Ethics Questions And Answers Regarding The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

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First, a background question: What is the Flint water crisis?

Here is what has happened so far:

1. In March of 2013, the Flint City Council voted to leave the Detroit water system and join a new pipeline project that would deliver water to the city from Lake Huron. The state agreed that it was a good idea, since it would save the financially strapped Flint 19 million dollars over 8 years. [ Addendum: The news media and progressive spin is that the cruel state unilaterally imposed this decision on Flint. That’s not true, and don’t trust any source that claims it is. Here’s one such hack, who states “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to a the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.” The Flint City Council voted 7-1 to take this course prior to the sign-off. It was approved by Kurtz, but this blogger’s statement that the crisis “is a direct result of reckless cost-cutting by the unelected bureaucrat who Governor Snyder appointed to run the city under the state’s controversial “Emergency Financial Manager” law” is deceptive and false.]

2. Detroit retaliated by announcing that it would cut off Flint’s water supply. Since the new pipeline wouldn’t be ready for three years, Flint had to find a temporary supplier of its water needs. It then spent millions upgrading its water processing plant.

3. The months leading up to the Detroit shut-off deadline generated many meetings with the state and regulatory bodies. Mayor Dayne Walling, a Democrat, announced that the temporary supply would come from the Flint River. The plan for the switch was implement by state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early. The system went into operation in April of 2014.

4. Immediately, residents started complaining about the water’s taste and appearance. Early (the state) and Mayor Walling (the city) insisted that it was safe to drink. Four months later, there was a fecal content alert, meaning that the water wasn’t being sufficiently purified. In October of 2014, General Motors said that the water seemed to be corrosive, and it would no longer use it in its plant.

5.  In January of 2015, Flint told its residents that the water wasn’t safe because of chemical contamination that could cause serious health problems. Detroit offered to go back to the old arrangement. Flint declined. Erin Brockovich (yes, that Erin Brockovich)  publicly argued that there was a water safety  crisis in Flint. The Mayor asked the state for assistance, and was assured that they were “working on it.”

6.  Activists said that the water was dangerous and the city should go back to its old arrangement with Detroit. The city hired an expert who claimed the water was safe. More work was done to fix the problem, but the City Council voted to re-connect to the Detroit system, and Lake Huron water. However, the vote had to be approved by the State’s emergency manager for the city. He didn’t approve it. The advocates for going back to Detroit water sued in Federal court, and lost.

7.  This mess  dragged into last fall. In September of 2015, researchers from Virginia Tech University reported online that their testing of Flint’s water found it “very corrosive” and that it was “causing lead contamination in homes.”  “On a scientific basis, Flint River water leaches more lead from plumbing than does Detroit water,” the report concluded. “This is creating a public health threat in some Flint homes that have lead pipe or lead solder.” The very same day, Michigan told Flint that the earlier chemical contamination had fallen within acceptable levels due to improved treatment methods, and the water was officially compliant with all standards, and safe.

8. Later that month, however, testing showed frightening levels of lead in the blood of Flint infants and children. A new lead warning was sent to Flint residents.

9. In October, 2015, the County issued a warning that Flint’s water was dangerous, and asked the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. The next day, Governor Rick Snyder announced various measures to address the problem.

10. Again, the city, this time through a special advisory committee, recommended that Flint switch back to the Detroit supply. On October 8, Snyder announced a multi-million dollar plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit’s water.  A week later, the Michigan Legislature and Snyder approved  $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to  switch its drinking water back to Detroit.

11. Thanks to the water problem, Walling was defeated in his race to be re-elected as mayor  by Karen Weaver. The switch didn’t stop the lead problem, because the corrosive water had prompted a deterioration in Flint’s lead pipes. It took a the entire holiday period for this to become sufficiently obvious, for some reason, as many residents drank lead-contaminated water they had been told was now safe.

12. Shortly after Christmas, Snyder fired Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what was happening in Flint. He declared a state of emergency.

13. On January 13, Governor Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to  distribute bottled water and filters in Flint, and asked the federal government for assistance.  The same day, Michigan health officials reported an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases during periods over the past two years in Flint and the surrounding county. Snyder requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama, and more federal aid. Obama signed an emergency declaration last week, ordering federal aid for Flint and authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.

Why doesn’t everybody know about this?

Good question! My cynical answer is that President Obama hasn’t said—yet—that some of the children poisoned by the water in Flint could have been his kids, but I’m in a bad mood. I hadn’t heard or read about the crisis before a commenter here mentioned it in passing, and really outrageous memes started showing up on Facebook, posted there by my left-wing actor friends who should stay on stage and out of politics. The mainstream media really hasn’t covered the long-running mess prominently until this month, even after both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders alluded to it—dishonestly and irresponsibly, respectively—in their debate. I think I know why the media isn’t making a bigger deal out of it.

Is there a short version?

Sure: This is multi-level government dysfunction and incompetence, combined with neglected infrastructure decay.

Is the episode a fair topic for partisan warfare?

I don’t see how anyone can read that summary and conclude that. The disaster was a classic collision of local and state officials, local politics, poor communication, inept administrators, problems that had been festering for decades, budget issues and bureaucratic idiocy. The Flint decision-makers were Democrats; the Governor is a Republican, and the various agencies and appointees are a mixed bag. It is a disaster and people have been hurt: there will be consequences. Still, as usual, most of the criticism is hindsight bias. Nobody wanted this to happen.

What is the ethics verdict on Hillary Clinton’s statement during the debate?

Inexcusable, misleading and unfair. She said,

“I think every single American should be outraged. We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African-American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water. And the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care….He had requests for help that he basically stonewalled. I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would have been action.””

Nobody set out to contaminate the water, Hillary, and there is no evidence of any cover-up. Does she know the facts? I doubt it. Plenty of people were paying attention and trying to fix the problem for years.  By no interpretation can anyone argue that Snyder “acted as though he didn’t really care.” Hillary is playing Kanye West here, mimicking the rapper’s disgusting insistence that because New Orleans had  large black population, President Bush didn’t make rescuing residents from the Katrina aftermath a priority.

Let me get Hillary’s allegation  here straight: Snyder was willing to poison white Flint residents in order to neglect black residents? What does the percentage of black citizens in Flint have to do with anything? This is open and obvious race-baiting. Hillary is also saying that Black Lives Matter more, while making a vile accusation that Snyder values white lives more. This is anti- Republican hate porn, essentially. 

The statement really was an irresponsible, despicable stroke by Clinton, made less than effective only because most people didn’t know what she was talking about. By the way, here is what Darnell Early, who insisted the water was safe in 2014, looks like:

Darnell Early

Good looking guy, don’t you think?

