FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Governor Snyder’s New Clothes

by

In April 2014 Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Flint Emergency Manager, in entrepreneurial consultation with the leading lights of Flint’s Karegnondi Water Authority, switched the city’s water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage System to the Flint River. Almost immediately People in Flint knew there was something wrong. The water was brown or yellow, it stunk and it was full of floaters. For People forced to live under these outrageous circumstances, this was the first stage of understanding the systemic evils that underlie Snyder’s administration.

As much of the nation finally knows now – thanks to the incredibly heroic activism of Flint residents, the intrepid, brilliant, relentless and engaged journalistic interventions of the ACLU’s Curt Guyette and Peoples videographer extraordinaire Kate Levy, and ultimately a couple of timely scientific studies by Professor Marc Edwards (lots of lead in Flint water) and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha (rising lead levels in the blood of Flint children) – Snyder’s evil administration succeeded in poisoning a lot of People in Flint and creating a disaster / crisis / scandal of major historic proportions.

Rick Snyder and his cronies have had several public reactions to these events, corresponding to stages in development of the now full-blown crisis:

First, from April 2014 until the end of September 2015, they blatantly lied, denied, and insulted the intelligence and integrity of everyone who was trying to call attention to the obvious visual, smell and taste evidence of what Snyder’s emergency management regime did.

Next, even after Prof. Edwards’ and Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s scientific thunderbolts hit them, they (briefly) tried to attack the credibility of these fine scientists and their data. Not coincidentally at this point the media environment and political ground began to shift rapidly under their feet.

Like the cunning finaglers and scumbags they are, Snyder’s crew then tried to shift with events, initiating a cover-up (“Flint Water Task Force”) that would soon distinguish itself for clumsiness and even more obvious lies. One picture is worth a thousand words:

In the midst of such a fiasco, much more drastic action was needed to make People believe that the Snyder administration cared about the People of Flint, understood their own responsibilities to clean up the mess they made and protect public health, or at least was “only” negligent and not outright criminal. The cover-up task force issued a scathing interim report – fingering the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as the primary scapegoat – a time-tested technique for trying to improve Snyder’s togs by throwing his DEQ director Dan Wyant and public relations flack Brad Wurfel under the bus.

But by this time, with Flint water still unusable and the public health and political accountability genies out of the bottle, their words and bizarre claims that this disaster occurred because they somehow misunderstood the technical requirements of the EPA’s lead / copper rule no longer held water. Public officials like Flint Congressman Dan Kildee drew a clear distinction between verbally admitting responsibility and acting responsibly by bringing actual emergency humanitarian resources to People in Flint they harmed: bottled water, medical care, engineering and construction projects to repair the ravaged infrastructure leaking poison into the water, and the like. Now it was time for Snyder to call out the State Police, the National Guard, FEMA and declare a state of emergency.

That state of emergency caused by ‘emergency management’ is the stage of unraveling Snyder’s evil administration where we find ourselves now. Meanwhile, at the extreme liberal and investigative point of corporate media inquiry, Detroit Free Press opinion columnist Nancy Kaffer is beginning to dig into the slowly emerging documentary record of this atrocity. In a column on January 12, 2016, Ms. Kaffer expressed continuing puzzlement about a critical part of the documentary trail:

“In a man-made public health crisis fraught with inexplicable choices, this is yet another decision point I’m still struggling to understand: An analysis, indicating that Flint’s water was safe that some staffers found flawed, was amplified, while a report that could have raised the alarm about the safety of Flint’s water supply was disregarded.”

This continuing mystery about judgment, credibility and human rights can be readily cleared up, simply by recalling the political and legal equivalent of the floaters, discoloration and (especially) the smell of Rick Snyder’s unprecedented, radically anti-democratic and cunningly racist ‘emergency management’ statutes.

We first saw this unjust, unconstitutional and (we now know for sure, after what happened in Flint!) insane legislation in early 2011. Almost immediately, many of us started sounding the alarm; uniting all local government powers, as well as the extraordinary powers to break contracts and violate local laws, in a single henchman accountable only to the Governor would harm, not help Michigan’s urban, predominantly African-American communities. Snyder’s crew re-enacted their ‘emergency management’ powers even after Michigan voters repealed his first statute by referendum in 2012. Corporate media and other notables decried the obvious injuries to democracy, but the ‘necessity’ of imposing right wing, corporate and white ‘fiscal responsibility’ on poverty-stricken working poor People carried the day. Flint’s lead-poisoned children are paying an obscenely heavy price for that triumph of ideological will.

Systems analysis of the Snyder administration’s political philosophy and naked power plays answers Ms. Kaffer’s question about the nature of their decision-making in Flint; whether the issue is voter suppression; public health; democracy; the rule of law; foreclosures; water; racial and economic equity; public education, or whatever, in every case, Snyder’s corporate cronies benefit and pursue their evil agendas, and our most vulnerable People get the shaft in order to produce that result.  The pattern is completely clear.  Ms. Kaffer’s struggle is with the ideological blinders of corporate media, because knowledge of the facts and systems thinking clarifies the issues.

It was completely foreseeable, foreseen and predicted by many, many knowledgeable and credible People that uniting all local government powers in a single, totally unaccountable gubernatorial appointee with the power to violate local laws and contracts would harm, not help communities like Flint and Detroit and our People. Because it was always clear, and at the expense of Flint’s children and others is now becoming more widely known, that such powers, granted in a political and social environment grounded on white supremacist, capitalist / imperial patriarchy, uncontrolled corporate power, deregulation, privatization, union-busting and all the other tricks and wiles of ‘the 1%’, would aide Snyder’s cronies and hurt their victims. This is the lesson the Flint River scandal and its scandalous, futile, continuing cover-up: Flint’s water crisis is also our crisis.

As we go forward in 2016 and beyond with the lifelong neurological injuries of Flint’s children, as well as the inflated claims of revitalization, renewal, restructuring and fabricated dominator reality around Detroit’s post-emergency management and bankruptcy, featuring mass water shut offs for tens of thousands of Detroiters, we will be better served if we keep this painful lesson in mind and in the forefront of our discourse and action.

Frank X Murphy is the pen name of a Detroiter seeking emergency anger management resources and opportunities.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail