As Water Problems Grew, Officials Belittled Complaints From Flint

Jan 21, 2016 · 654 comments
Sharon Simonson (Los Altos, California)
All of the public employees, including all of the governor's staff members, involved in this case should be dismissed and should lose their pensions. The money the state saves should go to the victims of what is, if not a legal crime certainly a moral one. People who work in government, and I know a few good ones, are supposed to be motivated by a desire to help others and to put the interests of the public and their constituents before their own needs. Anyone who works for government and does not have that attitude is in the wrong place. For $2 million, they are responsible for what will likely turn out to be lasting and egregious health problems for who knows how many children and adults. A disgusting, mind-bending display of arrogance and stupidity that illustrates why public confidence is our leaders is at such a low.
L. Brown (Ontario, Canada)
It's a shame that people in the States and Canada suffer while governments bring Syrians here and give them everything. Quit bringing Syrians to our countries and start looking after our own people.
Kat Perkins (San Jose CA)
Governor Snyder needs to resign and the rest of this incompetent team gets fired. Water is the most basic of needs and this debacle of ignoring and deceiving happened under his watch.
Apology accepted perhaps;but not enough.
RaSandsMA (Southgate, MI)
My concern is this, "If the Flint River water was strong enough to leach lead from metal pipes, what other mutations, things or stuff may have been leached out of the system that we do not yet understand or know about?
In Flint, where the crisis of lead-poisoned water has sparked international outcry, the image of Sincere Smith, his skin covered by severe rashes his mother says she believes are due to bathing in the water, has become a symbol of the city's suffering.
Bob Aceti (Oakville Ontario)
Penny wise pound foolish goes the saying. Add another: reduce taxes and quality of life goes down the drains.
H. G. (Detroit, MI)
"Anti-everything"? "Political football?" Is there really anymore important job, if your job is the health of a water supply people drink? A whole city was poisoned for 2 years, under state watch. Mr. top state aide; your only job is to analyze information and maintain the well being of our state. It's unfortunate you spent that precious time frame minimizing those bringing you relevant information. You sure seem like an "anti-human" player in a "political football" league to me.
planetary occupant (earth)
Very unfortunate, and to me, just the latest example of what should have been an immediate response brushed aside by people who did not know and did not try to find out what the real situation was.
We rely on safe air and safe water. In Porter Ranch, in Los Angeles, we do not have the former; in Flint, we do not have the latter. Both of these cases should be required reading for all public officials.
winchestereast (usa)
Gov. not concerned - drinks Perrier. Advises others to as well.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
For all those who believe those responsible need to be held to a reckoning, please remember that two years ago Congress passed a law against holding accountable anyone with an income over $100,000/year while requiring accountability for anyone earning less than $25,000/year.
Janet Rachel (Chicago)
I wonder how he feels about the youth dying in Chicago? Where is the outcry? How many more die until we get some empathy Mr. President? Is Chicago not your hometown any more? We get mentioned as a BTW with fake tears in your eyes! The killings in Chicago has been going on longer than 10 months and not one time have you addressed the problem WE have. Now, The people of Flint do need the help but so does Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis and many major cities but all you talk about Sandy Ridge...REALLY???
stevenz (auckland)
This is way worse than reducing lanes on a bridge, but just from deeper in the same playbook.
Losing Tolerance With Zero Tolerance (Colorado)
"Five million people die unnecessarily each year because of illness related to lack of potable water. Half of them are children under the age of five. To bring it home, think about this: one child dies from lack of clean water every twelve seconds."

- Thomas M. Kostigen
Ricardo (Orange, CA)
Snyder's Katrina. His political future is toast.
Odee (Chicago)
Oh, he'll be fine. He'll just become a Washington lobbyist.
MaryC (<br/>)
The guilty parties should be forced to provide bottled water, enough to drink and bathe in, to every family in Flint. Financed by a special tax on those making the most amount of money (yeah, there are rich people in Michigan), and another special tax on any politician who uttered the words "austerity," "tax cuts," and called for an end to water quality by killing off the EPA. Oh, and levy a third tax against anything in Michigan owned/operated by Koch Industries, the biggest enemies of water quality on the planet.

This crisis needs to get much wider exposure so that every American understands that this is what happens when you decide to cut water quality enforcement out of government.

For those who deride such environmental regulations, they must be reminded that in the past, water poisoners received much rougher justice than being hauled into court or financially penalized.
Krista (Atlanta)
Only thing I would add is an extra special tax on DuPont for poisoning our water, knowingly, since the '50s. They should be made to pay for the damage they have done all over this continent in the manufacture of non stick pans. Search the long article in this publication for lawyer and DuPont and see what you come up with. Or DuPont and Ohio. We have likely all been poisoned because the government in one way or another left it up to companies like DuPont to "self-report," a fictitious, utopian concept that did not materialize.

So I think it's time for some small government, anti-regulation ideologues to be forced to eat some crow. Nixon was cynical enough to be right on this one-meaning correct, not conservativ; we desperately need the EPA to act as a guardian to the things a company cannot ever be permitted to own...the air, the water, the mountaintops and streams. No; men with a profit motive are corrupted by it and cannot be trusted with such a solemn duty to us all.
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
Michigan will have a 575 million dollar surplus this year. Every penny of it needs to be used to fix all the problems that Snyder has created. The school districts that he's taken over are in shambles and this water problem is over the top. Children are suffering the most from his slash and burn policies. Kwame Kilpatrick is in prison for his misdeeds, Snyder belongs in the cell next door. Snyder is the worst thing to happen to Michigan.
Krista (Atlanta)
Children, notoriously, don't vote.
MM (Canada)
What clean water are you talking about? Founding fathers never dreamed about it. Government should do nothing - market should rule. Buy your bottled water, better even go to Jungle to live:)
thx1138 (usa)
poor people are born w filters that help purify sewage

thats how they can live in all those filthy countries where they drink swill wo any problems

rich folks need pure water bc their systems are pure
Thomas (Tustin, CA)
Republican Officials belittled complaints.
jmb1014 (Boise)
Snyder was warned long ago. A grand jury should be impaneled to address the issues raised by this tragic case of heedless official conduct. There was plenty of evidence that kids were being poisoned.

And Michigan should get rid of the idiotic emergency manager law immediately.
Michael (Palm Springs CA)
This is all well and good -- but you know what would be even better? Names. NAMES, please.
Sim (Tampa, FL)
Are you watching, America? This is what happens when you elect public officials to govern who run on a platform of not governing.
Odee (Chicago)
Well, that's the same regardless of the party, just depends on how you choose your poison: ammonia, or cobra venom.
NY Values (NY)
Trump wants to dismantle EPA altogether. Cruz wants to rid the programs and leave it a shell. Is this what you want from our govt? You get what you vote for.
Vance Kojiro (Antartica)
The decision to separate from Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, including the decision to pump Flint River water in the interim was part of a long term plan that was approved by Flint's mayor and confirmed by the City Council of a 7-1 vote on March 25 2013.
The EPA knew the lack of corrosion control in the water supply but it did not make the information public. Former Mayer Dayne Walling repeatedly told residents the water was safe but blamed state and federal agencies for problems, even though he knew it wasn't safe.
The city of Detroit put Flint in a terrible position when they canceled the cities water contract in 2015. Detroit was charging large sums of money for water to individuals who could barley afford it. Flint decided to join the Karagondi Water Authority. The new Authority was building a pipeline to draw water from Lake Huron. The new pipeline would supply water to the city of Flint in 2016. However, Detroit said it was ending it's contract with Flint. This force Flint to look for an emergency alternative.
The terrible problems for the people of Flint are a culmination of of a lot of bad actions. The federal government, the state of Michigan and the city of Flint all bare some responsibility in this fiasco.
Flint is a desperate city. Two thirds of the city's children live in poverty. Flint's official poverty rate it 40%. It will take generations to fix Flint and in the interim generations will suffer.
EB (Earth)
Efficient and accountable big government is the solution to so many problems, if only the American voter would wake up and see it. It's vital for the economy, for job growth, for infrastructure, and for public health (through ample and appropriate regulation of private industry). If you want to live life as a rugged individual, with just your bible and your gun; if you think that government is the problem, and not the solution: please, go off into the wilds somewhere (and stop driving on our roads and using our public services). Let the rest of us live in a civilized society--one in which we elect people to represent us in an organization (aka government) that taxes people fairly (bearing in mind that no one ever succeeds and becomes rich without the use of public services) and provides services for people. Those services include maintaining infrastructure that provides people with, among other things, clean drinking water. For heaven's sake, America, get over this fantasy of yourselves as a bunch of John Waynes who only need a gun and self-reliance, or as a collection of unconnected individuals all of whom could "make it" if only they pulled their weight. The formation of governments transformed lawless, backward, uncivilized societies of ancient times into modern, educated, functioning civilizations. Vote for government--and pay taxes accordingly. Otherwise, expect the lead to start showing up in your own water soon.
Hydrologic Chemist (USA)
Catastrophe, public health emergency, political play thing---is this a joke. The most prominent failure that should be reported by the grievance media is that of the educational system whereby supposedly literate adults do not know the most basic concepts of chemistry or toxicology. Also the water treatment plant operators and the public works engineers in Flint (if there are any left) do not understand the pH controlled solubility of lead in aqueous environments and in aging water distribution systems. By the way, how is the city responsible for lead pipe solder in your private home or business? Get a clue folks, consuming 28 micrograms (ug/L) per liter of lead in your water is not going to cause acute health effects and the Federal drinking water standard (5 ug/L) is ultra-ultra conservative. The largest environmental exposure to lead is in the lead based paint present in pre-1980 homes and businesses--not the water you consume. Research it for your own edification and move on to more pressing matters in your lives.
Gary Valan (Oakland, CA)
Those in the State government responsible for this mess may be forced out if an investigation pins the blame on the decision makers. However I would bet they walk off with their fat pensions and retire or find another job in another government department and continue their good work. Bureaucrats and politicians watch out for each other.

The Republican governor has already requested disaster relief. Where are the small government Republicans demanding that Michigan pays its own way? Eventually the federal government will of course pay for all the remedies. The hypocrisy is other worldly.
EdgeNinja (Queens)
Any politician who puts party or Big Business interests ahead of the well-being of the citizens they were elected to serve needs to resign immediately. This must start with Rick Snyder.
Karen (NYC)
I am worried for property owners who, should they want to, may not be able to sell and move away, and who may have to replace plumbing before they can sell. The state may have to purchase a lot of property.
Josh (Grand Rapids, MI)
I wouldn't worry about anyone buying property in Flint for the next 50 years. Nobody was moving there before this fiasco.
David (Cincinnati)
And GOP presidential candidates want to close the federal EPA and leave it to the states. Good example of what would happen.
chrismosca (Atlanta, GA)
Add this to the debacle of Scott Walker's administration and you see what a "conservative" agenda really looks like. People in every state need to wake up and stop voting on so-called "values" issues. Your schools are underfunded and being farmed out to private corporations, your roads and bridges are collapsing on your heads, your water is undrinkable or shooting out in flames from your faucets, and your state is low-balling corporate taxes to steal the few remaining jobs from the next state along with the promise of no-job-security "right to fire ... er, work" laws. Vote your REAL interests!!!!!
dwalker (San Francisco)
Time for the Democratic National Committee to do something constructive and double down on voter registration in Michigan. Are you listening, Debbie Wasserman Schultz?
birddog (eastern oregon)
Well, perhaps at the next series of debates if the GOP presidential candidates had bottled water labeled 'Compliments of Flint, Michigan' placed on their lecterns, they may( for the first time) finally have something to say about the state of our environment. Lets not, however, hold our collective breath-But lets do see if they take a sip.
james ponsoldt (athens, georgia)
i try to look for "serendipitous" events. this may be one.

the michigan republican governor's and state legislature's behavior and perspective and attitude place a microscope on republican anti-tax, so-called "free market" ideology: if they can get away with it, republicans will poison children to save a buck--at least if that "buck" comes from wealthy taxpayers. this may be an "extreme" situation, but it is representative.

for tea party members, tentatively republican-oriented, are you sure you've picked the "right team"? in this case, flint is a majority minority city. are you sure republican leadership won't do the same to you, when the issue arises?
Hugh (Los Angeles)
Many in California also suffer from a lack of access to safe drinking water. Here the folks affected mostly live in poor, rural agricultural areas. Many are Hispanic.

California is solidly under the control of Democrats. In general, protection of agricultural laborers is abysmal. The common thread with Flint is the marginalization of the poor. Both major political parties are guilty of this.

Too bad an Independent isn't running for president. Oh, wait a minute....
michael s (san francisco)
Its one thing to apologize and promise to do better, its another to atone for your sins. Governor Snyder has a long way to go before he can redeem himself
Chris (NY)
Reminds me of the EPA saying the air was safe after 9/11 when they knew it wasn't. We, I, will pay for that for a long time. Government has a duty to protect its citizens, here they failed at all levels. Racism or not, point is that the government in this case could care less.
Perry (Dallas)
The governor should be forced to drink and use the dirty water for however long, it took him to fix this.
jhighfield (RI)
Reading those emails it is clear that the governor knew there were serious problems with the water as early as February 2015. Criminal charges should be filed against him and everyone else who had oversight.
Robert (Wyoming)
Just another example of the anti-reality, facts are "political" republican world view.
ca (Illinois)
All i can say... just like obama...would anybody let their children drink and bathe in that water?? No...i didn't think so...
haleys51 (Dayton, OH)
Governor Snyder would be executed in China for such ineptness and such a grave betrayal of the citizens trust. Not to mention the condescending and cavalier attitude he, his staff and the government employees took in their email responses towards other professionals. Would have loved to have been a bug on the wall with a tape recorder during their crisis response meetings.
Maxm (Redmond WA)
This will i expect just reinforce the reactions seen in many of the comments but yesterday many local households served by the Seattle Public Utilities received a notice that last September for 17 minutes (not hours, days, weeks or months) the water form one pumping/filtering station exceeded State turbidity standards. Supply was immediately changed to an alternative facility until the first one was corrected. Seattle is reputed to have the most expensive water around but attention and priority to a critical public service is priceless.
ca (Illinois)
Obama should NOT go to Flint.. or he becomes the 'focus'. The focus is now on snyder & his business crony appointees...let them "twist in the wind"
AR (Virginia)
Do note that Snyder was a part of the Tea Party wave in 2010. Who could have guessed that electing a Tea Party type as governor would lead to tea-colored water being provided to residents of Flint as a drinking and bathing source? Well, more than a few people saw the disaster coming. The vitriol and nastiness of the Tea Party movement was evident to many from the moment of Rick Santelli's infamous rant in February 2009.

