Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

Q&A

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

Larry Caruso / The News-Herald http://thenewsherald.com/

Liane Shekter-Smith, the former head of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance unit, was fired today. A handful of officials have resigned since the Flint water crisis came to light, but this is the first time anyone’s been fired over it.

Governor Rick Snyder’s office put out a written statement saying Shekter-Smith was “officially terminated” Friday. It does not list the exact reasons for her termination.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The new mayor of Grand Rapids wants to make housing more affordable in Michigan's second-largest city. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss' first state of the city speech was Tuesday night.

Bliss talked about the hardships she faced growing up in a family of ten.

“Whether you’re a family of four or a family of ten, a senior, a blue-collar worker, a young professional; I want you to be able to live in our city and proudly call it your home,” Bliss said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A team of people at University of Michigan’s Flint campus is almost done converting old, paper records into digital records that show which homes have lead service lines. The team has been working on it for a couple of weeks now, and should have the information by the end of this week.

State and federal officials have been after the information because they need it to help determine when Flint’s water will be safe to drink again.

Gov. Snyder signs a bill that secures $28 million in aid to Flint on January 29, 2016 in Grand Rapids.
Gov. Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law today that’ll allocate $28 million in emergency funding to address short-term needs stemming from Flint's water crisis.

It'll pay for bottled water, faucet filters, testing kits, additional school nurses, medical treatment, and help with the city's unpaid water bills. There are also funds to hire outside experts to figure out whether Flint's water infrastructure needs to be completely replaced.

Darwin Bell / Creative Commons

In January 2015, at the same time state officials were downplaying risks to Flint residents over their water, state employees in offices in downtown Flint were supplied with water coolers.

Progress Michigan released emails showing the state began providing state employees in Flint with alternative drinking water in January 2015.

Progress Michigan’s Hugh Madden says it shows a double standard.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters say they’ll try to make up to $400 million in federal money available to help replace damaged pipes in Flint. The two announced today they’d offer an amendment to a bill the Senate is set to consider next week.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A source within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirms that two employees, Liane Shekter-Smith and Stephen Busch, have been suspended for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

michigan.gov

Some Democrats are upset that Gov. Snyder hired this new PR firm. They say Flint’s water problems are a public health crisis not a PR one.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

I’ve been trying to interview the EPA’s Miguel Del Toral since early July, 2015, when a copy of his interim report on high lead levels in Flint’s water landed in my inbox.

Rick Snyder / michigan.gov

As promised, Governor Rick Snyder released a huge batch of emails “in the spirit of transparency and accountability” late this afternoon. 

Included are emails to and from Snyder, related to Flint, from 2014 and 2015. No emails from 2013, when the option to switch to the Flint River for a two-year period was first floated, were included.

While there is plenty of information to soak in, there were no obvious bombshells. 

screen shot / House TV

In his sixth State of the State address tonight, Governor Rick Snyder outlined a plan to deal with the short-term damage wrought by the Flint water crisis.

 

Snyder was contrite in the speech, during which he laid out the many failings of state and local government in the decision to pump water from the Flint River.

 

“I’m sorry, and I will fix it,” Snyder said. “Government failed you.”

 

Among other things, Snyder’s plan includes $28 million for:

 

michigan.gov

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address is tonight. He’s expected to discuss his long-term plans to resolve the water crisis in Flint.

Governor Snyder has taken a lot of heat over the state’s role in creating the water problems in Flint and for the response to the crisis.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Residents of Flint, Michigan have been dealing with a water crisis for more than a year now.

The number of children with higher lead levels has doubled since 2014, when the government switched drinking water sources. For almost four months, people have been told not to drink the tap water because there’s too much lead in it.

But it was just Saturday that President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.

President Obama.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama made the declaration after a request from Gov. Snyder for federal help in responding to the drinking water crisis in the Flint area.

People in the city and in outlying areas served by the city’s water system have been urged not to drink the water since October 1, 2015.

 

User VanZandt / Flickr

The former archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is coming to Battle Creek.