And Bernie?

Bernie’s statement was also unfair and, ironically, irresponsible: “A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power.” There is no proof that Snyder acted irresponsibly, or that he knew enough to act any differently than he did.

Should Snyder resign?

He wasn’t responsible for the fiasco, but he’s accountable: it’s his state, environmental protection agency, and water boards. He’s not the only one who should step up and fall on his sword, but sure: if you’ve read here for long, you know I support leaders and managers losing their jobs when  massive screw-ups happen on their watch, especially when, as in this case, it is a joint effort. It’s too easy to say, as is the current cowardly habit among the political class, that everyone was at fault, so no one was. Or, in the partisan version, the other party is always to blame. Yes, I’d love to see Snyder resign, so the statement can be made that government failed its duty to the public, and as the leader in charge, he acknowledges the failure.

BUT…

There is no reason why Snyder should be the only executive to adopt this principle. I encourage Democrats to join me in my support of it, recognizing that the same principle would have demanded the resignation of Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius, who botched the roll-out of Obamacare; his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who is responsible for the disastrous “Dear colleague” letter; and Secretary of Energy Chu, who would have been obliged to quit for the excruciatingly slow process of stemming the Gulf oil spill. Then there would be multiple Secretaries of Defense that did not predict the rise of ISIS, the head of the Office of Personnel Management who oversaw the incredible and devastating Chinese hack into its database; Timothy Geithner, who should resigned as Secretary of the Treasury after the I.R.S. scandal was uncovered; obviously Eric Holder, whose Justice Department engineered the “Fast and Furious” gun running fiasco, and…let’s see now, I know I’m missing someone…oh yes, Hillary Clinton, who by her own words was “responsible” for the Benghazi attack’s carnage as Secretary of State.

There are many others, but you see the implications of Snyder’s symbolic resignation.

Wait…isn’t this an EPA area of responsibility?

Why, yes! It is! Yet you would hardly get that impression based on Clinton’s comments and the news coverage.

In fact, we now know that EPA officials knew there was lead in Flint’s water at least six months before state regulators issued a lead contamination warning to Flint. The EPA’s Susan Hedman did not publicize the EPA’s concern over Flint’s water quality nor the water’s dangerous health concerns as her agency battled the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality about what measures to take….while Flint residents kept drinking the water. EPA water expert, Miguel Del Toral, also identified potential contamination problems last February and tests confirmed his suspicions in April. He then authored an internal memo about the problem in June.

Asked about this, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Gina McCarthy told reporters that the agency “did its job.” “EPA did its job but clearly the outcome was not what anyone would have wanted,” she said.  “So we’re going to work with the state, we’re going to work with Flint,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to take care of the problem. We know Flint is a situation that never should have happened.”

FEMA, meanwhile, initially turned down Snyder’s request for assistance, saying that the water problem was a man-made disaster, and thus ineligible. Hmmm…are we sure it wasn’t because of all the blacks in Flint? Are we sure the EPA’s involvement wasn’t based on racial bias? Of course: this is the benefit of having incompetence presided over by a black President. When it was Bush in the White House, it was racism. When it’s Obama, it is just typical, benign, color-blind incompetence.

_______________________

Facts and Graphic: MLive

Sources: CNN, Daily Caller, Hot Air 1, 2

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at jamproethics@verizon.net.

73 thoughts on “Ethics Questions And Answers Regarding The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

    • Which is the real lesson: government is run by humans, humans screw up, and the more complex the system and challenge, the more likely and serious the screw-ups are.

      So lets put government is charge of everything! Makes sense to me…

      • Not only are we encouraged to put the government in charge of everything we are blocked from holding it accountable for its mistakes if the mistakes are caused by people who mean well, or vote correctly, and forced to pay for them, unless we can prove we are helpless. I can’t figure out where that particular penumbra emanates from. Certainly not the Constitution.

      • How is that a logically coherent argument?

        Humans are ultimately in charge of everything, regardless of whether or not the government is doing it.

        • How is THAT anything but sophistry? Humans can run their own affairs, or the government can run them for them. Humans have strong motivations to run their own affairs competently and well, bureuacrats, who are human but who are not similarly qualified or motivated, do not. The argument for giving government more power is that it can do tasks better and cheaper. But it can’t, because of human error and corruption.

          I bet you understood exactly what I meant. I am about 75% convinced that you are a troll. nitpicking rather than raising legitimate and sincere arguments. Not 100% yet.

  1. The sheer negligence is enough to make my blood boil, but the state did more than that, they deliberately lied and tried to cover up what they had done. They were asked by the EPA if they were using anti-corrosives in the water as required; they lied and said they were (it would have cost $36,000). They gamed the water testing procedures to try to ensure they would not fail the “lead in water” test, and when that failed, they simply just threw out samples they didn’t like to come under the threshold.

    According to FOIA documents, the state environmental protection agency (MDEQ) claimed that the Flint river water was being treated with anti-corrosion agents when the federal EPA inquired about the rising lead levels, despite the fact that no treatments were being implemented. Additionally, EPA researchers had written memos to the MDEQ raising serious concerns over early cases of lead poisoning, yet failed to act on them or implement further studies.

    Despite the concerns of the EPA and the reports of rising lead levels in Flint’s kids, the state refused to even acknowledge the problem until late in 2015. As recently as July 2015, MDEQ was trying to reassure Flint residents that everything was okay and that the experts who were identifying the problem were simply grandstanders who wanted attention. They made a concerted effort to minimize these concerns, up until it became absolutely undeniable.

    The final nail in the coffin for the cover up was an incident that happened shortly after the first reports of severe lead poisoning. The city of Flint had conducted a study on its water and found that there were unusually high lead levels—so high, in fact, that they would violate federal lead safety regulations—and the MDEQ responded by forcing the city to alter its data-set to fix the results. They doctored the report to drop the two highest lead samples so that the Flint lead levels would fall just below the federal bar for inquiry.
    http://theprogressivecynic.com/2016/01/08/somebody-needs-to-go-to-jail-for-poisoning-flints-water-supply/

    • That’s one set of conclusions from a progressive activist site. News reports, eve from Flint and Detroit are more objective. Maybe this is true, maybe the EPA was complicit, maybe it’s covering up itself. Obviously there will be a long, ugly investigation, maybe indictments. Everything here may be in fact true, but 1) it doesn’t prove the Governor’s complicity and 2) isn’t proven, period.

      I don’t trust this author, deary, and you shouldn’t either, because he begins with a falsehood: “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.”

      That suggests, and other sources have said, that the order from Kurtz began the process. My timeline is correct: Flint’s council voted to do this, but the state had to sign off. That’s how these arrangements work. DC was governed this way for a while.

      So he has made a bias clear. What other false assumptions has he leapt to?

      • Your link at #1 doesn’t say anything about the City Council voting, but I found some other links that agree that the City Council voted to switch the water to a new pipeline going to the same source as where they got their Detroit water, with the emergency city manager signing off on that plan.

        http://www.onenewspage.com/n/World/759ghh5ii/Flint-massive-water-poisoning-all-started-with.htm

        Note that once the city decided that the interim switch to the Flint River was not working out, and the council voted to reverse the decision, the vote was blocked by the emergency city manager.

        As to what the governor knew, and when he knew it, he refuses to say. We have this lovely email one of his underlings wrote to him about the issue in July 2015:

        I’m frustrated by the water issue in Flint. I really don’t think people are getting the benefit of the doubt. Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level studies they are receiving. These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we’re just not sympathizing with their plight).

        • “Note that once the city decided that the interim switch to the Flint River was not working out, and the council voted to reverse the decision, the vote was blocked by the emergency city manager.”

          That was in my summary. I’m hardly defending anyone. The difference in whose decision it was, however, is crucial.

          • AND..your blogger begins with a bias against special managers, which served Detroit well, and are excellent devices to keep irresponsible and financially flagrant cities from spending too much and sticking the state taxpayers with the bill. You just can’t use a guy like this as a primary source.

        • Note that once the city decided that the interim switch to the Flint River was not working out, and the council voted to reverse the decision, the vote was blocked by the emergency city manager.

          That’s the key. Since 2013, neither the mayor nor the council have any power to do anything. They can take votes, but those need “signing off”, and any attempt to actually take action can and is over-ridden.

          As for the state water authorities, they deliberately put out false information, then tried to cover that up and denied they ever did it. Fortunately, the Internet Archive has kept copies of what they said.

          http://web.archive.org/web/20160115155556/http://michigan.gov/flintwater/0,6092,7-345–372051–,00.html

          So no, I’m not willing to give them any benefit of the doubt.

          • How does that link prove what you said? Whence comes the presumption that the state was intentionally and knowingly allowing a city to drink bad water? This is Hanlon’s Razor squared. Why would any state do that? It’s guaranteed to be discovered, lawsuits, scandal. I give people the benefit of the doubt when the presumed evil is against their interests too, which this is. It’s like the Truther conspiracy theories. It’s insane.

            And the council has power; it’s conditional. That’s like saying Congress has no power because the President has a veto.

            • http://www.aclumich.org/democracywatch/index.php/entry/lead-astray-an-aclu-of-michigan-investigation-has-found-a-stream-of-irregularities-in-flint-s-water-tests

              Despite the extensive and comprehensive nature of the Virginia Tech study, the city and state continue to assert that Flint is in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements regarding lead and copper levels in the city’s drinking water.

              For its part, the MDEQ has a vested interest in defending the quality of Flint’s water. After Flint received much cleaner Detroit water for decades, Darnell Earley, an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, decided in a cost-saving measure to switch to the highly corrosive Flint River in April 2014 as the city’s main water supply until the Karegondi pipeline is built.

              According to Edwards—a MacArthur grant recipient who uncovered a widespread problem of lead in Washington D.C.’s water in the early 2000s—MDEQ and the city did not consider it necessary to address the threat of corrosion that the river water posted to the iron and lead pipes in the city’s delivery system. This failure, he said, is wreaking havoc with Flint’s infrastructure and causing the very high lead levels.

              In addition to VT’s findings about the water’s toxicity, our investigation has uncovered a number of problems with the city’s testing procedures and with the state’s oversight, both of which helped assure that the city would be able to claim compliance with federal regulations.

              The decision to switch to it’s own pipes from Lake Huron is not the misstep. Nor Detroit’s decision to re-negotiate it’s contract with Flint, per the guidelines. Flint could have stayed with Detroit water in the interim. However, they did not want to pay the increased costs that Detroit wanted- knowing that one of it’s main customers was now going to become a competitor. That decision, to switch to Flint water, was questionable, but understandable. However the decision not to treat the water for corrosion (to save $36,000) as required, and then lie to the EPA about it, is what really caused the disaster, and rises to the level of criminal conduct.

              • For its part, the MDEQ has a vested interest in defending the quality of Flint’s water. After Flint received much cleaner Detroit water for decades, Darnell Earley, an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, decided in a cost-saving measure to switch to the highly corrosive Flint River in April 2014 as the city’s main water supply until the Karegondi pipeline is built.

                Same false framing! There goes the “vested interest” theory. Cannot trust a source that does this. Simple as that. And here is the proof that the EPA was lied to? The theory makes no sense. The state was laying out millions on this problem. Why would they go through that to save 36,000, while poisoning people? What’s the motive?

                The only way anyone can buy this theory is an entrenched ideological bias that presumes sinister intent. Why would you do that? None of this conspiracy claim has been asserted in standard news media….ot by the EPA.

                This today, in the Detroit News:

                Washington The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admitted Tuesday it should have acted more swiftly in addressing the issues with Flint’s drinking water. An EPA spokeswoman told Reuters that the federal agency did not act fast enough in addressing the growing problem in the city.While the federal agency worked to “repeatedly and urgently communicate the steps the state needed to take to properly treat its water, those necessary actions were not taken as quickly as they should have been,” the EPA said in a Tuesday statement.While the situation in Flint was “unusual,” the EPA said its ability to oversee state environmental regulators’ management of the situation was “impacted by failures and resistance at the state and local levels to work with us in a forthright, transparent and proactive manner consistent with the seriousness of the risks to public health,” the statement says. “We must ensure this situation never happens again.”

                So let me get this straight: YOU assert, based on reading conspiracy spouting progressive bloggers, that the EPA was lied to, but the EPA, under fire, admits some responsibility and says nothing about being lied to or criminal conduct. Why would that be?

                • Same false framing! There goes the “vested interest” theory. Cannot trust a source that does this. Simple as that.

                  It is not false framing. Let me repeat. The decision to switch from Detroit water to Flint River water was the decision of the governor-appointed emergency city manager. The city could have continued to draw water from Detroit (albeit at higher prices) until their own pipes to the lake were installed. The city manager chose not to do so, even though memos about the corrosiveness of the river’s water, and its polluted nature were well known.

                  The state then lied to the EPA, indicating that the water was being treated with an anticorrosive agent, when in fact it was not. The state then compounded this lie by manipulating lead testing results to get the results that they wanted, showing that there was no problem Only until there was outside independent testing raising the alarm about the scale of the situation did the state reluctantly admit that there was a problem.

                  LANSING – Lead levels in Flint’s drinking water would have spurred action months sooner if the results of city testing that wrapped up in June had not been revised by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to wrongly indicate the water was safe to drink, e-mails show.

