In the wake of manslaughter and other charges being filed against five people involved in the Flint Water Crisis, including two current members of his administration, Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement:
Gov. Rick Snyder’s statement in support of DHHS Director Nick Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement today:
Nick Lyon has been a strong leader at the Department of Health and Human Services for the past several years and remains completely committed to Flint’s recovery. Director Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, like every other person who has been charged with a crime by Bill Schuette, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some state employees were charged over a year ago and have been suspended from work since that time. They still have not had their day in court. That is not justice for Flint nor for those who have been charged. Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint’s recovery. They have my full faith and confidence, and will remain on duty at DHHS.
128 words and barely a mention of the victims of this human-made catastrophe, one created through decisions made by Gov. Snyder’s own appointed Emergency Managers. Mostly it’s just a stubborn defense of two people who should lose their jobs NOW. It was the only statement he’s made since the charges were announced yesterday by state Attorney General Bill Schuette and the first time he’s publicly mentioned Flint in months.
Fierce criticism, including a call for Snyder to resign, came quickly.
Here’s Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan:
These charges show that the failure in Flint lies squarely at the feet of Governor Rick Snyder. Nick Lyon’s statement from the charging document, ‘everyone has to die of something’ shows a callous disregard for the lives lost by a member of the Snyder/Calley administration. Now that these charges have been levied against a top cabinet official, we renew our call for Governor Rick Snyder to immediately resign.
Here’s Rochelle Riley at the Detroit Free Press:
Last summer, Schuette began his investigation in earnest by successfully obtaining a restraining order to keep the Snyder administration from working with personnel at the Genesee County Health Department and a Flint hospital to destroy records related to lead poisoning and Legionella deaths.
So far, 15 current or former state or Flint city officials have been charged.
But the Flint water crisis persists, now in its third year, because of poor leadership from the top of the House of Cards. And sitting atop that house is the governor.
Should he be No. 16?
Here’s Flint-area state Senator Jim Ananich:
These charges are an important step on a very long journey to getting justice for the people of Flint. I have said from the beginning that anyone who played a role in harming my city—no matter who—needs to be held accountable for their actions.
I found it incredibly disappointing that the governor responded by defending staff rather than showing concern for Flint. His comments erode trust in government. No one, no matter how important their job, is above the law.
Here’s Congressman Dan Kildee:
Justice for Flint families comes in many forms, including holding state officials who created this man-made crisis accountable. Today’s announcement that additional state officials will face criminal charges is an indictment of the state’s failed policies that led to this crisis. I support the ongoing investigations, led solely by the facts, that seek to hold everyone accountable who did this to Flint.
It is important to remember that the Flint water crisis is not over. The state and the Governor created this crisis and they must do more to help Flint’s recovery.
Here’s Daniel Howes in The Detroit News:
As much as Snyder has achieved with the restructuring of and reinvestment in Detroit, with stronger state finances, reformed corporate taxes and more, his tenure is shaping up to be defined by the Flint Water Crisis and the people affected by it.
And the governor didn’t help in a written statement Wednesday, which went longer on its lament for “state employees … charged over a year ago” and shorter on compassion for the people of Flint affected by the long-running mess.
Howes points out that, no matter how these charges are resolved, Schuette is using the Flint Water Crisis to further his bid to be governor. His main opponent is Lt. Gov. Brian Calley who has been invisible as the crisis has dragged on for years and is inextricably tied to Snyder.
However, as Rochelle Riley notes, despite his current actions, Schuette was far too invisible himself until it became politically expedient for him to jump in. The crisis began in the spring of 2014 but it wasn’t until nearly two years later that he finally got around to announcing an investigation.
It would be disgusting irony if Schuette was to become the governor of Michigan because of his involvement in the Flint Water Crisis. Being a member of the Snyder administration since 2014 should be an extinction-level, career killer for everyone involved, INCLUDING Schuette.
[CC image “Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Political Suicide” by DonkeyHotey | Flickr]