Flint Water Crisis Puts MI Governor In The Hot Seat After Poisoning Children



Meme from Facebook. Designed by Nancy Osborne. Quote and meme both used with permission.
Meme from Facebook. Designed by Nancy Osborne. Quote and meme both used with permission.

Film Director Michael Moore is calling for the arrest of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. He has started and is promoting an online petition charging Snyder with “corruption and assault.” The charges stem from the poisoning of children and residents of Flint, Michigan. Actions taken by Governor Snyder forced the municipality to switch from a clean water source (Detroit Water & Sewage Department – DWSD) to using the Flint River during an interim period while awaiting the construction of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline.

Poor Fiscal Management And Constant Change/Turn-Over of Emergency Managers Among Ongoing Problems For Flint

It is likely that Moore, who is also an activist, kept up with the barrage of ongoing fiscal problems plaguing his hometown of Flint, Michigan. In 2011, Michael Brown was appointed by Snyder to be the first of four emergency managers and charged with bringing Flint back — and out of the red zone.

Following Brown was Ed Kurtz in 2012. Kurtz resigned in June 2013 (he’d made the announcement in May). He was replaced by Mike Brown, who had served previously as Flint EM in 2011 and early 2012 and was asked to return to the troubled city. Brown resigned three months later in September 2012.

Next up was Darnell Earley. He served as mayor of Flint for a short period during 2002. In his new role as EM, Earley turned away offers from Detroit in March 2014, to provide Flint with water. Earley sent a letter to Detroit, saying he was not interested and that Flint would be utilizing the Flint River.

This parade of emergency managers, each with their own ideas on how things should run, contributed to the overall problem a great deal. Understanding the constant change of dictatorial leadership and how that affected the chain of accountability is integral to understanding how something this egregious could have happened.

Flint Water System Under New Management

In December 2012, Michigan Treasury met with EM Kurtz and Flint city officials to talk “water.” They were tasked with deciding if Flint would stay with Detroit for water, or go with Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). Karegnondi was the cheaper of the two options. Although it would take several years for the project to complete the pipeline linking Lake Huron to Flint, Kurtz signed off, as did the elected city council. No mention of the Flint River was made during these proceedings.

In June 2013, (as EM Kurtz was leaving to be replaced with EM Earley) the new water pipeline project broke ground in Flint. Genesee county officials announced KWA would be best for Flint. They offered assurance that once the system was up and running, it would balance out the city’s increasingly high water rates.

In June 2013, before leaving the position, EM Kurtz hired an engineering firm to study the feasibility of using the Flint River as an interim source while awaiting completion of the KWA pipeline. The reins of management were turned over to EM Brown.

In March 2014, EM Earley declined an offer from DWSD to continue using water from Detroit while the KWA pipeline continued construction. Earley informed DWSD that Flint intend to utilize water from the Flint River.

In April 2014 the Environmental State Regulators gave approval for the city of Flint to use the Flint River as its main water source. The switch, turning off water from DWSD and moving the city to the Flint River source, was made on April 25, 2014.

Completion of the KWA pipeline is slated for sometime in 2016.

The Flint Water Crisis Was PREVENTABLE

In 2014, following the shift to Flint River water, Flint residents quickly began expressing concerns about the appearance, taste, and smell of the water. Because the river water was not treated, which would have cost $100 per day, the corrosive properties of the water started eroding the old pipes, causing toxic levels of lead to leech into the water being supplied to homes, businesses and schools.

A totally and completely preventable problem – all to save $100 a day.


Actual Poster produced by Governor Snyder's administration. Photo courtesy of AFL-CIO Facebook page..
Actual Poster produced by Governor Snyder’s administration. Photo courtesy of Michigan AFL-CIO Facebook page..

Rachel Maddow and MSNBC Break The Story At The National Level

MSNBC’s’ Rachel Maddow was the first to bring national attention to the water situation in Flint. In an in-depth report, Maddow cites several side effects of lead poisoning. The effects can include loss of hair, skin problems, anemia, kidney problems, and irreversible neurological problems that lead to behavioral troubles. Maddow has since discussed the Flint water crisis numerous times on her show.

The open letter penned by Moore condemns Snyder and holds him responsible for poisoning “ALL” of Flint’s children. Moore and Maddow are not alone in calling out the republican governor. Earlier this week, singer Cher tweeted that the governor should be held responsible for the poisoning of the residents of Flint.

Flint And Genesee County Under State Of Emergency

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit launched a joint investigation in January 2016. The outcome placed Flint and Genesee county under a state of emergency. No charges have been brought against Gov. Snyder at this time.

The Root Points To A Racist System As The Cause Of Flint’s Water Crisis

According to The Root, the Flint water crisis is the fault of a racist system. Flint’s population is 52% African-American. In Flint, 7,000 children have been exposed to toxic drinking water. In addition, homes are without clean water to cook and launder clothes. Grass roots activists and volunteers from Detroit and surrounding communities, are collecting and delivering bottled water to Flint.

Michael Moore Calls for Accountability Over Water

Being stripped of basic needs like clean drinking water causes deplorable living conditions. National media coverage has helped bring the atrocities committed against Flint residents to light. Advocacy for Flint’s children includes Moore’s voice and open letter calling for Gov. Snyder’s arrest.

Featured image courtesy of David Shankbone on Wikimedia Commons available under Attributions 3.0 license.

C. Imani Williams is a human rights and social justice activist. She writes to empower and give voice to those silenced through systematic oppression. Her work has appeared in Between the Lines, Michigan Citizen, Tucson Weekly, Harlem Times, Dope Magazine and various news and popular culture blogs. Follow the unapologetically black political culture critique @ https://twitter.com/Imaniwms and https://www.facebook.com/You-Have-The-Right-540358412796352/?fref=ts