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Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Governor Rick Snyder was questioned today by the House Oversight Government Reform Committee as it continued probing the Flint water crisis.

Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta was in Washington for the hearing.

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Before Flint's water problems were widely known to the public, Snyder administration officials spent a lot of time emailing back and forth about the city and its water. 

We wouldn't know that if the governor hadn't voluntarily released batches of emails. That’s because he and the Legislature are exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

But that could change.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifies today before a congressional committee. He's there to explain how the water in Flint became undrinkable.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A special state legislative committee started looking into the Flint water crisis today.

Committee chairman Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) set the tone for the four Republicans on the six member joint Senate-House panel.

“It is my sincere hope that this committee will stay focused on solutions and not finger pointing and political positioning,” Stamas told the committee as it began its session this morning.

The two Democrats on the panel stressed the need for accountability.

WATCH: Flint water hearings

Mar 15, 2016
YouTube / House Oversight Committee

Ex-Flint mayor Dayne Walling and former emergency manager Darnell Earley testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington, D.C., earlier today. While no longer live, you can watch this morning's hearing below. For text highlights, follow the conversation through the Twitter hashtag #FlintMR. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - The state-appointed emergency manager who oversaw Flint, Michigan, when the city's water source was switched to the Flint River says he relied on state and federal experts, but the experts failed him and Flint.

  Darnell Earley says in prepared testimony for a House hearing Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by challenges facing the impoverished city and relied on experts from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advise him.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint could get some additional federal money to help it recover from its water crisis.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro met with Mayor Karen Weaver and Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today.

Castro says they talked about giving Flint additional Community Development block grant funds.

“We believe there is merit to that package, and would like to work with them to pencil in exactly what that would look like,” says Castro.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint say they have questions they want answered at this week’s congressional hearings into the city’s water crisis.

Starting Tuesday, former emergency manager Darnell Earley, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Gov. Rick Snyder are scheduled to testify before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee.  

Current and former officials with the Environmental Protection Agency are also scheduled to appear before the committee.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she has a list of questions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint has just about a month left until its federal emergency declaration expires.

That declaration lets the state buy bottled water, filters and testing kits through the federal government -- with the feds covering 75% of the cost.

The federal "emergency" declaration is really designed for short-term crises, like right before a hurricane strikes, when a city has to stock up on emergency generators or bottled water.  

Still, the state is asking for an extension of this emergency declaration for Flint through mid-August.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of a national mayor’s organization says he expects to use Flint as an example of the need for federal investment in local infrastructure when the next president takes office.

Tom Cochran is the CEO of the United States Conference of Mayors. He was part of a delegation in Flint last week to discuss ways to help the city rebound from its water crisis.

Cochran says the problem extends beyond Flint. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration has a goal of creating 1,000 new jobs in Flint as a way of helping recover from the ongoing crisis sparked by lead in the city's water.

  The Detroit News  reports officials in Snyder's administration discussed the jobs goal Friday in a meeting of the governor's Flint Water Interagency Task Force.

People upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap water packed a public meeting last January.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A lot of lawsuits have been filed over the water debacle in Flint, where it was discovered that residents have been exposed to lead-contaminated water.

There might also be a connection to several cases of Legionnaire’s disease that took nine lives.

According to Wayne State University law professor Noah Hall, this wave of lawsuits is just the first of many.

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The state's holding focus groups in Flint, trying to figure out whether people are getting the information they need about the water crisis.

And so far, the answer is pretty clear: they’re not.

Harvey Hollins is running the state's response efforts in Flint. And he says the first focus group (which was held this week) was pretty unsettling.  

He says people suggested the state create a help line to call with questions about the water and where to get filters – even though 211 has already been offering that kind of information.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s so much confusion about Flint’s water and sewer rates that the city is suspending mailing bills to the city’s residents.

During the past year, there’s been almost as much happening to Flint’s water and sewer bills as the city’s water pipes.

A judge last year ordered the city to roll back a 2011 and also ruled the current rates were OK.  

The city is trying to collect on some old delinquent accounts. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Researchers from Virginia Tech are back in Flint to test people’s tap water, but some residents are not willing to have their water tested again.

Last summer, tests by Virginia Tech were the first to show elevated lead levels in Flint’s drinking water.

Virginia Tech Ph.D student says testing the same homes is the best way to know if things have changed, but he says they are running into some resistance from homeowners.

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Flint polling places needed more ballots due to an unusually high turnout in a city that has been in the spotlight because of contaminated water.

Flint Clerk Inez Brown says it's the first time in her 20 years in office that she's had to send more ballots during the day of an election. She tells The Flint Journal that turnout Tuesday is "unprecedented," especially among voters who want to vote in the Democratic primary.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan and city of Flint are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit connected to Flint’s drinking water crisis.

