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Karen Weaver

Karen Weaver is the mayor of Flint. She was elected in November 2015 as the Flint water crisis was unfolding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting a $25 million loan to remove its lead pipes. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the Union Labor Life Insurance Company has agreed to the low cost loans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she’s hopeful that the U.S. Senate will soon take up a bill with tens of millions of dollars for Flint.

The legislation has more than $100 million earmarked for fixing Flint’s water system and added health care for people exposed to lead in their tap water.

But a Republican senator is holding up the bill. Utah Senator Mike Lee says the state of Michigan should first spend its own money to fix Flint’s water issues, before the federal government should get involved. 

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 a symbolic day in Flint on Friday as the city removed its first lead water service line under Mayor Karen Weaver’s “FAST Start” program.

The Mayor wants to remove all the lead water lines in the city under the program. She’s seeking $55 million to fund the program. Right now, they’ve started the program with $2 million from the state. That money was reimbursed to the city after it spent it last fall as part of the payment to reconnect Flint’s water supply to Detroit’s system. Weaver says the state could pay for the rest using its "rainy day" fund.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With the Democratic Presidential Debate taking place Sunday in Flint, Michigan, the national spotlight is once again focusing on the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Some people in Flint are getting tired of being in the glare of the national spotlight.

The whirl of electric clippers mixes with ESPN’s Sports Center on the TV and music from the radio as six men wait for one of two barber chairs to open up in the Consolidated Tattoo and Barbershop in downtown Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to start digging up lead service lines tomorrow. But today, a contractor paid by a private group got to work doing the same thing on the city’s north side.

Brittani Felton watched from her driveway as workers dug a deep trench in front of her home on Flint’s Alma Avenue. At the bottom of the muddy hole lay the service line connecting Felton’s home to the city water main.

She’s had her water tested, but the results aren’t back yet. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor believes a U.S. Senate deal could free up federal money to pay to remove the city’s lead service lines.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.,  Gary Peters, D-Mich and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., hammered out the deal.  

The proposal would authorize $100 million in emergency aid to fix and replace the city's lead-contaminated pipes, as well as $70 million in loans to improve its water infrastructure.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A divided Flint city council approved Mayor Karen Weaver’s picks for the city’s new police and fire chiefs during a raucous meeting tonight. 

Earlier this month, Weaver fired the city’s police and fire chiefs, who were both hired by the city’s former emergency managers.    

An overflow crowd jammed Monday night’s city council meeting. The audience cheered council members who talked of voting for Tim Johnson for police chief and Raymond Barton for fire chief. The crowd booed the council members who spoke out against the picks or the process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s team at city hall is taking shape. 

Weaver fired the city’s police and fire chiefs, as well as the city administrator earlier this month. The three department heads were all appointed by Flint’s former emergency managers.

The city council will consider their proposed replacements tonight.

Weaver has tapped Timothy Johnson to be Flint’s next chief of police, Raymond Burton as the next fire chief and Sylvester Jones as city administrator.

Weaver says her appointments will bring needed change.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a step closer to getting money from the state to replace lead service lines.

Governor Snyder says the state has approved a grant request from the city.

“That frees up $2 million that could be … several hundred lead service line replacements,” says Snyder.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says this is a “positive step.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, crews will start digging up lead pipes in Flint.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says a training exercise will take place next week for city crews to learn how to remove lead service lines. 

It’s a step in a process that may end with replacing thousands of lead pipes. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she didn’t think Friday was “a bad time” to fire three top city officials.

Some have questioned the timing of Weaver’s decision to let go of Flint Police Chief James Tolbert, Fire Chief David Cox and City Administrator Natasha Henderson last week.

This comes as the city struggles with its drinking water crisis.

“I can’t wait for the water crisis to be ended because we don’t know when that will happen,” says Weaver. 

The three officials were hired by Flint’s former emergency managers.

James Tolbert
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The heads of Flint's police and fire departments are out of those jobs.

