It is likely that ten years ago if an American was told that a state’s governor unilaterally abolished democracy and disbanded local and regional governments they would think it was a dirty lie. Oh, it is certainly true that Republicans and their various conservative belief tanks and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) made no secret that they vehemently oppose democracy over the past six years, but they never unilaterally disbanded and deleted elected governments; except in Michigan.
As a brief refresher, in 2012 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder used ALEC and Mackinac Center for Public Policy tactics to impose “financial martial law” and corporate-backed “disaster capitalism” on the state’s residents. As governor, Snyder appointed little corporate tyrants known as “emergency managers” with unprecedented dictatorial authority to disband unions, corporatize city services, abolish school districts, and dissolve local elected governments; it was a move touted as the corporate model to help Michigan residents adjust to privatization and loss of liberty.
Now, although there were numerous warnings that people’s lives were being put at risk with an ALEC corporate tyrant running the show, Michigan’s governor can hardly deny that his ALEC-Mackinac tyrannical takeover is literally poisoning entire communities; all in the name of GOP and ALEC privatization and austerity madness.
On Tuesday Rick Snyder was “forced” to declare a state of emergency in two Michigan counties, Flint and Genesee, because the water supply is toxic with lead. Not so curiously, Snyder’s “emergency declaration” came on the same exact day the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed it is investigating why the city of Flint’s drinking water supply is contaminated when two years ago it was fine. The idea that residents in two counties are drinking, cooking, and bathing in highly-toxic lead-poisoned water is not a revelation to Snyder or anyone familiar with his devotion to “disaster capitalism” as the model for GOP governance.
Because Snyder has known the drinking water supply was toxic for at least a year, it is certain he would have let it continue unabated without federal environmental, justice, and health agencies getting involved. However, now that the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice are in the initial stages of a serious investigation, Snyder is acting as his previous corporate tyranny agenda is some kind of “an innocent accident” threatening the lives of Michigan residents; now and in the future.
This all started when one of Snyder’s corporate emergency dictators decided that clean and safe drinking water from nearby Lake Huron did not fit the corporate financial model; not when there was a well-documented and historically toxic water source in the Flint River. Less than a month ago Snyder feigned “surprise” at this emergency and did what corporate Republicans do as a matter of course. He blamed environmental quality officials because they had no input whatsoever into switching from clean water to the “man-made catastrophe” that forced residents, including small children, to ingest filthy, corrosive and lead-poisoned water.
Flint and Genesee county water delivery systems and supplies only became contaminated with lead after Snyder’s emergency manager ordered the switch to the poisoned Flint River as the area’s drinking water sources; no state, regional, or federal environmental quality officials were involved in the corporate decision.
Within a year health officials noticed that there was a region-wide spike in lead levels in children; lead is a well-known cause of permanent brain damage which is why it is has been prohibited in products like paint and gasoline for quite a few decades. Now there are serious concerns that the lead is forever in the area’s water distribution system because the Flint River is polluted with highly corrosive chemicals allowing lead to be imbedded in the area’s means of delivery (faucets, pipes, pumps, and holding tanks).
In a news release, Snyder’s office said, “By declaring a state of emergency, the governor has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery operations.” A spokesman for Snyder said “If state and local resources are unable to cope with this dire emergency, the governor will request federal assistance,” which is the only other reason Snyder declared a state of emergency.
Under Michigan law, Snyder can now demand that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assess the cost of replacing the entire water delivery infrastructure so Snyder can submit a bill to the federal government; then all American taxpayers will be charged to fix the man-made catastrophe his corporate dictator wrought on Flint and Genesee counties.
There have been numerous calls for a Justice Department investigation into lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water throughout the tenure of the Snyder-appointed emergency manager. The chairman of the Coalition for Clean Water in Flint, Reverend Allen Overton, said it was “a good day for the City of Flint“ and was pleased the governor finally declared a state of emergency; a declaration that has been criticized as long overdue for at least a year. Reverend Overton added that “We’re going to need some major financing to fix the infrastructure in the city of Flint. Until that happens, we’re not going to be able to do a lot, including drinking the water.”
The spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, Gina Balaya, said her office is working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency on an investigation, but she did not reveal whether “the investigation is a criminal or civil matter.” Of course it should be a criminal matter, but these so-called “state officials” from Governor Rick Snyder down to his emergency tyrant are corporate animals and will not face any charges and most likely will not be investigated; it is why Snyder was quick to blame the people with no input or involvement in the decision to poison Michigan residents; environmental quality agencies. As an aside, nearly any Michigan resident already knew the Flint River has been a decades-long toxic dumping site and was highly poisonous.
The poisoning of Michigan residents is a “state of emergency; of that there is no dispute. However, it is a corporate-driven and entirely man-made emergency that Snyder would have allowed to continue unabated if the EPA and Justice Department had not intervened to protect Michigan resident’s lives. Now, it will be left to American taxpayers to pay for rebuilding the infrastructure to provide clean drinking water to area residents while Snyder’s corporate cohort continue reaping tax cuts paid for by cost-cutting measures responsible for poisoning Flint and Genesee residents. The same residents who lost their democracy, elected representatives, and their voices to a toxic corporate Republican who deliberately, with malice aforethought, poisoned his constituents in service to ALEC, the Mackinac Center and the corporatization of America.