Monday, May 20, 2024

Flint Water Crisis Is a Man-Made Disaster.

February 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Health, News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( Renla Session of Detroit participates in a Feb. 3 vigil on Capitol Hill in D.C. for the victims of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, after a congressional hearing on the matter.

Something is definitely rotten in the state of Michigan. And it’s not just the lead-poisoned water coming from the corroded pipes undergirding Flint’s public water system. The rottenness goes to the very core of an attitude of managerial expediency unfettered by moral leadership.

Contrary to widespread belief, Flint Michigan’s water woes are not the result of decades’ long neglect of critical infrastructure investments – although that is certainly a contributing factor. The blame for Flint’s water problems lay squarely with a legacy policy choices dating back decades. The fact that towns like Flint, Michigan, are currently facing critical fiscal crises is the result of successive generations of corrupt and incompetent local elected leadership. ButFlint-2016 the immediate cause of the water crisis in particular stems from current Michigan governor’s attempt to rectify fiscal mismanagement through authoritarian, anti-democratic governance policies.

Snyder’s policy of usurping local governmental authorities and placing economically depressed towns like Flint under the sole control unelected ‘emergency managers’ is the proximate cause of the Flint crisis. The philosophy behind Snyder’s policy choices seems to be that governments should be ‘run more like a business.’

Under Snyder’s dubious management-oriented philosophy, principle-centered leadership often takes a backseat to expedient tactics. In Flint this policy regime has tragically backfired. The absence of moral discernment has caused a crisis from which the citizens of Flint as well as for Michigan taxpayers are unlikely to escape any time soon.

Let’s be clear. The situation in Flint was not an act of nature, or an accident, or a mistake. It is a man-made environmental disaster. It was entirely foreseeable and entirely preventable. Potentially thousands of children may have suffered permanent neurological injuries due to elevated levels of lead in their blood – elevated levels caused by drinking and bathing in contaminated water that was falsely declared safe by officials who were appointed by and report directly to the governor – a two-term governor at the end of a term-limited run who may feel he no longer has to be accountable to the Michigan voters.

But what has elevated this crisis from mere tragedy to the heights of diabolical absurdity was the Snyder administration’s year-long denial – despite an abundance of objective evidence to the contrary – that there was even a problem to begin with. When Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor, MacArthur Genius grant-recipient, and world-renowned expert on water quality declared the brown sludge coming from faucets in Flint to be toxic waste, the Snyder administration dismissed him as a quack.

When local pediatrician Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha, alarmed that children were showing up at her practice with skin rashes and thinning hair, alerted political leaders that blood lead concentrations in children were two to three times normal levels, Snyder called her findings inconclusive and vigorously denied that the elevated lead levels were caused by the city’s drinking water. When an Environmental Protection Agency memo describing dangerously high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water was leaked to the media, the Snyder administration lambasted the memo’s author as a ‘rogue employee.’

Columnist; Armstrong Williams

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