BY SHERMAN MAYS 2-29-16
Since the beginning of 2016, an endless parade of politicians, individuals, activist groups, and assorted celebrities have inserted their own brand of what is in the best interest of the citizens of Flint, MI due to the situation surrounding the quality of water in the city. While no one suggests the situation is not a serious one, the rush to assign political blame has become the primary driving force to all conversations and recommended solutions offered by the "concerned".
Since January 2016, the chambers of Flint City Hall, various conference centers and churches around town look more like "red carpet" awards ceremonies than meetings of people determined to solve the crisis of a city in peril. As each celebrity arrived, it was not without extensive media coverage and the throngs of adoring fans looking to be "in the mix" and capture a selfie with the star du jour. Missing from each photo-op however, were the Water Warriors; the ordinary citizens of Flint, who spent months not looking for fame & fortune, rather seeking an honest response and corrective action from their representatives. When MSNBC's Rachael Maddow broadcast a "town hall"from Flint, the who's who guest list and ticketed invite list DID NOT include the same Water Warriors.
The next element which requires attention is the radical activists movement which have made their demands known. One such group not unfamiliar to controversy, isThe NAACP, which have already outlined its agenda (1-28-16), and revised that agenda again, (2-15-16) withadditional "recomendations".
Another is Black Lives Matter using the guise of "Flint Lives Matter"to attain their goals. If the past is prologue, expectations of a positive contributiuon by this group will not be forthcoming.Several so-called social justice rallies have been held across the city. The counter message to those groups however is, in Flint, ALL LIVES MATTER!
Certainly prayer is needed and if earnestly offered will not go unanswered. It is also not the intent of this author to pass judgement on the sincereity of anyone's faith, some have utilized their positions within a church their religious associations to emplore others to seek justice in this time of tradegy. While One must be mindful, however of the justice sought from the pulpit, to insure that the proper authority is notified so that the proper repayment is delivered. (Romans 12:19)
Not to be excluded from the equation is the current Mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver. As an elected public servant is it not the duty of that individual to act in the interest of the entire public she serves? Of course the answer is yes, but in the case of Flint, it seems Mayor Weaver is inclined to let the politics of her office and advisers dictate her decisions, thereby leaving some citizens to question her concern for them, rather than the charge of the oath she has taken to serve them all. As each celebrity/activist arrives, the path to city hall is easily found. As for politicians seeking to score points or 'one-up' an opponent the Mayor's door is open.
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My conclusions are evidenced by the following events which have occurred and I have personally witnessed as a resident of Flint:
Without political or financial motivation, the citizens of Flint, affected individuals and as a community, mobilized to address their concerns to the elected leaders. Often they were met with dis-interest, low interest and sometimes with outright misleading information as to what was occurring with the water. But they persevered and forced “officials” at all levels of government, local, state, and federal to act on their concerns.
Now that the long overdue attention and corrective measures are being implemented, many within the city, many unrelated to the city and without full knowledge of the cause of the problem or without any sound suggestions as to the ultimate cure, have jumped to the ‘top of the heap’ to show their “concern” for the citizens of Flint.
The Buck Stops Here
by Sherman Mays
Since April 2014, the citizens of Flint, Michigan have been thrust into the spotlight when the city’s municipal water supply was compromised. The original supplier of water to Flint was the City of Detroit via Lake Huron. The new, temporary supply was to be the Flint River, until a new regional pipeline [The KWA] was completed in 2016, which would again draw water from Lake Huron. A simple plan, a sensible plan, but it was poorly executed and yielded devastating results. LEAD IN THE WATER SUPPLY!
Almost immediately and well before the implementation of the remedies and safeguards were put in place to insure those who were negatively affected are healed, and that another catastrophe of this nature would not happen again, the rush to assign blame to the responsible/irresponsible parties began.
The current political leadership and a sizeable number of Flint residents have assigned complete culpability to the State of Michigan and current Governor, Rick Snyder. It has been concluded by them that he alone is responsible without exception, regardless of any facts which may speak to the contrary. The chronology of events which led to the crisis are being ignored, and in some cases dismissed, in order to establish a narrative of outrage and victimization. That storyline being, Gov. Snyder is guiltyand therefore must be removed from office, punished and made to pay for his sins. Only then will the citizens and the city be healed.
How could one person be responsible for such destruction of a city? Why is there such a clear cut rush to judgment of one man? By what evil design was such a horrific plot undertaken to destroy the lives of so many innocent human beings? In the minds of the accusers, the answer is clear. The Governor of Michigan is a Republican, with an additional bonus for the complainants, Mr. Snyder is, (wait for it), a white guy. Why those are relevant factors is due to the political make-up of the local governing body, including the Mayor (as of 11-9-15), of which the majority is Democratic, and a sizeable number of the citizens of Flint are black. It is their contention that the crisis was allowed to happen because of the lack of concern the Governor has forpoor and minority communities in Michigan.
There is a flaw, however, in the logic used to reach the conclusion of the Governor being the sole bearer of responsibility in this matter. Those who insist he is guilty assert, as chief executive of the state, he should have known about and acted sooner than he did, to correct the shortcomings and/or incompetence of the department heads and employees under his charge. By not acting until “the damage was done” proves his inability to remain as a leader.
BUT WAIT!! If a “leader” having insufficient knowledge and not acting quickly is the criteria for removal from office, the calls for a resignation should be directed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Indeed, using the standard set by Flint residents, Flint politicians, celebrities, candidates running for office and “concerned bystanders”, President Obama should immediately resign his office, as it was his EPA employees involved in a gross mishandling of their duty to insure safe drinking water. This battle with the Michigan’s Dept. of Environmental Quality and cover-up of relevant information about the problems in Flint facilitated the resignation of EPA Regional Administrator, Susan Hedman.
There is clear evidence of other individuals and agencies having knowledge of the water problems in Flint well before the Governor was brought into the loop, not the least being the local officials and operators of the city’s water treatment facility. Why are the local experts exempted from any blame? Is it not their job and profession to know how to treat water, or are they robotic followers and part of the evil plot to poison Flint’s residents? At least one, Mike Glasgow, is not. His warnings were not heeded.
The full story of what happened in Flint and who is to blame is yet to be determined. But if the current mindset that “the Governor must go” is the measure of guilt, and that yardstick becomes the final arbiter of injustice, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama, it is time for you both to vacate the office to which you have been entrusted. As Mayor Weaver of Flint so stated after the Governors speech, “you don’t regain trust within a matter of seconds…”. Thus far there has been no demand for either to step aside. WHY?
THE FLINT WATER CRISIS
1.something in the water
3.the buck stops here
4.the scene of the crime
5.where is Howard
The Scene of the Crime
by Sherman Mays
Simply put, win the political argument and get the money by exploiting the legitimate fears of a city. Here’s how:
1. When asked if race play a factor Mayor Weaver responds YES.
2. The NAACP 15 point demand list
3. Governor Snyder must resign meaning remove the “firewall” blocking access to state’s rainy-day fund
4. The urgent demand for money and who should pay - NEVER MIND THE EXPERTS; PAY US NOW, TEST LATER
5. Groups with interest & ready to act - it worked in Ferguson & Baltimore; why not Flint.
6. Act on the crisis - as long as there is chaos; we win.
7. Mayor Weaver endorses Hillary Clinton for President
Since November 16, 2015, no one has seen or heard from Howard Croft, the former head of Flint's Department of Public Works. It was his job as DPW director to oversee the daily operations of the water treatment plant during the transition to the Flint Riveras the city's primary source of drinking water. He has not been questioned in public about his role during this period and only recently has there been any specific mention of him having any input on the decision. Because the Flint treatment plant is where the untreated water entered the system, and Mr. Croft was in charge of the plant, logic dictates that the investigation and questioning would begin with "the boss". First question; WHERE'S HOWARD? Next question why did you insist untreated water be injected into the system?
As of late, numerous rallies and appearances have been held by a long list of “who’s who” in the social justice movement, each with their own variation of the same goal. The evil, uncaring republican white governor must resign, so “we” can do for “us” the things “we” want and need. Not only has the race card been played, but the entire deck is stacked with the same card.
The current mayor [Weaver] has enjoined these outside groups with vocal and tacit approval of the interference and at the same time acting the neutral arbiter of what is in the best interest of the City of Flint. While the stated goal of the outsiders is to “help”, one need only be reminded of their past modes of operation and the ‘infamous’ statement made by Rahm Emanuel, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” A malpractice and abuse of trust delegated to the elected officials in charge of our – THE CITIZENS OF FLINT, MICHIGAN – concerns and well- being have been cast aside for political opportunism and independent financial enrichment by those who seek to exploit this crisis with “convenient facts” interjected as necessary to cloud the waters.
The question citizens have regarding the Mayor's lack of concern for all in the city, stem from her public appearances and affirmative acceptance of individuals and organizations who, in the past as well as in appearances in Flint, have openly stated their belief as to the cause of the water crisis being that of "environmental genocide" targeted at the black and poor population of Flint. Well nothing could be further from the truth and for Mayor Weaver to state that race was a factor in what happened is an outright attempt to mislead as well as further an agenda by those who thrive on racial divisiveness. Also while in attendance at two rallies sponsored by The NAACP, and as they made their pronouncements and demands for "us", the mayor not only applauded in agreement but made statements affirming their demands.
Now that all the elements for disaster are in place, the missing piece is that which sparks the "action" which Cornell Brooks called for on 2-15-16. That missing ingredient is the ransom demanded by the political and radical instigators of strife whose goal is to wrest power and money away from the "system" for their own ill-fated utopian ends.
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YES –THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE FLINT WATER-$$$$
If one were to search the key words ‘Flint water’, a volume of news articles, video clips, opinion exposés and commentaries would appear. The critique offered would vary in content and approach based on the writer’s point of view, knowledge of the facts and circumstances, political ideology and/or opportunity for personal & financial gain.
The circumstance in which we find ourselves is indeed a serious one and the ultimate cure to the ills of the citizens of Flint is yet to be determined. In the interim, while many have offered their antidote, some of the offered remedies may in fact be worse than the ailment. A dispassionate approach to solving this matter must be applied and any attempt short of this will result in failure with more harm being done to the citizens who have been afflicted by the demonstrable incompetence of those who caused the malady. Passion and false hope, however, have been injected by some who claim to have the patient’s best interest as their objective.
The Mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, is tasked with shepherding the city through the unquestionable enormous task of assuring the city that city’s water supply is one in which the citizens can without doubt trust to be safe, clean and free of contamination. This must be done with the most reliable scientific data which itself must be pure; that is, free of political and opinionated personal contamination.
I contend, in the case of an unbiased approached being applied to the correct solution to the problems we face regarding the water in Flint, Mayor Weaver has allowed her personal predisposition to find fault for and influence decisions which have diluted her oath to govern the city for the benefit of ALL its citizens.
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The victims were found with elevated levels of lead in their blood, some were suffering from skin ailments and others were fearful of the unknown assailant which had afflicted and caused their neighbors such angst.
It has been 2 years since (April, 2014) the Flint water supply was switched from Detroit via Lake Huron to the Flint River, and no one has investigated the obvious. Most casual viewers of any television crime drama knows the first place to investigate is the actual scene from where the crime is reported. If the body is found in the bedroom, why would the detective start looking for clues in a neighboring garage? Answer; he wouldn’t. But the way in which the numerous probes, inquiries, reviews and post-mortems have occurred in this case, even Lieutenant Columbo would be hard pressed to correctly solve this one.
The initial and sole charge of guilt for the crisis was attributed to Michigan’s Governor (Rick Snyder) by the citizens of Flint, public officials in Flint, local and national interest groups and in some cases the media. Those charges, in spite of any antithetical evidence will prevail, no matter the amount of any contrary and/or substantiated evidence which may focus attention elsewhere. Not only was culpability before trial granted the Governor, but clemency, in the minds of his indicters, will never be part of the equation. Mr. Snyder has acknowledged and accepted responsibility for errors made by officials under his charge, but to prevent future failures by the same or other agencies of government, a complete understanding of where and how these failures occurred must be known.
The key step missed by the sleuth(s) in charge was to not inquire of the individuals who had charge of the water treatment plant at the time the water sources were switched. The voices of inquiry were directed by emotion, understandable due to circumstances, and politics. But those motives were imprudent and failed to yield an accurate and comprehensive analysis of the event. To date with past congressional hearings, copious protests, rallies and pressure from activists groups, none of these activities produced the proper question to direct the focus on the root cause of Flint’s water woes.
The problem began when the proper corrosion control procedures were not followed (start video at 2:31:25) at the water treatment facility. E-mail documents, sworn testimony and public comments by individuals involved in the decision to use the Flint River have made this fact abundantly clear. But the pertinent question and the one which remains unasked by investigators and others is who at the plant failed to follow procedures and why. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality [MDEQ] is the state’s version of the federal EPA and therefore responsible for overseeing safe drinking water standards for the state are met by each locality, but are not involved in the day to day operation of the facility. However, one would trust the experts charged with daily operations to know they were being asked to perform their job in a substandard manner by not adding corrosion controls to the water. Was it not obvious to them by omitting this step serious consequences would be the result?
Simply put, before surgery the operating room staff knows it is a basic requirement to apply a Betadine antiseptic solution to the area which will be operated on. Failure to perform this step means an infection and other complications occur, which would be catastrophic to the patient. So with this as foreknowledge, should the chief of the hospital deem the sterilization procedure “unnecessary this time”, what is the duty of the operating room staff? Certainly not to willingly go along with that suggestion and in the case it was ordered, the competent medical professional is obliged to refuse the order, follow proper protocol and report the suggested divergence to the appropriate medical boards.
We all knew when Lt. Columbo had the case solved because he would unnerve the “perp” by saying, “oh yeah, there is just one more thing…” In the case of the Flint water crisis here is that one more thing, there is a report by e-mail of one such warning by Mr. Mike Glasgow, who was the Laboratory & Water Quality Supervisor for the Flint Water Treatment Plant in April, 2014, at the time of the switch. At the time of this article, (3-28-16), it has not yet been determined why his warnings were not heeded, nor has it been determined which person(s) above Mr. Glasgow made the decision to proceed. Those individuals include Mr. Howard Croft who was Flint’s Dept. of Public Works Director, and Mr. Darnell Earley who served as Flint’s Emergency Financial Manager and Dayne Walling who was Mayor during the time the switch was made. Mr. Walling & Mr. Earley did testify to congress, but failed to answer that question. The water from the Flint River did not inject itself into the city’s infrastructure. It was done by a human. The rush by some to assign political blame and garner personal celebrity from the episode has obscured the resolve to properly investigate and answer these basic questions. This is the not so small fact which cuts to the heart of the entire state of affairs in which Flint has landed.