originally posted on the People’s Tribune: http://peoplestribune.org/pt-news/2015/05/toxic-twins-emergency-management-and-flint-river-water/

By Shea Howell and Tom Stephens


FLINT, MI — As in the mass water shut offs to tens of thousands of Detroiters, the evil kinship of Emergency Management and violation of human rights is on full display in the case of forcing the people of Flint to drink foul, harmful water for the Emergency Manager’s political and economic benefit. Outrageous and insane of course, but tragically, this is our reality in Michigan in 2015. The Flint City Council, recognizing the obvious hazards to human life and health from consuming water that is too contaminated for General Motors to use with auto parts in their factories, voted to reconnect to the regional Detroit water system. The Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose is refusing to do this.

In a press release, Ambrose said that Flint’s water is safe to drink and, “It is incomprehensible to me that seven members of the Flint City Council would want to send more than $12 million a year to the system serving southeast Michigan.” Ambrose said, “Flint water is safe.” So in the EM’s bizarre, perverse “judgment”, money is more important than human life and health. One wonders what else about democracy, public health, and simple human decency is also incomprehensible to Mr. Ambrose. It’s probably a pretty long list

This is the predictable, and predicted result of having despotic, unaccountable power-tripping political leaders like Governor Snyder, Ambrose and their Emergency Manager colleagues. And if they think the people of Michigan will stand for it, their thinking is as deficient as their judgment and their empathy for others.

In March, the Flint Youth Theater presented Healing Stories on Racial Equity sponsored by the Flint Strong Stones and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.  The primary focus of everyone was the water crisis in the city. Since leaving the Detroit Water System in April 2014, residents have had trouble with their water, rashes, skin irritation, and foul smell and taste of the water. Several speakers brought bottles taken from their taps to show the audience the brown color and sediment floating in it.

Among the most moving of the stories was that told by the mother of an autistic son. He looked forward to his bath every day as a way to calm himself. Now she has to keep him away from the tub. She explained that if he bathes in the water “he gets sick, his eyes are blood shot. He has a rash and a cough.” What are we coming to that such suffering is inflicted by our government, and tolerated by us?

The Flint City Council’s move to reconnect Flint to Detroit Water is just good government. The only thing incomprehensible about this situation is why anyone, even an out of touch Emergency Manager, would refuse to act quickly to restore safe water to people.