Ex-Michigan Governor Finally Being Punished for Flint’s Poisoned Water

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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Meets with Municipal Leaders in St. Joseph Photos by Michigan Municipal League by Michigan Municipal League (MML) is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Flint, Michigan became well known for a bad reason: toxic drinking water full of lead.

After decision to save money by changing the city’s water supply to come from the Flint River to save money, thousands of children and adults were exposed to lead contamination, Legionnaire’s disease, and coliform bacteria, leading to at least six deaths and hundreds of miscarriages and birth defects.


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So far, four people were fired over the crisis as well as 79 lawsuits and fifteen criminal indictments of which only one was successful. So far one of the only people to really “pay” for what happened has been Michigan Department of Health and Human Services employee Corinne Miller who got one year of probation, 300 hours community service and a $1,200 fine.

So far, four people were fired over the crisis as well as 79 lawsuits and fifteen criminal indictments of which only one was successful. So far one of the only people to really “pay” for what happened has been Michigan Department of Health and Human Services employee Corinne Miller who got one year of probation, 300 hours community service and a $1,200 fine.

Now that could be changing, as former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder – who served from 2011 to 2019 – is being charged in connection to the Flint water crisis.

Snyder Responds

The charging document lists two charges from the April 25, 2014 decision to switch Flint’s water supply. Snyder’s lawyer Brian Lennon says the charges are groundless and Snyder should not be facing any criminal charges.

“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Gov. Snyder,” Lennon said.

Earlier tries at convicting officials have mostly gone nowhere and in 2019 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel struck down charges being levelled against many state and local officials, saying the probe into what happened with the toxic water wasn’t done properly.

Nessel put a new probe into place and it seems the charges against Snyder are part of the result, with the Michigan AG to hold a press conference announcing further details.

Governor Rick Snyder Answers a Question from the Media During Vote No on Proposal 5 News Conference by Michigan Municipal League (MML) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What’s the Bottom Line?

Flint changed back to getting its water from Lake Huron in the fall of 2015, but the crisis continued into December and after. Many of Flint’s poorest neighborhoods were most heavily affected by the lead-contaminated and bacterially infested water, especially Black residents.

The reason they decided to switch over to Flint River water wasn’t only money but was also because it was supposed to keep the city going while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was being built.

Critics say Snyder and his top officials overruled Flint’s local government in order to push through the cost-saving measure despite knowing it could have potential dangers, especially for Black and minority Flint residents.

In 2020 Michigan paid out $620 million to resolve all the civil cases that had been put against the state by Flint residents who’d suffered as a result of the contaminated water. In addition to the state’s $621 million, the city of Flint also paid another $20 million to settle the civil cases as well as a local environmental firm paying out $1.25 million.

The settlement was authorized in December by Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who also said that efforts to get all lead out of Flint water will be ramped up as well as programs to improve nutrition and childcare in Flint.

The extent of Snyder’s guilt or innocence is not clear. What is clear is that if the GOP wants to become the party of working families, people of all races and lead America into the future it needs to stop turning a blind eye to environmental damage and things like what happened in Flint.

Do you agree or do you think this is all just a Democratic witch hunt?