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Flint

Courtesy of Rebecca Fedewa / Flint River Watershed Coalition

When it comes to the Flint water crisis, there has been plenty of blame to go around.

In addition to the human errors and incompetence from the likes of the Snyder administration, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the EPA, and a series of unelected emergency managers, many have pointed fingers at another culprit: the Flint River itself.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Today marks three years since the city of Flint’s drinking water source was switched, creating the city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis.

In a Genesee County courtroom this morning, attorneys representing two former state-appointed emergency managers and two city of Flint employees took part in a court hearing concerning criminal charges against them.

In all, 13 current and former state and city officials face a variety of charges, including neglect of duty and misconduct in office.  Two have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, in exchange for lesser punishment. 

The Flint Water Treatment Plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Three years ago today, the city of Flint switched to the Flint River for its drinking water. We all know how that story goes.

So now, three years later, how has what happened in Flint changed the way we look at our drinking water?

City of Flint

A program to mow and maintain vacant lots is having a side effect in Flint: lower crime rates in those neighborhoods, including assaults, burglaries and robberies.

A Michigan State University researcher compared crime data to neighborhoods with active “clean and green” abandoned lots. He says his survey of crime stats from 2005 to 2014 shows crime rates decline as “clean and green” lots take hold.

Detroit Public Schools Community District sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District school board has chosen Nikolai Vitti as its first permanent superintendent. Vitti grew up in Dearborn Heights and is currently the superintendent in Duval County, Florida.

Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and Senior News Analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss what the district's new pick means for Detroit schools. 

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 April 16 of 2013, almost exactly four years ago, when emergency manager Ed Kurtz signed the contract that switched the city of Flint to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). It was heralded as a cost-cutting move.

That decision led to one of the biggest water contamination crises in American history.

The lead poisoning forced the city to go back to getting its water from the Great Lakes Water Authority, which serves Detroit, until the KWA system was in place.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People walking near part of the Flint River will see, and likely smell, a major dredging project this summer.

About a quarter mile segment of the Flint River will be dredged to remove tons of soil contaminated with coal tar from a gas plant that closed a century ago.    The plant operated from the mid-1800’s to the late 1920’s. Consumers Energy bought the old coal plant back in the 1920’s.   

Jim Innes with the MDEQ is the project manager.    He says coal tar does present a potential health issue for people.

state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The meter continues to run on the state’s legal expenses for the Flint water disaster.

Lansing City Hall building
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office / Flickr

Lansing City Council officially designated itself a "sanctuary city." That move follows the Ann Arbor City Council's decision to not have police or city employees ask people about their immigration status. The Trump administration says "sanctuary cities" could lose their federal funding. Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that would impact the two communities.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s former city attorney has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Mayor Karen Weaver and the city.

Stacy Erwin Oakes was fired in January after being Flint’s city attorney for less than a year.   At the time, the mayor’s office declined to comment on why Oakes was let go.

downtown Flint street
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Stateside is teaming up with MI Curious, folks!

MI Curious is Michigan Radio’s project that asks for your questions about our state and its people.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

About half of Michigan’s homeless do not have one vital tool they need to get off the streets: A valid form of ID.

The head of a Flint homeless advocacy group says about half the people who walk through its doors have no form of identification. That makes it difficult for them to receive housing and services.

But this isn’t just a problem in Flint. 

Jason Weller is with the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness.  He says their surveys show this is a statewide problem.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Flint are still digesting the terms of this week’s legal settlement and what it’ll mean for them.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson signed off on the deal, under which the state and federal governments will set aside $97 million to pay for replacing 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines during the next three years.

sign that says flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A major lawsuit over the Flint water crisis has been settled. Under the deal, the state will pay for the replacement of 18,000 lead service lines. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about why the deal might set a precedent for other cities.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A federal watchdog agency plans to conduct an audit of $25.5 million in demolition costs in Flint related to the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

  The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, informed the U.S. Secretary of Treasury last week of the planned audit.

  That letter said the audit would examine demolition and related costs in Flint that were reimbursed with TARP dollars.

At PechaKucha 20x20, speakers have to tell the audience "Why Flint?" using 20 images and 400 seconds.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

You've heard of poetry slams, TED talks and the Moth. Now, we'll introduce you to PechaKucha 20x20, happening Thursday at Tenacity Brewing in Flint.

David Stanley, one of the organizers of the event, joined Stateside to explain what this presentation style is all about.  

