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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Op/Ed: Open Letter Gov. Rick Snyder: Too Late to Apologize About Flint's Water Crisis

Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder (R) apology is not accepted for his lack of action for nearly three years with Flint's Toxic Water Crisis.
Photo Credit - Huffington Post
Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder (R) apology is not accepted for
his lack of action for nearly three years with Flint's Toxic Water Crisis.

UPDATE: The Genesee County Board of Commissioners officially declared Flint, Michigan under a State of Emergency, January 4.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D) at a late December 2015 Press Conference, called for the Board of Commissioners in Genesee County and Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder (R) to issue an Emergency Declaration for Flint after the high levels of lead content in citizens blood tests.

Flint's residents were subject to drinking toxic lead filled water for nearly two years.

Governor Rick Snyder now must decide whether to equally declare Flint, Michigan under a State of Emergency, as the City's Mayor and County Governmental unit have concurred on the severity of Flint's Toxic Water Crisis.

MLive.com - January 4, 2015
:

Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis endorsed Flint Mayor Karen Weaver's request for a federal disaster declaration today, Jan. 4. The application was described by officials as a work in progress and includes a request for more than $50 million. 
Among the specifics of the request: an estimated $45 million for the replacement of about 15,000 lead water service lines, $6.2 million to expedite upgrades in the city's water system to prepare it for treating and distributing water from the Karegnondi Water Authority and an unspecified amount to lessen the health effects of elevated lead levels in water. 
"Its a victory, and it's a step in the right direction," said Weaver, who plans to meet with Snyder to discuss the declaration Thursday, Jan. 7. "I am not going to give up until this is done."
On January 1, 2016, the award winning publication Newsweek cited Flint's Water Crisis as one of the "Nastiest Case of Toxic Discharge in 2015".

************************

An Independent Underground News & Talk Op/Ed:


Should Apologies be Accepted When The Act Was Intentional? Should Apologies Present Sense of Instant Relief -- Regardless if a Long List of Repeated Cover Ups Are Revealed? What About Standards?

Should a Governor Who Set His Standards So High He Proudly Signed A Bill Twice Over Ensuring Full Control of Cities, Townships, Villages, Counties and School Districts-- That Fails To Meet His High Standards --  Be Easily Forgiven With an "Apology" for Allowing Flint's Residents to Drink Toxic Water for years on end?

Governor Rick Snyder, the answer is a resounding no. 

No, Flint Residents should not accept your "apology" nor should they --- as YOU continued structure that allowed for repeated lies about safety of the water.

   ***********************
“When I became aware that the city of Flint’s water showed elevated lead levels and that the state’s handling of the situation was being questioned, I requested funding to switch the source back to the Great Lakes Water Authority and appointed an independent task force to identify possible missteps and areas for improvement," Governor Rick Snyder wrote in a Press Release December 29, 2015.
Lie One: When The Governor Became Aware of the missteps and areas of improvement, he said, he did something about it. No, he did not.

Let's start by a review of Rick Snyder's five Emergency Managers to Flint within a four year period.

Dec 2011 - Aug 2012: Emergency Manager Michael Brown
Aug 2012 - July 2013: Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz
July 2013 - October 2013: Emergency Manager Michael Brown
October 2013 - January 2015: Emergency Manager Darnell Earley
January 2015–April 30, 2015: Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose

Prior to Snyder's tenure as Michigan's highest elected Chief Executive Officer, the City of Flint had only one Emergency Financial Manager (EMF) for two years Ed Kurtz from July 2002 - Jun 2004, appointed under former Republican Governor John Engler.

However, Kurtz served under the prior version of Michigan's Emergency Management law Public Act 72 of 1990. At the time, Kurtz was only allowed to work in conjunction with a local elected unit of government to resolve a city, village, township, county or school districts financial issues. 


Newer versions of the law Public Act 4 of 2011 and Public Act 436 of 2012 allotted Governor Rick Snyder the sole authority to assign an Emergency Manager (EM) to a local governmental unit.

The EM's had total control to overrule the local elected governmental unit on all matters: Financial, Operations, Structure or Complete Removal of the elected or appointed bodies of local government.

Shortly after Rick Snyder's first and second appointed Emergency Manager landed in Flint, Michigan, problems with the City's water supply begun to surface.

