January 24, 2021
The Good News
- 33 missing children found in anti-human trafficking operation in Southern California (CNN)
- Bernie Sanders turns inauguration meme into sweatshirt for charity (CNN)
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” — Aesop
“Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance and moral fiber and destroys trust.” — Robert Zoellick
Out Of Lead-ed Water, But Not Out of the Woods
For most Americans, the story of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan has long since faded into the background. On the surface, it looks like the story is about to wrap up neatly. The residents of Flint know it’s not that simple.
Last Thursday, a federal judge preliminarily approved a settlement for Flint’s class-action lawsuit to the tune of $641 million, likely the largest settlement in state history. That money would go to any children exposed, adults exposed with resulting injuries, and all residents involved in paying Flint water bills.
A week earlier, nine public officials — including the former Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder — were indicted on 42 counts of misconduct for their role in creating the water crisis. As pleasing as vindication can be, however, the root causes and lasting damage of the crisis remain firmly intact.
The emergency manager law, which hands total control of a city to a state-appointed official, the law which Snyder’s own investigation cited as a catalyst of the crisis, remains on the books. More troubling, both the Governor and state Legislature are still exempt from open records requests, a policy that prevented access to information necessary for making informed decisions about Flint’s water.
At the national level, the newest update to the EPA’s testing requirements for water at schools mandates only a 3% annual replacement for water systems showing especially high levels of lead. On top of these lax requirements, chronic disinvestment in Flint from both state and national entities worsened the effects of the water crisis.
But it’s not all bad news. Michigan has raised its standard for water testing to above the federal minimum, created a state office focused on environmental justice, and — following a 2017 legal settlement — replaced most (though not all) of Flint’s lead lines. But for the Flint residents afflicted by the lead-poisoned water, the people who now live in fear of possible resulting medical ailments to come, Michigan’s efforts may never be enough. (ProPublica)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU