Gov. Rick Snyder appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program this morning to throw mid-level bureaucrats in his administration under the bus:
The department people, the heads, were not being given the right information by the quote-unquote experts, and I use that word with great trial and tribulation because they were considered experts in terms of their background, these are career civil servants that had strong science, medical backgrounds in terms of their research. But as a practical matter, when you look at it today and you look at their conclusions, I wouldn’t call them experts anymore. […]
What’s so frustrating and makes you so angry about this situation is you have a handful of quote-unquote experts who were career service people that made terrible decisions in my view and we have to live with the consequences with that. They work for me, so I accept that responsibility.
Let’s be clear: The decision to move to the Flint River for Flint’s drinking water was made by his Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, not by “career service people” in the Department of Environmental Quality. Yes, people in Flint’s water department made mistakes. The head of that department is now gone. Yes, Snyder’s DEQ head Dan Wyant screwed up badly. He resigned. The USEPA also dropped the ball. Their Region 5 administrator Susan Hedman is resigning. But, at the end of the day, the on-the-ground decision was made by the Emergency Manager and signed off on by then-State Treasurer Andy Dillon. And now Darnell Earley is ruling over the disaster that is the Detroit Public School system as their Emergency Manager. (Dillon, not surprisingly, claims he assumed the Flint River would NOT be used and that he “assumed they would work something out with Detroit.”)
Gov. Snyder is right: these people work(ed) for him so this IS his responsibility. But, at the core of this catastrophe is the premise that Emergency Management is the panacea for all our state’s financial woes and that has proven to be an unmitigated failure in this instance and in so many others including the debacle in Detroit Public Schools.
I encourage anyone who still thinks local officials are to blame for this to read my post, “Once more with feeling: Flint officials did NOT vote to switch to Flint River water“.