M-Live.com - April 29, 2012
:

"A series of fee hikes in the budget adopted by emergency manager Michael Brown will up the price tag for city services on more Flint homeowners. 
Those with the lowest-valued properties will end up with the largest increases. 
The average Flint residential property owner will be paying 3.5 times more to have their trash picked up under the 2013 budget adopted in a flurry of orders signed this week. 
The garbage fee increase is on top of a new $100 yearly assessment for street lighting and a 25 percent hike in the water and sewer rates ordered by Brown in a budget-balancing plan that also includes a 20 percent reduction in city employees and their compensation. 
The move has some city residents crying foul. 
"They know it's a depressed city," said Flint resident Beverly Malik, 50, as she left City Hall this week. "They shouldn't be doing this to people. We can't even pay what it is now." 
Brown said that the fee increases and budget cuts were unavoidable in the effort to close a projected $25 million deficit amid declining property values and rising legacy costs. He called Flint's situation a "financial emergency" and said the city was on the brink of insolvency. 
"We can't solve this just by cutting expenses," he said Tuesday, the day after he presented the budget to the council. "What we're creating here is a way to assess people for the actual cost." 
"We did not have time for a vote of the people," he said. 
At that time, the average customer's total water and sewer bill was expected to go up to about $111. Using that figure, the average customer will now be paying about $139 a month in water and sewer fees under the latest increase. 
Brown attributes the rising costs to aging infrastructure and the costs passed on from the city's primary water source: the city of Detroit. 
Malik said the increases are being forced on residents who can barely afford to pay their bills now. 
"That's dictatorship," she said.
Emergency Manager Michael Brown under the sole authority of Governor Rick Snyder, did
<h2>Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown<h2>
Photo Credit - MLive.com
Flint's Former Emergency Manger
Michael Brown
not have time for a vote of the people to examine if a 150% increase in the price for residential water and sewer supply rates, was justified.

EM Brown was on a mission, given by someone higher above his pay-grade. Who was it?

Rick Snyder, that's who!

And Snyder believes the People of Flint and Michigan are suppose to accept his "apology" for this, and just move on. 


No, not at all, as this action is where Flint's Toxic Water Crisis begun. The Water crisis started with a massive water leak.

A water leak in Flint, Michigan which continued for over one year undetected, starting under Snyder's Emergency Manager Michael Brown's tenure, in 2011.

EM Brown having sole authority of Flint's Water and Sewer Department, the organization's infrastructure matters and Flint's Government at the same time; failed to reveal the massive leak ever existed, prior to raising water rates on City's citizens upwards 150%.

Brown said Flint's residents did not need to vote on things like a dramatic increase to their water and sewer bills, anyway.


"We did not have time for a vote of the people," EM Brown said to M-Live in April 2012. 

M-Live.com - May 10, 2012:

"For more than a year, a massive break in a Flint water main leaked millions of gallons of water underground before workers were able to detect the leak and fix it, officials said. 
Flint leaders estimate the recently repaired break cost the city more than $800,000 in lost water -- not including the cost of repairs. 
And lost water from water main breaks is just part of the problem, officials say. 
The city estimates that more than 30 percent of the water it buys from Detroit is never billed for by Flint. Leaks, stolen water and water to fight the city's high rate of structure fires are all included in the unmetered category. 
Typically, unmetered water should be about 15 percent or less, officials said. Genesee County, by comparison, estimates that only about 4 percent of the water it buys from Detroit is unmetered water, said Deputy Drain Commissioner John O'Brien. 
"If you think about it, if (Flint is) losing 30 percent, each homeowner paying for the water has to pay for that," he said. "Even at 15 percent, it means you have a significant problem." 
City officials list the water losses as one of many contributors to the 25 percent water and sewer rate increase that has angry Flint residents up in arms and staging protests at City Hall. 
The rate increase is expected to go into effect next month and follows two double-digit rate hikes in 2011. 
Emergency manager Michael Brown and his administrators say steep population loss, rate hikes passed on from Detroit -- the city's water source -- as well as the increasing legacy costs of the city's utility workers are all factors in the increase. 
"The age of the infrastructure comes into play here. We're not unique in this. A lot of water systems are subject to this kind of disaster potential," said Howard Croft, Flint's development and infrastructure director under emergency manager Michael Brown."
EM Brown and one would think his supervisor, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder should have known Flint's infrastructure was aged. Especially after Howard Croft told both Brown and the Governor so.

But, instead of heeling Croft's warnings, Snyder allowed for the mismanagement to continue.

