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Flint

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 "Flint Sprint" will tackle 20 different projects in the city over the next 60 days.
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.

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. 

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