The so called “small government” Republicans running the state of Michigan are so fond of letting communities run their own affairs that they’ve blocked the city of Flint from being able to sue the state after the Governor’s specially-appointed “emergency manager” made a series of decisions that led to the mass poisoning of thousands with lead-tainted water.
Just days after Flint’s Mayor Karen Weaver indicated that her town might sue the state, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed five-man Receivership Transition Advisory Board changed the rules, preventing the city from suing without approval from the Advisory Board.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) complained that “a reckless lawsuit could throw the state budget into disarray and undermine everything we’ve done for the city.” They’ve done quite enough to make the lives of Flint citizens worse already.
Gov. Snyder’s senseless Tea Party tax cuts blew gigantic holes in the state budget, prompting him to appoint emergency “managers” to rule bankrupt cities without any oversight from local governments. Those managers then arranged the switch from the Detroit water system to the heavily polluted Flint River water, ostensibly to “save money” but accusations of orchestrating a conspiracy to privatize the water company make the situation even murkier.
Released emails showed that the Governor’s office ignored and dismissed complaints from the concerned consumers, all the while charging them the most expensive water prices in the country and hiding the fact that their water was tainted with lead and other dangerous toxins for nearly a year after the administration had learned of the contamination.
Now, the so-called “small government” conservatives are blocking the city from seeking justice in the gross mismanagement and mass poisoning of its citizens. It’s a hypocrisy that has played out time and time again in red Midwestern states; Republican politicians scream and howl about the tyranny of the Obama administration but then decide to, say, ban cities in Oklahoma from banning fracking, where the land has become so unstable from fracking operations that earthquakes are now a weekly occurrence. It’s just another piece of evidence which shows that Republicans only exist to serve their corporate masters; they don’t even pretend to respect the opinions and rights of the people they supposedly represent.
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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.