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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his Flint Appointed Emergency
Managers from (L to R) Michael Brown, Ed Kurtz, Darnell Earley and
Two of Flint, Michigan five Emergency Managers during the City’s Toxic Water Crisis from December 2011 to April 2015 have been criminally charged by State Attorney General Bill Schuette for roles in the on-going environmental disaster.
Former Flint Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Jerry Ambrose faces charges ranging from operating under false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office.
Earley served as Emergency Manager of Flint from October 2013 to January 2015 and Ambrose from January 2015 to April 30, 2015.
Two other officials related to Flint’s Water Crisis, Howard Croft, former Department of Public Works director and Daughtery Johnson, former utility administrator for the city were charged operating under false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses.
Earley and Ambrose charges put into question two Michigan Public Acts, P.A. 436 of 2012 and P.A. 4 of 2011 known as the state’s Emergency Management Laws.
Public Act 4 of 2011 was signed into law by Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder on March 3, 2011, under massive protest from state-based activists groups and civil rights organizations.
The law allowed for an Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Snyder total control to overrule the local elected governmental unit on all matters; Financial, Operations, Structure or Complete Removal of the elected or appointed bodies of local government.
Less than three weeks later, Michigan Republican-controlled State House and Senate passed an updated version of the Emergency Manager Act, Public Act 436 of 2012 and added an appropriation to the bill protecting it from a citizens referendum. The updated bill was signed into law by Governor Snyder on December 27, 2012.
The State’s Emergency Management Law authority was used to force Michigan’s largest city of Detroit, Michigan into the largest fiscal Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to date on July 18, 2013, under former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
Emergency Managers from 2011-2016 were assigned by Governor Snyder’s administration to over 80% of Michigan’s high minority populated cities including Flint, Benton Harbor, Muskegon, Ecorse Pontiac, Hamtramck, Detroit and a large number public schools districts in the cities and across the state.
Flint Water Authority switched from Detroit Water and Sewer Department authority onto the Flint River following a one-year undetected water leak under former Emergency Manager Michael Brown, who was appointed by Governor Snyder from Dec 2011 to Aug 2012; and again from July 2013 to October 2013.
During the time Brown ordered a 25 percent hike in the water and sewer rates in an Emergency Manager budget-balancing plan that also included a 20 percent reduction in Flint city employees and their compensation, as the massive water leak remained undetected.
“We can’t solve this just by cutting expenses,” Flint’s Former Emergency Manager Michael Brown said on April 29, 2012, to MLive, the day after he presented the budget to the council. “What we’re creating here is a way to assess people for the actual cost.”
“We did not have time for a vote of the people,” he said.
At that time, the average customer’s total water and sewer bill was expected to go up to about $111. Using that figure, the average customer will now be paying about $139 a month in water and sewer fees under the latest increase.
Brown attributes the rising costs to aging infrastructure and the costs passed on from the city’s primary water source: the city of Detroit.
Flint’s second Emergency Manager assigned to the City by Governor Rick Snyder, Ed Kurtz, made the unilateral decision to switch the city’s water supply onto the Flint River on April 13, 2013.
Kurtz was Flint’s second Emergency Manager serving under the authority of Governor Rick Snyder from Aug 2012 to July 2013.
The decision was questioned due to Flint River having no known corrosion control measures to prevent deterioration of the City’s aging water infrastructure.
“The city of Flint is dumping its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Flint emergency manager Ed Kurtz signed a contract today to get the city’s water from a new pipeline that’s being built from Lake Huron to Genesee County,” said Michigan Radio April 16, 2013.
Officials with Detroit’s system made a final offer to try and keep Flint’s business. But Kurtz says the numbers were “unreliable.”
Less than two months after mandating Flint switch immediately from Detroit’s Water and Sewer Department onto the Flint River, Emergency Manager Kurtz announced he was “resigning” from his job on May 30, 2016.
In September 2014, on the heels of another boiled water alert, the city tested positive for total coliform bacteria, The Environmental Protection Agency warned Flint and the city’s fourth Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, Darnell Earley, the coliform could present be a pathway for pathogens and fecal contamination to enter a drinking water system.
“The city has issued a boil advisory for a portion of Flint, saying water in the area has tested positive for total coliform bacteria.,” said MLive on September 5, 2014.
The area of the advisory is bordered by Dayton Street on the north, DuPont Street on the east, the Flint River on the south, and by Lavelle Road to the Flint River on the west, the city said in a news released issued today, Sept. 5.
The latest advisory marks the second time in less than 30 days that residents and businesses in a part of the city have been told to boil or use bottled water for drinking, bathing, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and preparing food.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says positive total coliform tests suggest there may be a pathway for pathogens and fecal contamination to enter a drinking water system.
“The absence of total coliforms in the distribution system minimizes the likelihood that fecal pathogens are present,” the agency Web site says. “Thus, total coliforms are used to determine the vulnerability of a system to fecal contamination.”
Despite this dire warning from the Environmental Protection Agency and General Motors declaring one month later in October 2014, it was switching back to the Detroit Water and Sewer Department supply due to Flint River water destroying the manufacturers car engine parts – Emergency Manager Darnell Earley refused to move Flint’s residents from what was well known to be a toxic water source.
Earley served as Flint’s fourth Emergency Manager assigned by Governor Snyder from October 2013 to January 2015 and was charged criminally for his role in Flint’s Toxic Water Crisis on December 20 by Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette.
Flint’s fifth and last Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose served the shortest tenure from January 2015 to April 30, 2015. Ambrose similar to Earley refused to switch Flint’s residents back to the Detroit Water and Sewer Department system, citing a “business case” existed to keep citizens on a known toxic water resource.
“Ambrose overruled a city council vote in March 2015 to return to Detroit water,” said the Washington Post on January 25, 2016.
Ambrose called the council’s request “incomprehensible” and a waste of $12 million — even though there had already been chemical and bacterial problems with the river water, water quality had violated the Safe Drinking Water Act and the General Motors plant in Flint had stopped using the water because it was rusting car parts.”
Ambrose was able to “overrule” Flint City Council’s authority solely due to Michigan’s Emergency Management laws P.A. 436 of 2012 and P.A. 4 of 2011. Both laws were signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
The reason why Flint, Michigan dealt with a Toxic, Poisoned Water Crisis for nearly three years and counting, is directly due to the state’s Emergency Management Laws.
Proving not only “Emergency Management” is a failure of leadership but, equally should point questions demanding answers to the Leader signing the Public Acts into law, Governor Rick Snyder.
The allegations against Earley, Ambrose, Croft and Johnston makes thirteen the number of officials charged in their actions associated with Flint Water Crisis. Other officials include Stephen Busch, supervisor in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Liane Shekter-Smith, former chief of the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance; Michael Prysby, district engineer; Adam Rosenthal, a water quality analyst who worked for Shekter-Smith; and Patrick Cook, specialist for the department’s Community Drinking Water Unit.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services employees charged by Schuette’s office are Nancy Peeler, director of the Program for maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting; and Robert Scott, data manager for the department’s Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention Program.
Mike Glasgow, Flint’s utilities director and former DHHS state epidemiologist Corinne Miller both charged, have agreed to plea deals in exchange for her cooperation in the investigation.
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