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    There's a Poison In Michigan And It's Not Just In The Water

    You've probably heard that the water supply in Flint, Michigan is loaded with lead and has been poisoning the city's children, along with everyone else.  So far, there are 200 confirmed cases of lead poisoning among children under six, with some 9000 more believed to be at risk.  That's just the kids.

    The water crisis began way back in April of 2014, when Flint's governor-appointed emergency manager (The sole dictator of municipal affairs after removing all duly elected officials from their bounden duties.) fired their water supplier, the city of Detroit, for charging too much.  He then decreed, despite numerous warnings from experts, that the water in the Flint River was good enough, and ordered the water department to begin running it through the old, lead-lined pipes.

    It turned out that those old pipes were okay when Detroit water flowed through them but once the more corrosive Flint River water began running, it ate into the lead and leached it into the water supply going to the city's poorest neighborhoods.  (Something the folks at Flint's General Motors plant warned them would happen, since they had long ago discovered how hard that water was on their equipment and stopped using it.)

    The water was murky and smelled bad but the water department assured the residents it was okay to bathe in, and, more importantly, to drink.  So the residents bathed in it and cooked with it and drank it, wanting to believe their government officials wouldn't be allowing them to use that nasty water if it wasn't safe.

    Photo source:  Sam Owens/AP

    But it wasn't safe.  It isn't safe. Not by a long shot. So after almost two years of going back and forth about this awful water and the dangers it held, Governor Rick Snyder was real sorry for how it turned out, and said so publicly.  "I apologize for the state's part in this," he said.  And says.  And no doubt will go on saying.  Because, words, you know, mean something.

    To his credit, he shut down the Emergency Manager operation in Flint (that same emergency manager he put in place even after Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum against emergency managers) and he fired a few people in high offices.  So now--now something would be done!  Well, okay, not now as in NOW.  It's more like "Now that national attention is on us, we're going to be thinking seriously about doing something about this!"

    You would think, after all the hoo-haw, the governor would at last have put in that all-important call to the Feds--to FEMA--asking for an issuance of a Federal state of emergency.  You would think. 

    Well, he's getting to it.  It's not time yet, he says.  First he had to put out a state state of emergency, the necessary precursor to getting the Feds involved, not to mention an almost magical procrastination tool for someone who wants desperately to go on believing there's no way, no how he'll EVER need the services of those folks in Washington.

    To Snyder's mind, just issuing the SOM is going above and beyond the call of gubernatorial duty.  He held a press conference the other day to brag about this big step he took, seeming not to recognize, until members of the press started asking him about it, that the next step, calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (which, for some, might have been the first step), would be a good thing, too.  His solution, instead, was to ask churches and charities to dig in and deliver truckloads of little water bottles.  (Please!  Don't make me go to them! Give!  Give!

    Update:  Gov. Snyder, in order to stall the Feds, is bringing in the National Guard.  They'll be delivering cases of little water bottles, filters, and testing kits.  State troopers will be delivering water door-to-door where needed.  No mention of the water buffaloes, the big military tank trucks carrying potable water, even though Rachel Maddow suggested it the other night.  Too bad they don't watch her.  It's hard to rinse shampooed hair with little water bottles, not to mention cleansing tushies.)

    You might wonder how all of this could happen, given the government resources available to the Snyder administration, just in our state alone. You, my friends, are not alone.  But let me remind you that Michigan has been under a supreme, GOP-enforced dictatorship since New Year's Day, 2011.  There is a long, dirty laundry list of the slow takeover of an entire state, much of it outlined in this June, 2015 Mother Jones article.  Rachel Maddow has been resolute in her reporting of Michigan's plight since the early days of the takeover, when Chris Savage atEclectablog, Michigan's foremost progressive blog, brought it to her attention.  It's not as if this is anything different from business as usual.  Except now people are being physically injured instead of just losing jobs or homes or going broke or hungry.

    This is not a takeover in the truest sense, since two elections had to take place in order to get Snyder and his GOP-majority cohorts where they are today.  That means there were enough people willing to allow this to happen without regard to the rest of us--or even to themselves.  These "leaders" were elected mainly on the strength of their anti-Fed, pro-state's-rights promises.  Their campaigns were built on hatred, fear and mistrust of anyone in Washington or beyond.  Now they're in a fix:  How do they ask for federal assistance without looking like they actually (Oh, ew, gross!) need it?

    So here might be a good place to remind voters that when a candidate for a publicly held taxpayer-paid office says he or she is "anti-government" what they really mean is they're anti-any-other-government-except-their-very-own. 

    Let Michigan be a lesson for you.

    (One more thing in the "Adding Insult to Injury, Michigan Style" department:  Those people who were fooled into believing their poisoned water was safe?  They're still getting water bills.  No.  I'm not kidding.)

     For more on the water poisoning in Flint, see The Atlantic's What Did the Governor Know About Flint's Water and When Did He Know It?

    For Michigan progressive resources, see my Michigan Under Siege page.


    (Also posted at Ramona's Voices and Crooks and Liars)



    Dick Gregory gave a talk at Michigan State University in 2004 and talked about the polluted air and water in Detroit and the surrounding areas. It was mocked and dismissed as more of his conspiracy talk, but twelve years later we see he wasn't bluffing. I can send you links if it's something you would be interested in. 


    Please add the links

    Thanks, Danny.  I would like to see them.

    Why hasn't the appointment of special masters and taking power from local governments been overturned by the courts?

    The news of all this H2O pollution in Michigan really shocked me!

    Michigan has been made its own personal purgatory for decades.

    But poisoning the citizens of this great state for a few bucks in savings is indefensible.

    Keep us posted.


    I don't know, maybe it's me, but I don't think there is any way to tell this story without ranting, spitting, screaming and having veins popping out of one's forehead.  How do you remain so calm and reasonable in relating these events?  I mean, Snyder is literally committing a form of genocide with malice aforethought. Why haven't the Feds moved in and shut down his Emergency Manager scam?  Especially now that they have poisoned the children of Flint, Michigan.   Snyder needs to be recalled and imprisoned.



    I am not calm, Mr. Smith, I am livid.  I have cried over this story more than once.  In fact, it's the reason I haven't been able to write about it until now.  I knew the day had to come and I wondered, too, how I would address it.  This isn't the first effort.  The others are still in draft form.  But I'm from Michigan.  I love my state.  And it's terrible that this is all I can do about the situation there.

    As for something being done by the Feds or by lawsuits, etc., I'm still hoping.

    Snyder and everyone down chain that was involved in this needs to do some jail time. Electoblog has been reporting about ALEC organization and it's influence on Michigan legislators for the last 6 years. 

    I would not be afraid to tell all my republican friends that vote what fools they are being duped by the GOP. Call Snyder and his minions what they are "Facists." You don't have to be civil or polite when a whole city of children have been poisoned with lead through that kind of malfeasants and racism. They won't like it but you will make them think.   

    Eclectablog is by far the best progressive blog in Michigan.  Rachel Maddow knew nothing about what was going on in our state until Chris Savage filled her in on Snyder's takeover.  She's been wonderful about spreading the word and right this minute she is talking about outbreaks of Legionnaire's Disease in Flint, which most likely was caused by that dirty water.

    Ramona, it must be difficult as a progressive resident of that state to have witnessed such malfeasance. Good post.

    "Difficult" is a mild way of putting it.  I've lost respect for some of my own family members over this--and they, of course, have lost respect for me.  But that's trivial compared to what goes on day after day in our state. This is a fight worth fighting, and I'm energized by so many other progressive/liberals who aren't about to give up, either.  We'll win and they'll lose. Maybe, finally, it'll be now.

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