The real tragedy in Flint

Disasters

We’ve all read and heard a lot about the water situation in Flint. We’re hearing most of it from Democrats, who are citing this as an example of the evils of Republican leadership and all sorts of other hyperbole.

Rachel Maddow, among others, has (nauseatingly endlessly) blamed it on Michigan’s emergency financial manager law.

So much noise. So much misinformation. So little time.

If you’d like to know what really happened here, read on, but be warned: it’s long. If you’re the TL;DR type (Too Lazy; Don’t Reach), skip to the last subhead. The conclusions won’t make sense to you, but then maybe you don’t want it to.

The Tragedy’s Roots

For more than 50 years, Flint bought its water – treated and ready to serve – from Detroit. In recent years, Detroit has – like most cities with wholesale water customers, like Saginaw – has raised its rates to reflect the rising costs of maintaining aging systems. Detroit, according to Flint (and most of its other wholesale customers) was really jacking prices up.

Keep in mind that all of Saginaw’s wholesale customers say the same thing at every rate increase, and some – Frankenmuth most recently – have, over the years, threatened to build their own systems or find another source.

In order to be able to control its own water destiny, Flint’s city council and its mayor voted to join the Karegnondi water authority. It’s something they’d been talking about – and tried once before – since the 1960s. They finally got enough municipalities behind them to make the deal work. They announced the deal in 2013, with a target of getting water from Lake Huron through the new system sometime in 2016. Council voted 7-1 on the decision, which was later signed off on by the city’s EFM.

The Kiss-Off

The very next day Detroit’s water and sewer board notified Flint that it was exercising its right to terminate Flint’s 50-year-old contract in one year. Two years before their new source would be completed.

Why did Detroit do this? Because they were pissed off and thought, apparently, it would a nice F-U with which to send off their largest water customer.

Flint, realizing it was high and dry, needed to find an interim water source to keep things going until the new system was up. They hired a consulting firm, which looked at several options. One of them was to continue with Detroit, and there were negotiations over interim rates. The only news report of that process simply says “negotiations broke down.” Which tells me that Detroit wasn’t offering enough K-Y for what they were asking Flint to take when it bent over.

The study concluded that the best bet was to draw from the Flint River.

The Flint River, where the water gets drawn from, isn’t terribly “polluted.” As Michigan rivers go, it’s fairly typical. A little industrial pollution, but a ton of silt and agricultural runoff – it’s draining more than 1,300 square miles, most of it farmland. But it’s water that’s very treatable with modern treatment technology. And it’s always been the backup source.

The final decision to use the Flint River as an interim source rather than Detroit appears to have been made by the EFM (at this time, Darnell Earley. He claims the decision was made by the state; former Mayor Walling says it was made by Earley). Earley note at the time that it would save Flint $12 million over the two years of the contract. Not much of a bargain in hindsight, but nobody had foreknowledge of the screw-up and cover-up to come.

So Flint’s water department is asked to start treating its own water – something it hasn’t done regularly in at least 40 years, if ever. The water guys told the mayor and Council and Earley, “sure, we can do that.”

The First Screw-Up

Apparently, they couldn’t. I’m speculating here: They had little or no experience in treating raw water. I don’t know if they read a book, took a seminar or watched a how-to on YouTube, but either way, they started treating the water as if it were being run through a modern distribution system of plastic and copper pipes.

It’s not. It’s running through a 100-plus-year-old system of cast iron mains and lead service lines.

This is common. It’s what nearly every older city in Michigan has. I have a lead service line in my house – probably in every house I’ve lived in, in fact – but have never shown elevated lead levels, nor have my kids.

And that’s because something interesting happens with lead water lines. The inner surface of the lead pipe builds up a layer of lead oxide — the “lead” that makes “lead crystal” as clear and brilliant as it is. While still toxic itself, it is less prone to leaching. It coats the inside of the pipe and prevents elemental lead from leaching into the water.

But only if the pH balance of the water is just right. If it’s not (and I’ll not go into the chemistry involved except to say pH is an indicator of free ions that can create the galvanic activity), metals will start to corrode.

There are well-documented protocols for corrosion control for municipal water systems. They were not followed in this case – from what I can see, because the agency charged with monitoring that activity, the Michigan DEQ, simply didn’t require it.

As soon as they started running that water through the system, the free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions started eating the lead oxide from the lead service lines, and causing the iron mains to rust. That’s why you see so many pictures of brown water from Flint – it’s rust from the iron service. When it leaves the tower, it’s perfectly clear (and perfectly, safely drinkable). It’s just either too acid or too alkaline.

The Cover-Up

Evidence suggests the DEQ did not check to see if a corrosion control program was in place. When people started complaining, the DEQ shrugged. Maybe somebody knew they had screwed up. Maybe nobody did, although the chain of evidence seems to suggest they were just too arrogant to pay attention to anyone who had anything to say about it. This isn’t surprising, coming from an agency whose director has a degree in food science, an MBA in finance and spent the previous few years of his career managing a entrepreneurship incubator. That’s what happens when you give important cabinet-level jobs to people who help you politically … but that’s another story.

DEQ is responsible for overseeing testing of water supplies. And when Flint tested its water, DEQ staff made Flint fudge the results. They threw out samples that had high lead levels.

And, I’m going to guess, told the Governor and his staff, all along, that everything was fine, this was much ado about nothing: “Look, Mr. Governor, Flint’s testing says the water’s fine.” The US EPA, charged with oversight of the whole shooting match, also dropped the ball.

The Recap

  1. Flint’s elected leadership makes what is actually a solid, sound decision that will, in the long run, save the city millions of dollars and give it more control over its destiny – and, because it positions Flint as a wholesale supplier of water, possibly enhance revenues for them.
  2. Detroit Water Board decides to be spoiled and pissy and leaves Flint with no good options for the two years before its pipeline is built.
  3. Flint’s leadership and GOP-appointed EFM make a well-deliberated decision to draw water from the Flint River.
  4. Flint’s water staff – the people in Flint who are the experts on this sort of thing – apparently aren’t up to the task. And the people they count on to oversee and help them …
  5. The Michigan DEQ, is completely asleep at the switch. And once they discover their mistake, they lie about it and ask Flint to help them lie.
  6. US EPA is aware of a problem, but apparently trusted the kids playing in the DEQ sandbox to fix things.

Personally, I think Detroit needs to be held accountable for starting the snowball down the hill. And I think there are people in the DEQ who should be prosecuted for reckless endangerment and fraud.

The Governor? His accountability lies in the creation of the corporate culture that allowed DEQ’s hubris to let it happen.

The Detroit Water Board members, I’m guessing, aren’t Republicans. The Flint water department staff who were in over their heads weren’t Republicans. The DEQ staff is probably a mix.

The Even Larger Tragedy

This is a huge public health disaster. And we Americans like our big, bad disasters in black and white. We want to blame it on one bad guy and reward one good guy. We’re not real good at nuance and chains of events … especially if they clash with our political beliefs.

Every Democrat in the country is calling for Gov. Snyder’s head and blaming it purely on the Republican governor and his emergency financial manager law. And not only are they ignoring the guys in the black hats who actually caused the problem, they’re really ignoring the victims. Worse, they’re using them as a tool to gain a political advantage. And that’s even larger tragedy.

That’s not what Flint’s children need right now. People need to focus on them, and not on their hatred of all things Republican.

Update 1/19/2016

This has been updated to reflect new information. And let me be very clear: I am not paid to be an investigative reporter, and this is not a news outlet. This is strictly my opinion, and it is based on news accounts. Some facts are not known, in large part because of the lack of transparency in the office of a governor who promised to be transparent. And as I learn new facts that contradict information I had in here, I will so note them. 

None of this changes my overall point. There is a big difference between blame and accountability — and which you use will have a lot to say about the results you get in the end. Blame and outrage will help Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and it will help Michael Moore sell his next film. But the people of Flint can’t drink blame, and they can’t bathe their kids in outrage. We know exactly what the problem is. Let’s get the best people to work on fixing it. After that, we can start the floggings. And there are people here who should be flogged. 

Advertisements

209 thoughts on “The real tragedy in Flint

  1. Good post. I could be mistaken here but hasn’t Flint, and for that matter Detroit been under Democratic leadership for the last 100 years or something? I don’t get how any of this could be blamed on Governor Snyder but I guess it’s true what you say, people always want to find a villain and the media will always gravitate to Republicans for that. Meanwhile, as you say, the children continue to suffer.

    • Flint and Detroit have been under Democratic administrations for many years. And it’s become part of the Republican narrative, particularly in the Michigan legislature, that the aging infrastructure of our cities, like every other problem they have, is the fault of policy decisions by Democratic local officials.

      This narrative, of course, ignores Lansing’s own role in urban decline, which mostly have to do with the cities’ ability to raise revenue. That in itself is a very long story (our dependence on an antiquated property tax system, our extension of every “urban” field-leveler to the suburbs, and the Michigan legislature’s view of municipal revenue sharing as its own piggy bank; links below).

      The power in Lansing right now rests with a party whose members are largely elected from suburban and rural districts. Many of them have the “I got out” or “my family got out” of the city mentality. “Everything’s booming in my _____ township neighborhood; why can’t the cities get their acts together?” This helps them wash their hands of the wholesale abandonment of urban centers and makes it easy, if not quite accurate or honest, to blame everything on Democratic leadership.

      As are most problems, those faced by cities are for more complex than the “simple” answer. The vapid narrative of Democratic leadership being the sole cause of the decline of Michigan cities is one of the most egregious examples.



      • That’s good info, I appreciate the details as it sounds like you are close to the situation and have on the ground knowledge.

        Same thing to an extent here in CA which has had a one party legislature (Democrat) for years. They are plenty of things to blame them for but there are many complexities too that make it difficult for the good guy/bad guy narrative to be accurate. As usual, the people that can afford it least, suffer the most from this toxicity.

      • Republican leaders have underfunded cities by failing to meet revenue sharing requirements for nearly two decades. This history can’t be overlooked. That and the role of the auto industry who over built infrastructure to serve their needs without investing in sustainability for the city as they divested. Deems in the city failed to hold the auto industry accountable to long term costs… like most of elected officials, chasing after jobs and looking the other way about systems impacts and long term planning. We ALL messed up terribly. Horribly. But Snyder is a fool, and a monster. A fool for failing to understand the whole truth and scope of the issue. A monster for continuing to lie and failing to provide transparency.

      • Republican or Democrat so what. The decision was hastily made. The Governor should of steped up and put money to speed along the waterway to Huron. Conversation about contracts are on going.. Isn’t Gov Snyder a BUSNIESS MAN. Who the hell are the pll who managing these decision anyway. Channel 7 exposed Flints lack of resources “water” to the people. Did Gov Snyder think the people could keep buying $$$$$$$ water for their family needs ASK A HOMEMKER HOW MUCH WATER IS NEEDED TO RUN A FAMILY FULLTIME……

      • In March of 2013 Governor Snyder appointed an Emergency Manager in Detroit. This is when the decision was made to jack up the rates for Flint. The EM had all of the decision making ability there.

        Flint has been under the control of an Emergency Manager since 2011.

        I realize this doesn’t change the mindset of someone wanting to blame Flint for this … but it should.

      • http://www.dwsd.org/downloads_n/about_dwsd/bowc/presentations/2014_public_hearing_booklet.pdf

        “FY 2013-14 Proposed Rates Represent Lowest Increase in Years”

        “The proposed water and sewer rates are both designed to produce a four percent increase in revenues compared to the existing rates and charges. These increases are the 2nd lowest experienced by DWSD since the turn of the century.”

        — Feb. 27, 2013.

        This comes after a lower rate increase in the previous fiscal year.

        So, Detroit’s water rates for 2013-2014 were set before the EFM took place. And by the time the next year’s rates were set, Detroit had already given Flint its termination notice.

        But there’s that word again.

      • Interesting perspective in this article and good points Tricia. I must say Greg it’s a bit too flip to say EMF played no role. The egregiousness of this is not how it happened or even that it happened but that, once the mistakes were made and known, they were not addresses properly. For over a year we as a state have known that water in flint is unsafe. If now it merits National Guard intervention and emergency status, so too did it then. That is where the governor is in error.

      • Why is the Republican that are running for president are said anything about the FlintMichigan.Mmmm!!& Why the Report are not answer the questions to the Republican that running for president about Flint Michigan! WoW..

      • Oh please Tricia with all due respect. Really it’s on Lansing? Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Saginaw…what do they all have in common? Dem Leadership. It’s Lansing? Uh, really? It wasn’t a GOP Mayor of Detroit who told a certain group of people to get north of 8 Mile.

        Sure, I’ll give you some of this is on Lansing. But to say it’s just the GOP narrative? I am not sure where you’ve been the past 40 years of following those 4 cities…but… I see these cities that lay in ruins today at the feet of the last 40 years of Dem leadership. When does one take responsibility for one’s own actions/and voting record?

