A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an “anti-everything group.” Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a “political football.” And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as “data,” in quotes.
That view of how the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder initially dealt with the water crisis in the poverty-stricken, black-majority city of Flint emerged from 274 pages of emails, made public by the governor on Wednesday.
The correspondence records mounting complaints by the public and elected officials, as well as growing irritation by state officials over the reluctance to accept their assurances.
It was not until late in 2015, after months of complaints, that state officials finally conceded what critics had been contending: that Flint was in the midst of a major public health emergency, as tap water pouring into families’ homes contained enough lead to show up in the blood of dozens of people in the city. Even small amounts of lead could cause lasting health and developmental problems in children.
And the email records that Snyder has released are a redacted mess.
The emails were released late in the day, after Mr. Snyder’s State of the State address Tuesday night in which he profusely apologized to the residents of Flint and promised to help remedy the problem and get to the bottom of how it occurred. The Michigan House on Wednesday approved $28 million requested by the governor to assist the city.
Though Mr. Snyder issued the emails as part of an effort to reveal the administration’s transparency on the matter, the documents provide a glimpse of state leaders who were at times dismissive of the concerns of residents, seemed eager to place responsibility with local government and, even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it.
The messages show that from the moment Flint decided to draw its water from a new source, the Flint River, officials were discounting concerns about its quality and celebrating a change meant to save the cash-starved city millions of dollars. From 2011 to 2015, Flint was in state receivership, its finances controlled by a succession of four emergency managers appointed by Mr. Snyder’s administration.
That upbeat mood lasted for months, even as residents began complaining about the new water’s foul odor, odd color and strange health effects, and began showing up at events with “jugs of brownish water.”
It's amazing what happens when you take control of government, and make sure it doesn't work, then surprise, government doesn't work. It's so bad that even House Republicans want a little chat with him.
A U.S. House committee is expected to hold a hearing Wednesday, Feb. 3, on the Flint water crisis and the government’s response to high lead levels in drinking water there, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s office said Thursday.
And Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who has apologized for the state’s handling of reports of high lead levels in Flint’s drinking water after it switched to the Flint River as its water source, is expected to be among those invited to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Yep, it's the Rep. Jason Chaffetz show, but I'm betting Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings has a few choice words too.