As promised, I will continue to follow the Flint Water crisis here. Yesterday, the Attorney General of Michigan held a press conference to announce three indictments in the affair. Two were state workers, and one worked for the Flint Water Works. They are all low to mid level workers.
The AG, Bill Schuette declared that this is a “new beginning back to the people trusting government again.” Nice words indeed. And, the fact that three people were indicted in this crime against humanity is a good start.
Schuette also declared that “this is just the beginning” and that we can expect more indictments. He further went on to say that “no one is above the law”. Everything yesterday gave some hope that the real perpetrators of this crime will be held responsible.
However, Schuette did say something that disturbed me. He said “I don’t care about motive, I only care about the truth.” That may sound nice, but any first year law student will tell you that you have to prove “motive” to get a conviction.
So, we now have three low to mid level employees indicted for what essentially is “covering up” the lead testing results. The administration in Michigan wants you to believe that “things are under control” and that everything will be just fine.
Wrong! The lead pipes that is at the root the problem are not being replaced fast enough. The problem wasn’t the Flint River Water was contaminated with lead, it was the pipes. It was the fact that anti-corrosion was not added to keep the pipes from leaching its poison into the water.
This leaching problem still exists. The Governor bravely announced that he was going to drink Flint Water for a month to prove it was safe. He had his video crew show him filing up three gallon jugs of water from a tap in a house in Flint.
Something that was not reported. Yes, they did mention that the home had a filter on the tap. What they didn’t tell you is that filter is supposed to remove up to 150 ppb of lead from water. They also didn’t tell you that just a month before the Governor “filled his jugs” that same house was tested, with the filter attached, and the results were 250 ppb. I hope for his own health the Governor had the water tested before he filled his jugs.
Even still, the filters will help with drinking water and maybe for cooking. But, what about showers? What about washing your clothes? These filters will do nothing to help those activities. And, they are expensive, especially if you are already poor.
The only way to really “fix” the problem is to get rid of all of the lead pipes in Flint. The City of Flint is slowly trying to do that. They are scraping money together to try to rid the city of all of its lead pipes. The State on the other hand hasn’t done a thing to help Flint get rid of the pipes.
The State Legislature says it may “talk about it in the fall session”. They have offered no money to help the city replace the pipes. The Federal Government has tried to help, but Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has put a hold on the bill because he doesn’t think the federal government should help with “a local problem”.
As a result of this wonderful “Christian” Senator from Utah, the City of Flint isn’t getting the help they need. Money to help replace the pipes and for health care of those already poisoned, is being held up by a blow-hard not interested in the welfare of the citizens of this country.
Additionally, the Governor was asked if he had been questioned by the State’s investigating team. He said he was not questioned, but his office was “cooperating” with the investigation. I find that somewhat remarkable. The Governor appointed the so-called Emergency Manager for Flint. It was the Emergency Manager that made the decision to switch the water source for Flint. It was the Emergency Manager who criticized and attacked the people of Flint when they complained about bad water. And, the only person the Emergency Manager reported to was the Governor, himself.
Shortly after the water was switched and no anti-corrosion was added, the GM plant in Flint switched its water source away from the Flint water. Why? Because it was harming engine parts. You cannot tell me that the Emergency Manager nor the Governor was not aware of this fact. I guess they consider engine parts more important than people’s lives.
So, how is it that four months into the investigation no one has talked to these people? How is it that two years after the people of Flint were poisoned by the State is nothing being by the State to help them “fix” the problem? The only real answer is because “fixing” the problem will mean spending money on a poor community. Something that Governor Snyder has shown a loathing to do.
At the beginning of this mess, an investigative journalist working for the Michigan Chapter of the ACLU asked the Governor’s spokesperson about the water switch and who authorized it. She said “there was no decision. The City of Detroit forced the switch upon us.” As it turns out, that statement is a blatant lie. Records indicate that the City of Detroit did not “force” the switch on Flint.
Monday will mark the two-year anniversary of the water source switch. The people of Flint still don’t have “safe” drinking water. There is no “door-to-door” delivery of bottled water in Flint. There is no state money to replace the lead pipes in Flint. There is no Federal Money to help Flint, thanks to Mike Lee. There is only contaminated water that the residence are still supposed to drink, cook, wash and bathe in.
Yesterday, the media was filled with the news about the indictments. This morning, there is virtually nothing about the indictments or anything else about the Flint Water Crisis. Something else that is not in the news. It is reported that approximately 30 percent of all pipes used to transport water are lead pipes, nationwide!
That means that you have a 30 percent chance of having lead pipes bringing water to your house. The other thing not being reported is that the Democrats in the Senate introduced a bill yesterday in the Senate to replace all the lead pipes across the nation.
Nobody expects it to pass as it is. So, they are planning to use the old Republican trick and hide it in other necessary bills. Or at least parts of it. The total estimated tab for replacing all of the lead pipes in the country is about 70 billion dollars. Some Republicans, like Mike Lee, are saying that is too much to pay.
Imagine that. 70 Billion Dollars is too much to pay to ensure “safe” drinking water for the citizens of what is the richest country in the world! If you are thinking about voting Republican this election, think about the 30 percent chance that you are drinking water from lead pipes and they think 70 Billion Dollars is too much to pay to replace all of the lead pipes in the country.
The only good news about the Flint Water Crisis is that other places have started testing their water as well. Lead contamination has been found in several places around the country. Flint is not alone in this problem.
There is a major infrastructure problem in this country. The American Engineers have graded our infrastructure with a “D”. But, as always, Republicans claim it costs “too much money” to fix the problems. Well let me ask. Just how much money are 100,000 people’s lives worth? How much money are the children of those people worth? Just 5 ppb of lead in your drinking water can result in permanent brain damage!
Maybe instead of filing law suits in court to fight the Affordable Care Act Republicans should be spending that money to fix the lead pipe problem in this country. The longer they wait, the more health care will cost all of us because of the lead poisoning that is happening all across the nation.
I asked if these indictments were a “new beginning” or a “whitewash”. Only time will give us the answer to that question. I am hoping that Schuette is an honest man. I also know that he has ambitions to be the next Governor of Michigan.
The real question that needs to be asked is “why did these three men falsify the records, and who ordered them to do so.” Or as Senator Baker once asked “who knew what, and when did they know it?”
These indictments may be a “new beginning” as Schuette said. But, until the Governor demands that the State Legislature provide the necessary money to replace all the lead pipes in Flint, the crime there will continue and the people will continue to suffer. As this crime continues, the people of Flint will have no “new beginning”!