“Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Political Suicide” by DonkeyHotey
When in doubt, change the messenger
Further demonstrating an inability to deal effectively to the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water with a powerful neurotoxin, Gov. Snyder took the bold step of replacing his communications director and his press secretary:
Gov. Rick Snyder removed his communications director and press secretary Thursday amid the Flint drinking water crisis, after each had been in their posts only a few months.
Meegan Holland is out as communications director and will be replaced by Ari Adler, who was press secretary to former House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, and has held several other senior communications positions in the executive and legislative branches.
Dave Murray is out as press secretary, Snyder’s office announced. A new press secretary was not immediately named.
Given the sensitivity of the issue at hand – poisoning children with an odorless, tasteless, invisible neurotoxin – you would expect Gov. Snyder to choose a communications director known for tact and diplomacy. Instead, the self-described super-CEO chose a man about as tactless as they come. Ari Adler’s history is one of repeated gaffes and insulting remarks towards people who don’t agree with him or his bosses.
During the debate about the state of Michigan offering domestic partner benefits to state employees, Adler referred to the state workers’ life partners as “adult roommates”.
When former state Reps. Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown were silenced on the floor of the House by his then boss, former House Speaker Jase Bolger, Adler sent an email to the Lansing press corps saying was because the women had thrown “temper tantrums” on the floor of the House:
To the Capitol Press Corps,
Just to be clear, despite the misinformation being spread by Reps. Brown and Byrum, and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, there are two representatives not being recognized on the House floor today because of their actions yesterday. It has nothing to do with their gender, their religion or the topic they were discussing. All day today, we have had representatives of both parties, both genders and several different religions passionately debating important issues that will significantly impact the future of Michigan. I would urge you not to become too distracted by temper tantrums designed to score political points.
Adler was also responsible for a Michigan Republican Party Facebook post that he put up just a few hours after the Newtown massacre using the event to promote Republican concealed carry legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried in public schools, churches, and day care centers. Adler was forced to pull the Facebook post and issue an apology for his lack of empathy and for politicizing the horrendous tragedy. The legislation was later vetoed by Gov. Snyder.
In other words, if you’re looking for a thoughtful, measured, compassionate spokesperson for the governor of Michigan, he’s exactly the last person you’d select. It’s a testament to just how flailing and reactionary Gov. Snyder has become. He clearly has no idea what he’s doing so he’s rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. Meanwhile people in Flint have seen precisely ZERO lead water service lines removed in their beleaguered city in the 148 days since Gov. Snyder admitted their water was poisoned.
By the way, it’s not like Gov. Snyder has ever had very good taste in who he chooses to speak on his behalf. The Detroit Free Press has a nice collection of epically terrible Flint water crisis responses from his comms team over the past couple of years HERE. How these people make a living at being communications specialists escapes me entirely.
More evidence emerges that Snyder’s top advisers knew about Flint’s problems a LONG time ago
As predicted, Gov. Snyder’s most recent email dump of 550 emails is shining more light on the role his administration played in covering up and obfuscating the slow rolling catastrophe related to the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water. Here’s a selection of headlines from this morning:
- The Detroit News: Snyder’s office scuttled lead poisoning proclamation
- Detroit Free Press: A year ago, Snyder aide wanted bottled water for Flint
- MLive: Snyder’s resignation called for after reports show staff knew of Flint water problems
- The Detroit News: Legionnaires’ fear led staffer to warn against calling water safe
- Think Progress: Snyder Aide Says Governor Knew About Flint Water Issues A Year Before Action Was Taken
- Detroit Free Press: Top Snyder aides urged going back to Detroit water
- ABC News: Snyder Lawyer Called Flint Water ‘Scary’ Before Lead Crisis
- The Detroit News: Emails: Flint water warnings reached gov’s inner circle
- Michigan Radio: New emails show officials in Gov. Snyder’s circle discussed concerns about Flint water, did nothing
Yeah, it’s ugly.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. This morning Gov. Snyder released 6,000-8,000 more emails.
One very interesting email revealed that top advisers admitted early on that Flint’s switch to the Flint River was made by the Emergency Manager. A year and a half ago on October 4th of 2014, Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to the governor, sent email to the governor’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and other top advisers. In her email she said, “As you know there have been problems with the Flint water quality since they left the DWSD (Detroit Water and Sewerage Department), which was a decision by the emergency manager there.
