In a desperate effort to save his job, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder has released a flood of emails in an attempt to exonerate himself from his criminal negligence that lead to the mass poisoning of thousands of people with lead-tainted water. Unfortunately for him, his desperate attempt at showing some kind of “transparency” and “accountability” is just digging himself into a deeper hole.
Some 294 pages of emails were released to the public. The first problem that journalists ran into was the fact that some of the most important emails were heavily redacted, which immediately squashed any hopes that the Snyder administration would be open and honest about exactly how the decision to switch the water supply of Flint, Michigan, to the notoriously polluted Flint River, in the hopes of saving some $5 million dollars and pad one of the giant holes that Snyder’s corporate handouts and tax giveaways blew in their state budget.
The more disturbing revelation was confirmation that the Snyder administration was dismissive and belittling to the mountain of complaints that residents filed after discovering their water had turned a disturbing brackish brown, and that even after evidence began mounting, they refused to act to rectify the situation until it was far too late, playing off their concerns as “initial hiccups” and dismissing them for being overly concerned with “aesthetics.” When the city’s water plant found traces of “coliform and fecal coliform bacterium,” they simply began adding chlorine to the water. They also refused to take any responsibility for their actions, as this email from Snyder’s Chief of Staff indicates:
“I can’t figure out why the state is responsible except that [State Treasurer] Dillon did make the ultimate decision so we’re not able to avoid the subject.”
The emails insinuate that the frightened residents were in fact politically motivated, describing them as an “anti-everything” group that wanted to use the health of their children as a “political football.” There was no action taken after a nearby General Motors factory stopped using Flint’s water because it was corroding the metal in their cars; not after a hospital stopped using the water because it was damaging their instruments, nor after a university stopped for the same reason. How anyone could consider water that was literally damaging metal be safe for consumption by humans?
The final nail in Snyder’s coffin should be this email from an Environmental Protection Agency expert, Miguel Del Toral, which shows that “the state was testing the water in a way that could profoundly understate the lead levels.” Not only were they fully aware of the dangers presented by the water, the Snyder administration attempted to cover up the scandal by misrepresenting the data.
All of this simply confirms what we already knew – that Governor Rick Snyder and his administration purposefully sold water that they knew was contaminated to a majority African-American city of a hundred thousands souls, dismissed the concerns of the residents they were poisoning, and then attempted to hide the evidence until it was too late. Resignation is not enough for these men. After these explosive revelations, justice demands criminal prosecution and harsh punishments for this kind of heartless mismanagement.
But that, ladies and gentlemen, is just how a Republican governs.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.