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Flint

Six days ago, when it was first announced that President Obama was finally coming to Flint, Governor Snyder sent word from Europe that he was busy and didn’t plan to be in town that day. It was instantly clear that this was a huge political mistake.

President Barack Obama
Pete Souza / White House

When President Obama visits Flint on Wednesday, many are wondering if Gov. Snyder will meet with him. Early signs indicated "no," but this morning, Snyder asked to meet with the president and Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver. The It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta tries to make sense of it all.

sign that says "Flint Vehicle City"
Michigan Municipal League/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

President Barak Obama is scheduled to visit Flint on Wednesday, and Governor Rick Snyder said today  that he has formally asked to meet with the president and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver during the visit.

Snyder said it would be an opportunity to discuss at the highest level how to best support Flint.

“How can we all work together to make Flint a stronger, better community and address the water question as much as possible,” said Snyder.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next month, a secluded treasure in the heart of Flint will open its doors to the general public.

The 100 year old Applewood estate was the home of Charles Stewart Mott, an auto industry pioneer and philanthropist.   The estate sits a short distance from Flint’s cultural district.

For decades, only the fortunate few had the chance to enter.

“It is a great Flint treasure that has been somewhat under-utilized,” says Megan McAdow, the Collections & Exhibitions Manager for the Ruth Mott Foundation.

However, that’s changing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a push on to get more young kids in the Flint area signed up for early childhood education programs.

The state Legislature approved special funding to expand early childhood education programs in Genesee County, as part of the state’s response to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Lisa Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District. She says many three- and four-year-olds would benefit from the education and nutrition program, but they don’t know where those kids are.

money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. senators are trying again to get $172 million in federal funding for fixing Flint’s damaged water system. 

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow announced today they have included the money in the Water Resources Development Act. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to consider this legislation this week.

Stabenow, D-Mich, says she’s glad they’ve “found a new path forward to get urgently-needed help for families in Flint and other communities across the country with serious lead and water issues.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint police department is taking a more aggressive stance on crime.

Standing before a conference table piled high with guns, drugs and $18,000 cash, Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson says a new unit has spent the past few weeks cracking down on street crime.

“This would have been on the streets if it wouldn’t have been for the efforts of the Crime Area Target team,” says Johnson. “There’s probably a lot more out there than we have on this table. I’m quite sure it is.”

Flint water crisis protest
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Two years ago today, the city of Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit River to the Flint River ​– water we now know was not treated with corrosion control chemicals. Water that went on to corrode pipes and cause lead to leach into people's drinking water.

On April 25, 2014, Flint officials toasted each other as they flipped the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

Today marks the second anniversary of Flint’s ill-fated switch to the Flint River for the city’s drinking water source.

The river water was not properly treated with anti-corrosive chemicals, and the highly corrosive river water damaged pipes and fixtures, which continue to leach lead into the city’s drinking water. 

Governor Snyder sits with Flint resident Cheryl Canty in her home on Monday
Facebook

Gov. Rick Snyder visited a Flint home on Monday and drank filtered water from the family's tap.

He then announced that he'll be drinking filtered tap water from Flint for the next 30 days to show the public that it's safe. 

 

Cheryl Canty, the Flint resident who opened up her home to Snyder, tells us she was surprised to find out that the governor would be paying her a visit. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is “not impressed” by Governor Snyder’s pledge to drink only Flint water for the next 30 days. 

The governor made the pledge to drink filtered Flint water yesterday.

“I’m going to start drinking that tonight and do that for the next 30 days … when I’m at work and at home,” Snyder told reporters on Monday. The governor says he wants to be a “role model” to show filtered Flint tap water is safe to drink.

Sub Committee chair Mike Zimmer (lower left) delivers a report on new lead/copper testing as members of the governor's special Flint water team listen, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan would have the toughest lead testing standard in the nation under a sweeping proposal unveiled today in Flint, where the drinking water is still contaminated with lead and residents remain dependent on bottled water donations.

To make sure other Michigan cities don’t suffer the same fate, Gov. Rick Snyder and a team of experts have unveiled a plan to tighten water testing regulations and lower the threshold for action.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents will not be a water bill next week. But instead, they’ll get a statement showing a state credit.

The state gave Flint $30 million to help city residents who’ve been unable to drink the water since April 2014. 

Flint CFO Jody Lundquist expects some confusion when people open what they expect is a bill, but instead will show the state credit. 

“Please do bear with our customers service staff as they work to address any questions we anticipate you may have,” says Lundquist.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents continue to deal with unsafe lead levels in their water. Another group is paying very close attention. Lawyers. Lots of lawyers.

Turn the TV on in Flint and you’ll likely hear a commercial with a very specific question. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A long-empty north Flint apartment complex is being demolished.

The Genesee County Land Bank is spending $1.7 million to raze the 13-building complex.

Shawn Harris is the president of the local neighborhood association. He hopes the demolition will clear the way for a much-needed grocery store on Flint’s north side.

“We lost our Kroger’s and our Meijer’s. So I think this would be a good place to put another grocery store,” says Harris.