      • Well said. Michigan’s legislature is controlled by right-wingers from rural and suburban western Michigan. Whatever may or may not have happened 100 years ago, for 50 years ago or even 20 years ago is pretty much irrelevant. The State of Michigan has been repeatedly reducing revenue sharing to cities in the interest of paying for state government (and, by the way, not doing a great job of THAT). These are people who have little concept of governing large cities, and that basic governmental services cost money and that money comes from taxes. Like it or not, we need tax revenue to pay for repairing a crumbling infrastructure that’s been ignored for several decades here in Michigan, but the “tax-cut” drum being beaten by people who don’t know how to govern is largely what got us to this point. Flint and its sister to the north, Saginaw, have been reviled by these western Michigan right wingers to the point of implosion. We’re now seeing just the beginning of the “penny wise, pound foolish” mentality bearing fruit…and the fruit is rotten.

      • Whereas I do appreciate the information you’ve provided, I believe there is too much speculation on your part, which dismisses the Governor of any wrong doing. Shit rolls downhill. That man knew of the problem much sooner than he’s been letting on. He is the one who appointed Earley. The Governors lack of transparency speaks VOLUMES about his knowledge of this crisis. As far as Democrats using this situation to “score political points”, are you naive enough to believe that if the rolls were reversed, the Republican’s wouldn’t be doing the same? They have a LONG HISTORY of “crying foul”, but can’t be bothered to accept responsibility for problems they cause. If the Governor had an iota remorse for this situation, he’d resign.

    • What I blame the governor for is lying saying he didn’t know about the water problem until recently. Everyone else seem to know about it. The governor has the power “to save Flint” so make him continue to follow through. We need to save everyone in Flint.

      • He knew early on that people were complaining about the water. I believe (and will, until a renewed interest in “transparency” proves otherwise) that all along, he asked his “experts” in DEQ if anything was wrong. And they said, “No, boss, everything’s fine.”

        The man is horribly naïve, politically speaking, and he got duped here by sycophantic, incompetent boobs. Which doesn’t excuse him from accountability. It makes him a fool, not a monster.

      • The Governor is “lying”?? Based on what? You have no first hand knowledge of that. You are just drinking the kook aid provided by the establishment liberal left.

      • Maybe he was taking a page from Obama’s playbook when he claimed he learns about most situations from the news media.

      • Over simplified and ignorant response. Do you hold the same simplistic view of Obama? How many times has the man holding the highest office in the land declare he knew nothing on sooo many crucial issues? All he knows is what he reads in the paper, along with the rest of us, yet he gets a pass for that. Utterly ridiculous. How about we wait to hear the facts about what Snyder knew before we kick him out of office? My God, using this logic, Obama should have been out before the end of his first term.

      • Funny how everyone thinks they have a clue and are quick to point the finger when they have no clue.get your facts before you start blaming people.

      • The City of Detroit Water Department has been politically corrupted and mismanaged for a long time. Not that long ago it came to light that it wasn’t even collecting overdue water bills to the tune of millions of dollars over years and including tens of thousands of customers. This is a perfect storm of governmental bureaucratic incompetence — problems created by Democrat authorities trying to be solved by Republican authorities. So much for relying on The State for desirable outcomes.

      • I wasn’t gonna bother commenting because I finally got the impression that the author/Greg sorta guesses but also assume he’s an expert on what is happening here. I agree with u toby. Greg doesn’t want to learn anything new from even those of us living here and that have more details then he…. on this. I was waiting to hear where he actually read thru what emails were released… and the others that us locals have… and waited & waited. Had he actually had this knowledge we would be reading at least one comment: “wow, I now realize how the EM’s actually were run here in Flint & Detroit AND see that the God authorizing their every decision is Snyder. Moreover… He’d know that Snyder ‘was aware’ NOT in Sept 2015 as he told the press. Proof is there he had his staff at a victim’s home months ahead of that. My dam pc wont type properly… probably gotta a hack/virus with this site. The DEQ is in Snyder’s control.gtg

      • I did read through the emails. It only reinforces my central conclusion: the state government failed, the governor is accountable, but it is a long a complicated chain of events that led us here.

      • The damage was already done to the pipes even if they had switched back in Mar. of 2015. The lead in the pipes had been compromised. Instead of everyone playing the blame game, lets figure out what we have to do for these people to keep their households healthy.Clearly the whole infrastructure has to be replaced now. And everyone should be tested for lead poisoning. The politicians and people need to stop pointing fingers and start helping these poor people ! For God’s sake it has been a year ago when I saw the water in many glasses brown and frustrated citizens…….. NO ONE listened . . . . . . . . .

    • One thing this narrative leaves out is the fact that every other part of the county was able to negotiate with Detroit to continue to receive water from Detroit until the KWA pipeline was finished.. The emergency manager (to save money, as he was charged to do) decided the cost was too high and therefore the city could use the river.

    • No, flint was under a city mngr appointed by Snyder. When I called the governors office to get water for seniors, I was told he wasn’t running for office again because of term limitations and the Governor had already sent $1m to flint. That would be plenty, so don’t expect anything else. That is the moment this democrat who has been poisoned over the last year to
      Call for the Gov to spend some time in the REALLY BIG HOUSE!

    • If Snyder should resign, than so should Obama for his EPA’s negligence.

      Funny how the media and the Democrats always avoid their own guys having to take responsibility.

      Snyder should say “I was as outraged as anyone else when I read about this in the newspaper!” and be done with it

    • It is true that Detroit has been under a Democratic leadership for the past 100 years but the fact remains. The State has been under the auspicious of a Republican Governor during this crisis. The Buck has to eventually end with the Governor. I do believe that there is a lot of blame to go around, however, it has to end somewhere.

    • Well now, I’m just guessing that the author of this article is a Republican. So that needs to be taken into consideration regarding the partisan opinion being expressed here.

      • Passing the buck, I guess that will never change. The fact that it was known by the gov. and he still let it flow. People being poisoned should be first and foremost. Doesn’t matter republican or democrat, these people are sick and they let it happen, did absolutely nothing to keep these people safe. The knowledge of the poisoned water was there and they did nothing. I bet he didn’t drink the water when he found out, but he let the people, he said nothing about it. Talk about a cover-up. The people who are sick are the ones paying the price, while the gov. sits back and tries to pass the buck, kinda like all the ones saying it’s democrats, no it’s republicans. The fact remains this man who is gov. right now let it slide and didn’t care about the repercussions of his actions of keeping his mouth shut. Not a good person period. The people of this town are the ones suffering because of his neglect and lack of caring about them.

