Republican debacle, “Heck of a job, Governor.”