                  The records — obtained by the Michigan ACLU and by Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech researcher who helped raise concerns about Flint’s water — show how state officials first appear to have encouraged the City of Flint to find water samples with low lead levels and later told Flint officials to disqualify two samples with high readings. The move changed the overall lead level results to acceptable from unacceptable.

                  The e-mails also show that DEQ district coordinator Stephen Busch told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Feb. 27 that Flint had “an optimized corrosion control program” to prevent lead from leaching into the drinking water from pipes, connections and fixtures. In fact, the city — disastrously — had no corrosion control program.

                  ….

                  On June 25, Adam Rosenthal, of the DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, sent an e-mail about the water samples, required under the federal Lead and Copper Rule, to Michael Glasgow, a utilities administrator with the City of Flint.

                  “Just wanted to remind you/confirm that Flint is on track for a few items,” Rosenthal wrote in the e-mail, which he copied to two other DEQ officials.

                  “We hope you have 61 more lead/copper samples collected and sent to the lab by 6/30/15, and that they are will be (sic) below the AL (action level) for lead,” the e-mail said. “As of now with 39 results, Flint’s 90th percentile is over the AL for lead.”

                  If 100 lead-in-water samples were listed in ascending order, the 90th percentile would be the 90th sample, meaning 10 samples would have higher readings. To stay below the “action level,” which triggers requirements for public notification and steps to reduce the amount of lead in the water, the 90th percentile for Flint’s drinking water samples had to be at or below 15 parts per billion. To put it another way, Flint’s water would reach an action level if more than 10% of the samples exceed 15 parts per billion.

                  Melissa Mays, a Flint resident who drank the contaminated water along with her three boys, said there is only one way to read the Rosenthal e-mail.

                  “The MDEQ informed the City of Flint that they were in danger of going in violation, and they asked for low samples,” Mays told the Free Press.

                  Wurfel wouldn’t comment when asked if that’s how the e-mail should be interpreted. Rosenthal did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Busch, who was copied on the e-mail Rosenthal sent to Flint, sent an automated e-mail reply that said he is out of the office until Jan. 4.

                  Had Flint’s water sampling come in above the action level, it would have triggered action in July. Instead, it was not until October, after blood test results showed elevated lead levels in Flint children, that the DEQ admitted making a mistake about failing to require the addition of needed corrosion control chemicals to the Flint River water. The state also provided funds to help Flint reconnect to Lake Huron water supplied by Detroit.

                  http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/politics/2015/12/24/states-handling-flint-water-samples-delayed-action/77876144/

                  • Let ME repeat: The decision to switch from Detroit water to Flint River water was NOT the decision of the governor-appointed emergency city manager, because it was made by te City Council, as you admitted. What sophistry! If someone says: “OK, I have to approve it, but it’s your decision,” Whose decision is it? The articles you point to FALSELY say that an appointed overseer, in order to save money, imposed his will on Flint. That’s a lie, it is a proven lie, and you keep saying it’s true! There is no evidence that the appointed manager made the decision, or that he imposed his will on Flint. Flint decided what to do, and the manager said, “OK, if that’s what you want!” By no conceivable interpretation of events or the English language is it accurate to say “this was the decision of the governor-appointed emergency city manager.”

                    As for the rest, you are stating theories and allegations as facts. They aren’t facts. Melissa Mays isn’t an expert or even a witness: she’s a potential litigant! She has a screaming conflict of interest. Her opinion may be proven correct and and it might not, but is not proof of a damn thing. The e-mail “We hope you have 61 more lead/copper samples collected and sent to the lab by 6/30/15, and that they are will be (sic) below the AL (action level) for lead,” the e-mail said. “As of now with 39 results, Flint’s 90th percentile is over the AL for lead.” Only suggests dishonesty if you are pre-determined to see that. If a college advisor says, “I hoep Tommy takes the SAT’s again and that his scores show vast improvement,” does that mean he is suggesting that Tommy cheats? Your own angry biases are showing, and badly. And why would Flint’s own government want to poison its residents?

                    Just ridiculous. How do you end up thinking this way? How does anyone? It approaches mental illness.

                    You and these politicized activists WANT to believe that this was an evil Republican conspiracy to poison kids, which is a) insane and b) irresponsible. I have no dog in the hunt at all: heads should roll, damages be paid, lessons learned, but the presumption of criminal activity and racial motives is outrageous political warfare, and it will hurt, rather than help, the chances of getting at the truth.

                    • At least two heads rolled per your blog post. whether those heads should have rolled, and whether more need to roll, depends on what we fuind out by a fair and impartial investigation- not by political activists peddling what they want to be true.

                    • Let ME repeat: The decision to switch from Detroit water to Flint River water was NOT the decision of the governor-appointed emergency city manager, because it was made by the City Council, as you admitted.

                      I guess I will try again. You are conflating two different decisions into one.

                      1. The decision to switch to the KWA pipeline to Lake Huron. Voted on by the city council. Approved by Emergency City Manager Kurtz. Not in dispute.

                      2. The decision to not use Detroit water in the interim while the pipeline was being built, but instead switch to the Flint River as a source, made by Emergency City Manager Kurtz, implemented by Emergency Manager Earley, reaffirmed by Emergency Manager Ambrose. You contend that the city council voted on this, but that does not appear to be the case. There is no record of such a vote. The Emergency City Manager did not enter negotiations with Detroit to keep the supply coming from there (the rest of the County did, which is why they don’t have the water crisis that Flint has). When Earley came on, he decided to go forward with the plan to use the Flint River as the sole source of water. Ambrose, once he came aboard, also refused to deviate from that plan.

                      ….Walling says that the 2013 decision to eventually switch to the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was one made in conjunction with himself, Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz, and the City Council. However, they believed they would be able to continue using Detroit’s water until the pipeline was ready in 2016.

                      Once Detroit, also under Emergency Management at this time, got wind of the KWA agreement, they said they would raise Flint’s prices drastically after their current contract with the city expired in 2014. At this point, Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright negotiated with Detroit to get the best price for the rest of Genesee County, while Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz chose not to negotiate on Flint’s behalf.

                      http://banana1015.com/former-mayor-dayne-walling-explains-how-the-flint-water-crisis-started-video/

                    • “The decision to not use Detroit water in the interim while the pipeline was being built, but instead switch to the Flint River as a source, made by Emergency City Manager Kurtz, implemented by Emergency Manager Earley, reaffirmed by Emergency Manager Ambrose.”

