Flint

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the Flint water crisis: how Flint is getting help at the federal level, when Governor Snyder first knew about the water problem and how this crisis has hurt him politically. Lessenberry also talks about why teachers at the Detroit Public Schools are protesting many issues by staging "sickouts."


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

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has set up a charitable fund so people can donate money to help Flint children.

The fund, called the Flint Child Health & Development Fund, is meant to support the delivery of public health, medical, and community services to improve health outcomes for children exposed to lead as a result of Flint's water crisis.

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been fighting for the release of Amir Hekmati and other Americans held prisoner by the Iranian government since 2013
Steve Carmody

At last year’s State of the Union address, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat was unoccupied. It was left empty for Marine veteran Amir Hekmati of Flint, who has been held in an Iranian prison since August 29, 2011.

At tonight’s State of the Union speech, Kildee will once again use that guest seat to focus attention on Hekmati and the other Americans imprisoned in Iran. This time, Hekmati’s sister Sarah will fill the seat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Researchers from Virginia Tech announced yesterday they are ending their investigation into Flint’s lead tainted water.

Virginia Tech sounded the alarm last summer when their tests turned up high lead levels in Flint drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State troopers and volunteers are knocking on doors in Flint, handing out bottled water, water filters, and lead testing kits.

The city and state have been offering the water and kits for months. But many people say it’s difficult for them to travel, especially during the winter.

Lt. David Kaiser says the door-to-door outreach is part of a larger effort to help people in Flint get the clean water they need.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder continues to defend himself against questions about when he knew the extent of the Flint water crisis.

On Monday, the governor was in Flint to announce the formation of a joint city-state panel to examine the city’s water crisis and ways to address it. 

The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee will be composed of state officials with emergency management, environmental quality, health and human services, and other state agencies. Flint’s mayor and Genesee County officials will also be on the committee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, state and local efforts are being stepped up to help people in Flint have clean water.

The state Legislature returns to the Capitol this week and Governor Rick Snyder will kick off the political year in Lansing with his State of the State address next week.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint museum is opening a new exhibit later this month that will take a close look at the city’s drinking water crisis.

When Sloan Museum executive director Todd Slisher booked the national traveling exhibit “Water’s Extreme Journey” nearly two years ago, he had no idea of the crisis that would soon grip Flint.

The city’s disastrous switch to the Flint River ended up damaging the city’s water system and led to health concerns.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of protesters angry at Governor Rick Snyder gathered in front of Flint city hall Friday.

People holding signs saying “Fire Rick Snyder” and “Arrest Snyder,” along with one protester wearing a giant Rick Snyder papier-mache head and prison stripes, made their displeasure with Michigan’s governor clear. 

Monica Lewis-Patrick with We The People of Detroit says she believes something criminal has happened with Flint water.  But she says the problem is deeper.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office

Governor Rick Snyder says he would like to give Flint’s mayor "more authority." 

Flint has been under state oversight since 2011, when Snyder appointed the first of four emergency managers to run the city.   The last emergency manager left in April 2015.

But this week, after meeting with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver about the city’s drinking water crisis, Snyder suggested it’s time to move closer to local control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State emergency center officials say they are working to better understand what has been done and what needs to be done in Flint.  

The governor declared Flint’s lead tainted drinking water a ‘state of emergency’ this week. The city had switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money, and did not reverse its decision until October.

State officials opened the Emergency Operations Center in Lansing to reporters on Thursday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials are now going door to door in Flint handing out water filters.

Genesee County reserve sheriff’s deputies started knocking on doors just after 10 am in a neighborhood on the city’s north side.  If someone answers, deputies  hand out bottled water and filters to homeowners who need them. 

While thousands of water filters have been handed out, many people in Flint are still not using them to filter lead from their drinking water.

Sheriff Robert Pickell says the homes in this neighborhood are some of the oldest in town, with some dating back to 1900. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Common Cause, a political watchdog group, is calling on Governor Snyder to release all documents related to Flint’s water crisis.

The governor’s office is not covered by Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed off on a state of emergency declaration for the city of Flint. It moves the city closer to getting help to recover from its drinking water crisis. 

“The health and welfare of Flint residents is a top priority and we’re committed to a coordinated approach with resources from state agencies to address all aspects of this situation,” Snyder said in a written statement.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s contaminated drinking water is now the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Gina Balaya is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan. She confirmed the investigation today. 

“(The U.S. Attorney’s office) is working closely with the EPA” on the investigation "to address the concerns of Flint residents," says Balaya.  