    • I think I’m being attributed comments I didn’t make. It’s confusing though the way things are layed out. I made the first comment, Greg replied to mine and so on and so forth.

      My original thought was that Dems deserved far more blame than the Governor but Greg offered up many complexities that need to be considered and I agree now that it is not a good guy/bad guy or one party thing.

      I agree too that there should be more “fixing” and less “blaming”. And I definitely think anyone running for president should be booted out of the race for implying, as one did recently, that people don’t really care about the atrocities going on because it’s not white people who are getting poisoned.

    • They know what Greg isn’t telling them because he’s far from impartial. He knows what he wants to say to portray people adversely affected by this screw up as victims of their own choices – such as, in his estimation, not being Republican. They might be but he doesn’t really know, he just expects them to be Democrats. It fits his narrative.

      • I’m not a Republican. In my opinion — which you’d understand if you read the whole piece and didn’t stop after I dare to criticize Democrats, especially St. Rachel — the people adversely affected by this were victims of a series of decisions, some good, some bad, some bad only in hindsight — as well as outright incompetence and deception on the part of a government agency. In other words, it’s complex … but some of us can’t handle anything that’s not black and white. Or red and blue, if you wish. Hence your comments, which are about a 12-hour flight from the point.

  2. As a former sailor I look to the Navy’s approach to situations involving culpability for things gone wrong. They don’t blame the engine room, the galley or the helmsman when the ship goes aground. Ultimate responsibility rests with the captain. Harsh sometimes but effective in preventing passing blame downhill.

    • But here you have two captains (flint and detroit) and an admiral (lansing) … and the ships are soviet, with a political officer who can overrule the captain (emergency management). In the end, athough detroit kicked it off, it was flints water dept. That not only screwed up, but then tried to cover it up.

  3. “So much noise. So much misinformation. So little time.” So true. Unfortunately here in America, every tragedy is an instant opportunity to advance one’s cause – just add Flint water and stir (for best results use a cement mixer). Both parties salivate at the chance to point a finger at the other and like a good magician provide the perfect misdirection to point away from a solution and instead advance their own red or blue agenda. It’s just a matter of which side of the ledger gets the points. Was this Detroit’s fault? Yes. That’s the genesis. The DWSD has been the epitome of corruption since a Federal Judge was given a lifetime appointment to oversee it and it’s bloated budget is the arguably the single most important reason that Kwame set his sights on the Mayor’s office. It was the proverbial cash cow and he milked it dry like the convict he is. But the same noise you hear mostly from the blues now about Flint water is the same hyperbole you will hear from the reds whenever you mention Detroit and its downfall. Because division sells, and tragedy sells agendas and nothing gets solved except one side gets to say ‘I told you so’ while the other side waits for the next tragedy to divert attention from this one and the victims get ‘thoughts and prayers’. I heard someone say this yesterday… “I remember when GM used to build cars in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico.” Even Alanis Morissette could agree that is ironic. Flint has always been punished for birthing the UAW and that continues today. It is a poor, decaying, dangerous city like its big brother to the south. Who’s fault is that? Take your pick but neither one will truly help the residents that have to live in either place.

  4. Typical Democrat/Liberals. Everything is fine until they get caught, then it’s the “evil” Republicans they blame for their woes.
    Btw: it isn’t just the children suffering from bad water. It’s men and women and children. Hate when people say our children suffer or our women and children suffer when actually everyone suffers!

    • Lead poisoning is generally far less damaging to adults than it is to children, Brian, but you make an excellent point. The problem affects everyone. And inasmuch as someone is going to have to pay to fix it, it will affect everyone in the state.

  5. I think that the hyperbole is all yours. I’ve re-watched and re-read all the coverage on this issue, and I can’t see how you could defend your position about Democrats making it a partisan issue. Snyder is responsible not because he is a Republican, but because of the decisions he made.
    Please show me one real example of how Rachel Maddow or Michael Moore or anyone else made this about his political affiliation versus his actions.
    Everyone in Flint, in Michigan, and in the U.S.A. has a legitimate reason to call for justice, regardless of political parties.
    Finally, your article has far too many “I’m guessing” statements for me to trust your research. It is you who made this about political parties, and no one else.

    • My issue is not with the governor’s accountability for the whole scope of the disaster, especially relative to the huge role the DEQ played in this.

      But the only decision he made that “caused” any of this was his appointment of an unqualified (and, most likely, a philosophically unsuitable) DEQ director.

      Ms. Maddow has consistently blamed this on the EFM law, which has nothing to do with it. This would have happened with our without an EFM in either Flint or Detroit. Mr. Moore is saying this was deliberate and intentional … which requires a lot more guessing than I’ve done.

      Yes, my piece does have a lot of speculation. That’s because “who knew what when” has been hidden because the governor’s office is exempt from FOIA. Having been on the inside of municipal management, and having dealt with this state administration, I think my guesses are a little better educated than Mr. Moore’s.

      The timeline is pretty well established, though, if you don’t “trust” my research.

      Indeed, we should all call for justice. But the people of Flint can’t drink justice. The first thing we need to do is fix the damn problem … and worry about whose “fault” it is later.

      But then, it all depends on what our goals really are, doesn’t it?

      • I’m not sure if I would rely on Michael Moore to be an unbiased observer in this situation, or to rely on his logic. He’s a Flint native with an axe to grind-and I am not of the opinion that a few axes don’t need to be ground here. However, when you read his statement about arresting Snyder, it’s clear that he’s a little shaky on the science aspect of his announcement. The errors might appear to be trivial, but if you are calling for the arrest of the highest elected official in the state, you need to get ALL of your facts in order,

      • Bill, you obviously haven’t read the whole post if you think this is a conservative “bias” page. I’ve not allowed most of your comments not because of what they say, but because they’re just too fleeping long. If you’ve got that much to say, start your own blog.