                      Wrong, THAT decision, as I explained in my overview, was made after Detroit cancelled its contract to supply water before the pipeline was ready: “3.The months leading up to the Detroit shut-off deadline generated many meetings with the state and regulatory bodies. Mayor Dayne Walling, a Democrat, announced that the temporary supply would come from the Flint River. The plan for the switch was implement by state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early. The system went into operation in April of 2014.” It was joint decision, based on discussions among all parties. YOU are conflating decisions. The decision to use the Flint River was not imposed on Flint. It was a collective decision. You want Bad Guys. There were not bad guys in this decision other than Detroit, which could have allowed the current deal to continue until the pipeline was ready. There were not many options other than the Flint river, one Detroit abrogated the agreement.

                      http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/04/detroit_gives_notice_its_termi.html
                      http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/03/flint_residents_should_be_drin.html
                      http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/04/flint_gets_final_permit_approv.html

                      There is no way one can read the contemporaneous accounts of the decision and fairly characterize it as you do.

                    • You and these politicized activists WANT to believe that this was an evil Republican conspiracy to poison kids, which is a) insane and b) irresponsible. I have no dog in the hunt at all: heads should roll, damages be paid, lessons learned, but the presumption of criminal activity and racial motives is outrageous political warfare, and it will hurt, rather than help, the chances of getting at the truth.

                      It is undisputed that the water sampling done by the state was deeply flawed, and somehow deeply flawed in only one direction.

                      It simply beggars commonsense that this was an accident. They gamed the water samples, and did not tell residents whose houses were sampled, as they should have done, that their lead readings were way into hazardous waste territory so that they could protect themselves.

                      It is also undisputed that the state lied to the EPA when they assured they assured the EPA that they were practicing anticorrosive techniques, when they were not.

                      I have personally not said anything here about the political or racial motivations of the officials who deliberately hid the fact that there are dangerous amounts of lead in Flint’s water. That is because I don’t know what the officials’ motivations were in going out of their way to practice deception and reassure residents and the EPA that the water was safe to drink when it was not. It could be that that they were trying to avoid the political blowback at deciding to switch to the Flint River in the first place. or it could be that they were trying to cover up their incompetence at not using anticorrosives in the river water. And things snowballed from there. But who knows? However, from the information revealed so far, the deception was not an accident, but deliberate.

                    • It is undisputed that the water sampling done by the state was deeply flawed, and somehow deeply flawed in only one direction. It simply beggars commonsense that this was an accident.

                      Because you won’t concede that it could be, that’s all. That is not, in fact, true.

                      “They gamed the water samples, and did not tell residents whose houses were sampled, as they should have done, that their lead readings were way into hazardous waste territory so that they could protect themselves.”

                      Not factual; not proven; not true. Might be true, but unproven. They were wrong. Why they were wrong is unknown.

                      “It is also undisputed that the state lied to the EPA when they assured the EPA that they were practicing anticorrosive techniques, when they were not.”

                      The EPA has not accused them of lying, and they have not admitted to lying. Your statement is a lie. It is like me saying that it is undisputed that you are a moose. It’s “undisputed” because the allegation has not been denied. What is undisputed is that bad decisions were make, communicated and acted upon, based on bad information. They may have thought they had practiced anti-corrosive techniques. There may have been inadvertent miscommunications. Lies have not been proven: miscommunications designed to deceive.

                    • Does the EPA have to call it a lie before it qualifies as a lie? The emails show that the EPA asked if the state was adding the required anticorrosives to the water. The state responded that indeed, it was adding the chemicals to the water. That was a lie. Full stop. Somewhere down the line, someone falsified information, and reported facts that were not true.

                      …The EPA e-mail correctly informed MDEQ that Ms. Walters’ high lead was likely due to “… the different chemistry water…leaching out contaminants from the insides of…the pipes.” But MDEQ denied to EPA that that Flint had a lead in water problem.

                      At that point, EPA Region 5 lead-in-water expert Miguel Del Toral asked MDEQ a question through another EPA employee:

                      “Miguel was wondering if Flint is feeding Phosphates. Flint must have Optimal Corrosion Control Treatment-is it Phosphates?”

                      On February 27th, 2015, MDEQ’s Stephen Busch unequivocally and falsely responded to EPA that:

                      “The City of Flint…Has an Optimized Corrosion Control Program Conducts quarterly Water Quality Parameter monitoring at 25 sites and has not had any unusual results.”

                      Reassured by MDEQ’s false statement, Del Toral ended USEPA’s February conversation with MDEQ by stating:

                      “If I remember correctly, Detroit is feeding PO4 for the LCR, but since Flint is no longer part of that interconnection, I was wondering what their was. They are required to have in place which is why I was asking what they were using.”

                      …….

                      With good reason, Lee-Anne Walters did not accept the MDEQ’s explanation to Del Toral for the high lead in her water. The internal plumbing had been stolen from the house before it was purchased, and they had installed new (lead free) plastic plumbing before moving in.

                      Walters also checked up on the MDEQ statement that Flint had “an Optimized Corrosion Control Program.” She called the City of Flint, and city officials correctly informed her that there was no program at all.

                      Walters then passed this alarming information along to EPA’s Del Toral, who on April 23rd e-mailed MDEQ, and again asked what corrosion control program Flint was using. It was only then that MDEQ finally acknowledged that there was NO program. Concerned due to the very high occurrence of lead service lines (LSLs) in Flint, on April 27th Del Toral wrote an EPA Region 5 internal e-mail stating:

                      “Flint has not been operating any corrosion control treatment, which is very concerning given the likelihood of LSLs in the City.”

                      http://flintwaterstudy.org/2015/09/commentary-mdeq-mistakes-deception-flint-water-crisis/#corrcontrol

                    • Why do you assume they were lying? They were wrong. Until it is shown that there was an intent to deceive, rather than passing on incorrect information that the writer may have believed, the presumption has to be error. What has Stephen Busch said about this? Has he confirmed it? Denied it? Explained it? You are stating allegations as fact, before any investigation. Your source is an advocacy, adversary organization. It’s done good research and made a strong case. It may well be correct. That is not the same as fact.

                    • By the way, I assume you understand that I agree that this is massive negligence and incompetence, and I expect that there were and are cover-ups and people try to protect themselves. There was failure in oversight up and down, including the EPA, and breach of trust.

                      Still, the assumption that anyone callously, willfully and intentionally acted so as to make people harm themselves is insidious.

                    • The decision to use the Flint River was not imposed on Flint. It was a collective decision.

                      You do realize none of the links that you selected mention who actually made the decision to use the Flint River as the water source? There is nothing to back up your assertion that it was a collective decision. A mayor announcing something is not the same as a mayor making the decision (which he had no authority to make in the first place). There is no record of the city council voting on the measure.

                      There were not bad guys in this decision other than Detroit, which could have allowed the current deal to continue until the pipeline was ready. There were not many options other than the Flint river, one Detroit abrogated the agreement.

                      Detroit gave proper one year notification that once the contract ended in 2014, there would be a rate increase.The city could have just continued to use the Detroit water at the higher price for the extra year or two. That is precisely what the surrounding county chose to do.

                      http://www.aclumich.org/democracywatch/index.php/entry/flint-water-and-the-no-blame-game

                    • Why do you assume they were lying? They were wrong. Until it is shown that there was an intent to deceive, rather than passing on incorrect information that the writer may have believed, the presumption has to be error.

                      Because the city freely passed out to even members of the public that they were not doing any anticorrosive control?

                      Your source is an advocacy, adversary organization. It’s done good research and made a strong case.

                      I particularly like that link because it has the primary documents at the end, so you can draw your own conclusions.

            • How does that link prove what you said?

              It’s not safe to bathe in water heavily contaminated with lead. It’s unsafe to bathe small children in even warm water less heavily contaminated. It’s very unsafe indeed if there are any cuts or breaks in the skin.

              These are not secrets.

              While it’s not nearly as dangerous as drinking the stuff, the levels recorded at Flint have exceeded those for the substance to be classed as “toxic waste”.

              By rights, the place should be permanently evacuated, you just can’t clean up heavy metal contamination this widespread. At least cesium-137 has a half-life, heavy metals are forever, until leached away over centuries.

              “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services removed a poster from its website over the weekend advising Flint parents that bathing children is safe despite elevated levels of lead. Department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci said Monday the poster was outdated and will soon be replaced with a more detailed fact sheet.”

              • That they were wrong does not mean that they intentionally misled anyone. You are just employing classic hindsight bias. Until it is proven that they knew the water was toxic, you are just judging them by what we now know. Common, also unfair.

                • Until it is proven that they knew the water was toxic, you are just judging them by what we now know.

                  They knew the lead levels.
                  Anyone who knows the first thing about civil engineering knows those levels are wayyyyyy above the usual fairly conservative “unsafe” dose that’s really only unsafe if you drink it or the water’s really hot.

                  If I can make a comparison – it’s like a gun safety instructor who points a loaded firearm with safety off at someone and pulls the trigger.

                  It defies credulity to believe that he didn’t know that’s dangerous. I think you can say there’s a rebuttable presumption that he did, anyway.

                  • Who is “he”? Not Rick Snyder, surely. As I read the timeline, as soon as lead was found in the water by state testing, an alert went out. Another lesson of the fiasco is that vigilante outside environmental groups getting involved don’t help. What was the University of Virginia doing in there anyway? They have an agenda, and their whistle-blowing will be presumed to be politically motivated, making bureaucrats defensive. If I hear E. Brockavich, celebrity plaintiffs trial lawyer, making accusations like that, I assume she’s trolling for business.

                    • What was the University of Virginia doing in there anyway? They have an agenda, and their whistle-blowing will be presumed to be politically motivated, making bureaucrats defensive.

                      Virginia Tech. Marc Edwards works there. He is a famous(in his own area of expertise) for forcing the CDC to admit they covered up the lead problem in DC drinking water around 2004. He is considered an expert on municipal drinking water. A few residents sent him samples to test, the results were so horrifying and unbelievable that he came to Flint in person to check it out for himself.

                      It was the announcement that he and his team would be coming to check the water in Flint that motivated the state to finally start adding the anticorrosives to the water.

            • Just ask Michael Moore, who posted that he hoped the governor would be arrested and tried for crimes against the people of Flint for letting bad water reach a poor black population. Gads, that fat idiot needs to be put against a wall and shot.

              • This is a telltale sign of the totalitarian strain in the progressive ranks…we see it in demands that Bush and Cheney be tried for “war crimes,” that Wall Street execs be jailed when there was no law to break, and that “climate change deniers” be prosecuted. Moore and a frightening number of individuals on the left believe that anyone who disagrees with them, or whose good faith actions have bad results for the left’s favored groups, should be imprisoned. Yet I have never heard a Democratic leader condemn this attitude.

                • Believe me, that’s all bad, but no one ever went forward with anything to those effects, and let’s not forget Ted Rall’s call in an editorial to the DC police chief to go to 1600 Pennsylvania and arrest GWB on the spot, her country was counting on her (In all fairness to Ted, he’s had a few less than wonderful things to say about Dem officials too, so he can’t be dismissed as a partisan hack).

                  What’s far worse than any of this bluster and opinion, however, was the infamous John Doe probe into Wisconsin politics carried out by Milwaukee DA John Chisholm, probably at the behest of his wife, a teachers’ union bigwig, which DID actually result in arrests, searches, and people’s lives being turned upside down. Eventually the courts put a stop to this Gestapo-like bullying, but more than a few on the left have absolutely no problem with it because Scott Walker, one of their most hated enemies, was involved. If a GOP DA started leaning on unions or protest groups the same way, or if a Republican governor started having the state investigative agencies put phone taps on groups opposed to him, they’d scream bloody murder.

                  I have probably gotten cynical as I move into middle age, but I am convinced fewer and fewer folks on both sides of the aisle are true believers in anything except their own power, influence, and wealth. Once they have acquired any of these things, they will do anything necessary to keep them, and if it means defying the law (when out of power) or abusing the power of government (when in power) they will do it. Anyone who gets in the way from the other side is worthless, anyone who gets in the way from their side is not a true believer.

                  • And this ultimately undermines any reasonable foundation for accountability. Accountability must be some relation to conduct.

                    I also note that not all fiascos have villains blameworthy enough to justify them falling on their swords (though in this case the voters of Flint thought so with respect to Mayor Walling and Governor Snyder thought so with respect to Dan Wyant) It all depends on specific actions that specific actors took or refused to take, and what their duties were.

                    finally, this article explains the very root of how flint ended up with contaminated water in the first instance.

                    http://www.qualitydigest.com/inside/management-column/011116-minor-changes-major-consequences.html

                    MOC says that anything new, different, or nonroutine (such as repairs, equipment replacement, and process startups) creates a safety risk, but the same principle also applies to quality risks.

      • I’m thinking more about this, because it pisses me off, and should piss YOU off. Maybe it will. This writer is intentionally misrepresenting the story by false framing. He writes: “Flint Michigan is currently experiencing a water crisis, where basically all tap-water has been rendered toxic due to lead contamination. This is not a natural disaster and is a direct result of reckless cost-cutting by the unelected bureaucrat who Governor Snyder appointed to run the city under the state’s controversial “Emergency Financial Manager” law.”

