The political coup behind the Flint water crisis

flint-faucet-2By Scott Martelle
Los Angeles Times

The poisoning of the people of Flint, Mich., is a failure of government at its worst, and the finger-pointing will turn into a blood sport. There already are calls for the state’s governor, former Gateway Computers executive andventure capitalist Rick Snyder, to resign, and some are urging criminal investigationsinto the motives and knowledge of those who let Flint residents, including young children at elevated risk, drink lead-contaminated water.

There is plenty of blame to go around (there’s a good overview here). Snyder on Wednesday released emails connected with the crisis, and they reveal state officials’utter disregard for the problems evolving in Flint. And once it was apparent the issue wasn’t going to trickle away, they began calculating the political implications. One thing the emails make clear: The state government’s abject failure to confront a clear crisis in a responsible, effective way.

So why was this the state of Michigan’s responsibility and not that of the elected leaders of the city of Flint? Because Snyder had trumped local decision-making by installing an emergency manager under a controversial state law that allows the governor to usurp democracy. And like many issues of inequity in Michigan and nationwide, there’s a racial component — it’s been invoked primarily in the state’s poorest and blackest cities.