John Nienstedt resigned from the Twin Cities archdiocese last summer, as county prosecutors alleged the church had failed to protect children from clergy sex abuse during his tenure.

St. Philip Roman Catholic Church’s newsletter says Nienstedt once worked as a pastor in Royal Oak and Detroit.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued this written statement:

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

Attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Grand Rapids and three city police officers over a 2014 incident that left an unarmed teenage boy in the hospital.

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Preliminary findings from Michigan’s independent Auditor General give more details about the Flint water crisis.

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal audit -- Governor Rick Snyder appointed a panel to look into it -- and there is a federal class action lawsuit underway.

Everyone wants to know how the water went bad in one of Michigan's biggest cities.

Flint officials toast each other as they flip the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

I don’t blame the governor’s press secretary for not understanding exactly who made the decision to have Flint pump its drinking water from the Flint River. It was a complicated decision making process with multiple key players that lasted at least a few months.

Back in the spring of 2013, when this decision was made, Governor Rick Snyder’s press secretary, Dave Murray, was one of “us”; a journalist working for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.

Clockwise top left: Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett, the Flint River, Marc Edwards, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha - Flint EMs Darnell Earley, Jerry Ambrose, Ed Kurtz, and Mike Brown. Center - water at the Flint Treatment Plant.
Steve Carmody, Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

What would you do if your tap water turned brown? If it gave your children a rash every time they took a bath? Or worse, what if it made them sick? Listen to our special documentary below, and hear the wild story about how the water in Flint became Not Safe To Drink.

Credits

The people of Flint protest the state and city's handling of the water crisis.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you missed parts 1 or 2 of Not Safe to Drink, you can find them here.

Back in September, research scientists from Virginia Tech came to Flint to break some bad news.

Their tests showed high levels of lead in people’s tap water. Lead is especially harmful for young children.

A Flint water meeting in January 2015.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you missed part one of Not Safe to Drink, you can hear it here.

The tap water in Lee Anne Walters’ home in Flint was causing her family’s health problems. Tests show her water had extremely high lead levels. Her son Gavin was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

“How does this happen in the United States?” she asks. “I mean, you hear about it in third world countries, but how does this happen, specifically in a state that is surrounded by the Great Lakes?”

Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett outside of her home in Flint.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Up until October, the Walters family lived in a yellow two-story home on the south side of Flint. A couple of red maple trees shade the tiny front yard.

Walters heads to the back of the house, in a small room off of the kitchen, where the family keeps its stockpile of bottled water.

“This is our water stash. Once a week we go and we fill 40 gallons of water, so we have water to drink with, to cook with, and to bathe Gavin and Garrett in,” says Lee Anne Walters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is asking Flint for data that would show where the city’s lead service lines are. People living in homes hooked to lead service lines have a higher risk of being exposed to lead in drinking water.

Under federal rules, those homes are supposed to be sampled to help determine how well a water system is doing in keeping lead out of the water. But Flint doesn’t necessarily know where those homes are.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says people living in Flint should be warned of the potential for “high lead release” into their tap water if road work or other physical disturbances to lead and even non-lead service lines occur.

The agency says these physical disturbances “could pose an immediate and acute health hazard” to residents.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

Former state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat both lost bids to regain their seats after being forced out of the state House.

The two ex-lawmakers were very well known, but for the wrong reasons. Their efforts to cover up an extra-marital affair with wild rumors became the topic of national headlines and late-night jokes.

Gamrat lost to Mary Whiteford in her Republican primary. Courser lost his Republican primary to Gary Howell. Both seats are considered safely in the GOP column. The general election will be in March.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Flint did not follow federal regulations for large water systems when it switched its source for drinking water.

Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Confused about corrosion control? We were too.

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically. Scientists believe the Flint River is part of the problem. Flint switched from Detroit’s water system and started pulling water from the Flint River last year.

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

Henrico Prins / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A charter high school in west Michigan now has two airplanes for students to use to learn to fly.

A contribution from the Delta Air Lines Foundation allowed the school to buy a Cessna 172.

“My first flight was actually in the new plane. 

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