She declined to comment further on the investigation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint may soon resume shutting off water to delinquent customers.

Later this month, Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman will hand down a ruling finding Flint water customers are due a small rollback in their rates. In August, the judge ruled the 35% rate hike in 2011 was not done properly.

But the ruling will also allow the city to shut off water to people who owe money dating back to 2012.  

Rep. Phil Phelps official website

A state lawmaker wants to make it a felony for state employees to manipulate data in official reports.

State Representative Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, says there’s no law on the books to punish state employees who intentionally distort data to change the outcome of an official report.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s state of emergency declaration is on its way to the governor’s office.

The Genesee County Commission approved the declaration for the city of Flint Monday.

The declaration is tied to elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s plan to recover from its drinking water problems goes to the Genesee County commission Monday morning.

The city’s use of the Flint River for its drinking water damaged the city’s pipes, and exposed thousands of people to high levels of lead.  The city switched back to Detroit water last fall.  But city residents are still being told to use water filters.  

Mayor Karen Weaver is asking the county commission to give its ok to Flint’s plan to fix the problem.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint will soon be able to do something they haven’t been able to do in 25 years. Skate on an ice rink downtown.

The University of Michigan-Flint is installing a new cooling system at the old outdoor ice rink by the Flint River.  They plan to open it to the public January 2nd.

The university has owned the property since 1990, but liability concerns kept the rink closed.

University officials hope the ice rink will enhance the student and community experience downtown.

Flint City Councilman, Josh Freeman, resigns

Dec 30, 2015
Provided by Josh Freeman

Flint City Councilman, Josh Freeman, has resigned.

Freeman, who was first elected in 2004 and represents the 4th Ward, says he's fed up with the atmosphere at council meetings.

“It's circus-like at most meetings,” says Freeman. “We have members that are being arrested and audience members that are drowning out the folks that are there honestly trying to get information.”

As for his eight fellow council members, Freeman says, “It's all, 'How can I one-up one of my colleagues?' So, it just gets old after a while.”

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

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant has resigned because of the agency's role in the Flint water crisis.

But will more state officials resign in the near future and why does all of this matter?

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris talks with Rick Pluta, the State Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, about Wyant's resignation.

Listen here:

  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATED AT 5:37 PM ON 12/29/15

The head of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has resigned over the drinking water crisis in Flint.

Gov. Rick Snyder has also now apologized to the community of Flint for his administration’s involvement in the situation.

“I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened,” said Snyder in a statement on Tuesday. “And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience, because Flint is not the only city that has an aging infrastructure.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a new effort to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in downtown Flint.

It’s not easy to find fresh produce in Flint. But that’s a market that Franklin Pleasant hopes to fill.

“The climate has changed in terms of full service grocery stores in town,” says Pleasant. “Quite a few have closed in the past couple of … years and we want to fill that gap. So that’s why we’re here and that’s why we know it will work.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s the last day before Christmas. 

And amidst the frantic last-minute shopping and traveling, some people in Flint took some time out for music.

For 78 years on Christmas Eve, a bank lobby in Flint has turned into a small concert hall.

Dozens of people filled the First Merit bank lobby in downtown Flint to listen to choir sing a mix of holiday standards and carols, as well as sing along themselves.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may soon apply for tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to tear down blighted homes.

Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters met with Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today to discuss the transfer of $2 billion into the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Peters says the evidence that this program works is “overwhelming”.

“Whenever you knock down blighted homes in a neighborhood, those property values stabilize. Those properties go up in value.  People move back into the neighborhood,” says Peters.  

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

A pediatrician who raised concerns about elevated lead levels in children's blood in Flint, Michigan, says a new study provides the strongest evidence yet of a link between those levels and the cash-strapped city's water system.

In a report released Monday, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children's Hospital and other experts said a more refined analysis shows that areas in Flint with the highest levels of lead in tap water corresponded with where children with the highest blood-lead levels lived.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated 10:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech researchers accuse Michigan health officials of trying to “stonewall” the investigation into lead in Flint’s drinking water.

The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, are available online. 

Marc Edwards says newly obtained internal documents show Department of Health and Human Services employees tried to hide evidence that matched the increased lead levels in children found by doctors at Hurley Medical Center.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Updated 5:30 p.m. 

Flint has a new ally in its push for federal funds to fix the city’s water problems.

Michigan’s legislative black caucus is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to issue a state of emergency to address the continuing health concerns caused by the dangerous lead levels in Flint’s water.

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