******************************
"We’ll continue to work with the community members to make sure we hear and respond to their concerns," Governor Rick Snyder said in his December 29 Press Release.
Lie Two: Rick Snyder cared about Flint Resident's concerns, or had any plans to respond to any of them, until he had no other choice.

Flint Residents did not ask for a water or sewer rate increase in 2012 or 2013. The
<h2>Flint Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz<h2>
Photo Credit - Michigan Radio/NPR
Flint, Michigan Former Emergency Manager
Ed Kurtz
Citizens of Flint just desired affordable, clean and drinkable water.

Instead of giving residents what they pleaded for, Snyder's newest Emergency Manager Ed Kuztz made in retrospect the grave error of disconnecting Flint from Detroit's Water and Sewer System.

Michigan Radio/NPR - April 16, 2013:

The city of Flint is dumping its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Flint emergency manager Ed Kurtz signed a contract today to get the city’s water from a new pipeline that’s being built from Lake Huron to Genesee County.  
Officials with Detroit's system made a final offer to try and keep Flint’s business. But Kurtz says the numbers were “unreliable.  
“After the first year…for 29 years they could raise those rates…do any kind of capital expenditures…anything they wanted to do…and just add them to our bill,” says Kurtz.  
Flint represents about six percent of the Detroit system's revenue.  
Jeff Wright is Genesee County’s Drain Commissioner. He says Flint residents pay about six times what customers in Oakland and Wayne Counties pay for water. 
“To me, we’re subsidizing the rest of southeast Michigan and this gets us out of that game,” says Wright.  
A spokesman says the Detroit water department will have to look at its options to try and recoup investments made to Flint’s water system. It will be at least two and half years before the new pipeline can replace the water Flint now gets from Detroit.
Notice how Snyder's second EM to Flint, Ed Kurtz - who previously served as EFM under the last Republican Governor John Engler -- used the term "Our Bill"?

Strangely enough the water bills in Flint was never Kurtz's personal bill. Ed Kurtz does not live in Flint City proper. 
The Water bills which Kurtz impacted, by switching Flint's Supply from Detroit's Water and Sewer System to the highly questionable Flint River, belonged directly to Flint's Residents.

The same residents who were not allowed to vote to affirm or deny an upward 150% monthly increase onto their water bills in 2012, because former Emergency Manager Michael Brown said so.

It was Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder who EM's Brown and Kurtz worked for, not the residents of Flint. If Flint's residents had sound objections to water supply switch, they were met with deaf ears, leading all the way to Rick Snyder's Lansing office.

"That's dictatorship," Flint resident Beverly Malik said to MLive in 2012.
She's right. As in Flint Resident Beverly Malik was right in 2012, and today.

Less than two months after mandating Flint switch immediately from Detroit's Water and Sewer Department, EM Kurtz announced he was "resigning" from his job.


M-Live.com -May 30, 2013:
Flint’s emergency manager has officially notified state officials that his days are numbered. City Spokesman Jason Lorenz confirmed that Ed Kurtz gave written notice to the state on Wednesday, May 29, and that Kurtz will be out in 30 days. 
Lorenz said Kurtz will work through the first week of July.  
Former Flint emergency manager Michael Brown, who is the current city administrator, previously told MLive-Flint Journal that he would replace Kurtz if asked by the governor. 
Gov. Rick Snyder has not named a replacement for Kurtz since he announced his intentions to resign earlier this month.
Michigan Department of Treasury officials could not be reached Thursday, May 30, for comment.
***************************************
“But changes in leadership and staff are not enough. I understand there can be disagreements within the scientific community. That is why I have directed both the departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services to invite every external scientist who has worked on this issue to be our partners in helping us improve Flint water. Let’s share research on water and blood lead level testing so we can arrive at accurate and mutually supported conclusions," Governor Rick Snyder said on December 29, 2015.
Lie Three: Changes in leadership and staff are not enough. Actually, changes and many of them are the right steps to deal with Flint Water's Crisis. 

Beginning with your resignation, Governor Rick Snyder.

A State Elected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) job is not to run the government like a business. The job primary function of this important role, is to protect the safety and welfare for all of Michigan's 7 million residents.

When missteps are made repeatedly -- guaranteed to cost State's taxpayers billions upon trillion of dollars to repair, remedy and address, similar to an entire city being lead poisoned for drinking toxic water -- the Governor must be held accountable.

Especially when the Emergency Managers he or she appointed made repeated errors leading to Flint's Grave Water and Health Crisis.

It is frankly improbable to believe Rick Snyder did not know Flint's Water had dangerous amounts of lead content within the water system. If the Governor did not know, his ethical incompetence alone, demands an immediate removal from office. 


And if he did know and did nothing for at least two years, the actions are criminal.

Either way, the lack of accountability cannot be forgiven with an apology.

M-Live - September 5, 2014:

FLINT, MI -- The city has issued a boil advisory for a portion of Flint, saying water in the area has tested positive for total coliform bacteria. 
The area of the advisory is bordered by Dayton Street on the north, DuPont Street on the east, the Flint River on the south, and by Lavelle Road to the Flint River on the west, the city said in a news released issued today, Sept. 5. 
The latest advisory marks the second time in less than 30 days that residents and businesses in a part of the city have been told to boil or use bottled water for drinking, bathing, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and preparing food. 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says positive total coliform tests suggest there may be a pathway for pathogens and fecal contamination to enter a drinking water system. 
Total coliforms are used to determine the adequacy of water treatment and the integrity of the distribution system, according to EPA.
"The absence of total coliforms in the distribution system minimizes the likelihood that fecal pathogens are present," the agency Web site says. "Thus, total coliforms are used to determine the vulnerability of a system to fecal contamination."
Yuck!

No one would want to drink that water. Flint's Residents could not drink it. Businesses in Flint could not use it. Governor Rick Snyder did not travel to Flint in September 2014 to drink a cup of water out of the tap, and prove beyond a shadow of doubt its safety!

Somehow, Michigan Residents are expected to suspend common disbelief and, just believe
<h2>Flint Emergency Manager Darrell Easley<h2>
Photo Credit - The Detroit News
Flint Former Emergency Manger Darrell Easley
Snyder did not understand the high level of toxins in Flint's water supply was an extreme abnormally. 


Or the fact this disturbing occurrence was a sign of trouble to come -- and maybe, just maybe switching Flint from the Detroit Water System was a mistake.

But, General Motors was allowed to switch back. Are Michigan residents suppose to believe Governor Snyder did not know about this fact either?

Maybe the Governor's self appointed Emergency Manager Michael Brown for the second time over-- and EM Darrell Easley, just forgot to tell him.

MLive.com - October 14, 2014:

"General Motors' decision to stop using Flint River water at its engine plant will cost the city an estimated $400,000 annually. 
Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft told a City Council committee Monday, Oct. 13, that the city has agreed to allow GM to tap into a Flint Township water line because river water supplied by the city caused engine parts to rust. 
"There was an agreement made already. This was a request from GM to the city," said Croft, who estimated the loss of revenue at $400,000 per year. 
Although the city's permission to leave the Flint water system was required, some members of the City Council said they were left in the dark about the GM situation by emergency manager Darnell Earley and Mayor Dayne Walling. 
Earley's office had not released details of the GM agreement or announced it as of Tuesday, and Walling told council members he had known about the deal for "just a couple of days." 
"If we are (being asked) to act in good faith, let's have some good faith from the emergency manager," said 1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays.  
Under the Flint-GM agreement, the plant will return as a Flint water customer after the city switches back to using Lake Huron water from the Karegnondi Water Authority once its pipeline is completed -- something that's expected to happen by the close of 2016. 
Seventh Ward Councilwoman Monica Galloway said the decision by GM to stop using river water will cause more questions about its quality and safety from skeptical residents. 
The city has struggled to maintain residual chlorine levels throughout the water system since it began using the Flint River rather than pre-treated Lake Huron water from the city of Detroit. 
There were also three boil water advisories in a 22-day span this summer after positive tests for total coliform and fecal coliform bacteria. 
"I hope this doesn't set a precedent for people to jump off (the Flint system) because of the  quality of the water," Galloway said. 
"(But) this is just another thing that says to me (that) we are like guinea pigs," she said. "It's like a research project ... that we would normally do on rats."
When a City believes their treatment by Governmental officials compares to how Lab Rats are normally handled, even the most disconnected CEO/Governor should be able to see a problem exists within the midst. Instead of immediate change or "Relentless Positive Action", the incompetence continued.

******************************

I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened. And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience, because Flint is not the only city that has an aging infrastructure. 
“I know many Flint citizens are angry and want more than an apology. That’s why I’m taking the actions today to ensure a culture of openness and trust," Snyder claimed in the December 29 press release.
Lie Four: Any actions Governor Rick Snyder takes from this point forward will ensure openness or trust. They cannot and will not -- as ignoring what was taken place for nearly three years --  less than 70 miles away from his office at the Romney Building in Lansing, is completely unforgivable.

