The Crime—as reported by The New York Times:
“Of all the concerns raised by the contamination of Flint’s water supply, and the failure of the state and federal governments to promptly address the crisis after it began nearly two years ago, none are more chilling than the possibility that children in this tattered city may have suffered irreversible damage to their developing brains and nervous systems from exposure to lead….Younger children and fetuses are especially vulnerable because of their developing brains and nervous systems, which is why the efforts here will focus on children 5 and younger.”
This should be particularly devastating to Stupidparty since the fetus is the only life form that they appear to be concerned about. There were 87 confirmed Legionnaires’ cases, including 10 deaths, from June 2014 to November 2015, compared to only 21 cases in 2012 and 2013. Michigan health officials said they can’t conclude that the increase was related to Flint’s water. Flint pulled water from its river for 18 months until last fall but didn’t use treatments that could have reduced corrosion and removed contaminants.
There seems to be a lack of clarity over who is to blame for the Flint water disaster. Yes, the man at the top (Snyder) is ultimately responsible, but he manages a whole State, so yes while he is responsible, that in itself is not enough to actually make him guilty—or is it?
To get the bottom of this question we need context. Snyder was the former head of Gateway computers and got elected on the back of a supposed business prowess on top of the tragic Stupidparty wave election in 2010. This business guru is going to make the State “business friendly” and government cost effective—no matter what. So this is what happens.
- One of Snyder’s first actions is to draft a law giving the State (i.e Snyder) dramatic powers to take over “failing” school boards and municipalities—appointing emergency managers with unchecked powers.
- Michigan voters kill this law in a November 2012 election.
- But he arrogantly believes that his personal business brilliance is more brilliant than all those with actual knowledge and expertise—plus he has total disdain for the checks and balances of democracy.
- One month after voters rejected his dream law, Snyder sneakily reintroduces this law, but this time he attaches a bill making it impossible to get rid of this law by referendum.
- Now he can let unelected “Viceroys” loose, motivated purely by the need to improve finances—without taking into account other factors, or listening to people on the ground with actual specific knowledge.
- Under the law these emergency managers can nullify labor contracts, privatize public services, sell off city property, and even dismiss elected officials
- Before Flintonians have a chance to savor the flavor of Snyder’s toxic brew—in Flint, the emergency manager had promised to restructure collective bargaining agreements with the city’s police and firefighters’ unions.
- These emergency managers are not answerable to anyone except Snyder.
- His first Viceroy for Flint sees a way of saving $5m by finding alternatives to Flint long existing contract to get its water from Detroit—even though the alternative source was still under construction.
- Snyder’s next Viceroy for Flint, *Darnell Earley, decides to get the water from the Flint River—in spite of Detroit willing to provide a short term contract.
- Then the next Viceroy, Jerry Ambrose, overruled efforts to start using Detroit water again—even though issues with the river water were becoming evident. Evidently such concerns were “incomprehensible.” General Motors had by now stopped using the water because it was rusting car parts. Well I guess that all this would be incomprehensible to a bean counter towing the Stupidparty line.
- Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow asked Gov. Snyder not to name any more emergency managers. You will see why soon.
*Now Darnell Earley is the missing link to this whole story. On paper and in reality Mr. Earley is an African American Democrat, so he does not fit the profile of a villain—in the context of this story. This is why Republicans argue that this is not a Republican scandal. This is a missing link that disturbs me, but I smell a rat.
- Earley’s efforts to deny his role in the big switch—do not seem credible, and he was part of the celebrations when Flint changed its water supply to the Flint River.
- Earley has had numerous unelected government jobs and seems to make himself unpopular with Democrat constituents wherever he goes.
- The New York Daily News reports:
When it comes to local governments, someone up top seems to always like Earley. His career comprises one appointment after another across three decades, with no record of him getting elected to any of his increasingly prominent political posts.
His first appointment came as manager of the Buena Vista Charter Township in 1986, when the town had a population of 13,000. He got plopped into the Michigan House of Representatives’ research and policy staff, then into several city government gigs, including a tenure as city manager in Saginaw, where he successfully squashed the City Council’s attempts to curb his lifetime health benefits.
As city manager of Flint, he earned $180,000 a year, more than four times the city’s median salary, records show. In Detroit, he now makes $225,000 — again, more than four times greater the median salary there. Public records indicate he has stayed at the same home in Lansing (The State capital of Michigan) through nearly all of his jobs, which would place him 90 miles away from the latest city he was picked to serve.
- Then there is the fact that Snyder, who happily tries to throw everyone else under the bus, well he protects Earley, saying “Darnell has done a very good job under some very difficult circumstances.”
- Now Earley is trying to dodge a subpoena. He was invited last week to testify before the congressional committee investigating this crisis, but told the panel on Monday night he would not (testify) and his lawyer refused a subpoena issued early Feb, 2016.
- Is it a coincidence that both Earley and Snyder are desperate to avoid testifying under oath?
Curt Guyette, who, working for the ACLU of Michigan, was the person who was crucial in uncovering this disaster, explains the problems caused by the the States emergency management laws:
“You cannot separate what happened in Flint from the state’s extreme emergency management law, the bottom line is making sure the banks and bondholders get paid at all costs, even if the kids are poisoned with foul river water….it is about the taking away of democracy and the imposition of austerity-fueled autocracy on cities that are poor and majority African-American.”
But now we must address the real elephant in the room—was any of this water related cost cutting even necessary? Is this smoking gun tweet true?
An unknown diarist living near Flint explains:
“From what I can tell, Jim Fausone is an Attorney in Northville. That is to whom the memo is addressed. We all know, Flint wasn’t allowed to ‘accept’ this deal as the Emergency Manager who is an unelected, undemocratic, hand-picked minion of the Snyder Administration wouldn’t allow. The EM holds power OVER the Flint City Council AND the Mayor.”