        That’s false, but it’s the narrative, going along with Hillary’s “poor black city” smear. The white State government needs to cut budget, so it naturally victimizes a community with a lot of blacks, risking children’s lives: pure evil racism. Bullshit. Utter bullshit. Here’s the misleading follow-up: “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to a the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.”

        Sager doesn’t mention the crucial fact that this plan was generated in Flint, not Lansing, and voted on, 7-1, by FLINT’s City Council, before Kurtz “signed off”. But Sager doesn’t mention that because it destroys his, and his team’s, evil racist governor myth. If it was Flint that wanted the change, out goes the “poor black victim of evil budget cutters afraid to tax the rich” tale. I have read multiple mainstream news accounts that begin the story with the same misleading “Kurtz signed off” as if it was his idea, or his bosses.

        It was Flint’s plan. Flint’s. The story reads very differently once that is understood. Not that there is any reason to trust this blogger.

  2. Jack:
    “Should Snyder resign?

    He wasn’t responsible for the fiasco, but he’s accountable: it’s his state, environmental protection agency, and water boards. He’s not the only one who should step up and fall on his sword, but sure: if you’ve read here for long, you know I support leaders and managers losing their jobs when a massive screw-ups happens on their watch, especially when, like this one, it is a joint effort.” You then presented a fairly long list of candidates for Seppuku.

    I agree completely; and disagree just as completely.

    I have mentioned before that I am opposed to the Darth Vader school of man management. If someone has to fall on their sword every time they fail somewhere – even fail fairly spectacularly – not only will it be impossible for people to learn from their mistakes but we will soon run out of people who have any sort of competence at all.

    An example:
    Arthur Wellesley purchased a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel in the 33rd Regiment – he was already in the army and had seen some action by that time. At the battle of Seringapatam he advanced at night over un-reconnoitred ground and was soundly defeated resulting in some twenty five men killed. It has been suggested that if his brother had not been Governor-General of India he would have been court-martialed. We would never have had the Duke of Wellington, the only undefeated commander of his era.

    Surely as people move up the chain of command their opportunities for catastrophic failure increase at each step. Added to that, the further up you go the more you are dependent on the performance of those below you. This, coupled with armchair critics and those with an agenda, can lead to a situation where the ‘boss’ cops it in the back for situations that are completely beyond their control.

    An example:
    The First World War naval Battle of Jutland, and the British Commander Sir John Jellicoe, were much criticised over subsequent years. The Royal Navy ran a battle school on the situation for over thirty years. At one such session, whilst he was present, Jellicoe was soundly criticised by all taking part. At the end Jellicoe was asked to comment. He walked out onto the floor – a map of the entire North Sea – and drew a circle around his flagship, commenting: “Always remember, that was the limit of my visibility”.

    I am not suggesting for one second that people should not be held accountable for their failures; and the idea that the failure was multifaceted does not excuse people for their part in the fiasco. Equally I am certain that invariably hanging a couple of people out to dry so that we have a scapegoat is just as unprofitable. In Australia Workplace Health and Safety is a big (bureaucratic nightmare) issue, but a key feature is identifying failures and trying to ensure they don’t happen again.

    Certainly incompetence or maleficence can not be overlooked, but revenge, for want of a better word, is not helpful.

    People have to step up and publicly accept responsibility for their part in a fiasco like this without trying to deflect or share the blame. But ALL involved need to do that and the situation must be assessed thoroughly for lessons to be learned rather than a trial by media and innuendo. Fat chance of that, much to the detriment of us all. By the way, anyone who does not step up and is then found to be culpably involved gets the axe, no ifs and buts.

    Quite probably the governor, and others, should fall on their swords but equally if they do so and say: “I stuffed up, I’m sorry I will try to learn from this” then I would be happy for them to run for their positions again; and I’d vote for them.

    If we do not allow people to fail and recover we are doomed.

    But then, as I’ve said before, I’m an incurable romantic!

    • Great post, Paul. I may repeat this when I post as a Comment of the Day, but nothing is so disastrous to a system and a culture as horrible things happening and nobody being held strictly accountable. Darth Vader is a nicely negative image, but should Don Rumsfeld have resigned after Abu Ghraib? Absolutely, and he tried. That was a high level chain of command botch: my Dad was livid that they chose some mid-level general to hang it on. The military usually does this correctly: Kimmel couldn’t have stopped Pearl Harbor, but he was accountable, and was rightly held so. Obviously, the disaster has to be epic to require the Darth treatment—not all of the Obama-ites necessarily should have resigned, perhaps. Perhaps.

      • but nothing is so disastrous to a system and a culture as horrible things happening and nobody being held strictly accountable.

        Define strict accountability, and explain how it is different from regular old accountability. .

      • The Bushido school of management might also be appropriate, where any samurai who failed or acted dishonorably was bound to take his own life (as mentioned above by Paul). Many were the abject failures removed, but also many were the competent officers whose careers ended early.

        John Jellicoe was treated unfairly because the British public was brought up on Trafalgar and was disappointed when he did not achieve a similar victory, nothing less than which was expected.

        The British public didn’t grasp the difference between close-in combat with sailing ships of the line and combat at a distance with dreadnoughts. They also didn’t understand that a lot of the British losses at Jutland (including 3 high-profile battle cruisers) were due to technical lessons with regard to anti-flash devices that the Royal Navy hadn’t learned yet, but the Germans had learned at the Dogger Bank earlier in the war. The British public, and the political leadership, certainly didn’t want to hear that that Jutland was a strategic victory since it sent the Kaiserliche Marine running for home with every battle cruiser except SMS Moltke unfit for battle and left the Grand Fleet in command of the sea. Jellicoe would also have been well within his rights to point to David Beatty’s “cowboy” handling of the UK battle cruiser fleet in the opening stages of the battle, charging ahead with his six fastest ships and leaving the four most powerful ones behind, resulting in the loss of two battle cruisers early on, not to mention his failure to provide intelligence as the battle progressed.

        That said, after the battle all UK capital ships were fitted with anti-flash devices, so that a hit on a turret wouldn’t flash over into a magazine explosion. Neither Beatty nor Jellicoe’s careers were particularly badly hurt by the battle, Jellicoe was later First Sea Lord (removed for reasons that had nothing to do with Jutland) and Governor-General of New Zealand, and Beatty also became First Sea Lord (and might have been Governor-General of Canada but for the political powers that be thinking he had no manners and an impossible American wife).

        If anyone deserved to be relieved of command or otherwise punished, it was Beatty, not Jellicoe. It really isn’t fair to hang a top commander out to dry when his subordinates don’t pass him information. That said, subordinates also shouldn’t be thrown under the bus to protect incompetent managers just because they are high-profile or politically connected.

    • In Australia Workplace Health and Safety is a big (bureaucratic nightmare) issue, but a key feature is identifying failures and trying to ensure they don’t happen again.

      Certainly incompetence or maleficence can not be overlooked, but revenge, for want of a better word, is not helpful.

      Correct. I don’t care if those concerned were D or R, I’m concerned about the culture of cover-up and ignoring inconvenient facts that made what was originally a manageable problem into a catastrophic one.

      Usually you detect and mitigate early, then write up a “lessons learnt” paper to stop it happening again. But when tests are faked, well, Reality wins in the end…

      • Zoebrain, your comment: “Usually you detect and mitigate early” resonates with a comment made by a pilot mate of mine.

        “Accidents don’t happen because of a mistake. They happen because a string of mistakes that were missed or not dealt with.”

  3. It’s clear from what deery is determined to believe that there will be no accountability and no way for this to be a learning experience that helps avoid the next serial disaster. There will be hundreds of excuses, thousands of justifications, cover-ups over cover-ups and the only thing learned will be that with the proper motivation and complicity any government fiasco can happen with no consequences to any of the players. And, significantly, no recognition that all of the citizens are harmed not just the ones who cry racist.

    It’s not at all fear mongering to see that the day will come when we all (all the survivors, that is) return to living by our own resources. And again, we can try to build it up with an ethical foundation. This is the pattern of history. Depressing. Especially for the people at the end of the cycle who could and should keep it from happening, but never are able to do it.

  4. It seems to me that the basis of this trouble was both two fold and commonplace in big city politics. First off, you had a city seeped in a corrupt political machine that was entrenched for a generation or more, just as Detroit itself was. Making incompetent decisions was likely nothing new to the Flint City Council, along with the knowledge that whatever happened (barring state prosecution for malfeasance, as with Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick) they were unlikely to be turned out by their blind electorate and were sure to get a fat pension whenever they did leave office. The second factor was that of too many levels of government tripping over each other. Given the endemic urban corruption, Governor Snyder was wise to implement a policy of appointed city managers to put a lid on the wasteful mismanagement that was likewise a drain of the state’s coffers. Obviously, this system was not as successful in Flint (!) as it was in Detroit. Snyder’s biggest mistake seems to have been getting two of the federal government’s most notoriously unaccountable and unconstitutional agencies- FEMA and EPA- involved to dirty up the waters; both figuratively and literally. The spoiling facet of it all was older piping systems with leaden elements exposed to dissolution in the water. That would have taken a big investment to cure, something that the city was unlikely to be able to raise due to a deteriorated economy and tax base… which likely stemmed from the city’s long standing corrupt policies.

  5. Wait a minute. The left is going after an un-elected bureaucrat? Am I reading that correctly? A bureaucrat? An appointed one? Like, oh, say, that head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, who’s single-handedly decided carbon is a pollutant regulated by the Clean Air Act? That kind of bureaucrat? Like the bureaucrats in Brussels running Europe into the ground? Those highly educated, elite, well paid, well-intentioned bureaucrats?

    • Different kind of bureaucrat, so it’s okay. You see, these guys went in to clean up the messes of previous Lefties, so are evil. If this had been a Progressive Bureaucrat, we would have only heard about a little whoopsy in Flint instead of the full-on crisis that is getting exploded right now.

      Does anybody believe that if there were a big D after Rick Snyder’s name that we’d be hearing about this at all?

  6. I hadn’t heard or read about the crisis before a commenter here mentioned it in passing, and really outrageous memes started showing up on Facebook, posted there by my left-wing actor friends who should stay on stage and out of politics.

    You should link this blog post in the comment section of those memes.

  7. Bernie and Hillary would never consider squat about Flint if this was 2013. Appears to me the appointed manager wanted to save a few bucks since Flint was essentially living on state and federal city welfare and I can understand that. Eventually, when all the vociferous dust settles one can point fingers and if all goes as I expect there will be plenty of recipients.

    If it was the blame game and a Republican Governor appointed an incompetent (real or imagined) just what long term political folly made that appointment necessary?

  8. Here’s a related deflection that might be worthy of some discussion.

    The lead is a problem that can be fixed by throwing millions of dollars at it and maybe some administrators and politicians should fall on their swords for it happening under their watch, but what is the ROOT problem here?

    The river water is corrosive enough to eat pipes and dissolve lead, that is the ROOT problem for Flint and the immediate surrounding area and it’s likely a problem for many other rivers across the United States; how the heck did the water get that corrosive and how does it get cleaned up. Is the source of the upriver contamination natural or is it man made? What happens if the source contamination of the river is man made, which is quite likely?

    Here’s an interesting read I found on that very topic; I’m no chemist so I have no idea the validity but it’s an interesting read and attempts to address the root problem

    http://www.fixthemitten.com/blog/what-makes-flint-river-water-so-corrosive

  9. “Why doesn’t everybody know about this?

    Good question! My cynical answer is that President Obama hasn’t said—yet—that some of the children poisoned by the water in Flint could have been his kids, but I’m in a bad mood.”

    Funny story:

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/20/obama-if-i-was-a-parent-in-flint-i-would-be-furious-about-water/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+breitbart+%28Breitbart+News%29

    Sorry.

    • That’s not a comment. That’s a bald assertion…any idiot can say that. I’ve been following this and the more we know, the more it’s clear that there was multiple incompetence and negligence at multiple levels of government, including the EPA. If you have a point, you ass, make it. I have no agenda here. More information has been revealed, but my conclusions still holds up pretty well: Rick Snyder is not the main villain, and isn’t it fascinating that Kanye West hasn’t said that THIS administration doesn’t care about black people, despite the late response by the EPA?

      You have 24 hours to post exactly WHAT inaccuracies are in this post. If they are genuine and not political crap, I’ll make corrections. If you just have more of nothing, like this post, I’m deleting this, and banning you. It’s 8:20 PM, EST, Wednesday.

  10. It’s a violation of a federal law to not treat the water with an anti-corrosive agent. Who gave the order to break the law? A few months after the switch tests results showing high lead levels stated showing up, Emails were sent noting this. Why were all the warning data of problems ignored?

    • Judy Klein said, “It’s a violation of a federal law to not treat the water with an anti-corrosive agent.”

      Question for anyone regarding what Judy said:
      If what Judy said is true, and since Flint tapped into the Detroit water supply, is this whole fiasco the fault of Detroit for not treating the water with an anti-corrosive agent or was it still Flint’s responsibility to treat the water with an anti-corrosive agent?

      I wonder if I’m drinking anti-corrosive agents in my municipal water supply, that just doesn’t sound very appetizing or safe? What else does the government require to be dumped into our water supply that I don’t know about?

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