  6. Dear Greg,
    As a Flint resident, I think you for this. Michael Moore is worse then making this a political issue- he is making it a race issue. Never mind that the first and possibly the worst case publicized is a white family. Never mind that the city is about a 50/50 mix of white and black. Nevermind that the officials running our city won their spots when only 40% of the population bothered to vote. You know, when they voted for a convicted murderer, a known public nuisance, and two board members who had managed their own finances so badly that they had to declare bankruptcy.
    http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/11/flint_voters_elect_two_convict.html
    The only way that this is a race issue is if we make it a HUMAN RACE issue.
    Here’s what I’ve written. Along with 5 ways that concerned people can help, other than just by posting a snarky meme on Facebook.
    http://miglutenfreegal.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-crisis-in-flint-from-eyes-of-citizen.html

  7. This has been extremely well-researched and well-written. Thank you, Greg, for considering the entire terrible situation which Flint residents are facing. Too many people are simply jumping to erroneous conclusions while trying to reinforce misinformed viewpoints.

  8. You lost credibility when you said “TL;DR type (Too Lazy; Don’t Reach)…”
    LOL.
    Have you ever used Google? It means “too long; didn’t read.”
    Quality journalism here. No sources and made up acronyms. Great job!!!

    • Don’t forget the “I’m assuming” and “just guessing” the author did a lot of here. He said, Detroit canceled their contract to provide water yet Flint had no problem connecting back to it now. Detroit was not forced to let them reconnect. Detroit raised there rates to all their customers because the city of Detroit itself was not paying there water bills so to stay solvent they up charged the customers they supplied to.

      • Flint reconnected now because the state forced the reconnection. Yes, Detroit raised rates to all its wholesale customers. But let’s read between the lines, shall we? Rather than negotiate a two-year extension of a 50-year contract until Flint moved to KWA, Detroit terminated the contract. Yes, Flint could still buy water from DWSD in the interim — but at what’s been publicly noted as a $12-million premium over the two or three years of the interim period.

        If you’re interested in fairness, you negotiate an interim rate before you terminate the contract. If you want to put your customer (remember, Flint’s a “customer” here) over a barrel, you don’t.

        But there’s a lot of assuming and guessing going on everywhere — largely because of the lack of transparency from the governor’s office.

      • At least he calls out his assumptions and guesses. Too many “professional” journalists will write everything as if it is established fact and not note their own guesses and assumptions.

  9. I think the point with Emergency Manager law is not so much that the switch happened, or even that they failed to treat the water with corrosion control. The point is that the people of Flint, private researchers, local pediatricians etc were screaming about this for months and nobody listened. Per Snyder’s chief of staff, we were “blowing them off.” In theory, in an elected, local government, constituents are listened to at least somewhat or the politicians can be recalled or voted out. And, the only thing I can figure where Republicans and Democrats come in is that I thought Republicans were for local, small, elected control. That’s why I can’t believe EFM law came from a Republican. The other thing is the financial pressures… I can’t think of any other reason they would not treat the water other than money. Was this financial pressure from the higher ups, or was it incompetence? And why weren’t these people listened to for so long? Would this happen at all in a more affluent community?

  10. While I believe the “truth” lies somewhere between your essay and the information being circulated by reporters and political pundits, I am most exasperated with the “secrecy wall” that Mr. Snyder and his party have created. His promise to “bring transparency” to government didn’t happen; in fact, the actions to “railroad” bills that ignore the will of Michigan citizens, the use of appropriations to block citizen rebuke, the passing of “unread” bills in the late hours of legislative sessions lead me to conclude there is a great effort by the Snyder administration to serve its “high dollar” supporters at the expense of Michigan citizens. Flint water, Detroit schools, so called “Right-to-Work” legislation, the Straits pipeline, and dysfunction within the party are simply examples of government controlled, not by the elected officials, but by their benefactors. Michigan citizens will pay for the “bankrupt democracy” brought on by ALEC inspired legislation, designed to favor business and industry at the expense of the general citizenry. “Moderate government” may be the best long-term answer for all of us. For now we need to endorse, demand “action;” the current rhetoric is actually counterproductive.

  11. Your entire argument is built on the idea that a) the state receiver appointed to oversee the city (and empowered to fire public officials, shred contracts, and even erase political boundaries) had no power or responsibility for actions taken under his direction, b) when complaints started being made public, that neither the DEQ’s leadership nor the emergency manager had resources at their disposal to get outside agencies to test the water, and c) that people in executive positions should never question promises made by people under their direction.

    By the way, here’s a letter that Darnell Easley sent the Detroit water board about purchasing water from them after the contract terminated (http://www.aclumich.org/sites/default/files/Flint%20EM%20Darnell%20Early's%20Letter%20to%20DWSD.pdf). The lead paragraph tells us that Earley was indeed involved in selecting the source of Flint’s water and that Flint wasn’t forced by Detroit to gets its water locally.

    • Reconnecting with Detroit was always an option. At a cost. The letter from Earley was confirming that, no, we will not use Detroit as our temporary supplier because it will cost us an additional $12 million over two to three years. The contract had already been terminated by Detroit.

      People in executive positions SHOULD question their charges. They also SHOULD make appointments based on competency, not political favoritism.

      I’m not absolving anyone of accountability here; I’ve said explicitly that the governor is accountable for DEQ’s actions. My greater point is that accusations over who poked a hole in the bottom of the boat — especially when they’re largely partisan in nature — don’t address the fact that we need to fix the hole in the boat. Now. The great mass of people commenting on this are more interested in scoring political points than they are in helping the people of Flint.

  12. This is a good article, but this bit here is entirely false and should be corrected:

    “The inner surface of the lead pipe builds up a layer of lead oxide. It’s a tough, white material that is nontoxic”

    First, it’s not tough, it’s a thin layer of tarnish. Second, it’s not white, it’s usually yellow or orange depending upon whether it’s the tetragonal form or the orthorhombic form. Third, and most importantly, it is *definitely* not nontoxic. Here’s an MSDS for it:

    http://datasheets.scbt.com/sc-211727.pdf

    Consumption of lead oxide will mess you up just the way elemental lead will.

    • Brian wrote This is a good article, but this bit here is entirely false and should be corrected:

      “The inner surface of the lead pipe builds up a layer of lead oxide. It’s a tough, white material that is nontoxic”

      The most common coating on lead is a form of its carbonate. This usually occurs at the factory or whether the article of lead was manufactured and first exposed to air. The greyish white color the carbonate imparts is what most people think of when the think of lead. Anyone who has actually worked with lead (I used to smelt it) or has lifted the hood of a car and seen the battery posts can attest to this. The common coating on lead is durable and is a form of passivation. I don’t believe that true chemistry behind this sorry story has been published yet.

  13. Greatly appreciate the article and the time line. Thank you for persistently reiterating that we need to FIX THE PROBLEM and worry about the politics later. Would appreciate it if you could provide sources for the facts in the time line. I’ve been desperate for such facts. I was born and raised in Michigan. I live and worked in Flint 1990 – 1998. My husband and I both thought of it as an unpolished gem. You would have to live there to understand the potential we saw and still see when we travel through.

