During a press call with journalists today, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver gave her endorsement to Hillary Clinton, saying, “We want a friend like Hillary in the White House.” Weaver says she has spoken directly with Sec. Clinton in the past couple of days to give her details about the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water. She said she is satisfied with Clinton’s response to the crisis and that Clinton is the only presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, who has directly reached out to her to see how they could help.
The call was moderated by Hillary for America National Political Director Amanda Renteria, the former Chief of Staff for Senator Debbie Stabenow. Renteria reiterated Clinton’s belief that this is a civil rights issue and that, if it had happened in an affluent community, the response by the Snyder administration would have been earlier and more substantive. Clinton will continue to work with Mayor Weaver to be sure that Flint gets the help it needs and she endorses the “Future Fund” plan put forth by Senators Stabenow and Gary Peters and Congressman Dan Kildee proposed last week in a letter to Gov. Snyder:
We ask that state resources be set aside in a “Future Fund” to address the long term damage, including the health and educational needs of the children exposed to high lead levels.
While her immediate focus is on making sure that kids and families are taken care of, Renteria said that Clinton also wants people held accountable for this catstrophe.
“People are scared and confused,” Weaver said. “They need more than water and filters, though they do need those. “This is an ongoing issue,” she said, highlighting the importance of the Future Fund.
She described the crisis as both a class and race issue, noting that Flint has a larger than normal percentage of its residents living on limited incomes. “Water is a basic right,” she said, adding that she is thankful for the “added spotlight” Clinton shined on the city when she talked about the Flint water crisis in her closing remarks during the last presidential debate.
Mayor Weaver said she has reached out to the Obama administration and is hoping President Obama will visit Flint this week while he is in Michigan for the International Auto Show so that he can see and hear firsthand what is happening in Flint.
UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Karen Weaver is in Washington, D.C. today, has met with White House officials, and expects to meet with President Obama before she leaves:
Obama administration officials also confirmed that Weaver, who came to Washington on Tuesday trying to get commitments for more federal resources to help Flint deal with high levels of lead detected in drinking water, met with White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and Jerry Abramson, the president’s director of intergovernmental affairs.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, after briefing reporters on the appointment of HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie to lead federal response in Flint, also said he “would expect” Obama to meet with Weaver by the end of the day Tuesday as well.
They also report that the White House has appointed an official from the Department of Health and Human Services “to coordinate the government’s response to the drinking water crisis in Flint.”
[Clinton photo adapted from image by Marc Nozell | Wikimedia Commons]