Rachel Maddow of MSNBC hosted a town hall meeting in Flint Michigan at the Holms Stem Academy, Wednesday night (27), about the Flint water crisis. Maddow is helping Flint residents and now the American people, to take the fight to Flint’s Emergency Managers and its Governor.
Maddow’s reporting was among the first national voices to alert the nation to this atrocity after picking up the story from local news outlets. She has been a media champion for Flint’s about 100,000 residents.
A panel of guest experts included Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Lanice Lawson – Creator of Bottles for Babies, Curt Guyette of ACLU in Michigan, Rev. Charles Williams II – President of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, Bryn Mickle and Ron Fonger of The Flint Journal, Nancy Kaffer of The Detroit Free Press and others. Governor Snyder was invited multiple times. He did not decline to show up; he just said nothing.
Maddow: “There needs to be a come to Jesus moment” about the reality of just how many people have been affected by lead exposure and how it came to be. The Flint water crisis is a man-made disaster. “Flint is fierce and nobody would even know about it if it were not for you [the people of Flint, Michigan – you have a voice].”
Examiner reported Tuesday that it can take as many as five years following lead exposure, to see the real effects on the body and its internal systems. There is no fool-proof way to test the people of Flint for the effects of lead poisoning long term, right now.
When lead enters the body, it damages the brain and is later filtered out. Someone tested after 2 years of exposure who has been able to drink clean water for a month, would likely not test positive for lead poisoning. However, he or she would still have a high risk of developmental deficits after being declared “lead free.”
Despite Governor Snyder’s prior blaming of local Civil Servants for what has become a crisis in Flint (that corrosive Flint River water ate up every metallic in the system and all metal pipes are affected), Senator Stabenow informed and reminded the nation that in 2012, there was a local vote to repeal the Emergency Manager oversight in Michigan. However the law was underhandedly changed to effectively prevent such an eradicating vote from passing in the future – then, there was what we can now call a hostile takeover of primarily minority occupied cities.
Senator Stabenow has said that she is “bound and determined to make sure that Flint gets a grocery store (there is not a single one in the entire city)…” The Federal Government and President Obama have committed to do whatever they can to help the people of Flint. However, it does not excuse the responsibility of the State government. “The State has a rainy day fund. It’s the State’s fault and they have to fix it.”
Maddow also reiterated that while it is true that the govt. of Michigan failed its people, local leaders were not at fault – because the local leaders (the entire City Council) were in fact replaced by a State appointed Emergency Manager – who (Rev. Williams said, took over all of the African American cities) put the toxic water plan in motion and signed off on the initiation of receiving water from the corrosive river, diverting Flint’s supply from the Huron. So far, ten lives have been lost.
Maddow said that being in Flint made her believe that the crisis is fixable, that the problems will be fixed, and here’s why: “Because America as a country will not let something like this lie.”
Flint’s water has now been re-directed from the corrosive river, back to its original freshwater source: Lake Huron. However, the damage has already been done.
The approximate two years of poisoning of the town’s people under the auspices of the Emergency Management team and the Governor, has put the health of men, women, children, and even unborn children at risk; it has also eroded the trust of the people who feel that their Governor and associated management failed to care about the well-being of thousands of people.
A local teacher said that she is already noticing the effects of lead poisoning on children in the classroom, including cognitive difficulties and aggression. Further, she does not believe that Flint authorities are committed to do what it will take to make sure that the children get what they need to avoid chronic conditions that could wreak havoc on their lives, for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was among the first to alert authorities about the lead content in water affecting children and schools in Flint. She said that the building blocks of childhood that could diminish the effects of lead poisoning for the children, were already lacking for many of those youths.
Contingencies such as water filters attached to in-home and in-business taps have been suggested. Rev. Williams said, “Filters are good… but if the Governor wants to keep his job, he should come down to flint and take a shower in this water [like we have].”
In addition to the corrosive pipes coming into Flint homes, many of the houses already had some corrosion in the pipes throughout the house foundation. Therefore, the corrosion from the city pipes added additional toxins to an already dangerous situation.
Harold Harrington, a local master plumber gave some quotes as to the cost of replacing the lead pipelines in Flint. The job would cost “3-5,000 for a single story house, just for the inside of the house, plus about another 4,000 for the plumbing coming into the house.” Maddow added that this needs to be done for every house, every school, every business, every hospital, etc.
Harrington stated that to replace all of the pipes, if he was given the “Go”, he could have a thousand plumbers, a thousand concrete layers, a thousand operators… literally, thousands of workers on the ground in a matter of weeks, not the flabbergasting fifteen years that Flint lawmakers are claiming.
Governor Snyder believes that treating the pipes will be sufficient. This cannot be accurate as most of the pipes in question were laid in the 19th and 20th centuries and have corroded beyond repair. Treating the water does not correct for the fact that the lead pipes themselves are defunct.
The NAACP released a set of priorities to help in Flint. Priority#1? Repealing the Emergency Manager law.