But this wild claim cannot be true—because it is just not logical. Why waste so much money? Well I hope you are familiar with ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council)—if not you really need to get up to speed about this massively powerful and insidious organization here… ALEC has many of its plants spreading their roots in Michigan, with the state now introducing laws such as the Orwellian “Right to Work” laws that are copied verbatim from the ALEC play book—”Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Snyder Team/Policy are about to become the first totally irrelevant ‘Republican’ Administration in Michigan history. Armed and on the march with pre-written policy and legislation from ALEC and other think-tanks, the Michigan Republican Majorities in both the Michigan Senate and Michigan House of Representatives are steamrolling a right wing agenda—Michigan “Government in a Box.” But allow me to quote a concise explanation:
“Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is utilizing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) crib notes, a recall offense. The “Nerd” Governor can’t make a move without employing ALEC models & policies and support from Michigan’s long history with ALEC and a long list of ALEC members…
“…Lastly many, many areas of Michigan’s laws, rules and regulations are being “adjusted” at a furious pace to fit the whims of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (spin-off of the national arch-conservative Heritage Foundation), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—heavily backed by the Koch Bros. and mega-wealthy families like Michigan’s own DeVos & Van Andel clans...
“…ALEC’s activities are very widespread and endemic to the lawmaking processes of state legislatures across the country, and for that reason, their activities have been accepted through ignorance of the secret and underlying purposes and objectives they promote. The public finds it hard to believe such a group exists. But they do. Consider: “ALEC has approximately 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, as well as more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former Governors who are considered ‘ALEC alumni‘” (Source: Wikipedia, CMD and VLTP who has reported on ALEC in most levels of US Courts as well.
Yes, Snyder is one of them! Politicususa explains:
As a brief refresher, in 2012 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder used ALEC and *Mackinac Center for Public Policy tactics to impose “financial martial law” and corporate-backed “disaster capitalism” on the state’s residents. As governor, Snyder appointed little corporate tyrants known as “emergency managers” with unprecedented dictatorial authority to disband unions, corporatize city services, abolish school districts, and dissolve local elected governments; it was a move touted as the corporate model to help Michigan residents adjust to privatization and loss of liberty.
*Mackinac Center is a free market libertarian think tank; it is a member of ALEC: “… revealing our contributors would be a tremendous diversion…” In 2005, Mackinac published an essay, by a future emergency manager that called on Michigan’s Legislature to give emergency managers the power to impose contract changes on public-employee unions and “replace and take on the powers of the governing body.”
Now, although there were numerous warnings that people’s lives were being put at risk with an ALEC corporate tyrant running the show, Michigan’s governor can hardly deny that his ALEC-Mackinac tyrannical takeover is literally poisoning entire communities; all in the name of GOP and ALEC privatization and austerity madness.
But what is the Snyder ALEC agenda, why would they be so determined to move Flint off Detroit’s water, and instead build a pipeline from Lake Huron? It sounds like the motivation could well be fracking:
“There is talk of Governor Snyder wanting to attach fracking development to the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline that is being built as the “alternative” for Flint in place of Detroit water. The Flint river was used as a stop-gap measure to supply water to Flint until the KWA pipeline was built. The KWA pipeline would then be able to service the water-intensive fracking industry.”
But moving on… What does Snyder do?
- He tries to blame the local authorities—the very ones run by his viceroys, his “emergency managers.”
- Snyder refuses to release the emails from his staff.
- Tries to avoid testifying under oath.
- Tries to blame the EPA, who were never involved in these decisions but did provide some warning as early as Feb 2015. Any passivity by the EPA only created a delay of a few months. This was the EPA’s response: “EPA’s ability to oversee… management of that situation was impacted by resistance and failures at the state and local levels to work with EPA in a forthright, transparent, and proactive manner consistent with the seriousness of the risks to public health.”
- As discussed above, his main excuse for this catastrophe was that he was simply trying to save money—but it appears that his supposed fiscal superiority is destroyed by a memo from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department that suggests the city of Flint could have saved money by sticking with the Detroit water system instead of turning to the troubled Flint River, Motor City Muckraker reports.
- Snyder’s statement that he wasn’t aware of a problem with lead in Flint’s drinking water until about Oct. 1 has prompted questions about his office’s role in quietly delivering 1,500 water filters to the city in August.
This statement is also undermined by a report in The Guardian, Britain’s most respected investigative newspaper:
Michigan governor Rick Snyder was informed of water quality issues in the city of Flint’s supply as early as February 2015, according to emails released to the public on Wednesday, but his administration struck a dismissive tone, saying the problems would eventually “fade in the rearview”. The Guardian goes on to point out that a memo to Snyder states:
“that the Safe Drinking Water Act “does not regulate aesthetic values of water”. The words “does not” were underlined.
Snyder’s statement also raises questions about the speed and scope of the state’s response since Oct. 1 and why state officials did not immediately instruct Flint residents, on Oct. 1, not to drink the water without a filter. It would not until Jan 2016 that serious action began.
- On the day that the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed it is investigating why the city of Flint’s drinking water supply is contaminated, when two years ago it was fine—this is the exact day that Snyder declares a state of emergency, thus getting US taxpayers to pay for his corporate inspired toxic catastrophe—this is always the end result of unfettered capitalism.
- Snyder tried to avoid testifying before congress, apparently aided by his allies in congress, but public pressure mounts and Snyder then tries to spin the story that he requested the deposition. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the oversight committee, clarifies:
“Contrary to Governor Snyder’s recent claim that he requested this ‘opportunity to testify,’ the reality is that he is finally bowing to mounting public pressure to answer questions before Congress about the central and critical role his administration played in this man-made disaster,”
This story will continue to unfold…