Five Key Things Snyder’s Email Reveal About the Flint Water Crisis
1) Former Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore claims that he was first informed of a problem with the water in July of 2015, more than a year after the switch to the Flint River. Harvey Hollins III, director of Snyder’s Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives conducted a secret distribution of 1,500 water filters with the help of some local pastors. When Snyder asked how is went, Hollins replied, "Governor, it went extremely well with the residents. There is demand for more."
2) Then-Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore sent an email to the governor on September 25, 2015, warning of potential consequences of not meeting with Representative Dan Kildee, writing "...if you don’t talk with him it will just fan the narrative that the state is ducking responsibility."
3) The next day, another email was sent from Muchmore to Snyder and several members of his staff regarding the growing unrest in Flint. “Of course, some of the Flint people respond by looking for someone to blame instead of working to reduce anxiety. We can’t tolerate increased lead levels in any event, but it’s really the city’s water system that needs to deal with it.
4) Muchmore continued to the governor, "We’re throwing as much assistance as possible at the lead problem as regardless of what the levels, explanations or proposed solutions, the residents and particularly the poor need help to deal with it.” He claims that the state was doing all they could do back in September?? He wrapped up by saying, “The residents are caught in a swirl of misinformation and long term distrust of local government unlikely to be resolved.”
5) In late September, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich demanded the “swift transfer to a safe source of water until the Karegnondi Water Authority is complete next year.” Muchmore wrote an email October 1st laying out what it would take to return to Detroit water, including no reconnection fee, and a bill of $662,100 per month.
“It appears on the surface (without the deep dive we’ll definitely do on it) that for $11M we can reconnect to DWSD system for the intervening time before KWA comes on line. That may well be the only way to bring any confidence back to the community.” Snyder replied, “We should help get all of the facts on the consequences of changing back vs. staying and then determine what financing mechanisms we have available. If we can provide the financing, then we should let Flint make the decision.”
Since the State of the State address, and the release of the email, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling told WJRT, "I feel that this community was betrayed by the people who were supposed to protect our health."
Walling told WFNT that the information he had at the time was obviously incorrect or incomplete, and certainly regrets decisions that were made. It's also important to remember that Flint was under the control of an Emergency Financial Manager at the time. It was those incorrect or doctored test results that prompted the resignation of the Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant.
It was the MDEQ's lack of common sense that led to the problem going on as long as it did, according to Snyder. Today the goernor told CBS news that, “They (the MDEQ) were too technical. They followed literally the rules. They didn’t use enough common sense to say in situation like this there should be more measures. There should be more concern. And it has led to this terrible tragedy that I’m sorry for, but I’m going to fix. I have to take responsibility for the state’s role in this. These folks work for me. That was a failure.”
It seems to me like our government broke down on every possible level, and the people of Flint are the ones who will pay the short-term, long-term, and lifelong consequences. You may not have to use bottled water to drink, cook, and wash, but if you live in Genesee County you probably know someone who does and and may not even realize it.
Regardless of whether or not this affects you and your immediate family directly, the effects are being felt throughout the community... the entire Flint family.