The Flint River
The Michigan Democratic Party released shocking documentation this morning showing that a $7 million emergency loan to the city of Flint in April of 2015 came with a very deadly sting attached. Two actually. First, they were not allowed to return to water supplied by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). Second, they were compelled to remain in the Karegnondi Water Authority, a regional water system that won’t be completed until this summer. The two conditions had the effect of forcing Flint to stay with the Flint River as its source of drinking water, a decision that has led to the poisoning of Flint residents with the powerful, odorless, tasteless, invisible neurotoxin lead.
The loan agreement, which can be read HERE, contained these two requirements under the heading “Water and Sewers”:
(b) The City shall not terminate its participation in the Karegnondi Water Authority (the “KWA”) before the KWA water supply system, including the pipeline being constructed by the KWA from Lake Huron to the City, is operational with all required regulatory approvals effective. The City also shall comply with the KWA financing contracts between the City, Genesee County, and the State of Michigan dated August 1, 2013.
(c) The City shall not enter into an agreement with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, or any successor entity, including the Great Lakes Water Authority, without the prior written approval of the State Treasurer.
This contract was signed on April 29, 2015 by Flint Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose and the State Treasurer Nick Khouri. This was almost a year after reports of problems with water from the Flint River began to emerge and after concerns about lead leaching into residents’ drinking water were voiced. In fact, six months earlier, Gov. Snyder’s chief legal counsel who was from Flint and had relatives living there said that it was “downright scary” that Flint residents were drinking the Flint River water.
It also came three months after Gov. Snyder’s top officials – though not him, if he is to be believed – were informed about a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in Flint. That same month, January 2015, University of Michigan – Flint discovered lead in its drinking water supply and shut off some of the drinking fountains on its campus.
Just two months before the contract was signed, 397 parts per billion lead was found in the drinking water in the home of Lee Anne Walters, a level 26 times the federal action limit. In March 2015, Flint City Council voted to return to the DWSD system but, since an Emergency Manager was in charge, their vote meant nothing and the city stayed with the Flint River because the state and its appointed Emergency Manager felt it was too expensive.
In a statement released with the documentation, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said, “The Snyder administration effectively put a financial gun to the heads of Flint’s families by using the Emergency Manager law to lock the City into taking water from a poisoned source. While children were being poisoned, the Snyder administration was playing political power games. State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who inserted this provision, should resign or be fired immediately. There has to be accountability.”
This document emerged as journalists are pouring through the nearly 10,000 pages of emails released by Gov. Snyder last week. There are sure to be more revelations to come and things are not looking good for our failed CEO governor. One wonders when he’ll take the advice of the editorial board of the Toledo Blade and resign:
Historically, this page has had little patience with critics who demand impeachment or recall or resignation every time an elected official makes a mistake or adopts a bad policy choice. But this fiasco goes far beyond a difference of opinion.
Governor Snyder is now disgraced and politically damaged beyond repair. Michigan cannot afford to wait for new leadership while a governor who has lost all credibility limps through the final three years of his term.
Rick Snyder owes it to his state to apologize to his fellow citizens — and then to resign immediately.
UPDATE: Democratic House Leader Tim Greimel released the following statement this morning also calling for Gov. Snyder’s resignation:
Today, because it is in the best interest of the people of Michigan, I’m calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to resign for his actions pertaining to the Flint water crisis. This is a position I’ve come to after serious thought, reflection and consideration. Given the actions of negligence and indifference by the governor, and a culture he has created that lacks transparency and accountability, the very serious call for resignation is warranted. Gov. Snyder has created a culture that lacks a commitment to transparency and accountability and that is obsessed with spreadsheet totals, public relations positioning, and ‘pass the buck’ politics that put the health of 100,000 people in jeopardy and may have taken the lives of nine Michiganders. It is a culture so pervasive that when scientists and Flint residents sounded the alarm, they were mocked, dismissed and subjected to public relations spin rather than being listened to. It is a culture so pervasive that for months, the problem was allowed to continue, even to the point of ignoring scientific evidence that the crisis had potentially grown to a fatal level. In the end, it is a culture created by the governor, for which he is ultimately responsible.
Photos by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog