Monday, 25 January, 2021

Michigan Ex-Governor Charged over Flint Water Crisis

Veolia meets with Flint officials in 2015 Snyder to be charged in Flint water probe
Deanna Wagner | 14 January, 2021, 15:23

Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they're being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, The Associated Press has learned.

"In addition to willful neglect, investigators working on the case prior to Nessel had evidence to charge Snyder with misconduct in office", Chariton and Dize reported, citing documents and unnamed sources familiar with the probe.

The AP had previously reported on Tuesday that in addition to Snyder, Nick Lyon, the former director of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services and other health officials are expected to be charged as a result of an ongoing investigation by the MI attorney general's office. Flint is a majority-African American city, where over 40% of the residents live in poverty, and some suggested that authorities' indifference to the community led to the crisis. They said all available evidence was not pursued by the previous team of prosecutors. The deal established a process for submitting claims, with almost 80% of the money earmarked for claimants who were minors when exposed to the tainted water.

The remaining portion of the settlement is expected to be divvied up among other Flint residents who fell ill from the contaminated water or suffered property damage, Michigan Public Radio reports. A judge is considering whether to grant preliminary approval.

"We believe the proposed settlement as now allocated is just as disrespectful as the injury caused by the water crisis tragedy itself", McClain told MPR.

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"According to the findings of an investigation launched by Nessel's predecessor, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette, Snyder was involved in a mad dash of phone calls in October 2014 at the same time the deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Flint was raising alarm bells among state health and environmental officials-yet still unknown to the Flint residents drinking and bathing in Flint River water", Chariton and Dize wrote.

By May of that year, residents began to pick up that something was amiss with the color and taste of the water, and by August, E. Coli and coliform bacteria were identified in the water.

Snyder and other officials have been accused of downplaying the severity of the crisis, misleading residents about the safety of their water supply, and failing to take appropriate action to address the problem and make the water safe to drink. Officials said last month that inspections of service lines, which carry water from main pipes into homes, were nearing completion and more than 9,700 had been replaced. No governor or former governor in Michigan's 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist.

"I'm sorry and I will fix it", Snyder promised during his 2016 State of the State speech. Snyder has said he was unaware of the outbreak at the time. "I want to speak directly, honestly and sincerely to let you know we are praying for you". To you, the people of Flint, I say.

Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution said the attorney general's office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon.