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Flint

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Michigan will be in the national spotlight this week during the Democratic National Convention.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters will serve as a co-chair at the convention and speakers from the state will include former Governor Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Also on that list is Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who will speak Wednesday night. Weaver joined us today to discuss the upcoming convention, her speech and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Downtown Flint.
flickr user Tony Faiola / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint is in the news a lot these days. Lead contamination of the water; people getting sick, some dying from Legionnaires' disease; one of the most violent cities in the country. 

But Flint is home to nearly 100,000 people.

A new book tells the story of some of those who've made Flint their home. It's called Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology. The collection of stories was edited by Scott Atkinson

Work crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to move ahead with plans to remove more lead service lines.

Pipes connecting homes to city water mains are a prime source of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

But so far, of the thousands of suspect service lines under city streets, only 33 have been replaced. 

Now Mayor Karen Weaver says she’s asking the city council to approve contracts with two Flint companies (Goyette Mechanical and WT Stevens Construction, Inc.) to remove 250 service lines as part of a new pilot program.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette faces complex legal hurdles in civil lawsuits against a water company and an engineering company, along with their parent companies.

 

The lawsuit claims that Veolia North America of Delaware and Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam of Texas failed to take proper steps in the Flint water crisis and created a public nuisance. The suit aims to collect money for damages.

 

But legal experts say there are a number of issues that could stand in the way of a potential win for the attorney general in trial or in a settlement.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A $32 million campaign to renovate an historic building in downtown Flint is getting a big boost.

The 90-year-old Capitol Theatre has been a vaudeville house, movie palace, and for many years a vacant, decaying building in downtown Flint.

But the theater has been undergoing extensive renovations. 

Today, The Hagerman Foundation donated $4 million to the project.

Philanthropist Phil Hagerman remembers as a 14-year-old going to the Capitol to see The Sound of Music with his family.

The city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A recent University of Michigan research analysis shows wage growth in Flint was the seventh-highest nationally in 2015, outpacing growth in Michigan and in major cities around the country. 

Wages in Genesee County, which comprises the Flint Metropolitan Statistical Area, grew 5.7% in 2015. Two other Michigan MSAs ranked in the top 100: Bay City was 26th and Kalamazoo was 37th. With 3.4% growth in real wages, Detroit ranked 101st. 

As a state, Michigan ranked 15th in wage growth, and the Midwest saw stronger growth than any other region.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This fall, water experts from around the world are expected to come to Flint for a summit on water infrastructure issues.

Flint’s water crisis has become a symbol for the problems facing aging water systems.

Bryce Feighner is special advisor on drinking water with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He’s helping to organize the summit.

Feighner says they’re reaching out to experts across the U.S. and Europe, seeking innovative answers to the problems that Flint and other cities with aging, faltering municipal water systems face.

It's Just Politics Logo
It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says lawyers hired by Governor Rick Snyder won't turn over documents demanded by his Flint investigation team. 

As of now, taxpayers are paying for both the AG's special investigation as well as Governor Snyder's attorneys, which, at least from the AG's special investigator Todd Flood's point of view, are not cooperating fully with the investigation. 

Former chief medical executive Dr. Matthew Davis received an email on the Genesee County Legionnaires' outbreak nearly a year before its public announcement.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Did the Michigan Department of Health and Human services know about a possible Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County a year before it was publicly disclosed? Emails recently released by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration raise that question.

Dr. Matthew Davis, who served as the state’s chief medical executive and on Snyder’s Flint water task force, has previously denied knowledge of the increase of Legionnaires’ cases in Genesee County prior to leaving his post in April 2015.

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Volunteers will be going to thousands of homes in Flint this weekend, making sure everyone's got a water filter.

Some 25,000 Flint homes are already using filters, according to the state's count.

But local and state teams are going door-to-door this weekend, to check on some 2,300 homes they still aren't sure about.

Michigan State Police Captain Chris Kelenske is with the state's emergency management team.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his office has filed a civil suit against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.

The suit names Veolia North America, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, and Leo A. Daly Co. as defendants.

Schuette said these companies "botched the job" when it came to providing safe drinking water to Flint.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

After months of wrangling, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is reluctantly agreeing to hook the city up to the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline for the city's drinking water.

Emergency managers made the decision to switch Flint’s drinking water to the KWA pipeline as a way to save money. Flint's city council gave its stamp of approval as well. But Flint’s new elected leaders wanted out of the deal because of the cost.

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost six months since the Flint Water Task Force blamed the culture of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint water crisis.

The Task Force said a culture of quote “technical compliance” exists inside the drinking water office.

Its report found that officials were buried in technical rules – thinking less about why the rules existed. In this case, making sure Flint’s water was safe to drink.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver defends Police Chief Tim Johnson (left of Mayor Weaver).
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson will soon be certified to be a police officer.

Johnson was appointed Flint’s new police chief back in February. But the career cop allowed his state certification to lapse after he retired several years ago.

Without that certification, Johnson lacked the arresting powers of officers under his command.

Johnson says he was planning to take the two-day class later this year.

“I was trying to wait for the city to reach a calm level where I could go away for a couple of days to get re-certified,” Johnson told reporters today.

