Saying, “Some people failed to act, others minimized harm done and arrogantly chose to ignore data, some intentionally altered figures and covered up significant health risks,” Michigan Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced criminal charges yesterday against six current and former state employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in connection to the Flint water crisis, bringing the total number of those charged to eight. The following clip comes from the Slate.
…Per Schuette and other officials who spoke Friday, Michigan DHHS employees commissioned a report in July 2015 that found rising blood-lead levels in Flint children but then “buried” its results. The MDEQ employees are charged with hiding evidence that Flint’s water did not meet federal standards.
Said Schuette: “Each of these individuals attempted to bury, or cover up, to downplay or hide information that contradicted their own narrative and their story—and their narrative and their story was that there was nothing wrong with Flint’s water.”
Independently gathered evidence that Flint’s water contained dangerously high amounts of lead, and that many children in the city had high levels of lead in their blood, was made public in September 2015. The city (under state supervision) had switched to a new water source in April 2014 but failed to take proper precautions to prevent lead from plumbing materials from leaching into tap water…
And now the question becomes, will Governor Snyder be held accountable for the role that he played. The following comes from Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint.
“While it is important for us to hold all bad actors within the state government accountable for their action or inaction leading up to the Flint water crisis, we cannot lose sight of who holds ultimate responsibility. The decision to switch the water systems was made by one single official, who only reported to Gov. Rick Snyder. Attorney General Schuette has said that the governor may have compromised his investigation into the situation, and the governor needs to acknowledge and address his tampering — and the likely motivation behind it. It’s time for the attorney general to hold Gov. Snyder and the top officials working directly beneath him accountable for their role in this crisis.”
Congressman Elijah Cummings, who questioned Snyder as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had the following to say about our Governor’s role.
“These criminal charges are one small step towards bringing to justice those officials who are responsible for poisoning their own communities, and they are a stark reminder of the corrupted model of government that places cost-cutting above the lives of its own citizens. I continue to have grave concerns about the governor’s ongoing refusal to cooperate fully with the congressional investigation into this matter, and I believe his actions are compromising the integrity of our inquiry.”
[In addition to announcing charges against the six state employees yesterday, a civil lawsuit was filed in Flint in Genesee County Circuit Court against two firms that had consulted on the Flint Water Treatment Plant for their failure to act.]
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING:
With evidence that Snyder discussed the problem of lead contamination in Flint’s water with his advisors as early as the summer of 2015, the Governor’s hand-selected Flint Water Advisory Task Force had no choice but to turn on him in their scathing final report