In the coming years, don't be surprised if a truly serious movement for secession from the union arises among African-Americans. If such a movement does arise, it will be FAR more justified and understandable than any of the nonsense talk about secession peddled by angry whites out in Oregon, Texas, and elsewhere. I mean, the residents of Flint (at least a plurality of them black) were poisoned.

I think the USA may be the first and only country in the history of the world that deliberately undermined and destroyed its own manufacturing base because so many of the workers employed in that sector happened to be union members and/or black. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China were only too happy to fill the void. I'm sure leaders in those countries are truly puzzled and shocked by the news coming out of Flint and the generally sorry state of the Detroit area.
David Cherie (Saint Paul, MN)
The fiscally prudent republican officials dismissed spoiled poor, black folks in Flint complaining about the "taste, smell and color of their water" ... as if they were dropping dead in the middle of drinking a glass of water.

Dear God! If this is not a disgusting case of classism and racism, I don't know what!
David Hale (Ridgefield, Ct)
If Stewart Parnell went to jail for allowing the sale of toxic peanut butter, everyone involved in poisoning the children of Flint needs to do time! Apologies? You know what you can do with your apologies! I understand there is a very nice minimum security prison in Milan, Michigan that will serve these low life criminals quite well. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Tom (San Francisco)
This is what you get when you elect Republicans who want to shrink government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub. In this case, Governor Snyder is responsible for poisoning thousands of people while trying to save a few measly bucks to offsite billions he's given in tax breaks to corporations. When not shifting the blame to others, Governor Snyder likes to pretend everything will be alright, but there is no cure for lead poisoning. A decent person would have resigned by now, but there is nothing decent about Republican politicians who give poor children brain damage in order to provide tax cuts to rich corporations.
Eddie Lew (<br/>)
This is a horrendous example of what happens when the dollar bill is more important than a human life. Wake up, America, your "representatives" do not have your interests in mind. Only you can counter that with education and the vote.
Larry Hoffman (Middle Village)
It is truly amazing: The Republican Party, you know the party out to save American's money, have as one of their leading Presidential candidates the one and only Ted Cruz who''s effort to shut down the Government ONLY COST the taxpayers 24 BILLION in extra financing costs.
Now another batch of Republican's intent on saving the taxpayers money have cost the taxpayers of Michigan an untold numbers of hundreds of millions in future legal, medical and treatment costs for ALL the people who are now suffering from lead poisoning because of the desire to save money. How much more of this conservative , saving of America, can America afford? The conservatives are just as bad as the extreme left who never saw someone else's money they did not want to spend of their programs.
Max (Willimantic, CT)
The water was not an imminent “threat to public health.” Just to human beings who had to drink it to live. When I read Ibsen’s Enemy of the People in 1963 I took its metaphor for right-wing indifference would never happen in our great country. I knew little of right-wing fanatics who are the real enemy, not Ibsen’s scientist. Dennis Muchmore, Mr. Snyder’s chief of staff, wrote in a Sept. 25, 2015, email to the governor and the lieutenant governor that citizens were playing football with the issue. The game was instigated by the Michigan government wherein Mr. Muchmore was playing with an empty helmet. The Michigan government is criminal in its views and lack of responsibility. It fought lead contaminated water with fighting words aimed against citizens. Flint is a parable for right-wing indifference arising from ignorance about climate change science. One may learn the lesson or may drink the water. It is pathetic that those who do not learn the lesson have to drink water too whereas the indifferent government has different water. The right-wing wants to damage the whole valuable world to save dollars and cents.
Ann (Dallas, Texas)
The attitude towards the residents is really troubling. One of the memos snidely faults the residents for complaining about taste, smell and color as opposed to health threats. That's ridiculous. What the residents know about is the taste, smell and color -- how were they supposed to know about the health threats? Are they supposed to have chemical labs for heavy metal testing in their homes? And if this were a richer neighborhood would anyone seriously belittle complaints about brown, rank water?
Everyone in Michigan government involved in this should lose their jobs and their pensions. Send a message that you can't treat people like this.
David R (Kent, CT)
Let's make Congress drink the water. The reason they don't care is because they don't presently have to.
Robin (Chicago)
I can't think of any way that the governor and other state officials can make amends for their willful and deadly neglect. It's too late for transparency to matter. They need to be prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison.
It is all about Voter accountability that is what you get when you vote republican or do not vote at all. Sorry but stop the whining.
Realist (Ohio)
Very, very few of the victims of this crime voted Republican. Unfortunately, not enough of them or their friends have voted at all. Perhaps, they will now attend to that problem.
As for the Republicans, I imagine that they may be getting a little scared, and that they will redouble their attempts at voter suppression.
Greg Mendel (Atlanta)
What is the practical difference between this level of government malfeasance and a terrorist act when a city's water supply is poisoned?
Adam (Tallahassee)
Did this mendacious, incompetent wretch just try to drag the federal government into the mess he and his cabinet created? What a coward! Send in the feds. The charade of Gov. Snyder's campaign is about to come crashing down on him and the worthless GOP party that put him forward as its best candidate.

Shame on him!
RandyJ (Santa Fe, NM)
According to the article, it was the city of Flint's decision to change water sources. Yet the governor is being blamed.

From the article:
...The messages show that from the moment Flint decided to draw its water from a new source, the Flint River, officials were discounting concerns about its quality and celebrating a change meant to save the cash-starved city millions of dollars...
Realist (Ohio)
The city of Flint was in the hands of a master appointed by the governor, and its finances have been controlled by the state treasurer.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area)
Governor appoints emergency manager, granting that person virtually all power over city decisions - including where to get water. Manager sees place to save some $$ by ceasing to be a client of Detroit for water.

This is not a case of a city council acting independently and exercising free will to change. There is plenty of literature available online about MI's anti-democratic Emergency Manager policies, as well as the extremely anti-democratic methods the state has used to retain that power over cities. Even before the water crisis, there was plenty of controversy regarding EMs. Unfortunately, many of the concerns people had are being vindicated - but in a terrible, avoidable way.
Linda Fitzjarrell (St. Croix Falls WI)
It was being run by an unelected city manager appointed by the governor
AACNY (New York)
Makes you wonder about all the democrats who are running that city and its municipal services. Poor minority neighborhoods seem to have the worst possible politicians (usually all democrats) and least capable government workers.

Democrats are so busy looking at big money corruption, they've lost sight of the corruption within their own party. Wherever there is the most decay, incompetence and corruption, there are also democrats in control.

Those residents deserve better.
Realist (Ohio)
Poor analogy. Yes the Democratic machines and pols stole from those people. They did not, however, try to kill them, neither by commission, nor, as in the case of Snyder et al, by omission.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area)
They sure do. They deserve self-governance, too....not a virtually all-powerful emergency manager, putting their city in the hands of someone appointed by the governor and removing it from the hands of the elected local officials. They deserve a responsive state government, particularly when their city is essentially in receivership and the state is running the show. You know, that state run by a Republican governor and an overwhelmingly Republican legislature.

Nice try, though, with the shifting of blame.
JoseChicago (Chicago)
This was snyder's idea. You know that, right? He's a R.
William Case (Texas)
Many commenters seem to think state and federal governments are responsible for municipal drinking water. However, individual cities are responsible for supplying themselves with drinking water. The Flint City Council voted 7-1 to end its water contract with the City of Detroit as part of a long-term plan that involved temporarily pumping water from the Flint River. The city was supposed to treat the river water to remove harmful chemicals. Apparently, this wasn't done or didn't work,
AACNY (New York)
The City of Flint chose a new water authority, whose system wouldn't be done until 2016. In the interim, it decided against staying with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and, instead, chose the river water.

The City's Works Director could not explain why the right steps, which seem to be common knowledge, weren't taken to treat the water. They said they tested it at the source but not at the destination (ex., faucets).

Ultimately, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is responsible for making sure it complies with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The MDEQ Administrator at the time admitted his staff didn't have the expertise and messed up. The mayor says he just relied on what the state told him.

Seriously, could there be any more incompetence?
Glassyeyed (Indiana)
Looks like we're about ready for Grover Norquist to achieve his dream of drowning our government in the bath tub.

If these pesky poor people would just keep quiet and drink the kool-ade like we told them to, then the obscenely rich could enjoy their freedom to poison in the name of profit without having their liberties infringed upon by environmentalists.
MC (Denver)
How do these public officials sleep at night, knowing that they exposed an entire community to lead? That children will suffer the rest of their lives with learning disabilities as a result?

How do they sleep at night? And why aren't they in jail?
skanik (Berkeley)
After all is said and done
if your Government cannot give you drinkable water
and ignores and belittles your complaints
why should you be obligated to pay taxes -
and shouldn't you be obligated toward revolution.
Thomas (LA)
What has happened to the people of Flint is beyond words and requires justice against those that have caused untold, lifelong grief.

But I have a tangential question:
Why is the water from the Flint River so grotesquely contaminated? Why haven't the polluters been forced to shut down the waste-dumping and clean up the river? This river is at nearly a third-world level of stink and pollution. I thought we had learned our lesson from 1960's Lake Erie. Instead, we clearly choose to sicken ourselves so a few people can make big profits. When we certainly could have clean air and water while people still make big profits. I just don't get it.
Vance Kojiro (Antartica)
Ask GM who dumped chemicals in to the river for decades.
Bobi (Los Angeles)
Is there a list of donors to Governor Snyder's election campaign? We deserve to know who he has chosen to serve rather than the people of his state. Maybe they can come up with a few millions to repair the tragedy that their greed has spawned. The only question is "Which city will be next?".
Realist (Ohio)
Try many billions, given the need for a massive overhaul of infrastructure right now, and special ed, rehabilitative, and supportive services for 70 years or more.
Theresa Clare (Orlando)
State officials need to be criminally charged. Period! They failed to perform their most important duty: Do no harm to the people you serve. Each time I read one of these stories about what has happened in Flint, I feel rage but also sadness that this has happened in the United States in the 21st Century. If we are to fulfill our potential as humans, clean water and clean air are two of the utmost priorities. This must not be allowed to get swept under the rug. Others besides the children who have been scarred for life must be made to pay.
James (San Francisco, CA)
If Rick Snyder were a Democrat, we'd have to wait a couple years to subpoena the emails off his private email server while listening to his claims that an offensive youtube video must have caused the crisis.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Well, not really. and such glip statements usaually are followed by a reference to Benghazi. In the meantime thousands....yes thousands of children right here in the US of A have been exposed to lead to save Michigan and the GOPTP that runs it a few bucks.
Eugene Gorrin (Union, NJ)
President Obama pledged to offer support for the drinking water crisis in Flint yesterday and environmental regulators were set to provide Congress with information about their role.

Blame is swirling after a switch in the water supply to Flint led to elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

Facing protests, lawsuits and calls for his resignation, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologized to the city's residents on Tuesday and called for the state to spend $28 million on fixes. The Michigan House quickly approved Snyder’s funding request yesterday.

The EPA, while saying it was reviewing its handling of the crisis and could have acted faster to inform the state of what measures it should take, also blamed the state on Tuesday. It said the EPA's oversight was hampered by "failures and resistance at the state and local levels."
EDC (Colorado)
The failure of yet another Republican administration to feel the pain of the citizens they purport to represent. We're all pretty aware by now that Republicans ONLY represent white people.
r b (Aurora, Co.)
If Governor Snyder is the kind of politician that hates government, why is he asking President Obama and taxpayers for help? How about asking some of the rich folks in Michigan for a sizable donation? I'm sure they've got the millions/billions it's going to take to fix this mess.

Everyday it's something else.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Actually he should ask his handlers to pay (ALEC, Koch) They have amassed billions to force this model of governece on us
Carol (NY)
Michigan's governor was a businessman with no public service experience, just the rightist Republican philosophy of how to govern, and he brought us Flint. Now, it appears the Republican Party is about to give us the same on a national level, only their leading contender is someone who is beyond corrosive. What does that say about where our country could end up?
MMS (Seattle)
In my opinion, a number of officials should, at the least, be fired; and probably some should go to jail. This lack of action, which led to poisoning children and the elderly, is absolutely unconscionable!
D Parker Palmer (Chicago,IL)
So when do the prosecutions begin? THAT is the single-most important question. As long as governors and their assistants are protected, the entire population is at risk.
Positively (NYC)
The measure of a society's greatness is in how well it cares for its most disadvantaged. The socially irresponsible need not apply.
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
Please remember that the Michigan voters voted for this.
Realist (Ohio)
Yep. The Reagan Democrats and their kids. They should pray, given the increasing bi-modality of income and opportunity in this country that the GOP has fostered, that they don't get poisoned too.
JoseChicago (Chicago)
Yes, but Snyder lied about his leadership and abilities too. Much like Rauner in Illinois. We have to get these Republicans out. They care about one thing, money and power.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area)
No, they didn't vote for *this.* Even people who voted for Snyder (and his ruby red leg.) likely didn't envision this particular outcome, though it shouldn't have seemed so far outside the realm of possibility in Michigan nowadays.

And not everyone voted for Snyder. It's monstrously unfair to say, "well, this what they voted for," when many elections have such small margins that it's only a few points' difference, and thousands of voters supported the opposing candidate. Slightly less than half wanted this governor. And really, people should at least have faith in the basics, like clean water, no matter who is elected.

If only they could.
Mark Clevey (Ann Arbor, MI)
Governor Snyder needs to be impeached for his bumbling incompetence, flagrant and self-serving violation of the public trust, his greed and criminal behavior.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Won't happen. The ruby red legislature that allowed the usurption of local control won't hear of it. Check out North Carolina, happening here too. Thanks ALEC~!
mick (Los Angeles)
I really don't know much about the story but it is quite sad.
But it seems that all the black officials are all pointing towards the white guy; but where were they?
Miriam (Raleigh)
Well Mick, they were not in charge. The white guy as you put it, the governor usurped the city with the approval of the GOPtp legislature and appointed his guy to run it.
aussiebat (Florida)
Mick I don't wish to be cruel but a quick run through the story or even watching almost ANY news outlet would have given you some insight into this story. Local people, black and white, had been complaining about the situation to the governor after his handpicked "Emergency Manager" made the decision to transfer to a very toxic water source (never mind the chemistry he needed to know, but hey that is up there with climate change). I'm going to stick to my original intent about not wanting to be cruel and simply say I found it interesting that you decided to comment without reading the story or getting ANY information and reduced it down to a black-white issue when Flint is 40% white.
mick (Los Angeles)
It seems this wouldn't be the first issue to be reduced to a black white issue. Just saying...
Michael B (New Orleans)
So, if it's such a good thing that a governor can take over a whole city, effectively depose the elected leadership of the city and appoint his own, unelected manager, why shouldn't the President have similar authority, in the case of failing states?

Some failed states, such as Louisiana (and our neighbors) are traditionally found at the bottom of every single quality-of-life list of any consequence. Apparently, these failed states would benefit from some emergency management imposed from outside. It certainly couldn't have hurt Louisiana, which has suffered through seven consecutive years of budget deficits and gubernatorial mismanagement.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area)
Yes, I'd really love to know how the small-government crowd squares this particular conflict....
Meg (Ann Arbor, MI)
The article does not make it clear, but Mr. Darnell Earley, the state appointed emergency manager of Flint, made the decision to switch the source of Flint's drinking water to the FLint river. Where is Mr. Earley now? He is currently the state apointed emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools. Perhaps we should call for his resignation, along with MR. Snyder's.
Armando (Illinois)
Officials belittled complaints from Flint because they and their children can afford bottled clean water.
CW (Seattle)
Flint made its own bed when it switched water sources.
Nemo Leiceps (Between Alpha &amp; Omega)
What the heck does that to do with a child whose brain is being poisoned. Are you saying his poisoning is his fault? The attitude behind your comment is why not just the feted water in Flint and countless other dangers that are allowed to slip by such cowardly callousness.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area)
Right. Those children with their developing brains made their own beds when the city (manager) decided to switch water sources.

Sure. Blame it on the citizenry of Flint. Clearly this was a collective decision and everyone had a vote.
Liz (San Diego)
The decision to change the water source was made by an emergency city manager appointed by Snyder. Not by the population of Flint.
Andrew (Washington DC)
Republicans will drink poison as long as they have their guns and keep out the M&Ms (Mexicans and Muslims). GOP 2016!
Peter T. (Chicago)
I think that many a Republican's agenda is to break government so that they can complain that government doesn't work, so that they can break it down some more and thereby start the whole vicious loop again. To show solutions in government is to show that it actually is important and can work. Not exactly a Republican talking point.
Blue (Seattle, WA)
Snyder and his administration have likely given the citizens of Flint a higher future crime rate:
Wow, the NYT has NO shame... trying to pin DECADES of Democratic mismanagement of Flint, Detroit, and the entire state of Michigan on Republican Governor Synder. THAT'S RICH!
Jen (NY)
It astonishes me how even the highest elected officials do not understand that any nation or state exists for the prosperity and safety of its PEOPLE. Not the prosperity and safety of its businesses. Not the prosperity and safety of its lobbyists. The people ARE the state; they are not just livestock or wildlife who happen to live on state property.
William Case (Texas)
Neither the state or federal government are responsible for Flint's municipal drinking water. The responsibility lies with city's elected officials and the personnel they hire to run their water departments.
The Other George W. (MO)
You obviously don't know enough Republican elected officials. If you did, you wouldn't be so astonished.
NYer (NYC)
From "Roger & Me" to "Rick and Me"?
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
Snyder says he is sorry and that he will fix it. He spent months ignoring the disaster he created. Now he expects us to trust him to fix it? The minute the world stops watching he will go right back to business as usual. I desperately want this dictator out of office.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein
William Case (Texas)
The Flint City Council voted 7-1 in March 2013 to change the source of its drinking water. This was two months after Gray Snyder became governor, but the governor had no vote on the Flint City Council. The Flint City Council created the problem.
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
That's the revisionist version, otherwise known as a lie. The truth is that the city council voted in 2013 to change the source to a new pipeline that was under construction. It was Snyder's hand picked emergency manager that decided to temporarily use the Flint river while the KWA pipeline was still under construction. By the way, Snyder became Governor in 2011. Nice try, try another lie.
Realist (Ohio)
Irrelevant sophistry. Snyder was elected governor in 2010., and immediately began putting the screws to Michigan's cities. Flint City Council had no power since Snyder had appointed an all-powerful unaccountable emergency manager in 2011. What they did or did not do didn't matter. They weren't all geniuses but they had a gun held to their heads.
Claire (Boston)
I am not a US citizen, but something is stricking me: how is it possible for any city in the US to approve and perform a switch of its water supply without mandatory testing first confirming water source meets drinkable criteria?? I don't think that would be possible in most developed countries, from a regulatory perspective. Most of the articles on this issue, if not all, focuse on how the problem was adressed by whaterver officials/authorities AFTER the switch, which seems to me to be pretty irrelevant. I would like to know which processes and regulations (or lack thereof) led to such switch being even authorized in the first place. We are talking about the most basic and critical public service!
Raindrop (<br/>)
Good point.

The issue is not just the water itself, though, but the aging lead pipes and the lack of inclusion of $100 per day of standard anti- corrosion additives, the reasons for which have yet to be explained.
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
As it says in the article, the city of Flint was taken over by the state. The decision to temporarily get it's water from the Flint River was made by one person, Snyder's hand appointed emergency manager. The emergency manager has the power to fire elected officials, break contracts, take over schools, privatize government functions, sell off assets, etc. The elected people in the city of Flint had no power. What we have here in Michigan is an unwinding of Democracy. Everybody needs to pay attention to what is happening in Michigan because I fear, this is going to spread.
Slann (CA)
Why do we continue to outspend the next eight countries in the world COMBINED on "defense"? Yet our own country is crumbling, no one seems to care about providing the basics to our citizens ,"promote the general Welfare.", as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, nor do we see Congress paying any attention to anything other than dismantling anything President Obama's administration has accomplished.
We could take 50% of all that "defense" money, and put it into rebuilding our infrastructure and improving our public education systems, and the only people that would notice would be the .001% that personally benefit from all that "defense" expenditure. We'd still have the monstrous military force we've created.
Cathleen (New York)
There's not enough discussion of the fact that the Governor put in four different overseers to make decisions about Flint, bypassing elected officials. This terrible, anti-democratic practice of taking local government from the people is a disgrace and a major reason why this problem went on for so long. Elected officials would have had to respond quickly or would have been at risk of losing their positions. There's no risk for these temporary overseers, they just push the problems down the road and move along.
William Case (Texas)
In March 2013, the Flint City Council voted 7-1 of a long-term plan that included pumping drinking water from the Flint River. The emergency managers did not bypass the city's elected officials,
Bubba Lew (Chicago)
It is time for Rick Snyder to say, "that's all folks, I'm leaving on a fast train outta town." This Snyder guy is an good example of a wealthy technocrat, who became bored making tons of money and decided to run for office and meddle in the lives of Michigan citizens. His Right-wing, ALEC-inspired policies (meddling) has now caused permanent damage to the health of thousands of Flint MI residents and possibly the deaths of 10 from bacterial infections from the drinking water. Jail time and a jumbo monetary fine against the state are in order for Mr Snyder.
Irene B (Athens, GA)
Governor Snyder needs to release his 2013 emails. The switch to river water happened in the spring of that year, and the problems began shortly afterwards. His administration was notified that year, not only in 2014. He's being disingenuous in only releasing 2 years worth, and redacted at that. The Governor is still hiding something.
Mel Farrell (New York)
This entire event began when the governor and city officials, switched water supply source, to save money, and did not test the new source, before switching.

Once complaints began to emerge, the powers that be swung into action, to hide the truth from the residents of Flint.

Hundreds of people have been physically and mentally damaged by these plutocrats, as they sought to do what they do best, which is deny people, especially minorities, their basic rights, so their already overflowing coffers, can overflow some more.

There is no doubt that this would never occurr in a white village, town, or city, or any area with a white majority.

Our nation has succumbed to its age old inherent racist nature, and as can be seen, every day, in several areas of our nation, minorities, especially black Americans, are brutalized, whether it be at the hands of racist police, racist housing practises, including racist lending practises, racist employers, deeply hidden racism in education, and the list goes on, and on.

Obama succumbed to, as he essentially became the black servant of his plutocratic masters, paying lip service to the rampant racism, and nothing else.

We have a chance now, with Sanders, to pull the rug from under these evil people, and restore true resprentative government for all of the people, all of the time.
Michael Kennedy (Portland, Oregon)
So where was the press while all of this was developing? Were they looking around the country for news events? I doubt it. From what I read and see on television, they were concentrating on the gossip of Trump, Clinton, and the endless - and easy to cover - election news (even though no elections have even happened yet). Or they are scanning Facebook for cute videos. Now, rather than admit they dropped the ball on this story, they do the blame-shift game. Yes, the government of Michigan was crass and crude about all of this, but the press should have picked up on this months ago.
veh (metro detroit)
Well, there's a story there too...the press ain't what it used to be. The reporter that really got this one going used to work at the Detroit alternative paper, and is now at the ACLU. The "press" doesn't have the power that it did during Watergate (hey, maybe this could be Watergate v2.0)
Gerry (Olympia, WA)
There is so little empathy in our politics. Why would anyone want to put up with the crap involved with public service and only to tune out real opportunities to help people? Michigan should be ashamed. We all should be ashamed.
SCA (<br/>)
This began with a black, Democratic City of Flint government. Why didn't they protect their own people better? Why didn't they demand federal intervention last year? Why didn't they ask for the help of Black Lives Matter activists to ensure the spotlight never dimmed on this problem?

Because they didn't want to admit their culpability, stupidity and negligence. Now that everyone is reviling the Governor, they can speak up indignantly before the cameras.

We see over and over that black Democratic municipal governments are no more devoted to the the needs of their constituents than white Republicans.

Has Mayor Weaver endorsed Hillary to forestall any condemnation of her own role in this mess? Spotlight neatly switched.
Dave (Louisiana)
Extremely high quality comment. It's a shame that Hillary and Bernie are pimping the "republicans are evil" narrative viz this man made disaster for political points instead of looking to the real causes.
Carol lee (Minnesota)
why does an uninformed comment such as this get a Pick? Read the article before you comment.
Realist (Ohio)
Malarkey. This city has been under the total control of a Snyder-appointed, all-powerful emergency manger since 2011. The city government weren't all geniuses but, to the extent that they even mattered, they had a gun held to their heads.
Know Nothing (AK)
It is a matter of importance: stylish automobiles or people fearful of lead poisoning.
jrminock1 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality dismissed initial findings in 2014 that lead levels in children were dangerously high, and then conducted testing in a flawed manner designed to falsely minimize the levels. This was described by Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, whose team studied the water quality issue.

The questions are who ordered the rigged testing? Why? Who knew? And when?

Snyder's emails, and others previously obtained by The Guardian and discussed by Marc Edwards, do not yet tell the whole story.
Chaz1954 (London)
Am simply stunned that this has occurred to the people of Flint and I truly feel for their plight. What amazes me though is the vicious attacks by the Liberals on the Gov of Michigan for the lead in the water and the lack of said concern for the "lead" in the children and young adults in South Side Chicago, as city run by a liberal. Dead vs unknown impacts....simply amazes me.
Erin A. (Tampa Bay Area) a former Chicagoan (and former Michigander), I have to say that there is PLENTY of concern from liberals for the other "lead" of which you speak. And I'm not referring to Rahm, a guy who very few liberals are enamored of anyway.
Dee Katz (Boston)
Truly shameful. Shows the deep institutional racism embedded in our government/elected officials.
gbmarcht (Boston, Ma)
You have to hand it to the Republicans; not only would they take away your healthcare; they take an active role in making you ill!
kamaridurley (Chicago)
The numbers are out there for those who care, WashPo published an infographic of it a few days ago. The highest level of exposure to lead that is safe is only 5 ppb. The 90th percentile readings of a sampling in Flint was 27 ppb. There was a reading that measured at 13,000 PPB! That is beyond poisonous levels of lead. The negligence and irresponsibility on all levels of government in this case is mind boggling.
Richard Frauenglass (New York)
Sounds just like a 3rd world country to me. And within USA borders no less.
Unresponsive government - any others lurking?
Kingfish52 (Collbran, CO)
When elected and appointed officials can twist, bend, spindle, and mutilate science and facts to suit their agenda, they should be prosecuted and jailed.

Is it any wonder that much of the country appears to be surging towards the outsiders Sanders and Trump? Both major parties have failed us, and criminally failed Flint and its citizens.
Before things get any worse, Congress needs to pass a law making it illegal to test water. I hope I'm joking.
Blue (Seattle, WA)
I'm sure that all the officials who made the decisions that led to this problem would deny that they are racist or classist. But this is what racism and classism look like. Treating the people at the bottom like they don't matter at all. Like their experiences are invalid. Those people, daring to complain about their brown filthy poisonous water, they're just making trouble.
eval (Rochester, Ny)
In an effort to save money, Flint government decided to switch to a cheaper water source and now we (all Anericans) will pay in every conceivable way from that sad day forward. This is the mother of all examples of penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Keysgirlatheart1991 (NY Metro)
Over the last 10+ years, as the pressure to drive energy independence became the politics of the day, States well beyond Michigan allowed oil and gas companies to take license with our water supply, infrastructure, neighborhoods and air, all under the guise it would allow us cheaper resources, less dependence on foreign oil and much needed employment in places abandoned by big business decades ago. There's a reason many of these old pipelines and factories weren't in use, long ago discarded by major oil companies too ashamed and shareholder driven to attach themselves to the liability and revenue reliance on assets too old to maintain, the risks too great for waste and pollution, just as we see in Flint now.

Here is my question for the New York Times-- As the global market conditions deteriorate, and these oil and gas companies, most of whom are responsible for the hefty over-supply and debt loads we now feel reverberating right into our wallets and pensions, who will be standing there holding the bag when the tort lawyers come calling? How many of the oil and gas Master Limited Partnership’s, who have prospered mightily under Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush will go bust, or use our bankruptcy laws to shield the good assets from the toxic ones before communities have a chance to work out who is to blame, and ultimately accountable for their sick children and contaminated soils, air and water? Or will tax payers assume the burden of this clean-up and the longer term damage?
Mel Farrell (New York)
With respect to tort lawyers, and tort reform, did you know that Insurance Companies were, and still are, the driving force behind tort reform, seeking to severely limit awards, and especially punitive awards.

In fact, going to court to redress an injustice, is now nearly prohibited entirely, as corporations have won in convincing the Supreme Court that arbitration is preferable.

Our government of the people, for the people, and by the people, is now Government of the People, by our corporate owned government, and for our corporate owned government.

Our goose is nearly cooked, in poisonous water.
areber (Point Roberts, WA)
If a parent knowingly gave his or her children water with toxic levels of lead to drink they would be indicted for child abuse.
John MD (NJ)
Just another example of the "Bainification" of America. Decisions made by those w/ money and power are always for the benefit of the "shareholder." The citizen, the minority, the working man be damned as a commodity to be used. This Mikael Brown, Travon Martin, Tamir Rice, etc., only with toxic water instead of a gun.
ksummers6 (ann arbor, mi)
This is exactly what happens when elected officials who have zero experience in government run affairs like a business. They are accountable only to the almighty dollar and not the constituents of the areas they serve, who don't even get consideration as "shareholders". Snyder promised transparency in his administration, but Michigan recently ranked dead last in that category in a national survey. It has been reported that a $100 per day treatment to the Flint River water would have made it safe to use, but even that was too much to spend, and now thousands of people are poisoned. The callousness displayed in the released emails is shocking; anyone with half a brain knows that water should not have a taste, smell or color, but the concerns of Flint residents were roundly dismissed. $100 a day could have saved what might ultimately turn into a $1B fiasco. I don't think that is behavior emblematic of a competent CEO, let alone a governor. Snyder and anyone in his administration who participated in the slow-walk/cover-up should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; resignation is not sufficient.
Grove (Santa Barbara, Ca)
Greed and selfishness are at rhe root of this problem.
Maybe more tax cuts for tthe rich will help.

Simply put, greed kills.
J Albers (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Snyder and Michigan public health officials responsible for switching the source of Flint's water and attempting to cover-up the outcome should be indicted for endangering the health of Flint residents.

No amount of phony after-the-fact apologizing can change what they did and how they did nothing when it was apparent the public health was at risk.
JK (San Francisco)
You have to wonder if these 'officials' would have belittled complaints from folks in Bloomfield Hills or Gross Pointe? My guess is that the government does not respond well to requests from poor people but is at least willing to help the folks from the wealthy Michigan suburbs. This is not the America that I love but unfortunately the reality of how our nation is now!
30047 (<br/>)
Let me check my scorecard. Disingenuous posturing by elected officials? Check. Disbelief by "experts" and highly paid consultants? Check. Poor people getting the shaft again? Double check.

This is sick. Sadly, we should all get used to this. Money makes the rules. It's pretty clear that unless we ALL stand up and hold these people accountable, we can expect lots more of the same.
MadamimadaM (Indiana)
About a decade ago, a similar outcome occurred in Washington D.C. after the local water municipality adjusted the disinfectant process. As a result the water became "aggressive" and lead was released (primarily) from solder used in plumbing. I wonder how often the Flint water municipality completed testing inside older residential homes? From my experience, most water municipalities are reluctant to test water taken from inside residential homes; although within a water distribution system, a great deal of lead solder exists in the "private" residential plumbing after the water meter.
Don Nelson (Minnesota)
Are you sure Flint is in the United States? If so, what has happened to what alleges to be a justice-for-all government?
carlosmalvarado (Columbia, MO)
GOP's attitude: Flint's population is poor, minority, working class so why should we care about their complaints or needs? Just put them off.
bwise (Portland, Oregon)
There appears, again, to be a bias against science by the Lansing Administration. They also must have been blind not to see the color of the water or the color of the people.
John Brown (Denver)
Where was Obama's EPA while these people were drinking water with high levels of lead? The EPA is responsible for the health and safety of the nation's water supply. It appears that the Obama EPA knew, but did nothing. 6 months ago Obama's EPA contaminated/poisoned an entire river system in Colorado. How long did they know about Flint and did nothing?
Isn't it funny that with Katrina the Obama Poodle Media ignored the role of those most responsible, the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana and chose to focus on the Federal Government under Bush, but here in Flint where the primary responsibility lies with the EPA all the focus is on the Governor? Once again...where was Obama's EPA? Too busy worrying about Global Warming to keep Flint residents from drinking poison water?
Liz (San Diego)
One EPA employee tried to alert people and was undermined by a regional EPA manager. Seems the regional manager was the bad seed.
G (Iowa)
Criminals, government criminals, conspiring in a criminal action. They should be treated as such.

Seems to me many state Govt's now pull stunts like this (not like it is news). State voters and AGs must be blind not to see all the corruption.
Leah (East Bay SF, CA)
Will the state of Michigan pay for the special education services and possibly future adult services for all the children who had moderate or high exposure to lead?

Even a slight amount of childhood lead exposure can lead to permanent brain damage. Some children's blood tests indicated high lead exposure. These children might never be able to learn in a standard classroom or work a typical job. Their lives were stolen from them. And we lost all the potential these children may have brought to Michigan and to our country: talent, creativity, friendships, families, businesses.

Most disturbingly, thanks to the state's neglect, some of these children will be dependent on their parents and the state for life. Their parents should get all the financial help they need. I hope they sue for that compensation.
Teri Mayer (Nazareth, PA)
Do these government employees get less of a pension because they work in a low income community. I did not hear of any discussion about their outrageous pensions being reduced. Do not think that this attitude is only given to the poor, it seems to be a cancer among local government employees who forget that they are there to serve the public not themselves.
llama (New York, NY)
the funniest thing is reading Republicans try to ignore the fact that Snyder's administration poisoned the people in Flynt. They knew the water was contaminated and did nothing to address the problem for years. If you are a conservative that believes in the policies of Snyder (overriding local Democractic control of select municipalities and cities, slashing public funding for services irregardless of consequences, ignoring the health concerns of the citizens of Michigan), then have no right to complain when everyone else points out that these policies are (1) reckless and (2) have resulted in irreparable harm to the citizens in Flynt. These are the policies Republicans seek to enact nationwide and at the federal level (i.e., decimation of EPA, opposition to renewal of Clean Water Act). If you do not like the consequences, do not support these politicians.
Petra Meyer (San Francisco, CA)
In China, they would be executed. -->
scpa (pa)
Welcome to the libertarian paradise. Thank you Mr. Reagan.
HapinOregon (Southwest corner of Oregon)
Is it a surprise that this what you get from those who think "government is the problem"?
Incredulous (Charelston, SC)
For all you Republican bashers...from Wikipedia.
Most politicians are affiliated with the Democratic party despite the city's elections being nonpartisan.[78] In 2006, Flint was the 10th most liberal city in the United States, according to a nationwide study by the non-partisan Bay Area Center for Voting Research which examined the voting patterns of 237 cities with a population over 100,000. Flint placed just after San Francisco (9) and before Seattle (16) and New York City (21).[79]

The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people's money. Which means your basic infrastructure begins to crumble.
as257 (World)
So, were people deliberately poisoned by the socialist Democrats before?
maisany (NYC)
Try again.

Flint was under the authority of a state appointed emergency manager in 2013, 2014 and 2015 when this was all happening. The emergency manager was responsible for the operation of the city, not the elected city government, by decree from Governor Snyder.
Bubba Lew (Chicago)
I have an idea, Incredulous, why don't you and your family take home some of that Flint River water in gallon jugs and swig it down with your caviar and toast points?
MSJ (Germantown, MD)
If this situation had been caused by ISIS, the whole country would be mobilized to find and punish the evil-doers. Instead, the governor and his staff are hoping to get off with a mea culpa.
HJ Cavanaugh (Alameda, CA)
A new mantra has emerged in Michigan- "Politicians Careers Matter".
Frizbane Manley (Winchester, VA)
The States Are In Good Hands

Let's see, there's Sam Brownback (KS), Chris Christie (NJ), Nathan Deal (GA), John Kasich (OH), Paul LePage (ME), Pat McCrory (NC), Rick Scott (FL), Rick Snyder (MI), Scott Walker (WI), and others. What a crew! Where do we get those guys?

At least Jan Brewer (AZ), Rick Perry (TX), Tom Corbett (PA), Bobby Jindal (LA), Bob McDonnell (VA), Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), and the infamous Rod Blagojevich (IL) and Jon Corzine (NJ) are no longer on the scene. I thought I should get a couple of Democrats in there somewhere, even if they're both in prison.

Tom (NYC)
what has John Kasich done that you dont like?
Frizbane Manley (Winchester, VA)
The Quick And Dirty

Kasich has consistently bashed unions ... he's much like Scott Walker in that respect. Check out Senate Bill 5, his public sector union-busting legislation. He supports right-to-work legislation.

He's a Wall Street fiscal conservative (worked at Lehman Brothers) who doesn't like to spend money on behalf of his constituents. He turned down federal money to build a rail line connecting Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

Still, he increased the salaries of his administrative buddies ($20,000 to $50,000 higher than his incumbent).

He needs anger management counseling. He has a history of nasty interaction with "underlings." When legitimately stopped by a highway patrolman, he called the officer "an idiot."

Racial and gender diversity are almost nonexistent in his administration.

He's pretty much in the pocket of the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdock (was an employee of Fox "News").

He does not support raising the minimum wage.

He opposes government-required paid sick days for workers.

He signed into law the usual Republican legislation to restrict voting.

He proposed a plan to cut income tax rates by 20%, cut some business tax rates in half, and levied a sales taxes on goods and services that were previously exempt. The plan raised taxes on the poorest 60% of Ohio residents; the top 1% received an average tax cut of $10,369.

He cut funding for education by $700 million and cut funding for nursing homes by $340 million.

Shall I go on?
bobg (Norwalk, CT)
A side issue...............

This crisis also is a perfect illustration of why Republicans despite all logic, are still beating the pants off Democrats. IS this not a perfect illustration of

1) the consequences of the GOP's utter disregard for any but the .01%

2) the widely accepted GOP meme that government is the problem and that regulation is always onerous and unnecessary is an outright lie

3) we "need a business man"--they know how to run things..........anyone with experience in government and public policy is an "insider"--throw the bums out, etc.

Why isn't every Democratic politician in the country using this scandal to open the eyes of low-information voters.? Why did Obama not take the opportunity to travel to Flint and point out that THIS is what you get when you vote Republican? The GOP always jumps on every issue, and many non-issues to score their points. Years after the fact, they're still screaming about emails/Benghazi/Obamacare and lord knows what else. Here the Dems have a REAL issue, something even a Fox viewer could get "fired up" about (assuming they can make the connection between GOP indifference and the delivery of toxic water). Why are they not DEMANDING that Snyder face prosecution? Why not seize this issue as proof that insufficient oversight and regulation leads to very poor outcomes? Alas, the silence is deafening.
pkbormes (Brookline, MA)
"The silence is deafening" because the GOP base believes these kinds of problems exist only for "those people". The base is very happy to punish "those people". The GOP uses racism and Machiavellian divide and conquer techniques to survive.
bckrd1 (fort lauderdale, fl)

Rick Scott is signing a Water Bill today that does to Florida what Snyder did to Michigan.

Boycott the State.
Grove (Santa Barbara, Ca)
It was pretty obvious from the beginning that appointing "city managers" in place of elected officials was a move to find more money for the rich at the expense of the poorest.

Anyone who has been following Michigan politics saw this disaster coming.

More tax cuts for the rich.
It is criminal. It is the Republican agenda.
Cleo (New Jersey)
Earlier this week, the Times ran an article detailing the appalling increase in murder in Baltimore ever since the Justice Department began oversight. FBI agents are now embedded with the local police, not to stop crime, but to watch the cops. This is not the only city in America that has suffered from Federal oversight, just better known. At least Governor Snyder has apologized and promised to correct the problem. Will Obama do the same?
Jack (Illinois)
Snyder is going to jail. For real.
cantaloupe (north carolina)
This is what a government run like a business looks like. In face, this is what a business run like a business looks like too--we just don't have to drink the foul water in Bangladesh, or pay for medical care for the maimed people in Vietnam that are created by such business policies. It's just part of the cost of doing business, folks.
mford (ATL)
247 pages of email? Where's the rest?

I'm sure the 5 executives in the tiny company I work for generate that many emails internally in a normal week, never mind when there is a major problem at hand. Sure, one assumes they also had meetings and phone calls (which typically include follow-up emails), but this is a paltry number and suggests that either (a) the governor's office didn't take the issue seriously or (b) there are a lot more emails out there somewhere.
Aimee (<br/>)
And not all of them are about the water problem either.
Hinckley51 (ME)
Conservative thinking: "Government is in the way. Cut expenses (which actually would be reINVESTMENTS) down to the bone to "save $1 to $2 mill per year."

Conservative outcome: Local governance obliterated. Citizens trust political leaders even LESS. $2 mill of supposed savings explodes into $28 MILLION in taxpayer funded fixes and reparations. "Conservative" leader apologizes then, runs to "big gubment" for help (in total hypocrisy and antithesis to their so-called principals).

Gov. Synder is Pres. Trump (yuk!) on a state level. Can you IMAGINE this same "business" approach to governance on a national level?? Please, let's NOT.
Grove (Santa Barbara, Ca)
And "we need fewer regulations" will be the Republican battle cry.
Bubba Lew (Chicago)
The idea of Right-wing and Tea Party governance is to destroy the public's confidence in government to fulfill the Right-wing ideal of limited government. It is a death spiral for a democracy and the Republican Party set this death spiral in motion.
raymocas (Nassau)
And here we have a candidate in Ted Cruz that wants to abolish agencies like the EPA. What is his position on this matter in Flint?
Observer (Kochtopia)
"From 2011 to 2015, Flint was in state receivership, its finances controlled by a succession of four emergency managers appointed by Mr. Snyder’s administration."

That says it all. Snyder has taken over the poorer cities in MIchigan and given them to his political cronies. These four lasted an average of one year a piece, and had absolutely no accountability to voters, i.e. water users.

I wonder if any of these four EVER drank a glass of Flint city water.

This is what happens when Republicans decide all that matters is the bottom line and cutting taxes rather than providing, oh, say, public services.

Shame on Snyder and shame on the voters of Michigan who elected him. Twice.
Vicki w (<br/>)
If you think that the water in Fllint is toxic you should check out the Republican politics! They are what could very possibly kill you.
drollere (sebastopol)
first off, this is the first mention of a "black majority" in the analysis of the flint, MI water fiasco. (although it's been obvious all along in the news footage, it should also have been obvious in the text reporting.)

black lives do matter, and recognition starts with how deeply systemic the racial problem is.

the fact that republican presidential candidates haven't addressed the flint situation has been called out as diagnostic of conservative heartlessness. it's not. it's diagnostic of how far partisan politics, in the thrall of the institutional interests of the two political parties, has overwhelmed and distorted any rational policy discussion. the political parties are only in it for themselves, and the rest of us get the leftovers.

the fact that the bureaucrats at the state level ridiculed the complaints of the municipality is diagnostic of the "top wins" structure of american society. it doesn't matter whether "the top" means you have tons of wealth, lots of power, or high position in the political status hierarchy: if you're on top you call the game and set the rules.

wake up, people.
Jen (NY)
How is this not different from the appalling destruction of New Orleans? Ah yes, it was kept out of the media as long as possible.

I'll never forget my mother and I watching the New Orleans coverage, seeing all those (yes, black) Americans forced to wallow in filth around dead bodies covered with afghans, and not believing what we were seeing. We were literally screaming at the television nightly. The only reason Flint isn't producing a similar response is because it was easy to hide from the media.
Outside the Box (America)
How does the city explain that its own testing said the water was safe?
Rose (WV)
Yeah, that's my question too. I used to sample and test water for a living. pH testing was done and recorded in the field.
Bubba Lew (Chicago)
It was the state of Michigan EPA, not the city, per se. The guy running the city of Flint was a political appointee of Snyder and not accountable to the citizens of Flint, just to Snyder. Not a democracy, but a Plutocracy.
LuckyDog (NYC)
When those making the financial decisions only drink bottled water despite its high price, this is what happens. When those making the health decisions only care about their own bonuses for cutting costs relevant to strangers whom they don't care about, this is what happens. When finances are more important than simply asking "is the river safe to drink?" this is what happens. A simple look at a Michael Moore film about Flint would have made it immediately obvious that the river was not safe to drink - but hey, you have to be connected to the real world and its real problems to care enough to ask simple questions and research using easily accessible materials. It all comes down to a simple truth - to prevent idiotic, dangerous and totally preventable tragedies like this, you have to live in the real world, you have to care about other people, and you have to ask the question: IS IT SAFE. We are sadly all too often in the hands of people who are insulated from the real world, don't care and don't want to know facts. That is what we have to remember in November 2016 when we go out to vote.
Barb (CT)
I agree that the city and state officials involved in the cover-up of this horrendous incident should be held accountable, but why isn't anyone mentioning the identity of the bone head who made the decision to switch the source of Flint's water? When this was first made public the name of the individual who made this decision was mentioned, I believe an assistant commissioner of some sort. Again the almighty dollar is more important than the safety of the citizens. I think that ALL involved should be held financially responsible for ANY and ALL costs for treatment of any people harmed BOTH NOW AND IN THE FUTURE. The Special Ed costs alone for the affected children will be staggering.
mford (ATL)
But where does the buck stop? With the "assistant commissioner of some sort" or the guy who appointed him and other higher-ups whose duty is to trust but verify?
Barb (CT)
Deus02 (Toronto)
U.S. civil engineers have stated for many years now that America has the worst and oldest overall infrastructure in the developed world, yet, government continually tout keeping taxes low, minimize government and encourage de-regulation. Well, vote Republican and watch the catastrophes keep increasing.
Aimee (<br/>)
Reading the governor's e-mails its hard to know who's to blame.

Flint decided to switch to Flint River water temporarily. Their water treatment plant wasn't in great shape, the pipes leading from the river were in a sad state, and bacteria and organic material grew in the river all the time. Because Flint's population had declined, the water sat in the pipes longer, they had more than 7,200 valves broken in 2015, and because they didn't treat the water with enough lime and tried to flush the systems using fire hydrants, stirring up the water where it had been stagnant, the water looked, smelled and tasted terrible. There was a ton of bacteria in it, the water wasn't being treated properly, the pipes were old, subject to corrosion and leaks and were inundated with biological matter. They tried to treat it with chlorine and other chemicals, but the levels needed were risky, so they did what they could.

The lead levels, once they were correlated by zip code, changed dramatically as compared to what Snyder saw initially. Because the city used a different measuring stick to determine lead levels, they denied lead was a problem until they analyzed by zip code. Published reports reassured the governor that lead wasn't the state's problem because homeowners had to replace their own lead pipes. It didn't help that the mayor of Flint was asking for $30 million for repairs when they were in deep financial trouble or that many residents stopped paying their bills in protest.
David gramling (Arizona)
Two points: First, these scenarios where government officials just simply ignore their responsibilities, to just plain not do their job, will continue until they are held accountable. And I mean jail. If terrorists placed lead in the water supply, it would have had the exact same effect on the Flint population, except government would have leaped into action right up to the federal level. But some local officials acting bad? Ah.
Second, if this debacle is what happens when non experienced people get into political positions, one should shutter to think of what President Trump could do to America.
Vince (Norwalk, CT)
It would have been nice if at least one of the people writing comments had read the emails first. They would know that the task force organized to investigate the failure of the water system concluded, as one if forced to do by the emails, that the state Department of Environmental Quality totally failed. They also indicate that officials in the Governor's office took the issues seriously, stayed on top of the situation and did all they could to ameliorate the problems. We can talk all we want about racial disparities and prejudice, but there is also the fact that Flint is a city with an outdated water distribution system - like many cities - and lacked the funds not only to replace that system but even to do simple maintenance. There is a long story behind the decline of Flint, including Americans' shift to buying cars not made in the US, so stop taking the easy way out and blaming skin color. No doubt a rich white community would have had every resident doing a lead test on their drinking water the day after there were signs of trouble, but Michigan offered free testing to everyone as part of their response and 2 out of 20 accepted. Making decisions by reading headlines is why Trump is so far from reality and proposing simplistic answers for complicated problems is why Obama should never have been elected president.
Barbara (<br/>)
"Flint is a city with an outdated water distribution system - like many cities - and lacked the funds not only to replace that system but even to do simple maintenance."

And the state government had no plan in place for helping Flint or any other city upgrade its infrastructure and was indifferent to the health and safety consequences of Flint's penury. You know how the governor turned right around and asked the federal government for emergency funding because the problem was too big for the state? Because Michigan is part of a larger political compact known as the United States and every Michigander is also a resident -- and most are citizens -- of the United States. Explain to me why it is that Flint could not turn around and expect the same kind of help from the state? Do localities have to fund all of their own roads in Michigan? It's easy to atomize here and say, "aha, it was the locals!" But everyone knew the locals had simply run out of money, indeed, the governor made a big push to control local jurisdictions including Flint based on that very premise. Are not the "local" people, after all, also residents of the state of Michigan, not just inhabitants of the city of Flint? There is too much evidence to overlook that the governor knew and cared that Flint was bankrupt but he did not care what that meant for the health and safety of its residents.
as257 (World)
The decision of switching the water supply came from Gov. Rick Snyder's office who outsourced it to a private company for making profit out of poor people's misery, and Obama is to be blamed for that? I know you are a Republican, but still....
Aimee (<br/>)
Vince, I totally agree with you. I read the e-mails, too, and I thought the governor's office and the Mayor of Flint tried very hard to help the people of Flint. Not to mention, they had the right intentions. At no time did I believe Synder callously ignored the people. He was overwhelmed by lack of funds, terrible water distribution system, old pipes, bad water processing, and slapping a temporary fix on the switch from Detroit water to the new KWA system using the Flint River. If you look at what the state tried to do, and what Flint residents did, I am almost prone to say they made the problem worse by completely freaking out. I'm a mom of two little kids. If my kids were drinking water with lead in it, I'd be all over the water filters, free water testing and advice they were handing out, then I'd call my local government. I'd be running my pipes for five minutes, boiling the water and everything else I could think of. Flint residents were loath to do any of that, from what the government there saw, and I think they believed the problem wasn't as bad as it was. Flint had a ten point plan to help Flint residents when they learned how bad the water had become. Mayor Walling wanted money, the people started to sue, and no one paid their water bills. Governor Synder was in a bad place from October on.
Mike E (Bloomington, IN)
I feel so sorry for these children, whose lives have been forever damaged by Gov. Snyder's callous economic exploitation. But, I would like to read some reporting on why Flint river is "corrosive."
TomC (St. Gabriel, LA)
Coincidentally, another headline in today's Times reports that 2015 was the hottest on record but the same mind set evidenced by Republicans to the crisis in Flint to deny it until it could no longer be ignored is what I see playing out with their response to climate change.
John (Philly)
This problem seems like a failure to treat the the water properly by the Flint's Water treatment facilities. I am not an expert on water treatment but I do know chemistry. There are chemicals that can treat the water supply if it is too acidic or basic. Removing lead and mercury from the water at the plant is complex, but the real problem maybe the use of solder that was 50 %lead and 50 % tin. In 1986, lead was banned from the use of soldering copper pipes that were used as drinking water to the house. Many houses prior to 1986, have lead solder copper pipes. Many people across the country maybe getting excess lead from old solder joints and they don't even know if they are getting higher levels of lead

We also don't know why the water is brown. This should be a basic first step treatment at the Water Treatment facility. Is it possible that Flint city was trying to flush the water lines resulting in brown water? Our town does an annual flush and they notify all the residents that the water maybe off color for a while.
Here are some links that should be considered:

It sounds to me like incomptence at the water treatment level and an overall failure to communicate the problem at all levels. Maybe because Flint is in receivership that competent water treatment personnel were fired.
maisany (NYC)
Just to piggyback, it's already been pointed out that water chemistry is the culprit. Someone should've identified the simple problem that switching from one source of water, which was lake-sourced, to another source of water, which was river-sourced, was going to lead to a change in water chemistry, a drastic change. The change could've been moderated through water treatment and the lead, which has been in the plumbing systems in Flint for decades without causing any problems, would've remained non-reactive.

Had a competent water chemistry expert been engaged prior to making this decision, all of this could've been avoided. The problem is not the plumbing or the lead in the plumbing, it is the water.
Adam Orden (Barcelona, Spain)
How ironic that the lead article above the Flint poisoning is the article about Putins poisoning of a political opponent. Seems like the Gov of Michigan and his minions needs to face the scrutiny of the US Attorney and DOJ. They all need to land in federal prison.
Kapil (South Bend)
Simple solution to fix the problem soon: let Gov. Synder drink from the same taps as the Flint residents until the problem is fixed. Only the poor suffers from the avarice of rich and poverty has no color.
TheraP (Midwest)
What happened in Flint is the future - unless we cut the oligarchs and ALEC out of their interference in elections and government.

The unethical, immoral, and certainly illegal failure to protect children is an abomination.

If parents had been this negligent, they would likely be in jail!
Mick (Florida)
“It’s clear the nature of the threat was communicated poorly,” the memo said. “It’s also clear that folks in Flint are concerned about other aspects of their water — taste, smell and color being among the top complaints.”

I don’t necessarily advocate poisoning the author of the memo with lead-saturated water but I wouldn’t mind seeing him or her in spending some time (in jail?) drinking water that is discolored and tastes and smells bad.
TribalTech (Chelsea, MI)
Rick Snyder should be jailed not just because of this crises but also in the way he has destroyed the lives of teachers and educators in our great state of Michigan. This monster is a businessman, period! He knows nothing about public policy or social administration. The dollar rules large in his mind at all times and he salivates at any and every prospect of private investment in the state and is all for making budget cuts in anything that has nothing to do with growing the presence of corporations in the state. I know 3 families that have teachers as the main household income earner and it is heartbreaking to see the number of absurd, steep cuts in their pays and in the educational infrastructure only so he can benefit the corporations and fix everything else in the state by taking away form the educators. This vile human being does not understand that if he ruins the foundation of good education in the state and makes teachers leave in droves and causes a stigma to be associated with the teaching profession in the state, he can rest assured that more Detroits will spring up in the short and long term in this place. He should be jailed and taken to task for crushing the poor and not giving a hoot about the poor population of Flint.

Has this occurred in wealthy Ann Arbor where he lives or any other white location in Michigan, the situation would have had an immediate fix and turnaround. Just sad!!
NN (Andover)
Sounds like a novel way to get rid of opposition voters: poison them.
Rose (WV)
Russia has been getting away with it for years!
Laura Quickfoot (Indialantic,FL)
See all you Trumpeters- government is kind of important among other things to ensure that your kids are not poisoned.
Joe (Clarks Summit, PA)
Flint, Michigan: This is how modern Republicans govern.
bob rivers (nyc)
Flint, MI: this is what happens when modern liberal democrats run yet another city into the ground, needing 4 emergency managers in a row to keep the city financially afloat.
Grove (Santa Barbara, Ca)
"To Serve and Protect the Rich"
Luigi K (NYC)
A lot of commenters are focusing on how bad it is for a businessman to run a government like a business, but this is also an indictment of the sorry state of business practice. To be totally focused on short term profits, consequences be damned, with no regard for the long term is not a healthy business strategy either. Its what led to the last financial collapse with people making bad decisions, cashing out early, and leaving others holding the bag.