Inside the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has met an EPA deadline to upgrade equipment at the city’s water plant.

The EPA sent the city of Flint a letter one week ago saying the city had until today to install and have operational equipment to add additional chlorine and other chemicals to the city’s water supply.

Flint gets its tap water from Detroit already treated with chemicals to impede the growth of bacteria and other organisms. But chemicals, like chlorine, lose their effectiveness the longer they are in the system.  

Gov. Rick Snyder at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference
Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Zoe Clark from It's Just Politics is at the Mackinac Policy Conference and there's been no shortage of news at what many would consider to be the Super Bowl for political junkies. Clark joined Stateside to discuss what hasn't been discussed that much over the last few days:  The city of Flint and the water crisis that continues there.

Georgie Sharp / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, AARP officials plan to sit down with older Flint residents to see how the city’s drinking water crisis affects them.

Flint’s water system has dealt with serious problems, including high lead levels.

Paula Cunningham is the state director of AARP. She says about a third of Flint residents are over 60 years old.

“These are very vulnerable folks who need some attention and need our assistance as well,” says Cunningham.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, Flint city officials plan to sit down with contractors interested in replacing lead service lines.

The city would like to remove 15,000 service lines, but for now they only have enough money to replace about 400.

Mayor Karen Weaver admits her “Fast Start” program has been slow to reach its second phase, partly because the sity wants to give smaller, local contractors a better chance to win contracts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Water experts from across the country are dismissing warnings from an environmental group of high levels of contaminants in Flint’s drinking water.    

The experts say new data actually show Flint’s water improving since the switch back to Detroit water last fall. The water is still not safe to drink or cook with unfiltered.  

At a news conference today in Flint, researchers from Virginia Tech University, Wayne State University and the University of Massachusetts outlined the findings of their recent tests on the city’s drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Memorial Day weekend, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is encouraging city residents to wash their cars and water their grass.

It’s not about sprucing up the city.  It’s about flushing the city’s lead tainted drinking water.

Federal, state and local officials have been asking Flint residents this month to run faucets full blast for five minutes a day for two weeks.  The state is picking up the tab for the extra water use. 

Weaver says it’s not too late for city residents to get involved.

The city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The flood of headlines coming out of the water crisis in Flint comes down to a basic problem: The city was starved for cash. And that led to the series of bad decisions that in turn led to the catastrophe of lead-poisoned water. 

But Flint isn’t the only city caught in a cash crunch. All across the state cities are starved for cash. Most of them not because of something the city has done, but because of things the state has done.

Roasted marshmallows
Brian Sawyer / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This summer, Flint children will have a chance to escape from the city's crisis with lead-tainted tap water.

Camp Joy will be held in southwest Michigan this summer for children from two areas of Flint considered to be especially hard hit by the water crisis.

It won't cost them a thing.

Reverend Jerri Porter of Dowagiac is one of the camp's organizers. She says transportation, clothing, toiletries and food will be included.

"We don't want any costs incurred to the families. They've suffered enough. This is our gift to them," Porter said.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the end of Flint water hearings in Lansing and whether Detroit's struggling school district will get the cash infusion it needs from the state.


Sen. Gary Peters joined Cynthia Canty in the studio for today's "Stateside"
Mercedes Mejia

There are some important issues that seem to be mired in Republican resistance on Capitol Hill, federal aid for Flint, and hearings on a new Justice for the United States Supreme Court among them.

Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., joined Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside to talk about the latest developments and what it might take to get these efforts running through the Senate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s former city administrator is suing the city and Mayor Karen Weaver.

The lawsuit claims Natasha Henderson was fired after she raised questions about donations to a Flint water crisis charity being redirected to another fund created by Mayor Weaver.

Katherine Smith Kennedy is Henderson’s attorney. She claims Henderson’s job was terminated hours after she raised the issue with the city attorney.

“The timing is so suspicious,” says Kennedy, who admits she doesn’t know if there was anything illegal about redirecting donations.   

a sink
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The effort to get Flint residents to flush their pipes daily moves into its second week this weekend.

But it’s not known if people are doing it.

“Run your water for five minutes a day. In the kitchen. In the bathroom,” Nicole Lurie told reporters at a news conference this week.  Lurie leads the federal response to Flint’s water crisis.

She says running the water will help flush lead particles out and allow chemicals to get in that will heal the damaged pipes.   

The campaign to get Flint water customers to run their water every day started last Sunday.  

Crowd waits to hear President Obama speak in Flint, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder stepped before a crowd of thousands of Flint residents Wednesday in advance of President Obama's speech at Northwestern High School.

The reaction was not warm. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joins us to talk about what it will take to end the free-for-all of political games and blame-shifting in the ongoing water crisis. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved spending another $128 million to address the water crisis in Flint, where residents have to use faucet filters or bottled water because of lead contamination.

The emergency aid legislation that passed 34-3 Wednesday next goes to the House for consideration.

It's the fourth round of funding being considered by lawmakers since the health disaster was confirmed seven months ago.

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators previously authorized $67 million for the emergency – mostly state money but also federal funds.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Gov. Rick Snyder's plans to meet with President Obama in Flint today, teacher sickouts in Detroit and the future of the presidential campaign, now that the Indiana primary is over.

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