Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Astonishingly, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Isn't In Prison Yet


You don't hear Snyder's name mentioned much any more as a plausible running mate for any like-minded Republicans-- he'd be perfect for Kasich-- but Michigan Governor Rick Snyder still isn't in prison or, as far as I know, even charged with a crime. And you know what that means: when they get away with it and there's no accountability, it grants permission for Republicans to just keep on poisoning the children of the poor and powerless. For Hillary, the criminal behavior in Flint was a quickly abandoned campaign issue. For Rubio it was an opportunity to try to deflect blame from the nature of conservative governance and spread the blame across all parties while continuing his agenda of denigrating the EPA's ability to protect the public from corporate transgressions. Republicans hate when anyone tries bringing up Flint as an inevitable consequence of the red state model.

The task force charged with investigating what happened in Flint, however, didn't pussy-foot around trying to spread the blame around. Rick Snyder and his ideological regime was clearly guilty and that's exactly what their report found. "State government is foremost to blame," summarized Mike Wilkinson for Bridge Magazine, "for failing to keep lead from poisoning Flint's water supply. And key decisions to switch the city's water supply to the Flint River, and stay there-- despite mounting public complaints about the taste, odor, color and health effects of the city's tap water-- were made by a succession of state-appointed emergency managers."
Those were the conclusions of a five-member task force assigned to investigate the public health emergency in this poor, predominantly African-American city. Its report, released Wednesday, called for a review of the state's emergency manager system, which the task force contends played a significant role in the government's sluggish response to the concerns and warnings of Flint residents.

"What was clearly evident was individual (emergency managers) made decisions and no one had checks and balances on those decisions," said task force member Chris Kolb, a former state representative and president of the Michigan Environmental Council. "Citizens had no ability to influence decision-making at the local level."

The 116-page report offered a rebuke to a signature tool of Gov. Rick Snyder and a legislature that has largely supported the emergency manager law. The law, resurrected by Republican lawmakers in 2012 weeks after state residents voted to drop it, was hailed in some quarters after its implementation in Detroit led to that city's swift transition through bankruptcy. But the law has also been the subject of lawsuits as well as accusations that it disenfranchises minorities, who note that the most cities and school districts placed under emergency management have been majority black.

Snyder said Wednesday he was open to adopting many of the recommendations made by a task force that he appointed, adding that his office has already begun implementing some of the suggestions. "There are a lot of excellent recommendations here," Snyder said at a news conference.

In Flint, the task force found, the emergency managers appointed by Snyder failed to consider, much less serve, the health interests of residents, a criticism the governor himself seemed to acknowledge in testimony last week before a congressional committee investigating the Flint crisis.

In essence, Wednesday's report said, Flint's emergency managers were too narrowly focused on the financial savings of switching the city's water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River in 2014, and too reluctant to switch back to Detroit, also for financial reasons. As a result, the voices of local leaders and residents were marginalized. The report pointedly cited the economic and racial demographics of those residents.

"Flint residents, who are majority black or African-American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities," the report noted, leading "to the inescapable conclusion that this is a case of environmental injustice."

The task force recommended Lansing review the emergency manager law with an eye toward restoring "checks and balances" on decisions made by emergency managers. Such managers also should be given greater access to experts in areas like public health, and should ensure that local residents and officials have a voice in how policy is shaped, including the ability to appeal emergency manager decisions, the task force recommended.

...The governor, meanwhile, had the "ultimate accountability" for the emergency managers he assigned to Flint, the report said. Likewise, it was Snyder who appointed the heads of the state environmental, health and treasury agencies, which bore "differing degrees of responsibility" for Flint's health crisis.

Without mentioning Snyder by name, the task force derided his insistence that the Flint debacle was a local, state and federal failure of government. Such a statement "implies that blame is attributable equally to all three levels of government. Primary responsibility for the water contamination in Flint lies with MDEQ," the report concluded, while Flint was under the control of state-appointed emergency managers.
There's a reason why our forefathers fought and died for democracy, which apparently, no one ever explained to Michigan's self-styled One Tough Nerd. And there's a reason for accountability, which hopefully, Snyder-- and other right-wing tyrants like him-- will learn about first hand. Obama's Justice Department isn't going to put Snyder behind bars, and neither would a Hillary Justice Department. When push comes to shove, the Establishment sticks together. You want to ever see Snyder behind bars, you should support Bernie.

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At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is too much of a coward to prosecute Snyder. Holder (and likely Lynch) would never consider charging a wealthy man with crimes. Snyder owns the state, and towers over any local law enforcement. He will escape prosecution and conviction for these reasons.


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