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed the suit in January alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The suit is not seeking monetary damages, but an order to remove all lead service lines, as well as provide medical treatment for people exposed to lead tainted drinking water.

Attorneys for the government say the lawsuit should be dismissed for a lack of legal jurisdiction and other issues.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting a $25 million loan to remove its lead pipes. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the Union Labor Life Insurance Company has agreed to the low cost loans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she’s hopeful that the U.S. Senate will soon take up a bill with tens of millions of dollars for Flint.

The legislation has more than $100 million earmarked for fixing Flint’s water system and added health care for people exposed to lead in their tap water.

But a Republican senator is holding up the bill. Utah Senator Mike Lee says the state of Michigan should first spend its own money to fix Flint’s water issues, before the federal government should get involved. 

CNN

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders didn’t agree on much during Sunday’s debate in Flint.

But both want Republican Governor Rick Snyder to resign for his administration’s handling of the Flint water crisis.

“His dereliction of duty was irresponsible. He should resign,” Sen. Sanders (D-VT) said from the stage at the Whiting auditorium.  A statement which drew applause from the partisan audience. 

A few minutes later, Hillary Clinton echoed Sanders’s call.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (right) stands next to the lead drinking water line that was pulled from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It was a symbolic day in Flint on Friday as the city removed its first lead water service line under Mayor Karen Weaver’s “FAST Start” program.

The Mayor wants to remove all the lead water lines in the city under the program. She’s seeking $55 million to fund the program. Right now, they’ve started the program with $2 million from the state. That money was reimbursed to the city after it spent it last fall as part of the payment to reconnect Flint’s water supply to Detroit’s system. Weaver says the state could pay for the rest using its "rainy day" fund.

Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder's committee on the Flint water crisis met again Friday, primarily discussing the best evaluation tools for assessing the city's water safety.

Comprised of notables like Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, along with high-ranking officials from agencies like the MDEQ and Health and Human Services, the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee is tasked with developing long-term solutions to the water crisis. The governor formed the committee with an executive order in January.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government has approved Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid eligibility in Flint. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says pregnant women and people under 21 in Flint are now eligible for the expanded coverage.

The Snyder administration asked the federal government for the expanded Medicaid coverage, as part of its response to the Flint water crisis. There are concerns about the health effects of exposure to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water. 

The expansion will affect an estimated 15,000 Flint residents.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to start digging up lead service lines tomorrow. But today, a contractor paid by a private group got to work doing the same thing on the city’s north side.

Brittani Felton watched from her driveway as workers dug a deep trench in front of her home on Flint’s Alma Avenue. At the bottom of the muddy hole lay the service line connecting Felton’s home to the city water main.

She’s had her water tested, but the results aren’t back yet. 

Flint Head Start will get $3.6 million boost

Mar 2, 2016
Barnaby Wasson / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a $3.6 million immediate expansion for Head Start and Early Head Start services in Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state Democratic Party chairman says Michigan’s state treasurer should resign or be fired for his handling of Flint’s water crisis.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon says State Treasurer Nick Khouri made not going back to Detroit water a condition of a deal when the state gave Flint a $7 million loan to get out of debt last April.  

house in Flint
Sarah Razak / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kettering University wants to help faculty and staff members buy houses in Flint.

The university's Employee Home Purchase and Renovation Assistance program will give eligible employees forgivable $15,000 loans to buy and live in homes near campus.

The program's designated neighborhoods are Mott Park, Glendale Hills, and Carriage Town.

Employees who already own homes in those neighborhoods are eligible for $5,000 forgivable loans to fix up their property.

If borrowers adhere to specific requirements, they don't have to repay the loan.

New app to help Flint residents navigate water crisis

Mar 1, 2016
Courtesy photo

A new app for mobile devices aims to help Flint residents get the information they need to deal with the city's water crisis.

It's called "Empower Flint," and it gives Flint residents a checklist of the most important steps to take to protect themselves, their families and even their pets from the lead in Flint's water and pipes. 

Stars gather in Flint to entertain, unite the community

Feb 28, 2016
Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

Oscar Sunday was a night of stars not only in Los Angeles, but also in Flint. 

Organized by Ryan Coogler and his group Blackout for Human Rights, the #JUSTICEFORFLINT event brought artists across all mediums to the struggling city for a free show. 

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal Small Business Administration is expanding its effort to help Flint recover from its drinking water crisis.

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the SBA administrator. She met with business leaders in Flint on Friday.  She told them the SBA plans to expand operations in Flint. 

“$100,000 is going to help them staff up and then the other funds will help them expand their revolving fund,” says Contreras-Sweet.

Earlier this month, the agency approved Gov. Rick Snyder's request for low-interest disaster loans for businesses in the area.

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