Flint, Rick Snyder — February 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm

#FlintWaterCrisis news round-up: Dem presidential debate comes to Flint, Darnell Earley may testify but plead the 5th


Democratic presidential candidates to hold March debate in Flint

Democrats announced yesterday that they are adding two presidential debates to the schedule and one of them will take place on March 6th, just before the Michigan primary. Details about the time, location, and who will moderate have not yet been released.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon released this statement about the debate in Flint:

America has witnessed the man-made public health disaster inflicted upon the city of Flint, and we applaud Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for their efforts to shine a light on the crisis, especially when our Republican governor has done everything he can to keep Michigan’s citizens in the dark. Holding a presidential debate in Flint will bring further into focus the issues faced by working families here in Michigan and around the country.

Not to be outdone, Republicans are in the final stages of arranging their own Michigan debate to take place in Detroit on March 3rd.

Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says he’ll testify before Congress but may plead the 5th

At yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform hearing in Washington, D.C., former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley was a no-show despite having been invited by Republican Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz. He is suddenly interested in testifying after all, according to his attorney:

Earley’s attorney A. Scott Bolden said Wednesday his client was issued the subpoena 6 p.m. Tuesday by members of Congress requiring him to testify 9 a.m. Wednesday that was “completely unenforceable.” Bolden, however, said Earley would “respect and honor” another subpoena if the congressional committee gives him a reasonable time to respond.

The subpoena may have been issued the day before the hearing but Earley was invited days before and simply refused to appear. If he does testify, Bolden said, he “might exercise his Fifth Amendment rights, depending on what questions he is asked.


(By the way, Gov. Snyder says that he, too, would “seriously look at” testifying before Congress if invited to do so.)

Detroit water department offered lower water rates to Flint then later jacked them up

The Detroit News is reporting that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department initially tried to woo Flint officials to stay on the DWSD system in the run-up to the decision for Flint to join a regional water coalition, the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). However, once the decision was made, they cut them off and then offered to let them stay on until the KWA system was operational at an increased rate:

“The governor just said ‘Thanks for meeting and taking so much time on this …,’ ” [former Flint Mayor Dayne] Walling recalled. “ ‘Are you willing to consider one last, best offer (from Detroit)?’ Kurtz and I just looked at each other and said ‘We’ll listen.’ ”

Detroit officials returned with an immediate 48 percent rate reduction from $20 to $10.46 per 7,500 gallons and a 20 percent savings over the Karegnondi proposal in a 30-year period. Late last month, former Detroit water system Public Affairs Director Bill Johnson described the deal as giving Flint “everything they asked for.”

[KWA CEO Jeff] Wright, who helped spearhead the Karegnondi project, said the lack of rate guarantees beyond the first year made the offer worthless. […]

In early 2014, with the shutoff looming, Detroit prepared a rate proposal for continuing to provide Flint’s water for the first two months after the shutoff.

But the proposed rate was more than 10 percent higher than what Flint then paid.

In other words, the DWSD, under the control of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr decided to extort even higher water rates than their already exorbitant rates when it had Flint in a vulnerable position. Despite already discussed problems with using the Flint River as their sole water source, Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley told them thanks but no thanks. And that set Flint on the path toward the poisoning of its drinking water with lead.

Widespread reports of water-induced rashes in Flint now under investigation by state and federal officials

By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures or at least heard the stories of men, women, and children in Flint developing horrible rashes after coming into contact with Flint water after the switch to the Flint River. Stuff like this:

The problem isn’t isolated to this one poor, sweet boy. Because of that, state and federal officials are now investigating:

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has begun to investigate the rashes that have plagued many Flint residents since the city changed its water source to the Flint River in 2014.

“A key message that I have for folks is that we’re taking the rash concerns very seriously because we know that this obviously is a worry,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told the Free Press Tuesday. […]

The state will get help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the federal Environmental Protection Agency in doing the investigation, which involves enhanced testing, home visits and surveys, said Wells, who also is clinical associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

Bernadette Burden, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said Tuesday that the agency will provide technical support to the state as it develops protocols and questionnaires.

“We’re providing information to them. This is very much a process that’s evolving,” Burden said.

Flint is rapidly becoming a city full of modern-day Jobs.

State Senate approves $30 million for Flint, Republicans reject Democrat’s proposal of $60 million

This morning the state Senate approved a $30 million assistance for Flint residents in a unanimous vote:

The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved $30 million in new general fund state spending to reimburse Flint residents for lead-contaminated water they have not been able to drink.

The action was unexpected, coming just one day after Gov. Rick Snyder announced he would recommend funding for the “consumption and consumer use credit” next week as part of a budget presentation.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, called the $30 million proposal a “common sense” move and urged support on the floor.

The $30 million first suggested by Gov. Snyder would be used for a partial refund of Flint residents’ water bills:

The Snyder administration estimates that water for drinking, bathing and cooking constitutes about 47 percent of the Flint water bills in question. The state funding would cover 65 percent of those water costs but would not help cover sewer payments.

However, Republicans rejected a Democrat’s amendment to provide twice that

The floor vote was unanimous, but the floor debate was at times contentious. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said he appreciated the quick consideration of the bill but argued that $30 million in funding will not be enough to cover all residential water bills dating back to April of 2014, when the city switched to a new source.

Ananich proposed a failed amendment to boost the funding from $30 million to $60 million, a figure he said he arrived at through conversations with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

“We have the ability to do this right, and we should. We have the ability to reimburse the entire amount of the water that we now know is unsafe,” Ananich said. “…No good business person would expect only a partial refund for a product that was not only unfit for use but actually poisoned them.”

The bill now heads to the House where, perhaps, the amount will be raised.

Congressional Republicans stalling federal assistance to Flint

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are threatening to derail a Senate energy package if Republicans don’t stop putting roadblocks in front of federal assistance (which is ironic given the ludicrous graphic released yesterday by the Michigan Republican Party blaming the Obama administration for not doing enough):

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) quickly dismissed a GOP offer to resolve a battle over the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis, calling the proposal a non-starter.

“I personally feel it’s an insult. It’s being done to embarrass us,” the Michigan senator said, adding that it’s a “slap in the face.”

Stabenow was referring to an amendment that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) filed to the wide-ranging energy bill that’s currently being debated by the Senate.
Inhofe’s proposal would pay for the emergency Flint funding that Democrats are pushing for by using rescinded funds from a Department of Energy alternative vehicles program.

Stabenow said that while she and other lawmakers are negotiating in “good faith” that she was “amazed that this would be offered.”

“Now we are hearing in an amendment to the people of Flint, well, you’ve got a choice. You can either drink the water, have safe water or you can have a job,” she added. […]

Stabenow warned earlier Wednesday that without some funding for Flint, Democrats were prepared to block the legislation or stop senators from getting votes on other amendments to the energy bill.

“Well, if they don’t work with us, I think it’s a big question of whether they get cloture,” she told reporters at the time. “If they want an energy bill, then they need to help us.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that both sides were still talking, but has suggested that he couldn’t support moving forward with the energy bill without getting aid for the water crisis in his home state.

Peters and Stabenow have proposed an amendment to the energy bill that would give up to $600 million to combat the drinking water crisis.

Second poll finds Gov. Snyder’s approval rating sinking fast

A new poll shows that two-thirds of Michiganders thing Gov. Snyder is doing a terrible job managing the Flint water crisis:

Another statewide poll is out suggesting 66 percent of the citizens disapprove of how Governor Rick Snyder has handled the Flint water crisis.

Despite all of his apologies, despite tons of bottled water, the distribution of water filters and more testing of kids and adults who drank lead contaminated river water

Governor Rick Snyder continues to take a pounding in the media and now another statewide survey indicates, 66 percent tell Mitchell research they disapprove of his performance on the Flint water crisis. […]

Snyder Approval Flint Crisis

  1. 35 percent of whites approve
  2. 7 percent of African-Americans approve
  3. 52 percent Republicans approve
  4. 6 percent Democrats approve