Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Flint, Michigan


In his recent State of the State speech, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan apologized to the city of Flint, Michigan for his administration’s approach to the clean water crisis in their city. He said that “[he] is sorry and [he] will fix it.”

The residents have had contaminated tap water for several weeks after the state decided to switch the water source to the Flint River to save costs. The water had previously come from Lake Huron which was much cleaner water. The river has been tested and found to have high levels of lead. This lead can have negative effects on the development of young children, fetus development, nerve operation, and muscles and joints. The Snyder administration has also been heavily criticized due to the large African American population of the city.

Whistle blowers have stated that the Snyder administration knew about the toxic lead levels long before the water was switched away from the lake. Despite the potential harm it might cause, they decided to go along with the plan to save costs.

Obama called a state of emergency in Flint and the story has been an important topic on talk shows such as The Rachael Maddow Show and was also briefly discussed during the recent democratic debate.

As we have talked about in class many times, an important part of winning an election is keeping your constituents pleased and harming them with unsafe water seems like a very bad way to do this.

Snyder was an accountant before entering the state government and was popular due to the belief that he might help stream line the state. This is one of the likely causes of the crisis. But it has also been caused by many government officials making poor decisions on a wide variety of issues. Should the residents of Michigan trust Snyder at this point? Should people be removed from the government? Do you think this will prevent Snyder from being reelected if he even decides to run?

I think the people of Flint should continue to pressure the government of Michigan to actively work on this problem and to continue to involve the media. Americans frequently lose interest in a topic when a more interesting one arises, but this is definitely a serious problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent harm to the citizens.


Meghan Hilbert said...

I believe that if there is true evidence that government workers knew beforehand that the new streamlines were contaminated, they should have all the rights to distrust Snyder and his workers. According to the EPA in this article (http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/18/epa-says-it-did-its-job-despite-not-telling-flint-its-water-was-contaminated/), the agency did it's job and knew about the water's dangers. If this is true, it is clear that Snyder had almost no intention to care about his citizen's safety, and rather the state's water costs. A strict investigation should be conducted to check if Snyder legitimately did not know about the effects of switching from Lake Huron to the current water streams, and if that is the case then Snyder should be taken out immediately. Because of all the negative publicity Snyder has received from this incident, it is almost common sense to think that he will have no chance being reelected.

Huayu Ouyang said...

I do not think that residents of Michigan should trust Snyder, or a number of other government agencies at this point. According to CNN, "the Environmental Protection Agency slammed the city of Flint, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the State of Michigan, saying they are all responsible for the lead contamination in the city's water," and a Rolling Stone article details many instances where government officials have tried to downplay the issue of Flint water. For example, when one resident brought up the high levels of lead, the city did their own lead testing, with only 71 samples. "Originally, the city came in above federally accepted levels, but then the MDEQ instructed Flint to eliminate two of the highest test scores on technicalities." In addition, the EPA itself is also partially responsible, as they stayed silent on this issue by not bringing it to the public earlier. A lot of government officials have already resigned, and I think that Snyder will probably will probably not be reelected because of his mishandling of this crisis.