    • I strongly object to your conclusions here. The idea that “playing politics” is somehow frivolous is wrongheaded, and is a notion that is always put forth by politicians and their supporters in their own defense. This crisis has its genesis in politics…the politics that starved Flint’s budget, the politics that placed cost-savings as a high priority, and the politics that put the people in place who caused and presided over this disaster. Politics is also the only means that the people of Flint and the citizens of Michigan have to collectively address the problem. To “not play politics” means to sit back and leave things to the people who presided over the disaster in the first place.

      I run a business. Let’s say I found out that an entire department had been embezzling money and ruining my client relationships. Who does it serve if I say “Let’s not worry about accountability or blame…first lets fix the problem”? It doesn’t serve me or my interests as a business owner. It serves the interest of the corrupt employees. No, my *first* act toward fixing the problem is to fire the dishonest and/or incompetent workers, as fixing the problem requires that I immediately replace them.

      And the idea that people criticizing Rick Snyder, or what Hillary Clinton says in debates is the REAL problem is pretty outrageous when we’re talking about brain-damaged children, 10 possible deaths, and generations of health issues. How can you tell someone whose child has been brain-damaged by poisoned water and tell them that the “real” tragedy is that someone somewhere made a political point about it. Sorry, but to anyone with the smallest sense of proportion the “real” tragedy is the lead in the water and the human cost.

  14. Why is it being reported that this could have been avoided at the cost of $100.00 per day? That’s chump change for a big city like Flint! If we have Republican appointed city manager, a Republican appointed DEQ exec, tell me why this isn’t a Republican issue? We have a governor that ran on the premise of balancing the budget by taxing the retired and as soon as the new year comes around he realizes “uh oh, we don’t have money for roads”. Then we have three of his buddies get giant raises who also clearly cannot do their job because the state somehow just found a half a billion dollars they didn’t know they had. Please continue to tell all of us why this isn’t a Republican issue!?!?!

    • Well, first, the Republican-appointed EFM is actually a Democrat, for what it’s worth, as is, I would guess, most of the water department employees in Flint. As well as most of the Detroit water commissioners.

    • It wasn’t “avoided” to save cost. It simply wasn’t done. Apparently, Flint’s water people didn’t know it had to be. DEQ, which is supposed to know, didn’t make them do it, and then lied when EPA told them they needed one.

      Please don’t take my post as a suggestion that I think everything the Republicans in general and Gov. Snyder in particular have done has been good. I don’t.

    • Yes, studies have indicated that the pH level of the water could have been adjusted for $100 a day to avoid the problem. Do you really believe someone made the decision to take this risk in order to save another $100 a day? I doubt it. More likely, some low level scientist at DEQ ran the study, screwed up, and management made the mistake of trusting the staff and rubber stamped it. While the head of DEQ is an appointment of the governor, DEQ employment is not based on or limited to a governor’s term. I would guess that both Democrats and Republicans are represented on the DEQ staff. This was tragic incompetence, not a partisan decision.

  15. Mr Branchs’ comments are 100% correct.The Flint WTP has been on standby for 50 yrs . Flint was required to maintain their WTP in working order as a back up in case the DWSD system failed.They were required to start up the plant at entervales to demonstrate it could deliver treated h2o. The reason Mr Syder is being blamed is so that Flint can get you and I to pay for their mistakes and fix their whole system. Looks like they won.Hard to guess who’s pocket the money will end up in.

  16. What a strange post. Seems to be equating republican bashing with poisoning kids in Flint.

    The post does correctly identify failings in the MDEQ for causing the tragedy. And does call out Snyder for appointing an unqualified lackey to head the MDEQ who then failed to listen to MDEQ scientists and engineers because their statements ran counter to his political agenda. This is the real story. We can’t somehow make ourselves feel better about supporting Snyder by pretending that Democrats in Detroit somehow caused the problem. They didn’t. Snyder has lost my support.

    • Well, that’s an interesting, if creative interpretation. Especially considering that I’m hardly a Snyder supporter.

      DEQ’s failures are a huge part of the story. But if we’re going to ignore the fact that Detroit cut Flint off either out of spite or in order to put them over a barrel to better screw them for the interim ($12 million more for two years?), then who’s pretending?

  17. As a recently retired licensed and certified WT-3 water and wastewater operator …
    Someone needs to be looking for a job elsewhere….
    No water treatment operator that is involved in this should have a job…..
    The 10 State Standards are in effect yet today….
    Heads should roll.

  18. The only thing I’m leaving here is about the contract with Detroit Water. I was a contractor for the Flint Water Pollution Control Center — and while I never directly worked with the contract I knew a bit about it :
    The 50 year contract was nearly up. The City council (along with the EFM) voted on moving towards the Karegnondi water authority (CWA) with many of the other municipalities in the area. It made sense to go that direction in the long term — it was just going to take a few years to build the system. When the contract was up, Flint was given a few options — one of them was to continue on a bridge contract while their connection to the CWA was being made. This option was considered to be the best by the city council, but was also the most costly (again, the reason why they were looking at switching to the CWA). This rate was in line with the cost of inflation (about 4%), but was much higher than locally sourcing the water. The EFM decided on his own accord, going against the council vote, to switch to the locally sourced water and not extend the contract.

    The rest of your account is pretty much accurate. I don’t think the DSWD was out of their realm in the cost of inflation increase (but their much larger wholesale cost increases about 4 years earlier were something that put much of this into motion).

    The other thing to note is that GM publicly stated that they were unable to use the locally sourced water in EARLY 2015. They switched back to Detroit after they publicized that their machinery was having difficulties because of the quality of the water. They brought this to the attention of many organizations, including the city and DEQ before many of the DEQ tests were even done (and thrown out).

    I really wish that MLIVE would keep articles online longer than a year. I have much of this documented — most of it offline now.

    • The key sentence in what you’ve said is, “The EFM decided on his own accord, going against the council vote, to switch to the locally sourced water and not extend the contract.” I’ve not seen that on any of the timelines or news reports. But that’s what we get for the gradual decline of our local news outlets.