Its not that business management is bad governance so much as it is that bad business management is even worse governance.
George (Los Angeles)
This disgusting act of poisoning the citizens of Flint and, as Rachel Maddow has said there is an additional year missing from the emails, so what will be done to demand that other year. Where are subpoenas from the Federal Prosecutor's office demanding the emails and why have the Federal Prosecutor's been silent? But the damage to the children is permanent and irreversible. This heinous act on the part of the Governor's administration, like Katrina, is the legacy of the monsters who are running the Republican Party. They care nothing for the American People but only their white and affluent constituents. Sicking and repulsive.
juno (ny)
Let's not stop here with uncovering the destruction of Republican governors throughout the country. I recently took a business trip to Mississippi and witnessed the most abject poverty, homes falling down, entrenched republican political interests vying for the re-opening of a private prison in this impoverished, filthy and falling down town. It made me sick to my stomach to see the clear and cruel racial divide; the haves and have nots writ large in a tiny town. In researching the area before my trip, I discovered that the head of prisons in Mississippi was recently indicted for taking kick-backs from private prisons and discovered that historically, agricultural interests (white) have kept manufacturing companies from locating in small towns throughout the south because they did not want minorities leaving below poverty wage ag jobs for better paying manufacturing jobs.

I think the problem in Flint, the intentional poisoning of a minority community, is the tip of the iceberg.

We've got big problems in this country - entrenched poverty, hunger, real human suffering - much of which can be laid at the feet of the republican party. Their take over of states, via gerrymandering and outside billionaire backers, must be stopped. Repealing Citizen's United, outlawing gerrymandering, restoring voting rights are just first steps in restoring democracy in the United States.
bob rivers (nyc)
Actually, if you could think for yourself, you'd be wondering what the lives of those tens of millions of poor people would be like if the democrats were not importing tens of millions of illegals as future voters. You'd be wondering why the country is spending hundreds of billions each year on ESL classes, free hospitalization, schooling, welfare and housing for illegal aliens, who are then displacing millions of working class americans out of jobs.

But then you'd have to be able to think for yourself, as opposed to being spoon fed a relentless diet of far left, anti-republican, pro-democrat/pro-obama propaganda from awful "publications" like this one.
Marie (NYC)
What the heck has this rant to do with the water in Flint? Do you just cut and paste it everywhere as a one-size-fits all comment?
P.S. You forgot to blame it on Obama.
Craig Maltby (Des Moines)
If there were ever a case for a recall vote, this would be it.
CS (Chicago)
This criminal behavior should really compel the populace to be very careful for whom they vote.
shack (Upstate NY)
" even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it." There's that pesky word, "science". It's in quotes because republicans believe all of "science" is a matter of opinion. "Global warming". "Evolution". "Solar" energy". Earth being "billions" of years old, not thousands. Sounds like we're on a fast track to the 1700's.
tom in portland (portland, OR)
"Flint," as in its voters and elected officials, did not make the decision to change water sources or to not treat that new water with anti-corrosive additives. The media really needs to understand and admit that the state, an specifically Governor Snyder, pursuant to a draconian state law that he signed, was in control of Flint at the time. The city's elected leaders had no legal authority to do anything that involved spending money. So please stop reasserting that "Flint" made these decisions. Governor Snyder and his appointed state receivers made these decisions pursuant to a state law that he signed and fully supported as a centerpiece of his administration. Because of that Snyder owns these decisions. So the problem here is not just Snyder and the State of Michigan's slow reaction. Snyder and the state of Michigan are in fact directly responsible for what happened.
Luba Petrusha (Detroit)
Not to mention that the voters of the state of Michigan voted down the Emergency Manager law in a referendum. The GOP legislature then immediately re-passed it, adding a small funding provision so that it couldn't be put up to a vote again.

The EM was running Flint.
tomas pajaros (paradise michigan)
the region’s top EPA official, political appointee Susan Hedman, responded in a July 1 email to Flint’s Mayor Dayne Walling, after Mr. Del Toral’s memo was leaked: “When the report has been revised and fully vetted by EPA management, the findings and recommendations will be shared with the City and MDEQ. Ms. Hedman still works at the EPA.
tlafleche (Bay Area, CA)
I am grateful to the New York Times for keeping the spotlight on this story. As the father of a 1 year old, I have been following the developments in horror. I struggle to find words to express the outrage I feel when I think of the repeated denials and obfuscation by government officials who allowed the children of an entire city to be poisoned to save a few dollars. The officials involved have completely abdicated their duty to ensure public safety, obliterating what little trust there is between the community and the government that purports to serve it. The criminal mishandling of this crisis is illustrative of a broader trend in government where public officials pay lip service to the concerns of constituents while continuing business as usual because the mechanisms of accountability are either difficult to access or are non-existent. As a result, an institutional culture of complacency and detachment persists where communities lack the resources to combat it. I am shocked that such a thing has happened in America in the year 2016. The public health crisis in Flint is an absolute disgrace.
Stellmaria (Earth)
Why does the governor think he can "fix" lead poisoning? People need medical help and a treatment plan for life, it needs to come from the federal government, not the locals who poisoned children.
Koobface (NH)
One more sign of a Third World Nation is that in all of this, no one seems bothered with the fact that there are unacceptable levels of lead in the river itself.

Underlying message: "Of course there's dangerous, toxic, and unacceptable levels of lead in the Flint River; this is America!"
ST (Washington state)
Luba Petrusha (Detroit)
No, the lead is not in the water supply. Flint River water was acidic and corrosive; it was not properly treated, and so the water corroded old pipes and released the lead. These pipes cannot be fixed now; they must be replaced.
Chuck (Ormomd Beach, FL)
Why hasn't the officials responsible for this travesty been arrested?
scorcher14 (San Francisco)
Sounds to me like a criminal case against the governor is in order. His disregard and negligence cause permanent damage to large numbers of kids. He needs to be held responsible.
charles jandecka (Ohio)
You might want to check out the results of "lead content" testing on residents in that area. You might find the numbers of persons with lead (and its source is indeterminable) to be staggeringly low.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Charles, tell that to the parents of children whose lead levels are so high. Explain to them how grateful they should be that the numbers are "staggeringly low", that there future was an acceptable loss
charles jandecka (Ohio)
Lots of roaring & airborne dust right now. But what are the facts? Like exactly where were the 1st traces of waterborne lead discovered? Is the flow of such water consistent throughout the water delivery infrastructure? To what degree do State agencies have oversight of local water delivery infrastructures? What percentage of the population tested contained lead in their bodies? Can the source of this lead be traced to the water structure? What standard is being used to test lead content in the human body? What imperial evidence "race" may be a factor in the situation? Who is behind the public demonstrations concerning this issue? Is it possible a local problem has been seized by malcontents to topple a Republican governor? And on & on.
VPB (Atlanta)
I'd like to see some investigation of these issues:
What are the companies that dumped/continue to dump toxins into the river? Has the DEQ fined them or stopped them? Shouldn't these companies pay for the damage they caused?

Why aren't Flint residents being moved to safe homes like SoCal has had to do got the California victims of its gas leak?
ST (Washington state)
The underlying problem is chloride levels, probably due mainly to nonpoint sources like road salt washing into the Flint River during rain storms.

The chloride is corrosive, reacting with and releasing the lead in the water pipes. It's really difficult to control nonpoint sources; it's not something you can trace to one bad guy that you can arrest. If only it were that simple!

The only long-term solution is to replace all the pipes, and while $5 million of federal funds is a start, it's literally only a drop in the bucket.
The Chanel Nicole (Chicago)
Buuuuutttttttt the Powerball is 1.3 billion... America is just a#$ backwards!
FromSouthChicago (Portland, Oregon)
Another good article in the series. Please do not keep your eyes off this for a moment. The poisoning of 100,000 including 8000 children under 6 with lead and toxic bacteria as well as turning a city in what amounts to as a Superfund toxic-waste clean-up site is nothing to ignore - even for a moment.

I would like to raise two issues. First, although your article came close, it still hasn't clearly pointed out that even now just how insensitive and clueless Gov. Snyder and his underlings are about the gravity, depth and horror (now and in the future) of what they have done. Also, if Gov. Snyder first discovered that Flint residents were being poisoned with lead in Oct. 2015 as he claims (a claim I seriously doubt), then his initial response of assistance to the people of Flint was minuscule in proportion to level of the crisis and his responsibility for creating it. This is suggestive of the kind of denial that criminals have regarding their responsibility for the criminal actions they undertake. He may be "tipping his hand" about his involvement.

The second unaddressed items are the 2013 emails? The decision to make the interim switch to Flint River water was made in 2013. Did the Gov. or Emergency Admin know that the more corrosive river water would leach the lead out of Flint water pipes? A sophomore chemistry major would have understood the problem, but did any of these people? Were they stupid, ignorant or just looking the other way while knowing the answer?
SteveAx (Westport, CT)
Some people need to go to jail for this.
Dave (Cheshire)
There's a pattern here of inept Republican governance where practical stewardship is trumped by ideology. Brownback in Kansas cut taxes for the wealthy, assuming that jobs and higher revenue would result, and faced a budget hole so big he begged his legislature to raise taxes. Jobs didn't materialize. In Chris Christie's New Jersey, nine credit downgrades. In Scott Walker's Wisconsin, an assault on labor unions. In Bobby Jindal's Louisiana, another big deficit brought on by tax cuts and a refusal to accept Medicaid expansion. In Matt Bevin's Kentucky, eviscerating $290 million Kynect, the popular and successful health insurance exchange, purely for ideological reasons. And now Rick Snyder of Michigan and the criminal coverup of polluted water. They're all intellectually and morally bankrupt. If only one-half of our electorate would make the connection.
Scott D (Toronto)
There was a time where these folks "in charge" would have ended up in the Bastille. Dont think it cant happen again.
Luba Petrusha (Detroit)
No, the Bastille was for prisoners of the state. The folks "in charge" met their end with Madame Guillotine.
Marie (NYC)
Sounds good to me.
Alycee Lane (Oakland)
And so when it came to pass that the children of Flint called upon the state to help them because the water poisoned their bodies and affected their minds, the governor and his technocratic advisers villified the children to the people of the countryside, called them lazy good-for-nothings, accused them of wanting to live off the dole, tore to shreds their already shredded safety net, and cast them into the streets to fend for themselves. Then the governor and his advisors deployed their police forces to rule over the children, and the people of the countryside were satisfied.
galtsgulch (sugar loaf, ny)
And after all this the GOP shrug their shoulders and say, "the people want facts and data"?!
It's a shame they don't know what either is, nor how to use them.
Non-reality must be a great place to live.
David Lindsay (Hamden, CT)
Draft 2
I just wrote at my blog 1, Inconvenient News:
Why isn’t the Department of justice getting involved in this scandal?
Here is the image of the unhappy mayor of Flint. I'm tagging this story,
Watergate in Flint. This tragedy will not help the Republicans in the presidential election. What an awkward time to be arguing that we need less government regulation and oversight of public safety.
artistcon3 (New Jersey)
Of course the governor is a Republican. My question is, "Why would any sane person, white or black, of any religion or ethnic group, ever vote for a Republican?" Hasn't it become painfully obvious that Republicans neither run for office or hold office with the understanding that they are required to uphold the public trust? In all my years, I voted for a Republican once, for governor, and this person gutted the budget, destroyed our schools, polluted the environment, and of course performed the coup de grace of all Republican administrations - gave billions and billions to Wall St. The town, the state, the country, is a feeding trough for rich Republicans. Nothing else matters. I know, I know, Democrats do bad things too, but this behavior is written into the policies of Republican administrations. The sooner we become a banana republic, the happier they'll be. No more middle class squawking at them - like those annoying people in Flint who just don't get it.
asd32 (CA)
Snyder must resign. Or better yet, make him drink a pitcher of Flint's water.
Dominic (Astoria, NY)
This is why you never, ever vote Republican. Republicans care about businesses and money more than human life, especially if those lives are poor and people of color.
J-New (Main Street, USA)
Prison, plain and simple. Enforce our laws.
Daniel Locker (Brooklyn)
What am I missing here? Flint is and has been run by Democrats and they were the people who made the decision to pump water from the river. It would appear that the press just kept looking until they found a Republican to make a scapegoat and in this case it happens to be the Governor. If Rahm in Chicago won't resign after that incredible cover up, then Snyder should not.
Demeralda (Flint, MI)
No, they weren't. The emergency manager made the decision.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
What are you missing ? You are missing the facts:

2 votes statewide against an emergency manager law
Republicans pass a bill anyways, and ban the state from ever voting on it again
Snyder signs the law
Snyder immediately appoints an emergency manager
Emergency manager cancels contract for safe Detroit water and then refuse to mix Flint water with the $3000 per month chemicals to neutralize the corrosive water from destroying the pipes.

End of story. It's all in the Public Record. Glad to assist you.
William (Northern VA)
"Flint, led at the time by an emergency manager who was appointed by the state to help solve the city’s fiscal woes, switched water supplies in April 2014 — in part to save money, which the emails showed amounted to $1 million to $2 million a year." The state was run by the GOP at the time.
Lynn in DC (um, DC)
And people thought Kwame Kilpatrick was the worst thing to ever happen to Michigan. Rick Snyder is a million times worse.
Eric (CA)
This too could be your government in action if you elect any of the GOP demagogues in 2016. The anti-science, anti-environment, anti-anything-but-big-profits, GOP is waiting to do the same on a national scale.
Deus02 (Toronto)
Yep, low taxes, small government and no regulation, for the Republicans, that is how all issues are solved.
bern (La La Land)
Water filters have been available to all, as well as distilling apparatus for the home. I won't drink water until I distill it.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Well, they should just eat cake too
LuckyDog (NYC)
Water filters can run about $30 per month - that's a lot of money for many. Also - there is still a responsibility for local authorities to supply clean, safe, potable water. We expect the tap water to be safe, unless it is labeled as nonpotable. The people of Flint did not fail, the authorities responsible for the city did.
Snyder and the other GOP leaders in Michigan State government are culpable for the destruction of lives including the lives of children. These were not "accidental" outcomes, they were predictable, willful acts.

