Edited by R. Bick)
It was Sunday January 3, 2016 when the UUCF Social Action members brought Claire McClinton, Nayyirah Shariff and Melissa Mays for a post service Flint Water Crisis Presentation. Thus began my year journey of inquiry into the Flint Water Crisis. At an April2016meeting I introduced myself to Mark Durno EPA site coordinator and asked, “Did the EPA screw-up?” Mark replied, “No, we played by the book.”
I recently read Private Government (and why we don’t talk about it) by Elizabeth Anderson, John Dewy Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies, U of M, Ann Arbor. I wrote to Ms Anderson in Ann Arbor and got this reply:
Dear Mr. Haley,
Thanks for writing. You are completely correct to link my book to the Flint disaster. Private government is government unaccountable to the governed. That's exactly what was imposed on Flint, and in all the other Emergency Manager impositions. Politicians run on the slogan that they want to run government “like a business." But that's just another way of saying they want to run it like a dictatorship.
The truth is the Flint water crisis was not a failure of government at all levels but a failure of MDEQ’s
Lansing workplace where political appointees were working for the Governor and not for the people. The employees at the MDEQ were doing what their bosses wanted. Don’t blame government in Flint because there wasn’t any elected government. This country has the ”workplace problem that nobody talks about”. As quality control bureaucrat W Edwards Deming stated in Flint, “In a bad system there are good people doing their best making things worst.” It makes a difference who we nominate for and elect to governmental offices. Because in our system they are the only people that can change the system without a revolution by the people. As POGO said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Get informed, support whistleblower protection, stay involved and vote for candidates who will protect public health and listen to the citizens. We need to change the system, not just remove politicians from office and put them in jail if merited, as the latter will change nothing.
In January of 2015, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint nearly unanimously passed a resolution addressing the Flint water crisis. Many points in the resolution have been realized; some have not.
Among the resolution calls that have come to pass in whole or part:
Fifteen persons have been criminally charged for their role in the water crisis; two companies have been charged with civil infractions.
Several public officials have been fired or have resigned.
The US president did declare a disaster for the purpose of providing federal funding.
Some financial relief has been provided Flint residents in terms of their water bills.
Water filters, test kits, and health screenings have been provided.
Infrastructure is being replaced.
Some private and public funding has been provided for health challenges.
Some support has been generated for students affected by lead poisoning.
Compensation for victims of Legionnaire's disease is being sought in the courts.
Research projects continue to determine the overall impact of the crisis.
Among the resolution calls that have seen little or no progress:
Most/all government officials have not waived their immunity from the Freedom of Information Act and not all pertinent documents have been released to the public.
Tax credits have not been provided to property owners that undertake to repair/replace their infrastructure.
Michigan's emergency manager law has not been altered or repealed.
Immunity provisions provided the executive and legislative branches of Michigan government have not been repealed.
No significant regulatory legislation has yet been passed at any level of government. The Lead and Copper Rule is unchanged.