Thoughts on Flint.

Bernie Sanders was right: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder should resign. (Or be impeached.)

Rachel Maddow was right: contrary to what Snyder said in his State of the State address, local government — elected local government, that is, not the emergency manager Snyder put in place — did not let the people of Flint down. Because an emergency manager was in place, elected officials could do nothing, other than try to raise media awareness, which they did.

Speaking of Maddow, she should get a Pulitzer for this. Really. She made this into a national story, as can be seen by the fact that she was given a public thank you by the mayor of Flint, as well as Michael Moore when he was on Chris Hayes’s show. (“I’d like to really thank Rachel Maddow, wherever she is.” “Um, right down the hall, actually.”)

If I had a daughter, I would want her to grow up just like Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: ethical, stubborn, principled, and brilliant. Dr. Hanna-Attisha shows what you can accomplish if you care more about the truth than what people are going to say about you. the water expert, Marc Edwards, was likewise important in alerting authorities to the presence of the high lead levels, but he was from Virginia Tech. Dr.Hanna-Attisha, on the other hand, worked in Flint. It’s harder standing up to people in your own neck of the woods.

The mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, likewise performed heroically in the midst of this crisis: when the state government downplayed or ignored the problem, Weaver proclaimed a state of emergency, and went to the press. The state of emergency proclamation was essentially meaningless unless the state government acted, but it caught people’s attention.

The Michigan emergency manager statute undermines local elected government, replaces the whims of the governor for the will of the people, is undemocratic in the extreme, and needs to be repealed. Immediately.

The feds are making the right call in refusing to pony up to repair the Flint infrastructure.  This was not a natural disaster. Not a hurricane or tornado or mudslide or other act of God. It was entirely manmade and entirely preventable. While having FEMA be involved in mitigating the immediate crisis makes sense, as a federal taxpayer I’ll be damned if I want to shell out for replacing Flint’s infrastructure that was damaged as a result of carelessness and greed, while Michigan sits on a budget surplus and with business tax cuts in place. This isn’t Sandy and this isn’t New Jersey. Let Michigan draw down its “rainy-day fund” and leave federal money for actual storms.

 

 

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