Poisoned By Policy

Water Flint

Click above to hear my “Pat Political Point” tackle the Flint Water Crisis, and why Michigan Governor Rick Snyder should step-down from his position. The rough transcript is posted below.

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The Flint Water Crisis is upsetting, unsettling, and beyond unbelievable.

Over 150 people held a rally on Saturday to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s disastrous decisions which resulted in Flint residents drinking water with high levels of lead. MLive wrote this heartbreaking paragraph:

Ahmirah Porter, 9 of Flint, held up a sign that read “I’ve been poisoned by policy.” Porter said she thinks the water has been poisoned and something needs to be done about it.

“I think Gov. Snyder needs to do something about the water,” Porter said. “It’s insane, and he should be fired.”

Numerous emails from state officials have shown how the government not only was slow to respond to this crisis, but appeared indifferent.

Let’s review.

Governor Snyder put Flint under an emergency manager supervision. This move was praised as Snyder was supposedly demonstrating his business acumen. Remove democratically elected officials, and put your own people in power. These people were considered very serious people who could solve these serious financial problems.

One of the decisions to save money was to temporarily switch Flint’s water supply from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. This decision was hailed by smart people as a brilliant way to save money.

But last year, Flint residents complained about the water quality. Flint residents complained about the taste and smell of the water. They were told not to worry.

It wasn’t until a Flint pediatrician released a report showing rising lead levels in her patient’s blood that people began to realize there was a problem. However, our state government showed indifference.

Then a Virginia Tech researcher reported “serious lead contamination” in Flint’s water. The corrosive water with a high salt content leached lead from the city’s aging water pipes, and that poisoned the citizens of Flint.

Not only that, but it poisoned the kids, who are the ones that will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives.

You see, children who are poisoned by lead have greater chances of dealing with lower IQ’s, stunted growth, and permanent brain damage.

Please, let that sink in. Rick Snyder’s policy decisions to cut costs resulted in who knows how many kids having to deal with possible permanent brain damage. Years after Snyder’s out of office, these kids will be living with his decision.

Please, let that sink in.

Flint’s mayor has said the cost of fixing this problem will eventually cost the state $1.5 billion. It will probably cost more in the end. And let’s not forget how much money it will take to take care of those citizens poisoned by policy. And let’s not forget of the sure to be lawsuits coming down the pike.

The tragic part is that state officials could’ve prevented this crisis from happening by paying less money to fix the situation when it was first being reported. Now, their errors will cost the state over a billion dollars!

The Detroit Free Press and NBC News reported earlier in the week that Snyder’s chief of staff sent an email last summer imploring state officials to take the Flint Water Crisis seriously. He wrote that Flint residents are worried they’re getting “blown off” by the state.

He was right. They were essentially getting blown-off. Their worries and concerns were brushed aside. That Virginia Tech researcher was charged by administration officials as having a political agenda.

Eventually, the science was too much for the Snyder administration to ignore. Snyder ordered an advisory board to look into the matter. The board found the Department of Environmental Quality to be at fault. The head of the DEQ–who Snyder originally defended with a similar George W. Bush-like “heckuva job, Brownie,” statement–resigned. Snyder later apologized and said he’d take steps to fix the situation. It should be noted that when Flint’s mayor met with Snyder this week, she had to go see him Lansing. Snyder didn’t have the decency to travel to Flint himself. (UPDATE: Since this political rant aired last Sunday, Snyder has visited Flint.)

Governor Snyder’s government failed at keeping Michigan citizens safe. He and his administration didn’t seem to really care all that much. Maybe it’s because they thought they were right. Maybe they thought the problem would fix itself. Maybe they were scared with reports of Flint children registering higher levels of lead in their bloodstream, and they panicked. Whatever the case, the Snyder administration acted negligently. That’s a failure of the most epic proportions.

It’s my belief that this is what you get when you have people in governmental power who don’t believe in governmental power. We’ve seen a similar development in the state’s prison food privatization scandal. Michiganders should demand more from their leadership, but the huge uproar over this malfeasance hasn’t surfaced.

This failure of epic proportions is why Governor Snyder should request federal emergency funding now, and then consider stepping down immediately. He should realize everything he said he was going to bring to Michigan–common sense, business-smart leadership–has not happened.

He’ll forever be remembered for poisoning children.

That’s why he should have the decency to step down.

pat@wsgw.com

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