      • if would had researched… The council ‘remained silent’ .. Its too confusing to explain since ppl are denying their full actions

  19. All finger pointing and hyperbole aside… and not having an MBA… $6 million per year over a short term seems a small price to pay for a basal necessity that a municipality the size of Flint requires… especially in hindsight ! Too, it was pointed out that only 40% of Flint residents voted in the last municipal election… ! There are at least two tragedies that have befallen Flint ! Poisoned bodies and minds…

  20. So no mention of the gag order silencing anti-gov’t protests about this? Nice.
    And the backscratching that got the unqualified guy in charge as the governor’s pet just gets a handwave? Equally foolish.
    But the basic problem here is that the EFM signed off on a plan without getting the current deal’s continuation for 2 more years in writing. So, he’s incompetent, too. And responsible for these deaths.
    So, even your attempt at being fair to them is wrong. The whole problem is not even appointing unqualified people as favours. And it’s not even the lying or the mismanagement in the initial situation. It’s the fact that they’d want to benefit a few rich employers at the expense of poisoning everyone else because the rich are all they care about. Well, they deserve every bit of hatred they’ve earned for that. Screw them.

  21. Gov. Snyder ran on being a “nerd” and an astute business man. In any BIG business I’m familiar with the head guy (the CEO) is ultimately responsible for the actions that cause his/her company to fail, especially if he/she hire the bad actors and learn of the acts without taking action. Doesn’t matter what party. People are NOW sick and need whatever care they can get. Will all of us in Michigan share in the cost? Of course, because it has to be done. If it were your kids would you simply walk away? Flint, once a thriving middle class town with good paying jobs is the victim of a SYSTEM that allows big business to pick the bones dry and then leave the carcus to rot while it heads to other places where they can repeat the deed while CEO’s make 400%+ what the workers make. This is definately political…but goes much deeper and to the heart of the problem. As stockholder’s in this “corporation of politics” we have a duty to fire the CEO and anyone else found to have been complicit. More importantly we need to see that the “stockholder’s” damaged by this action be helped NOW. Seems to me like most places where EFM’s were “appointed” have some story to tell. But theb most were poor…so who cares???

  22. Two major critiques:
    1. your timeline ends too soon. Once the governor’s office acknowledged that there was a lead problem, he should have immediately taken dramatic action, and requested federal assistance if necessary, to guarantee that Flint residents had potable water. To what degree has that even happened now? Request for federal aid, yes. Actual meaningful action by Michigan? I haven’t heard of anything.
    2. The blogosphere may well be replete with people who are just passing blame without trying to fix anything, but your naming of The Rachel Maddow Show in that criticism is dishonest in at least 2 ways: a) TRMS was calling out Michigan government before it acknowledged the problem, which was a reasonable method of helping Flint residents (force the government to help them), and b) TRMS consolidated information about how people could help concretely – that’s active assistance. And don’t say that was a sideshow, because as a resident of NY, MaddowBlog was the principle resource that I used to learn more about the problem and find ways to help (for me, that was $ – I can’t bring water 500 miles).

    • Then props to Ms. Maddow. My issue with her on this, as it has been with most of her commentary on Michigan government, has been her consistent mischaracterization of Michigan’s EFM laws (plural).

      • Have you elaborated on mischaracterization elsewhere, or I/n can you do so here? My reading of the text had not led me to observe significant inconsistencies, but that was a while before this and also as I said above, I’m not a Michigander so I might be missing context.
        I’m sure you can see how it might have appeared that you were criticizing TRMS for focusing on the blame game, rather than just for misrepresenting the legal technicalities.

      • Yes, my issue with TRMS is in how she has consistently and inaccurately characterized the Michigan EFM law. Or laws, actually, since they’ve been around for 30 years.

  23. As the saying goes, they knew then, but they did nothing! Your story has too many guesses! Is that rhetorical or you just don’t know all of the facts?

    I am a suburban, Detroit Democrat who drinks the nation’s cleanest and purest water, which is as clean as the bottled water that is mined out of Michigan’s aquifers and stored in plastic bottles for 1000% markup! Yes, I signed 2 petetions, 1 to get to the facts, the other for accountability. I suggest you do the same!

    • We don’t know a lot of facts — particularly about who knew what and when. That’s because the governor who promised complete transparency has not provided it.

      But see, I’m interested in something that takes an even higher priority than getting the facts and holding people accountable. And that’s making sure 100,000 people in Flint have water to drink. Petitions and indignation don’t do that.

  24. Have to say that you do bring up some goods points. I do not however think going back 50 years is the root cause of the current problem. And it certainly is not the solution to the problem now. Most major cities have water treatment plants,so where your going with that I have no idea. The most important thing is to quit playing the blame game,and get it fixed. And a little federal help is ok,but we have the resources ourselves,and we need to quit whining and get it taken care of.

    • Julie: “Where you’re going?” Uh, other cities have maintained their infrastructure and not run their into the ground. That that’s the darn point. Detroit, Flint, Saginaw.. what do they all in common for the past 40+ years of leadership? Now the point is, the solution is: start digging and replacing pipe.

  25. The Writer paints Detroit as mean-spirited and callous in their early termination. But it appears that Detroit simply had another potential buyer of the water, Genesse County. Could someone who has actual knowledge comment on the Detroit/Genesse Co. aspect?

  26. I live in Connecticut and found I am not too lazy and my reach is long. I enjoyed your article, if not the end meaning, in which I concur. Your style reminded me of Mark Steyn. Just enough chuckle to get me through the hard subject. The comments had me wishing I was laboriously texting each and every one who disagreed with you (and me). I’m signing up for regular injections of your blog!

  27. Great article! Send this to Fox News.
    Need to audit the incompetent, expensive Detroit Water and Sewer Company because Metro Detroit pays more for water than anywhere else… THAT’s the real reason for Flint’s water troubles. Ill bet Detroit’s water system implodes big time, within five years (maybe, maybe not). Rates are too high, but ya’ll can’t see that in your numb, wooly, cottoned brained, infant mindset of just don’t ask any questions…

  28. They should have just paid up and kept getting water from Detroit. It is a pittance compared to the costs of healthcare for all these lead-poisoned people. And YES it was the EM’s fault and the DEQ’s fault!!

  29. Why can’t we be concerned with fixing the problem while simultaneously being interested in finding out whose neck to wring? It’s a bit insulting to think that assigning blame comes at the expense of solving the problem. We’re adults! We can do two things at once!

  30. I am curious as to why you left out the EPA’s role in this disaster. According to the Va Tech report, the EPA knew of the lead in the water as of April, 2015.