We also learned that Gov. Snyder’s former chief of staff Dennis Muchmore advocated for buying a quarter million dollars of bottled water from Mountain Ice, a Nestle company where his wife works as a lobbyist and public relations consultant. I’m sure there’s no connection, though.
A third tidbit that emerged from these emails is that it’s clear that Snyder advisors were very careful about what they shared with certain departments via email because they knew they would be subject to FOIA requests whereas the governor and his staff were not:
[U]ntil this week, the public did not know about the early anxiety voiced by the governor’s top aides.
Part of the reason may have been because Brader did not include an agency subject open records laws.
“P.S. Note: I have not copied DEQ on this message for FOIA reasons,” Brader wrote of the state Department of Environmental Quality and the Freedom of Information Act, which allows members of the public to see state employee documents. Michigan is one of only two states that exempts the governor’s office and Legislature from public records disclosure.
One of the most striking things about this to me is that Gov. Snyder continues to defend himself by saying he knew nothing about any of the problems while they were unraveling. Like Sargent Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes, all of these things were going on around him with his high level staff and advisors intimately involved and yet the man who won the governorship by telling voters he is a superior CEO had no clue whatsoever. Once again we’re forced to decide between believing he’s a completely inept manager (and therefore unqualified to be governor) or that he’s a bald-faced liar (and therefore unqualified to be governor.)
It’s not politicizing something when that thing is actually political
The Michigan Republican Party sent out an email yesterday claiming that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is “exploiting” the Flint water crisis:
Friends, if you haven’t seen the column by Nolan Finley in the Detroit News regarding the Clinton campaign’s politicization of the Flint water crisis, it is a must read. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is flailing. Flint residents deserve solutions, not political grandstanding by a failing campaign. Finley says it best in his column: “In reality, Hillary Clinton’s exploitation of Flint is hurting more than it helps. Perpetuating the myth, as she has been doing, that the city’s children were intentionally poisoned to save money works against restoring trust and unity in a city that badly needs both.”
This is not the time for political gamesmanship. It is time for all of Michigan to come together, regardless of political affiliations, and get this community the solutions they need and deserve.
In an interview with Michigan Radio, MRP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said Clinton is “politicizing” the situation and using Flint residents as “political pawns”:
“I’m calling out a national politician who has come in and politicized an issue in our state. I don’t think that’s politicizing at all, it’s saying, you know what, we need unity right now, and be part of the solution.”
Three things here. First, this email was sent the same day that Senator Bernie Sanders attended a public forum in Flint. They are studiously ignoring Sanders, presumably because they see him as an easier opponent to beat in November.
Second, the most shocking thing in all of this is not that the Democratic candidates are making the Flint water crisis an issue on the campaign trail. The most shocking thing of all is that the Republican candidates aren’t. There has been almost no response at all from the GOP frontrunners and what responses they have uttered have largely to blame President Obama for the problem. Because that’s what they do.
Finally, and most importantly, Clinton and Sanders aren’t politicizing this issue. It’s already a political issue and it has been from the beginning. They are simply drawing national attention to it and, as a Michigander, I am thankful for that. It would be nice if the Republicans acted like they gave a damn.
Gov. Snyder and former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Early finally have a date with Congress
At long last we’ll get to hear Gov. Snyder and former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Early testifying under oath about the tragedy in Flint:
Gov. Rick Snyder is now officially scheduled to testify before Congress on March 17 about the Flint water crisis.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding two new rounds of hearings about Flint, after an initial hearing in early February. […]
Now, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, says they’ve struck up an agreement:
“We are very encouraged because we have a new agreement with the chairman (Chaffetz) to obtain documents from Gov. Snyder and conduct transcribed interviews with some of his key emergency managers before these hearings take place. These steps will allow the Committee to do a more complete and thorough investigation and hold officials accountable, and I thank the chairman.” […]
Meanwhile, former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley is also scheduled to take part in these hearings, after declining to participate in the previous panel.
He’s scheduled to testify March 15. Rep. Chaffetz’ office sent out further schedule details about the hearings, which are listed below.