Friday, January 22, 2016

Some Things Just Can't Be Fixed

And that would appear to include the political career of Republican Michigan Governor Rick Synder. In an effort to staunch the political bleeding over the fact that the state did nothing while Flint residents were drinking toxic water, Snyder has released a flurry of emails, some heavily redacted, that show the contempt and disdain with which complaints about the water were being met.

Depraved indifference does not seem to be too strong a phrase to use in describing officials' reactions to the problem.
A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an “anti-everything group.” Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a “political football.” And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as “data,” in quotes.

It was not until late in 2015, after months of complaints, that state officials finally conceded what critics had been contending: that Flint was in the midst of a major public health emergency, as tap water pouring into families’ homes contained enough lead to show up in the blood of dozens of people in the city. Even small amounts of lead could cause lasting health and developmental problems in children.

Though Mr. Snyder issued the emails as part of an effort to reveal the administration’s transparency on the matter, the documents provide a glimpse of state leaders who were at times dismissive of the concerns of residents, seemed eager to place responsibility with local government and, even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it.
Perhaps the final words on this disaster should be left with Flint's mayor:
In Washington on Wednesday, Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, who was attending the Conference of Mayors, said such lead contamination would never have been permitted had Flint been a rich suburb.
Thus have been laid bare Republican sensibilities and values.


  1. AskingtherightquestionsJanuary 22, 2016 at 7:47 PM


    This is the most serious FUBAR of basic public oversight in recent memory and Snyder is going to pay the consequences for his idealogical failures. Mike Harris set up a similar shit storm in Ontario when he removed appropriate, sensible, independent oversight of water testing in Ontario (He managed to kill seven, intoxicate 2,300) Lead intoxication in this population (especially children) should have America's lawyers salivating for a class action massacre. Simple principles of public service and public health have been degraded and disintegrated by the Republican rabble!

    1. As I was reading about this terrible situation, I was thinking of Mike Harris and Walkerton, Asking. Both the Republican Party and Ontario's Progressive Conservatives under Harris appear to share the same deep disdain for the public they were elected to serve.

  2. It's appalling isn't it Lorne? I guess in this case Americans don't own their democracy anymore. Something is very wrong when the Governor of Michigan, changes the water flow to save money and does absolutely no due diligence and the people of Flint Michigan are left drinking poisoned water for approx. 2 and a half years. Complaints that the drinking the water is dangerous, including lead poisoning, meet a wall of complete indifference. This is serious stuff! The well being of people mean nothing to state and federal government. I'd like to know more of what their economic solutions were. My guess is Neoliberalism played a role. The Governor and his cohorts should not just resign, they should be charged.

    1. Very good point, Pamela. Criminal negligence might be an apt charge they should be made to answer to. Of course, as we know, they will suffer no penalty other than quite likely Synder's loss of a political career.

    2. My guess is that what has happened in Flint Michigan Lorne, is just the tip of the iceberg. I think many cities in the US will have crumbling infrastructures. The State and federal governments constant cut backs will destroy much of what was publicly owned and run. The austerity implementation make these services ripe for privatization, including education.Couple that with the extreme poverty now in many US cities and you've got very angry, fed up citizens. Close to a trillion spent on millitary yearly and 750B of tax payers money to bail out wall street will eventually become real to those who have nothing. The chickens will come home too roost for the US governments pillaging and plundering against its own people. What the government has done in flint, Michagon will just be the start of citizen blowback.

    3. I just hope that people never lose the spirit of resistance and outrage over the terrible things done to boost the 1%, Pamela.