Land bank officials say they are reviewing several proposals for the eight-acre site. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is getting nearly $7 million from the federal government to expand a nutrition program for children.

Today, dozens of children in Flint ate breakfast at the Haskell Youth Center, thanks to a federal child nutrition program. But the program hasn’t operated during the summer, until this year.

Kevin Concannon is the undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He says a special pilot program is being expanded, that will provide 16,000 Flint children with nutritious meals during the summer months too.

faucet
Steve Johnson / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint residents waiting for relief on their water bills are going to have to wait a little longer.

On Friday, city administrator Sylvester Jones said the city wasn't ready to send residents new water bills with state-promised credits.

The new bills were expected to go out this week, but Jones said the city needs more time to make sure they're correct, transparent and easy to understand.

It's unclear when the credited bills will go out, but Jones said the city hopes it will be soon.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talked about Flint's struggling water and sewer fund, while Wayne County has its first budget surplus in eight years. He also talked about the life of former Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs, who passed away yesterday.


sign that says "Flint Vehicle City"
Michigan Municipal League/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

    

Amid the torrent of headlines about Flint's water calamity, it's far too easy to lose track of the long history of that city.

There are powerful and poignant lessons to be learned in the way rich, vibrant neighborhoods were taken apart and plowed under in the name of "development.”

Communities like the old St. John Street neighborhood.

Charles Winfrey grew up in the St. John Street community. Today he is the executive director of The New McCree Theatre. He joined us today on Stateside

Listen to the full interview below.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water crisis is affecting the city’s plans for next year’s budget.

The mayor outlined the city’s financial future to the city council last night.

Flint’s water and sewer fund continues to struggle and other city revenues are flat.

Flint mayor Karen Weaver says that’s why it’s important for city leaders to diligently pursue other sources of revenue.

“We’ve had enough cuts in city services. We don’t need any more cuts in city services,” Weaver told reporters after the special city council meeting.

 Michigan Radio reporters Rebecca Williams and Lindsey Smith participated in an IJNR panel titled "Environmental Justice in the News: Lessons Learned from the Flint Crisis." 

You can see some highlights from the earlier live stream below or by following IJNR on Twitter.

As if their relationship wasn’t complicated enough already, now Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is threatening to take Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan to court.

New initiative aims to get milk to Flint families

Apr 1, 2016
Guy Montag / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Water donations have been pouring into Flint for months, because of the city's lead-contaminated tap water.

Now, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan wants to make sure Flint families also have plenty of milk.

A new initiative aims to get people to donate 1 million glasses of milk to help children who've been exposed to lead.

It's part of of larger effort to shift the focus in Flint from water to nutrition.

pixabay user lonaug / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

How can a Twitter username become a force for good?

Turns out it's not that hard when you have the name a huge company wants.

“I think the residents and citizens of Flint will take the remorse of government to be genuine when they see quality, pure, safe water coming out of the tap," says NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Top leaders of the NAACP were in Lansing Wednesday pressing Governor Snyder on the Flint water crisis.

The group blocked a street in front of the State Capitol with pieces of pipe, calling it a “pipe-in.”

Leading the group was the National NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

Brooks was in Lansing a month ago, and threatened civil disobedience if Governor Snyder didn’t present a plan within 30 days that included a deadline for replacing Flint’s water pipes.

 

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Flint is slated to get up to $15 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to help recovery efforts in Flint following the water contamination crisis.

Half the money initially will be released to pay for about 400 temporary jobs for Flint residents. The jobs will last up to one year.

The rest of the money will support job training and career development for Flint residents.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This morning, state lawmakers will resume their hearings into Flint’s water crisis.

State Senator Jim Stamas, R-Midland, chairs the special joint committee looking into what happened to Flint’s water.

He toured Flint’s water plant Monday and met with city residents.

Sen. Stamas says improving communication between state and local governments, as well as Flint residents, is much needed.

“We continue to hear different individuals having different stories. We’re hearing different things from the community,” says Stamas. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County officials say they want the state to cover their costs of responding to the Flint water crisis.

Genesee County has spent more than a million dollars during the past six months dealing with Flint’s tainted drinking water.

County Commission Chairperson Jamie Curtis says the state should pay because the state is largely responsible for the crisis. 

Curtis notes Governor Snyder has promised to fix the problem. He says fixing the problem should include paying the county’s tab.

Flint activists weigh in on DC water crisis hearings

Mar 18, 2016

Congress may have grabbed headlines by grilling Governor Rick Snyder Thursday, but now those in Flint are asking: What really got done?

Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy testified in front of the House Oversight Committee, giving their versions of and explaining their culpability in the Flint water crisis.

But Flint activists Melissa Mays and Nayyirah Shariff were unhappy with what they heard. 

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham talked with the pair on Stateside.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State health officials have confirmed a tenth death connected to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County.

The latest case involves a patient from Shiawassee County. The patient wasn’t counted originally as part of the outbreak, because health officials didn’t know the patient had spent time in a Genesee County hospital

Dr. Eden Wells is the Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service.   She says state health officials found the latest fatality during a review of all Legionella cases in Michigan in 2014 and 2015.

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