Map and charts of Legionnaires' disease in Michigan in 2015
Kaye LaFond/Michigan Radio

In 2014 and 2015, Genesee County saw the largest outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in at least a decade. The outbreak coincided with the city of Flint's switch from Detroit city water to water from the Flint River (and the subsequent lead exposure crisis).

 

Michigan Radio has been announced as a winner of a 2016 Scripps Howard Award in the Radio In-Depth Coverage category for its on-going coverage of the Flint water crisis. The Scripps Howard Award for Radio In-Depth Coverage honors the best in-depth and investigative reporting of a single event or issue that was broadcast or covered online by a radio station or radio network.

Courtesy Nan Palmero / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last Friday, a number of university researchers and state and county public health professionals were supposed to have a meeting – actually, a conference call – with state officials.

The group is called the Flint Area Community Health Environment Partnership, and the subject was their preliminary analysis of the reasons behind a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Flint. More than 70 people got the disease during 2014 and 2015, when the city had been switched to water from the now-infamous Flint River.

downtown Flint street
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Starting today, people in Flint will be paying more for their tap water.     

That’s because it’s no longer being subsidized by the state. The move comes as many Flint residents fear and complain that their tap water is still not safe to drink.

A charter school in Flint is closed for the day after a bullet struck a public transit bus carrying students.

The Flint Journal reports Friday's closure of Madison Academy comes after authorities say a gunshot broke a rear window on a Mass Transportation Authority bus Thursday afternoon on the city's southeast side.

The newspaper says more than 30 children were aboard. No injuries were reported.

School officials say the shutdown is to ensure the safety of students and to allow authorities time to investigate.

Courtesy of the Flint Scottish

For over a hundred years, the Flint Scottish Pipe Band has celebrated the Scottish highlands in mid-Michigan. It is the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan, and the eleventh oldest in the nation. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is once again criticizing the Snyder administration’s decision to end the state subsidy on city water bills.

The state has spent more than $40 million subsidizing Flint’s water bills.  

But the governor’s office says the credits are ending this month because Flint’s water quality is improving. 

Weaver says she wants to hold the state “accountable” to promises to help Flint through its water crisis.

“I think we deserve the credits until the water is ‘tap drinkable’ without a filter,” says Weaver.

STEVE CARMODY / Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is considering changing its charter, which could change how city government operates, taxes and more. It could stiffen ethics rules and change other rules to make city hall more transparent.

The Flint Charter Review Commission is proposing the changes. Cleora Magee chairs that commission and she joined Stateside to discuss.

Flint residents Laura and Sean MacIntyre stopped paying their water bills in 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

People in Flint who have been getting the state to help pay their water bills appear to be losing that help.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver met with Governor Snyder on Tuesday. She was unable to get him to budge from the decision to put an early end to the state-funded subsidy program that helped people pay for the water they can't safely drink without a filter.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Despite efforts to reduce lead levels in Flint’s tap water, some homes continue to test with levels far above the federal action level.  

But a consultant may soon recommend a simple response.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint city councilman will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty today to impaired driving.

Wantwaz Davis is often unapologetically outspoken during Flint city council meetings.

But he is apologizing to Flint residents after he agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor impaired driving charge. The democratic councilman was involved in a minor one-car accident last September.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Today, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis. 

The suit named Governor Rick Snyder, Flint’s former emergency managers, other state and local officials, as well as the state of Michigan and the city of Flint. Specific monetary damages were not included.

The lawsuit sought damages under federal civil rights law. However, U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara ruled that the Safe Drinking Water Act superseded that law in the case of Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

Michigan Democrats take issue with Trump's EPA directive

Jan 25, 2017
Courtesy Nan Palmero / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some of Michigan's congressional representatives are worried about new rules from the Trump administration.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Representative Dan Kildee wrote a letter to the president expressing their concerns about a directive that forbids the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from ordering any new contracts or grants.

The lawmakers fear that this directive could "jeopardize much-needed federal funding for Flint."

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

Some Flint residents have said they're worried that Flint's water will meet federal standards and get the "all-clear."

For This Week in Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and Michiga Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what government leaders need to do to ensure that people don't feel the process in Flint isn't being rushed. 

They also talk about whether we'll see a political shift from Gov. Rick Snyder during his final two years in office, a bill that would repeal Michigan's school turnaround law, and the odd mix of electric vehicles and SUVs at the North American International Auto Show


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