  31. It’s amazing how far Republicans try to go in order to deflect the well deserved criticism. Your piece is replete with so many factual inaccuracies, that I am actually embarrassed for you. If you did even a shred of research, you would see that it was in fact the Snyder appointed manager who made the final decision. More importantly, as mistakes can happen, it is the fact that Snyder was informed of the issue for months and months, and he made the conscious decision not to do a damn thing about it. That is what is reprehensible. So regardless of whether you are Republican or Democrat, the people of Flint deserve justice and that starts with Snyder.

  32. I think the first of the blame needs to be on the ones who drive Flint into the ground to the point of needing an emergency manager to begin with. Yep, more liberal’s.

  33. Mostly well reasoned out, except you are incorrect on a few points. One is that Flint was already a water wholesaler, meaning they were reselling the water they purchased from Detroit at a profit, and not just to Flint residents. Two you blame the Detroit water department when the contract with Flint had already expired and Flint did not seek to renew it, and DWS did not have to honor a contract that no longer existed, so they gave Flint notice that the contract (a contract no longer in force) would no longer be honored unless they negotiated a new contract. flint failed to do so. Finally you mention that flint decided to switch to the KWA system to save money, but what you fail to mention is that Flint marks up the price of water that they purchased from Detroit by 60%, so if they were looking to save their customers money than do not mark it up so much or not at all.

  34. This is a pretty good read! I’m wondering if the documents used in the research are available to the public, though. Citing your sources and linking to them as per some form of superscript/footnote method would be incredibly convenient and would leave a lot less room for criticism and questioning.

  35. I believe one of the traditions of the inner-tubes is to reference updates that significantly change the story at the top of the original post. Also testing PH is one of the easiest and most basic things to do with any body of water. Any plumber or pool service dude knows the importance of PH on equipment and health. The idea that the water dept. guys couldn’t handle that is strange.

    Management sets the tone on things like this. Snyder needs to be impeached or recalled and some of the state and local water guys as well as the EM need to go to jail.

  36. Let’s see, Detroit’s governor appointed emergency manager should have ordered subsidized water for Detroit’s municipal customers and screwed over Detroit workers and Detroit water customers even more to pay for the labor required to maintain the water system, and also pay off debt held by people who mostly lived outside Detroit and Michigan?

    All so the Republican governor could cut taxes and spending?

    Now the governor is asking Obama for a big government bailout, but Obama can only give money taken from taxpayers outside Michigan up to a limit of $5 million by executive order overreach. Just another outrageous act by Obama piled on the big government bailout of tens of thousands of Michigan automaker jobs to keep automaking alive in Michigan.

  37. Thanks Greg for writing down the chain of events that caused the National Emergency. Yet it would be interesting to have an estimate of the actual amounts of lead the children of Flint did drink. The leaching from old pipes did not start immediately after the switch to Flint river water (in 2014?) because it takes time to dissolve the protective lead oxide. Presumably the children stopped drinking the water when the problem was discovered, which was circa mid-2015. So they drank contaminated water for about one year. Only a few children had elevated lead levels in their blood, and it is not sure it was from the water. I presume they are being treated – chelates seem somewhat effective. In my opinion, politics has nothing to do with the problem, the cause seems a general lack of alertness, of lack of curiosity. No one really investigated the effects of source switch on water quality at the faucet level, where it matters. The passivity of the population is also surprising, in a similar case in Hong Kong, the people forced the municipality to replace lead pipes for plastic in a week. Some families did it by themselves immediately. I don’t hear anything similar from Flint. Are they sleeping or on drugs?

  38. You are missing where state depts tried to discredit the va. Tech scientists and dr. Mona calling attention to the problems with the water and the lead in some of the children in flint. Oftentimes it isnt just the crime but the cover-up. The bucks stops with Gov. Snyder. We need him to step down to regain some public trust and faith in the govt.

  39. I don’t live anywhere near Michigan. I do live in the southwest in a large city and the biggest issue for water is a broken main every few years. I pay an outrageous amount every month for water though. My water bill rises every year. With only two in a house my bill exceeds a hundred dollars a month. When I also had two children my bill was half that. So, though I hate paying that amount if it means keeping safe water I will try not to complain too much. I can’t imagine going through what Flint is. I don’t know if their bills are high like mine, but if not maybe you get what you pay for.

  40. If the Republicans are innocent in the Flint water crisis why did Gov. Rick Snyder just spend 20 minutes saying he is sorry for creating the problem? Update: Snyder just said to the Flint Residents: ‘I Let You Down . . . I’m Sorry and I Will Fix It’

    • Please tell me where it says anywhere in this post that Republicans are innocent.

      I never cease to be amazed at how horribly people can twist things to suit their own narratives.

  41. Politics and money bring out the worst in us.
    Having grown up in Central Michigan and attended college in Detroit in the early 60s, I recall Flint and Saginaw developing challengs back then, as well as Detroit. Could it be that relying on a behemoth industry to provide the cash (through taxes) might have been a mistake? Nothing lasts forever and the auto industry and its peripheral businesses no longer provide that tax revenue and haven’t for decades. Many communitirs, experiencing similar revenue chalkenges, have sought out new industry and embraced same through their economic development departments. Look at the last 30 to 40 years of politics and money in Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, and Detroit and perhaps that history will provide clues to the source of decay in our cities.

  42. I read the original post and many of the replies, but lost track of who was saying what. The most valid points of criticism of the governor are: 1) he appointed an incompetent director of DEM, 2) the emergency managers of Detroit and Flint did not respond to evidence of a failure of the water treatment and delivery, 3) the governor did not investigate when the multiple complaints were being made a year ago, and 4) the response to ameliorate the condition of those in Flint was been excessively slow and unresponsive to the needs of the people there. Relative to the DEM, there would be career merit employees who try to do their jobs regardless of who is governor, but the “corporate tone” is set by the politically appointed management. This includes promotions of lower level management, even if these are career employees. There certainly is a range of philosophies, politics, and work approaches within any government agency. However, the upper management calls the shots, including setting priorities and rewards. The poor response from DEM speaks of stifling technical input of career employees for political reasons. This does happen and the responsibility for this lies directly with the governor who appointed this director and quashed public employee input as part of his union busting efforts.

    I recognize there are places where the Democrats also fell down, but the most proximate cause of this tragedy lies with the governor’s actions and inactions.

  43. I’m waiting for a Congressional Committee to be approved by the Republican led House in Washington, that would show true non-partisanship. If people want to really believe there is shared responsibility and get to the bottom of the matter, Federal Congressional action is needed and the only fully investigative authority. Congress does it all the time, but I’m not holding my breath because the partisanship in government prevails.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s