Mayor Karen Weaver said Friday in a press release she's restructuring city operations and has accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. She's also fired City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do," says Weaver, "My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Marc Edwards is coming back to Flint.

Edwards’ team was the first to discover high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water last summer. Earlier this month, Edwards announced his team was ending its probe of Flint's lead-tainted water.

Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that Edwards will oversee all water testing by the state and federal governments.

“He is fully independent. He will be reporting to me,” says Weaver.

Weaver adds that Edwards’ work will be paid for with “private donations.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met behind closed doors with the national president of the NAACP in Flint Tuesday night. 

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said he, Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “frank” discussions about Flint’s drinking water crisis. 

He called his closed-door meeting with the governor and the mayor a “robust conversation about specific reforms.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is getting more “authority” at city hall.

A state oversight board today approved a resolution giving the mayor the ability to hire and fire city department directors. That’s more authority than Flint’s mayor’s has had since the 2011 state takeover.    

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver was unable to attend Friday’s meeting. She hasn't been able to catch a flight from snowstorm-crippled Washington D.C.

Speaking over a phone during the meeting, Weaver thanked members of the Receivership Transition Advisory Board for supporting the resolution.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Residents of Flint, Michigan have been dealing with a water crisis for more than a year now.

The number of children with higher lead levels has doubled since 2014, when the government switched drinking water sources. For almost four months, people have been told not to drink the tap water because there’s too much lead in it.

But it was just Saturday that President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“I just want to say the president has granted our request for an emergency declaration,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver smiled broadly as she told a crowded news conference at city hall Saturday afternoon.

The declaration will mean federal assistance in getting bottled water and filters to help the city deal with its lead tainted water supply. A switch to the Flint River as the city's drinking water source created toxic levels of lead in the tap water. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has the backing of Michigan’s governor to wield more power.

But she needs to get the approval of a state oversight board. 

At a news conference earlier this week, Gov. Rick Snyder said Weaver should have more authority to hire and fire at city hall.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met privately with Flint and Genesee County leaders today, hours after asking the Obama administration for help in dealing with the city’s water crisis.

“We’re finally getting the attention that we need and deserve,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in a written statement. “For so long, our voices have gone unheard. This man-made water disaster has been devastating and frustrating for the residents of Flint. We can’t fix what’s happened to the people of Flint. But, we can get them the things they deserve as a result of it.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan National Guardsmen are in Flint today.

They’re there to pass out bottled water and filters to residents. That’s because for more than a year, the city’s tap water has been unsafe to drink.      

Numerous missteps by government agencies allowed the city’s water to become contaminated with lead, and many residents say they no longer trust the governor to fix the problem.

Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen children were sitting at a table in their school gymnasium piecing together snowflakes in an arts and crafts project.  

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.

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.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Governor Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver met today to discuss the city’s water crisis, and the state’s role in solving a problem it helped create.

State-appointed emergency managers decided to save money by using the Flint River for drinking water damaged pipes. That move damaged pipes and caused lead to leach into the water. 

Following the meeting, Governor Snyder publicly apologized for a second time for the state’s role in Flint’s water crisis.

“We want to work closely together to earn the trust of the people of Flint,” he said.

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 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

Flint officials are spending the holidays finalizing a proposal that asks for help dealing with the city’s water crisis.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has been meeting with Genesee County officials to work out what needs to be part of the city’s emergency response plan.

“Sometimes we can’t put numbers to things.  But we can give estimates of what we believe it to be,” says Weaver. “So what we’re doing is identifying the resources that we need, the cost of those resources, and making sure we have a complete document to give.”

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.  

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.

State of Michigan

One man will lead the state’s efforts to deal with Flint’s water crisis.

Harvey Hollins is the director of the Office of Urban Initiatives. Gov. Snyder has appointed Hollins to oversee the state agencies responding to Flint’s water crisis. 

Errors in how the water was treated (actually, how it wasn't treated) are blamed for unhealthy levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water going undetected for months. 

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