Rachel Maddow lays the Flint water public health emergency at the feet of Governor Rick Snyder

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who got pissed off a few days ago, when hearing Michigan Governor Rick Snyder suggest that the kids in Flint who are suffering from lead poisoning could have been poisoned not by the actions of his administration, which knowingly continued sending lead tainted water into their homes, but by eating lead paint from the walls of Flint’s aging buildings. Rachel Maddow ended her most recent show with Snyder making the same claim, after spending a good fifteen minutes detailing the “reckless radicalism” that brought us to this point in Michigan, where our democratically elected officials are being usurped by appointees of our Governor who don’t care about either our communities, or, apparently, our health. Please watch and share.

As several of you brought up the last time we discussed the situation in Flint, there’s certainly plenty of blame to go around. The Flint City Council voted in favor of the plan put forward by Snyder’s Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, to source untreated water from the Flint River as a stopgap measure until such time that a new pipeline could be built to bring in water from Lake Huron. And the move to use river water was largely made in response to the Detroit Regional Water Authority’s decision to raise their rates in order to make improvements to aging infrastructure. But the thing that really pisses me off here isn’t so much the decision to source water from the Flint River, and deliver it to people’s homes untreated, contrary to all known industry standards, but the actions by members of the Snyder administration, after having made that decision, to discredit those scientists and public health officials who came forward with evidence proving that the water being given to the people of Flint was toxic. The decision to switch over to Flint River water, I can attribute to ineptitude. It’s difficult, given that everyone in the industry seems to know that untreated river water can leach lead from a city’s existing water delivery infrastructure, but I can accept the possibility that Snyder and his people didn’t knowingly choose to poison the people of Flint. What I cannot accept, however, is their work after the fact to discredit those who stepped forward to tell people what was actually happening, and warn the people of Flint to stop drinking the water. That, to me, is unconscionable, and people should be serving time in prison for it.


As for Snyder’s repeated claims that ‘lots of things can cause lead poisoning,’ and that the recent spike in the number of children in Flint testing positive for lead poisoning isn’t necessarily the fault of his administration’s decision to pump untreated water from the Flint River through the city’s pipes, I think it’s pathetic. But it’s exactly what I’d expect from our MBA Governor. Like any good CEO, his main objective now isn’t to help these people who will be suffering for the rest of their lives as a result of his decisions, but to make it more difficult for them to win their inevitable legal cases. And, he’s right when he says that other things, like the eating of lead paint chips, can cause lead poisoning. It’s shameful and disgusting, and it defies logic to suggest that the kids just started eating lead paint chips at a higher rate in Flint at the exact same time that the Flint River water started flowing into homes, but the job of a CEO in modern times, as we’ve seen repeatedly these past several years, is to lie your ass off in order to avoid responsibility, and that’s what he’s doing. There are no morals. There is only money.

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  1. Demetrius
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Snyder and his cronies need to be prosecuted, and put in jail.

  2. anonymous
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    It will never happen, but I agree, Demetrius.

  3. Meta
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    No one is accountable.

    Under the emergency manager law, Public Act 436, which was passed by the state’s right-wing government after voters repealed a similar law at the polls, emergency managers are immune from liability.

    “An emergency manager is immune from liability as provided in section 7(5) of 1964 PA 170, MCL 691.1407. A person employed by an emergency manager is immune from liability as provided in section 7(2) of 1964 PA 170, MCL 691.1407.”

    Read more:

  4. Christine
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The whole thing makes me feel so helpless. I wish we could recall him. He belongs with Kwame in jail.

  5. Jim Pyke
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    This is a prime example of what I think is the inevitable endpoint under our current and longstanding corporatist oligarchy.

    More people will, for all intents and purposes, begin dying in the streets as a result of our deeply corrupted system of governance, and until the “right” people, or “enough” people are dying in the streets, we will not see a popular uprising to reverse the misdeeds of the past decades of de-regulation/mis-regulation and income redistribution favoring the already wealthy.

    I hope we can avert more calamities like this one in Flint, but I fear there are many more such calamities on the horizon for us.

    Please be thoughtful and careful, everyone. Both on your own behalf, and on behalf of others.

  6. Chris Buhalis
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    This is the endgame of the Emergency Manager model. There is a reason that EMs are explicitly granted immunity for their actions and that the law cannot be repealed by voters because of the old “appropriation” game that our legislature loves. The law is completely contrary to representative government and we’ve let these radical dimwits take control of our state and 20% of the world’s freshwater. I don’t think prosecution is enough. Tarring and feathering comes closer. I think Snyder and his lackeys, or anyone who knowingly poisons the water supply of a city, should be treated like terrorists.

  7. jcp2
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s more than just a corporatist oligarchy leading to this public health disaster. The Michigan Democratic party controls only the seats around Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Saginaw, Muskegon, Manistee, and Marquette. The rest of Michigan is Republican, including areas that are doing really poorly from an economic standpoint. There is also a sharp rural/urban divide to the point that the rural constituencies don’t really care what happens in the urban areas. We easily forget that Michigan is primarily a rural state with a small corner of big city.

  8. Meta
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    From the ACLU:

    The State of Michigan attempted to cover up the fact that its own data revealed a significant spike in lead found in Flint children after the state forced the city to draw water from the Flint River, a researcher who studied the Flint crisis has alleged.

    In a posting Monday on the website FlintWaterStudy.org, Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards accused the state of neglecting the lead-poisoning issue even though Michigan officials knew as early as summer 2014 that there was a problem.

    “They [Michigan Department of Human and Services officials] discovered scientifically conclusive evidence of an anomalous increase in childhood lead poisoning in summer 2014 immediately after the switch in water sources, but stood by silently as Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) officials repeatedly and falsely stated that no spike in blood lead levels (BLL) of children had occurred,” wrote Edwards

    Last summer, Edwards joined forces with a coalition of Flint residents and the ACLU of Michigan to conduct an independent test of water entering the homes of Flint residents. Those tests found lead levels dramatically higher than those being claimed by state and city officials.

    This new report, prompted by state e-mails obtained by Edwards under the Freedom of Information Act, adds to the emerging picture of a state government more concerned with concealing the potential health hazards that resulted from the water-source switch than with addressing the risks themselves.

    Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, ordered that the city switch from the Detroit water system to the caustic Flint River in April 2014.

    As part of his latest allegations, Edwards reports that state officials “stonewalled” his attempts to obtain data that would have proven that the amount of lead being found in Flint children took a significant jump in the summer immediately following the switch to the Flint River.

    Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, head of pediatrics at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, also had trouble obtaining that data. Instead, she eventually turned to Genesee County records, where she found the same disturbing results the state was apparently trying to keep under wraps.

    In a particularly disturbing announcement, Hanna-Attisha disclosed at a press conference Monday that, in one area of Flint, “the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels, increasing from 4.9 percent to 15.7 percent” following the switch to the Flint River.

    There is no safe level of lead.

    In a blistering critique of state agencies involved in the crisis, Edwards disclosed Monday his e-mail to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services expressing frustration over the lack of disclosure and transparency concerning such a crucial public health issue:

    “It seems your agency is more interested in public relations than sound science.”

    Read more:

  9. Mike Woolson
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I have been hearing about this for a while because I have Michigan friends, but I can tell you from California that it’s getting traction as a national story.

  10. 734
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Maddow had another piece about Flint tonight.


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