New York Daily News - March 5, 2014:

"Less than an hour’s drive from one of Earth’s great fresh water sources, some people in Flint are searching for a drop worth drinking.
Since the financially struggling city broke away from the Detroit water system last year, residents have been unhappy with the smell, taste and appearance of water from the city’s river as they await the completion of a pipe to Lake Huron. They also have raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. A General Motors plant stopped using the water, saying it was rusting its parts.
Officials say recent state tests show the water meets federal safety guidelines, and the city will be better off free of the leviathan Detroit system once the pipeline is complete by 2016. And while many Detroit suburbs have long dreamed of breaking their dependence on the city’s water, further-away Flint is the first to risk it — and test whether the potential savings are worth going it alone.
“Unfortunately, some of our problems aren’t quickly or easily solved,” said Jerry Ambrose, Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager, adding that the “challenges” resulting from the temporary reliance on the river “were greater than we expected.” 
The potential to leave (Detroit) was well-supported by a business case, and in the long-term will benefit this region as well as the city of Flint,” Ambrose said. While there won’t be “magical reductions” in rates, he said, cost increases should be much less. 
Writers Note Addendum: Flint was switched back to Detroit's Water System after nearly a
<h2>Flint Emergency Manager Jerry Amborse<h2>
Photo Credit - Michigan Radio/NPR
Former Flint Emergency Manager
Jerry Amborse
year and one-half of using toxic, lead filled water supply content --- mandated by five Snyder appointed Emergency Managers in October 2015 -- despite what Snyder's Fifth appointed EM Jerry Amborse said was a "well-supported business case".

Amazing how things can get done when no other logical choice, exist.

Last month, the county started distributing bottled water to about 1,300 preschool students and a children’s museum recently blocked access to water fountains, citing Safe Drinking Water Act violations because of high levels of a disinfectant byproduct. High bacteria levels forced boil-water advisories last year. 
Resident Tony Palladeno Jr., 53, said he gets bottled water from a grocery store or spring water from his cabin further north, but uses city water for showers. 
No matter what, if I go in, one time it’s going to be my eyes, or I’ll get headaches or my lungs,” he said, adding that he’s lost hair and produces a bottle of it to illustrate. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s paranoia.’ No. ... I’m living this. 
Palladeno, who considers his city “a guinea pig,” and others are angered by the decision to let the GM Engine Plant stop using Flint water and link with a township that gets water from Detroit. The move could cost the city about $400,000 per year in lost revenue. 
Rick Holtstander boiled his tap water at first, but says he rubbed his finger around the inside of the pan and picked up “something that looked just like cigarette ash.” 
I don’t even let my dogs drink this water,” he said as he collected four gallons at a recent water giveaway.
************************ 
“I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened," Said Governor Snyder on December 29. 
Truth One: It's Too Late to Apologize, Rick; just in case you did not know.

Rick Snyder did nothing to remove Flint residents from drinking toxic, lead filled highly
<h2>Flint Resident Upholds Lead Filled Water At Meeting<h2>
Photo Credit - Michigan Radio/NPR
A Flint Resident in 2015 attending the City's
Council Meeting upheld a jar of water
received out of her home tap.
dangerous water until he was forced to do so. Rick Snyder did not care if Flint citizens drunk the city's highly corrosive water for nearly three years plus, as he was not forced to drink it.

Rick Snyder demanded his appointed Emergency Managers keep Flint on the tainted water despite the city's children, adults and elders documented illnesses from drinking the H20. 


Snyder had insight, directly. So it is impossible to believe he would not, especially after General Motors demanded to be switched off Flint's Water System in 2014 due to fact the water was corroding the manufacturers engine parts.

What did Rick Snyder think after what General Motors alleged was occurring to its business engine parts, would happen to Flint residents? Nothing.

Did Rick Snyder believe humans were implausible to become sick after drinking water toxins on a daily basis?

It is way too late to apologize Rick Snyder, as your actions caused this. A Federal Investigation demanded now, because of this. And lastly, your immediate resignation is the only recourse for what happened to Flint.

Maybe in a "All The Presidents (or in this case Governor's) Men" moment, the tables will rightfully turn directly to you!

Apology -- Not -- Accepted!



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