Part of the Republican response to the poisoning of Flint has been to deny the crisis even exists
It has been almost 2 years since the City of Flint starting using the Flint River as its source of drinking water. It has been at least 8 months since Governor Rick Snyder was made aware of the problems associated with switching to Flint River water (although Snyder won’t say exactly when he knew there was trouble brewing).
It has been almost 3 weeks since Snyder took to the podium and apologized for letting Flint residents for letting them down then vowing to fix it. There have been at least 7 investigations, some criminal, into the Flint water crisis. Over $100 million dollars have been pledge to the Flint water crisis. How many Flint residents have safe drinking water as a result? Zero.
Despite Millions being Pledged, Nothing Is Done
Several Federal, State, and Private entities have pledged millions to Flint. The Federal Government alone has pledged $85 million to help Flint. The State of Michigan hastily gave $28 million after ignoring the problem for months, if not years, and another $30 million to help residents offset water bills for poisonous water. Tom Gores, owner of the Detroit Pistons, pledged $10 million. How many lead pipes have been replaced to date? Zero.
One glaring example of the tone deaf response by Snyder is the allocation of the $28 million approved by the State. The bulk of the money, $17.2 million has been set aside to fund bottled water, filters, and cartridge replacements by the state Department of Health and Human Services. There are two problems with this grand idea. The money will go to a state fund because apparently the paternalistic republicans don’t trust Flint to manage the money on its own. In addition, water filters have been shown ineffective when lead levels are as high as the readings in Flint homes.
Many Michigan Republicans Think It’s a Hoax
Even as recently as last week the EPA held a news conference to warn Flint residents that water coming out of their pipes was still testing at dangerously high levels. Yet prominent Michigan republicans think the Flint Water Crisis is exaggerated.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson (R), at a recent speech before the Detroit Economic Club luncheon, was determine to downplay the severity of the situation. “I don’t think we should say or use words anymore like Flint’s been poisoned. Because I don’t think that’s accurate.” He continued, “I’ve been using words like, ‘Flint’s been poisoned’ and I won’t use that anymore because I think the jury is out.” All this despite the fact that an entire generation of Flint’s children were testing at dangerously high lead blood levels. In addition, 10 people died and 84 people were diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease during this crisis.
Former state lawmaker and Flint resident, Bill Ballenger, said he was “offering the other side of the story.” Ballenger claims that his own blood tests hadn’t revealed elevated levels of lead and he wondered whether the crisis was a hoax, according to the Free Press. Arguing that the crisis was instead perpetuated by politicians and members of the media “with an ax to grind.”
“The idea that the entire population of Flint has been poisoned and that we all have elevated blood-levels because of this is just a total canard,” Ballenger told WJR’s Frank Beckmann. “It’s just a crock, and for this to be perpetuated as a story is doing a lot of damage to Flint as a community.”
Rick Snyder Still Doesn’t Get It
Despite over $100 million being pledged to Flint not one lead pipe has been replaced. Snyder is hoping that somehow Flint’s lead service lines will magically heal themselves and he wants to “take a wait and see approach.”
This is contrary to experts who have said that the lines have been irreparably damaged. It’s contrary to the EPA testing that shows the water filters are not working because the lead in the water exceeds the filters capacity. It is contrary to common sense and the sense of decency people should have when it comes to fixing a crisis harming so many.
I don’t know how much evidence this self-proclaimed “nerd” who “loves to curl up at night with a good budget report” needs before it sinks in to that thick, entitled skull of his. He has said repeatedly that he will make “no promises that the money will go to replacing lead lines.” Which begs the question, “Where will it go?”
Michigan has been under control of republican leadership for some time now. During that time they have focused on cutting taxes on businesses and the wealthy while increasing taxes on the poor and retiree pensions; they have done everything in their power to bust unions, both private and public, and they have spent years arguing over infrastructure funding while roads, bridges and utilities crumble around us. In addition, they have passed an undemocratic emergency manger law that has stripped every majority African-American city in Michigan of its constitutional right to be represented by elected officials.
The effect of their leadership on Flint was to strip it of any political capital and ignore the residents complaints about the water. The entire city was poisoned for years and an entire generation of children are now facing long-term challenges. People have died due to Legionnaire’s bacteria feeding on the lead leaching into the water. All while elected officials in Flint were powerless.
The Emergency Manager lied to residents telling them the water was fine while quietly spending thousands to supply bottled water to the government building he occupied. It is still unknown when or how much Snyder knew about this but given the EM only reported to him it seems that he can only claim ignorance for so long. All that is really left to determine is whether Snyder is guilty of gross negligence or malfeasance.