Where is the prosecution?? Apology is not enough. They need to be fined and jailed.
kathleen cairns (san luis obispo)
This crisis should make every voter think twice about electing a "small government" Republican for our nation's highest office.
Mario (Texas)
"One memo to a state aide says an Environmental Protection Agency expert, Miguel Del Toral, said in February and April 2015 that the state was testing the water in a way that could profoundly understate the lead levels." Big government EPA knew about it and did nothing. Did you even read the article?
David Lindsay (Hamden, CT)
Why isn't the Department of justice getting involved in this scandal?
djl (Philladelphia)
Wouldn't it be nice if the NYT published some facts about Flint's water problem? Like how much lead is in the drinking water. To my knowledge, lead doesn't cause rashes either. It remains to be seen if anyone was "poisoned" and it is equally unclear if the people' blood lead increased over previous measurements, or if they are getting their lead from lead paint in their housing and had elevated levels before switching to the Flint River. The water treatment plant in most cities is required to treat drinking water before it is distributed. If the problem is lead pipes, which past generations apparently did fine with, why wasn't there a problem before the water source switch? The NYT needs to gets some reporters that understand basic science and engineering and forget the hype of the hot story.
PubliusMaximus (Piscataway, NJ)
There is no safe level of lead in the body.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Evidently Fox et al are not explaining that any lead from any source is poison to children. Ever wonder why we have unleaded gas? Its not a government conspiracy seriously.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Because Detroit water has the correct chemicals added to the water to prevent corrosion. This is super common in all the old cities as far as the pipes.
Andres (<br/>)
President Obama's lack of judgement is very disappointing. He had the opportunity to show solidarity with the people of Flint while he attended Detroit's auto show yesterday. Instead, he chose to go back to D.C.
It reminds me of what happened last year during the January terror attacks in Paris when he decided against going to France and walk side by side with the French President as well as other European leaders. Instead, he sent weeks later John Kerry and James Taylor to sing "you've got a friend."
jr (upstate)
If this happened in China those public officials responsible would be sentenced to prison or death.
Luba Petrusha (Detroit)
They would be shot, and their families billed for the cost of the bullets.
chibi-wan (rochester,ny)
All the people involved in this crisis need to be jailed and the key thrown away. they are the lowest of the low. It is time the American people wake up and stop the destruction of government in the name of tax cuts. If we spent tax money on the things that need to make our country safe I have no problem with that. That is what taxes are for. Making our country better. Re-investing in our country is what needs to be done again.
Mario (TX)
Remember your position on how tax dollars should be spent when huge sums of money from the U.S. taxpayers are handed out in the wake of the lawsuits that are sure to come.
Shar (Atlanta)
Gov. Snyder has three children. They should be going to the Detroit Public Schools and drinking the water from Flint. Perhaps then he would not be so quick to label protesters and bury inconvenient data.
Ann Gansley (Idaho)
I have a fair suggestion: Those who belittled the critics must now drink gallons of this water. It's only fair!
reverend slick (roosevelt, utah)
Just to be clear.
To call Michigan's approval of Flint's lead contaminated water a "problem" or even a "crisis" is a gross understatement. The media is too polite for the public's own good.
What Michigan official did is a crime on the face of it and should honestly labeled "The Flint Water Crime".

You mentioned that "a concerned pediatrician" raised the lead issue, but readers might be interested to know the results of a brief search on her.
Local Flint, Michigan Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha in September 2015 notified the state officials responsible for observing Federal clean water law of elevated lead levels in Flint children and was branded "irresponsible".
They lied while violating the law.

That is criminal on several levels.
Dr. Wiz (<br/>)
This tragic event will be with the state as well as Flint for many years to come. In order to provide a measure of accountability and trust to be restored, Snyder needs to resign along with several of his closest appointees.
While his administration has placed emergency managers in Detroit, Flint and elsewhere in the state numerous times to restructure fiscal and administrative management, it should be clear now that it is, and has been, his administration that is in serious need of emergency management.
His office can no longer be trusted with the people's business to make meaningful and responsible decisions for the state.
He should resign immediately before his mismanagement is, in this very political year, seen as a common trait of Republican administrations.
Sally L. (NorthEast)
It is amazing how deep officials will go to look the other way. What is even more scary is that they really don't believe there is a problem. "Move along! there is nothing to see here!" I hope the people in this town get healthy drinking water soon. This is a terrible thing.
TomTom (Tucson)
make him drink it, until it's fixed.
ALB (Maryland)
This all sounds just a bit too close to "Elysium" to me.
apple (nj)
Permanent irreparable damage has been done to the citizens of Flint, especially its children. Significant financial compensation is owed. Since Flint was under state receivership during this debacle, the state, and not the city of Flint, is reasonable for the damage and fit paying out the damages.

Let's make it clear to any state who thinks it wise to set aside democracy in order to save a few dollars, that there is both a tremendous human and financial price to choosing tyranny.
Rita (California)
Let me see if I have this straight:

The Governor appoints an economic Emergency Manager for Flint, depriving the elected officials of authority.

The State-appointed Emergency Manager decides to switch the water source to save money.

The water pipes are corroded and not properly treated. The people complain.

The State tells them to stop their whining.

The State dismisses the outcomes of water tests.

Sounds like a typical business model - lousy product, rotten customer service but really low expenses.

The honorable thing to do would be for the Governor to resign. He should consult with the former half-Governor of Alaska about how that is done.
Pacifica (Orange County, CA)
So, officials belittled the complaints of the minority residents of Flint?

Well, I hope they are sued BY ALL, and made to cover the lifetime health and educational expenses of anyone with an affliction that is even remotely suspected of being related to drinking the tainted water.

Let's see how funny the officials think that is.
vincentgaglione (NYC)
Simple solution, sort of akin to those e-mail blasts that force the Congress to accept the mandates of any law that they pass for American citizens..... Governor Snyder, the members of the State Legislature, and all public officials connected to Flint, who participated in the decision-making to use the Flint River water, only use and drink the Flint River water until the problems affecting the Flint citizens are totally and completely resolved. How fast do you think they will respond to the problems then?
Tom White (Pelham, NY)
Michigan Republicans are not the Tea Party, yet their faith in cost cutting to reduce what they see as wasteful spending has poisoned an unknown number of people causing an unknown amount of future medical expenditures by the Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.

Cam you imagine what would happen to this country if the Tea Party ever gets control of Washington?
confetti (MD)
My first impulse is to wish that the Republican party could be sued for this. Their smirking, callous indifference towards the real suffering of people is the real poison, and it's sickened us all. But Democrats are culpable, too. Certain assumptions have become rooted in our national narrative that subordinate community and compassion to individual "effort" and competition. Big money interests aren't significantly checked by any of our politicians. For all the talk, it's broadly assumed that their interests vis a vis survival are our interests.

People talk about the national mood in terms of left and right; we should be talking about the gradual drift towards Social Darwinism in every aspect of American life.

Trump supporters are riding on an inchoate promise that the game can be won. Bernie supporters believe that the game can be dismantled. Black Lives Matter hopes that throwing monkey wrenches between every turning gear might at least disrupt any illusion that the situation is acceptable.

Hillary likely will win, and the game will go on, with some consolatory breadcrumbs dispersed to the struggling many. These are discouraging times.
BJ (Houston, TX)
Reagan had it right: "Government is the problem", though this isn't exactly what he had in mind. At a minimum this is callous disregard for human life, but it's not a stretch to consider that criminal negligence is involved. While the first priority should be to take care of the people of Flint, hopefully the assignment of the FBI and a federal prosecutor is not far behind. Certainly The State of Michigan cannot be expected to look into this. After all, they're not even competent enough to provide basic services to their own people.
Luba Petrusha (Detroit)
Reagan had it half right: "Government by Republicans is the problem."
Doris (Chicago)
Flint is 60% African American and 40% white, so white children were also poisoned. There has to be a long term effort to deal with the repercussions and disabilities of those children.
Gus (Hell's Kitchen)
True on both counts, Doris, and let us remember the elderly Flint residents as well and the effect of this mass poisoning upon their health.
Ginger Walters (Richmond VA)
This is unconsiounable and should be criminal. The long term effects of lead poisoning on children can be devastating and irreversible, never mind all the other contaminants. Heads should roll and charges filed all the way to the top, including the governor. Clearly, those in his administration, including him, ignored the warnings and complaints. It's inexcusable. It's almost the equivalent of deliberately poisoning your own citizens, and it was done to save money.
AKS (Illinois)
"Perfectly good water for Flint"--inadvertent truth telling. Mayor Weaver is right: never would have happened in a wealthy white enclave.
simon el xul (argentina)
Just another example of Black Lives don't matter- Of course the governor apologized looking to save his own neck and start blaming it all on his underlings. I'm surprised he didn't say "Let them drink champagne
Larry (London)
This is what happens when people who are fundamentally against government playing an active role in the society are elected to run the government.
Sail Away (Friendship, ME)
Republicans don't need Federal regulations, just Federal money to clean up their excesses from abandoning good government regulatory responsibility.
Eric (Santa Rosa,CA)
Thus the need for Bkack Lives Matter! Because white Republicans could care less.
JN (Pennsylvania)
Every official in Flint and in Michigan who did nothing, who lied, and who ignored evidence and deflected concerns should be fired IMMEDIATELY--and if they can't be fired (because they're elected or because their jobs are "secure"--they should be put on leave, IMMEDIATELY. Let them know that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Andrew Allen (Wisconsin)
Stick a fork in him.
Steve (Savannah)
Enjoy your legacy Gov. Snyder. Maybe they'll name a water purification plant after you!
Hdb (Tennessee)
I think this story should have mentioned that key emails (one would assume) are completely redacted:
George McKinney (Pace, FL)
Why is it that people think the white, Republican governor should resign but the black, Democratic mayor has zero responsibility?
Miriam (Raleigh)
You mean the one that just took office and has been trying to get the governors attention? That one? That one comment defines the problem
chris (PA)
Because the black, Democratic Mayor does not have any responsibility. This fiasco is all down to Snyder and the Republican state legislature.
Marie (NYC)
Would you be asking the same question if the mayor were a white Republican?
Will Lindsay (Woodstock CT.)
Money over children, it's the same reasoning concerning the N.R.A. This will not be the last time that a public administration will try to irrationally explain away a serious problem. Now Flint has a serious health issue costing perhaps billions in the long run, and many children are damaged for life. People should go to jail for this.
Nancy K (Putney, VT)
This entire shameful crime committed against the people of Flint is a textbook case about why environmental justice is a concept we need to understand. Wealthy communities would never be victimized in this way. Republicans obsess about individual freedoms, but the freedom to expect that the most basic of needs, water, will not poison your family should be an absolute right. This right was denied to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the country- those responsible, from Rick Snyder down, need to be prosecuted for the cover-up.
hr (nyc)
This is what happens when inept Republicans who belittle science get elected.
T H Beyer (Toronto)
Mindless 'savings' as put forth by so many Republican state administrations.
Dwight McFee (Toronto, Canada)
Governor Snyder is a corporate businessperson. That's all that really needs to be said. The New York Times, a corporate newspaper with sometimes dignity, should enlighten and enumerate for the populous how many of these 'bidness' persons have achieved elected office (bought) and what have been the results? After all for the last fourty years of a sixty five year old journey my ears are red from the roar of Business people know everything and are responsible for everything good while gover'ment is is stupid, can't do nothin'. Please begin to dispel this corporate myth. Year 41?
Tom Stoltz (Detroit)
The public is taking all the wrong lessons from Flint.

1) We take our infrastructure for granted while we continue to neglect it. The ASCE infrastructure gives America a D+ for infrastructure with a Solid "D" for both drinking water and waste water. Why on earth does Flint still have lead pipe in residential water distribution systems? Do you have lead pipe between the water main and your home? My city replaced them 30 years ago, did yours?

2) How do we make it safe to live in a dying city? Flint had 200,000 residents in 1960, and a thriving auto industry. Today it is a city of 100,000 made up of largely those that can't afford to move out or pay enough property taxes to keep police, fire, streetlights and water working. Detroit is still going through the same struggle (Downtown Detroit is recovering, but many residential areas still struggle). Who should bailout a city when it can't care for itself? How do we re-invent a city to return to prosperity? How do we close down a city that is no longer needed? I suspect there are a number of coal mining towns that will be the next Flint once they no longer serve an economic purpose.

I am disappointed that we have made this about politics and race. Water is a local issue. There is plenty of blame to go around, from homeowners not upgrading 70 year old plumbing, to city officials and the Flint water department, to the MDEQ and the US EPA. Gov. Snyder should no more resign than President Obama for the EPA's hand in this mess.
Jack (Illinois)
The GOP has been starving EPA for years.

The GOP owns this problem. All your denials will not change one bit of that reality.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Nope. Has zero to do with irresponsible homeowners not replacing pipes and Obama/the EPA. I do note these same points on comments on all the NYT articles though, as if the astroturf spammers can just change the conversation from facts to FUD, fear, uncertainty and deception.
Lynda (Gulfport, FL)
Water is a regional issue; Did you not understand that Flint's previous access--changed by the appointed Emergency Manager--was from the Detroit system? Here in Florida as in most places the water districts are large; most physical plants are paid for by federal money, not local money. Very, very few large metro areas have control over their water or the funds to pay for it.

The same is true for electricity. Our electricity is controlled by the Duke energy monopoly. How much local control do you think we have?
What me worry (nyc)
Stupid is as stupid does. Brown stinky water is NOT normal. Some official at the EPA for example or have the Repugs managed to dismantle them in Mich? A review of the treatment protocol used at Flint by someone who was competent or a proper computer program would have revealed that the water was not being properly treated. And yes discrimination on the basis of race or economic status in matters of public service and health -- well in China a beheading or two might be considered appropriate.
Guy Walker (New York City)
The amount of overhaul on antiquated systems in the U.S. is at the hands of Republicans who got control over the congress and senate years ago but have done nothing except spend every waking minute sabotaging every effort President Obama has made to correct and make right. Republicans were enthusiastic, rubbing their hands together skipping about in front of reporters glowing with pride at the progress they would make on behalf of the citizens of this country but after years of talk and now Paul Ryan signing off on a new budget, story after story of the likes of this pile up. Darryl Issa and John Mica spending hours chasing around the postal service and Amtrak with no results, hours of senate consternation of Tim Geithner and Hillary Clinton amounting to nothing but waste. Republicans led by Ted Cruz shutting down government costing billions of taxpayer dollars, for what?
Ted Kennedy got up with an affordable health care package in 1973. The clean air act Dick Nixon installed dismantled by his own party, led by Ronald Reagan. And money spent on Dick Cheney's Haliburton and Princes' Blackwater mercenaries would have been better spent in Flint.
Jim (Laramie, Wyo.)
It's the nature of large organizations to promote team players who don't rock the boat into leadership. Secure in their positions, not wanting to threaten their pensions, these managers will feed their superiors whatever the political winds require.

