Now that Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley is facing the prospect of a year in prison for contempt, one wonders if he might be persuaded to work with prosecutors

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Yesterday, retired Michigan 36th District Court Judge Gregory Ellis “Greg” Mathis came right out and said what a lot of us have been thinking for a while now… that what happened in Flint has all the makings of a criminal case. The EMU-grad-turned-television-personality put it his way: “It appears that there’s criminal negligence here,” he said. “Certain people had knowledge of the fact that the water was poisoned, and did not act on that knowledge. And, in fact, denied it to be the case. That’s gross negligence, which, in many cases, can be criminal.”

And, it would seem, others are coming to this same conclusion… It was announced today, just as Congressional hearings on the Flint crisis are about to get underway, that the FBI has now been brought on to assist with the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into who knew what, and when they knew it.

Unfortunately, though, it would appear that, while various federal investigations are moving forward, those individuals closest to what actually happened in Flint, have decided not to cooperate. Most notably, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, who had been subpoenaed to testify in front of Congress tomorrow, has made it clear that he has no plans to comply.

As for Governor Snyder, he has not been called to testify under oath during tomorrow’s Congressional hearings into what happened in Flint, much to the dismay of Congressional Democrats. [It would appear that Committee Chair, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, is doing his fellow Republican a favor by not calling him to testify under oath.] Here, with more on the hearings, is a clip from the Detroit News.

…Several committee Democrats, including Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, have criticized Snyder’s exclusion from Wednesday’s hearing. (Rep. Dan Kildee) has also said that Snyder should be called to testify.

“At Wednesday’s hearing, we won’t hear from the governor, any of the emergency managers he appointed in Flint, or anyone else from the state who was involved in making decisions that led to this crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the ranking member on the Oversight and Government Reform panel.

“In our search for the truth, we must hear from everyone involved to understand what happened. Having such a one-sided hearing undermines the credibility of the committee and subjects the committee to accusations of partisanship”…

It might take a while, but I’m confident that the truth will eventually come out. People will invariably begin to turn on one another. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Earley will likely be the first to flip. While I imagine he’ll be leaving his most recent Emergency Manager gig, as head of Detroit Public Schools, with a hefty severance package, I don’t believe it will be enough to buy his silence for long, especially as the prospect of serving time in prison becomes more of a possibility. [While his severance package wasn’t mentioned, the Governor announced earlier today that Early would be leaving DPS on February 29.]

And prison time is a distinct possibility now that Early has made it clear that he won’t be testifying before Congress. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena can lead to a charge of contempt of Congress which, upon conviction, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment for up to a year.”

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Early likes the Governor enough to spend a year in jail for him… Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how things evolve as the noose begins to tighten.

Before I wrap up for the night, there’s one more quote I want to share from Judge Greg Mathis. “We prepare against terrorist attacks every day,” he said yesterday, “wondering about our water being poisoned by terrorists. Well, in this case, it’s been poisoned by our own government. And we need to react like we would if terrorists had attached our people.”

It’s an interesting thing to consider… how the response to the situation in Flint would have been different had it been Muslim terrorists who had conspired to deliver untreated water from the Flint River to people’s homes, poisoning an untold number of people, and killing several from Legionnaires’ disease. If that were the case, would we accept a Congressional hearing that didn’t call people with relevant knowledge? Would we have been so slow to call for aid? Would we now be so forgiving of those individuals who knew early on and yet did not act?

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12 Comments

  1. Steven
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The Congressional hearing is streaming online.

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?404078-1/hearing-contaminated-drinking-water-flint-michigan&live

  2. Jim
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Schuette’s decision to defend the governor but not DEQ employees gives them reason to flip too.

  3. Mr. X
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Jason Chaffetz says that another subpoena will be issued for Earley, and this one will be delivered in person by the U.S. Marshals. He will be compelled to testify, Chaffetz says.

  4. 734
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Cummings let the chairman have it for not asking Snyder to testify. It was beautiful.

  5. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I did not find Cummings rant beautiful. I saw it as political grandstanding. Snyder is going to be forced to testify, no? This is just a first step in the investigation, right?

  6. 734
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    So, FF, you don’t think it’s important for our Governor to testify?

  7. Lynne
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to think about how different the national response would be if this were caused by foreign terrorists. People would be freaking out!

    However, this was caused by decades of neglect followed by what looks like it could be criminal negligence. The indifference of most middle class white Michiganders towards their poorer and more dark skinned fellow citizens continues as it has for my entire life.

    In my dreams, they put Synder in a cell next to Kwame so they can hang out and talk politics all day but I am not sure if that might not be considered cruel and unusal punishment. For the other prisoners who would have to listen.

  8. Conspiracy
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    if I were Earley I’d buy a gun, smash my cell phone, cut up my credit cards and drop off the map. I’m sure Devos has Kervorkian’s van gassed up and looking for him.

  9. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    No, I do think Snyder absolutely needs to testify eventually. Transparency needs to be demanded. The executive privilege on Snyder’s emails is not good… Maybe I do not understand how the process works. I assume this is going to be drawn out. My questions were sincere. The hearing today was just a first step in the process, right? I might be wrong but I assume and hope the hearings will be like putting together pieces of a puzzle and Snyder is definitely one of the pieces. Day 1 is not the best time for the Snyder piece–that is my thinking…Especially since Flint is still in crisis mode–the chairman mentioned excusing others because Flint is mid crisis–I am assuming the same line of thinking applies to Snyder.

  10. 734
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Yes, FF, the investigation will be ongoing. My sense, however, given the tone of Representative Cummings, is that the Chair has no intention of calling Snyder. That may change, however. As Cummings also said, many Republicans would not have called the hearing in the first place. At least Chaffetz was willing to do that much. I’m hopeful that he will do more.

  11. Peter Larson
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I have never seen these people before.

  12. Jim
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Marcy Wheeler observes that former DEQ head Dan Wyant appears to be the source of the Legionnaires email revealed Wednesday. https://www.emptywheel.net/2016/02/04/deq-employees-seem-unwilling-to-take-the-fall-for-flint/

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