All quite theoretical, but it's very distressing that dispossessed Americans are paying the price for these unresponsive "public servants".

Trying to change the system is like getting in a fight with a giant marshmallow.
Alan G (Roswell, Ga)
What happened in Flint is a combination of race, willful ignorance, and failing infrastructure. And let's not forget Republican-establishment political arrogance. Flint was the canary in the coal mine. And this is just the beginning. Sadly, there won't be real change in our country until a handful of white elected officials get stuck in the mine shaft with the rest of America's struggling, huddled masses.
John P (Pittsburgh)
I am very curious why the name of the city manager who made the decision, at least nominally, is not included in the article. Someone was designated by the state to make these decisions. Why on earth should they not be identified as decision makers? Why the anonymity for these differ heads who put the public at risk?
Jason Shinn (West Bloomfield)
Great article, but two points that I think the article deemphasized. First, Governor Snyder's speech placed blame on "government," and omitted any discussion about his failures/mistakes as leader of that "government."

Second, the Governor's emails under Michigan's deplorable disclosure laws would have been exempt from production to the public. However, with the federal government investigating those emails were going to be produced. Thus the Governor's newfound desire to be transparent needs to be put in context.
gunther (ann arbor mi)
Well (no pun intended), we must give Rick Snyder due credit for learning his party's historical political highlights. In particular Richard Nixon's 2nd term. However Nixon never poisoned children.

Importantly though, inside Gov. Snyder's speech, and sometimes in the news, There is a sly deflection to merge this governing disaster with the soft issue of attending to the national infrastructure. Make no mistake, the City of Flint was governed by an appointed emergency manager to solve the "problem like Flint".
barbara8101 (Philadelphia)
I hope that the people of Michigan specifically and the United States generally remember two things: first, that the Republican governor they elected to run their state did this, reflecting a willingness to poison an entire city, and, second, that upon being caught in this reprehensible action the Republican governor called in the federal government to rescue these victims of his own conduct.

Those who vote Republican would do well to remember who came to the aid of their state. Republicans, no doubt including the aforementioned governor, would strip the federal government of resources. To then turn around and seek aid from that same government is an exercise in ironic hypocrisy.
BH (New Jersey)
As a small gesture of genuine contrition, each of these officials, including and especially Rick Snyder, could drink Flint water for but a week. It might improve their attitudes and likely their cognitive abilities.
JABarry (Maryland)
My question is, Why did a Republican governor allow "testing" of Flint's water in the first place? He probably overlooked that detail.

Flint is an example of Republican governance, always focused on cutting taxes and cutting government, not serving citizens--cut basic citizen services to save a few dollars, put incompetent people in charge of citizen safety, disregard and insult citizen concerns, say you are sorry when your actions harm the public, provide an inadequate amount of money to deal with the disaster, claim you need stay in office to fix things and tell citizens to just get over it.

Cutting taxes--the holy ideology of Republicans--does not serve the interests, needs, safety of citizens. Taxes are not evil, they are necessary to promote civilization. Republicans are not good for civilization.
carlson74 (Massachyussetts)
Criminal charges must be made. There is no absolutely no excuse for their behavior.
Seanathan (NY)
What an embarrassment. Poisonous tap water should be exclusive to failed states. Or perhaps it is, and now we must count Michigan among the likes of Somalia. Where is the governor? Where is the President? It is a catastrophic failure of local, state, and arguably even federal governments to allow such a public health emergency continue for so long.

Juris (Marlton NJ)
Why isn't Snyder et al being prosecuted?
r mackinnnon (concord ma)
He will be. And likely by the feds. My guess is they are subpoenaing documents and witnesses now to the Grand Jury..
Dwight Bobson (Washington, DC)
No mystery here. Those affected are poor. Easy GOP targets as usual. Plus racism is GOP policy. Time to sue the governor personally and put him in poverty for the rest of his life. Until the punishment equals the crime, politicians will just keep doing what they do, that is take care of themselves and the rich and hurt the poor and working folks.
Aimee (<br/>)
Let me get this straight: The treasurer decided to switch the water supply to save $1-2 mil a year in early 2015. Soon complaints about smelly, poor tasting, brown water began to trickle in to the Governor's office through state legislators, who used words like "civil unrest" to describe the level of disgust residents felt. (Did no one tell the governor that MONTHS into the change to Flint River water, major corporations and hospitals changed their water supply?) Then "state officials," i.e. agencies responsible for protecting residents' health from environmental danger, blamed residents for the problem, saying consumers used the very real danger of deplorable drinking water as a way to give the state a black eye, yet conceding that IF the water was bad it was really the fault of local officials? Who exactly were THEY? The mayor, the emergency manager who switched water supplies, local environmental protection officials?

Sounds to me like the State shorted the people safe drinking water in favor of a $2 million dollar bet that Flint River water was just as good as the more expensive Detroit water, and when that bet didn't pan out, THEY treated the issue like a football - passing the problem back and forth from one "official" to the other - to hide the fact their "bet" was so bad, so unconscionable, that not only was it OBVIOUS to everyone "on the ground" they made a stupid and terrible gamble, but in the clear light of tragedy, they had sickened at entire city.
Casey Jonesed (Charlotte, NC)
It was not the fault of 'government' as Snyder said.
It was a failure of his people to listen to the people of Flint.
He should resign immediately.
LandGrantNation (USA)
Sixty percent of the Red Wings arena was financed by public funds. The citizens of Flint are fed contaminated water in order to save $1 to $2 million per year.

We are fast becoming a third rate county embedded with small pockets of luxury for the uber rich.

I predict that we shall soon see private, armed, "lawsuit proof" security replacing municipal police departments.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
Per the EPA website, 0.54% of children in the US have elevated lead levels. In Flint, before the change in water supply, the level was 2.1%. Currently, public health officials are saying the level has doubled to 4%, after many more children have been tested. Although I'm not suggesting the new water supply didn't make the situation worse, but there was obviously some sort of problem going on before the change. If you live in an area with a 50-100 year old water infrastructure, you might want to consider having your home water supply tested for lead as well as other potential contaminants. The water suppliers normally test the water before it is distributed, but do limited testing at the consumer end after the water has traversed the common pipes as well as the household pipes.

People in NYC might want to be particularly sensitive since you frequently experience failures of the hundred year old water mains.
Steve Landers (Stratford, Canada)
All of those responsible, from Mr. Snyder on down, should have to drink a few glasses of that "water". "This even-handed justice commends the ingredients of the poison'd chalice to our own lips." (Macbeth)
Lorem Ipsum (DFW, TX)
In that "apology" he managed to suggest that the federal and local government was just as culpable.

Apologize for that, Governor, and we'll talk.
Expat (France)
It is a disgrace. Everyone who made the decision and ignored the problem, up to and definitely including the governor, should be forced out immediately and, at the very least, the most responsible people, especially the governor, should be charged with crimes and hopefully convicted and imprisoned. It is the minimum to address the responsibility for what has happened. The absolute minimum.

This is also without doubt a reflection of the immoral attitudes many in the cuontry, especially the white, moneyed elite, have towards other groups and the poor. People -- you have got to vote and get these jokers as far away from running governments as possible.
anon (anon)
Snyder is not a Tea Party extremist. He's a moderate Republican, and someone who has always struck me (as a Michigander) as as interested in doing what is best for Michigan. The state has begun to bounce back economically since he has been Governor. When the seriousness of the water problem became apparent, he acted and appropriated money to fix the problem. This has all taken place in under a year. Does anyone think this would have been solved more quickly if Flint was NOT under state control and left to its own local government?

The racial climate in Michigan is atrocious. Yes, white Michiganders can be very racist. But the people of Detroit and Flint DO have a history of appointing grievence industry rabble rousers as their leaders and mismanaging their cities into the ground. The racial hostility in Michigan has come from both sides and creates an entire climate of racial distrust and poor communication between cities like Flint and Detroit and the white suburbs.

Snyder is doing the best he can in that context. His response is frankly probably far less callous than most of those who voted for him. Growing up, it wasn't uncommon to hear (affluent, professional, well educated) white people from the suburbs joke that we should just "drop a bomb on it" [it being Detroit and Flint].

The situation is sad, but railroading Snyder as a callous Tea Party extremist is neither accurate nor helpful to the people of Michigan.
veh (metro detroit)
Michigan is bouncing back because of the auto industry. Snyder is benefiting from that; he had zero to do with it
ibivi (Toronto ON Canada)
GM refused to use water from the Flint River as bath water for their metal parts because it is so contaminated. If it is not suitable for manufacturing purposes how on earth could be it suitable for people? Who are these stupid politicians who didn't even conduct water tests before they turned on the tap for human consumption? That they covered up and lied to their citizens about the safety of urine-coloured water which often reeked. They should all be in jail!
M (NY)
This seems like an obvious new focus for the Black Lives Matter movement. It's the same issue manifested in a different way.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
When Flint decided to go with a less expensive source of water, Detroit decided to cut them off from the Detroit water system a year earlier than the new system would be available, in an effort to coerce them into continuing to subsidize the Detroit water system. That is what led to the switching to the river supply for the interim.
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
No, ebmem, the city of Detroit did not cut Flint off. While that was the original lie being used as justification, there is a letter obtained by the ACLU of Michigan proving that the appointed emergency manager made the decision to use the Flint River.
hawk (New England)
There is something very odd about this entire story. The federal threshold for lead is 15 ppb, if that was exceeded where was the EPA? And why is a college professor declaring the river water, too corrosive? What is in the water that makes it corrosive?
Demeralda (Flint, MI)
I am not an expert but this is what I have gathered. 1. Mdeq threw our some samples, the 2 highest, which brought the average below action level. 2. Rivers have sand and decaying organic matter, which from what I understand makes it more corrosive.
Richard Marcley (Albany NY)
US Police shoot adolescent black youngsters in the streets and there are no consequences. No one is indicted or sanctioned!
Our State governments poison black infants and children with the water supply and then make snarky comments about their complaints.
Not one Candidate for President has really addressed these issues and yet we preen about celebrating the birthday of MLK with a national holiday!
There is a major disconnect in the US regarding race and after 8 years with a mixed race president, it seems to have gotten worse!
There is a gnawing, persistent and institutionalized racism inherent in the national psyche of the US that still needs to be excised from our society if we are to move forward!
Kithara (Cincinnati)
I hope that fluoride was not being added to the water in Flint because it increases the absorption of lead.
Howard Roark (AK)
I find it funny how no where in the current articles do top notch journalists mention that a large amount of flint residents had not been paying their water bills for several years. Detroit went bankrupt and cash called for the money from flint, flint didnt' want to / could not pay it so they switched. This is key information that a real journalist would point out.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the governor of Michigan is Republican or that his aid dismissed the complaints. Ideology trumps common sense every time in our new political reality: don’t like the science, question the integrity of the scientist. Even if there is an investigation, the Governor will probably walk away from it with only minor embarrassment attributing the reckless response to a subordinate that has since been fired. As Governor Christy has demonstrated in NJ (George Washing Bridge), politicians may set the stage for dismissive discourse but will not take the ultimate responsibility for poor leadership. Aids follow the tone set by their leader. But leaders rarely practice leadership.
GBrown (Rochester Hills, MI)
What has happened in Michigan is the unwinding of democracy and it goes like this:
1. Give tax breaks to business and make up with the shortfalls by cutting revenue sharing with cities.
2. Pass a law that says if a city is in financial trouble, the state can come in, assign an emergency manager who then has control over the city. This unelected official has the power to fire the elected officials, break contracts, break union contracts, sell assets, take over and privatize the schools and even put public health in danger.
3. After several years of step 1, many cities are in financial trouble.
4. Emergency managers are deployed. They report directly to the governor.
5. The Governor has now seized power over all city elected officials. Austerity begins.

You should see how our dictator, I mean Governor, has destroyed the schools in these cities.

I have bad news for all other states, he is trying to market this program of hijacking democracy to other states. He calls it "Making Government Accountable: The Michigan Story."
ibivi (Toronto ON Canada)
Austerity perpetuates a bad situation and makes it worse. You need invest to revitalize, not withhold.
David Graham (Troy, NY)
The people of Flint deserve federal oversight over the resolution of the water crisis. The bill should be sent to the governor of Michigan.
Josh (Grand Rapids, MI)
Everyone is so quick to blame a Republican governor who was too slow to fix a huge problem started by Democrats. Flint has been 100% Democrat for generations. Look it up.
Jack (Illinois)
Synder and the GOP own this. Lock, stock and barrel.
ajt (Madison)
not this City Manager he's all GOP.
mom (midwest)
And Grand Rapids has been Republican for generations. So what? The people of Flint deserve safe drinking water. This wasn't a problem until they decided to make the change. You would not be saying these types of things if it was the Grand River water that was poisoning your family and neighbors.
curtis dickinson (Worcester)
This reads like a white governor hoping complaints from his black citizens about contaminated public water will go away so that he can keep saving one plus million dollars a year.
dln (Northern Illinois)
I always thought that what made the US different was our ability to deliver clean air, water and the ground we live on. That would be our basic infrastructure. If the governor of a state cannot deliver on that public trust, why is he in office? It is difficult to conceive of an "exceptional" country when we cannot care for our citizens basic needs. Pathetic and sad.
archangel (USA)
Do you not know that the Republicans want to get rid of the EPA and other federal agencies that protect the American people? The governor of Michigan is a Republican why should he pay attention to the health and well being of the citizens of his state. He is only acting like the typical republican. Look what is happening to all the other republican governed states. The republicans think that since they hold many positions of power that their residents elected them to, that they can do what they want and it is not in the interests of the electorate who continually vote against their own interests because they have been handed a load of tripe. Go figure.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Many of the comments here attribute the Flint water crisis to prejudice against black people and poor people. I think the cause was incompetence and stupidity among government officials. You can say that the two things are the same, but I think there is a difference.
AJT (Madison)
because this would have happened in Gross Point and lasted for a year. right.
Hinckley51 (ME)
So, it was just a "perfect storm" and a coincidence that the victims of fiscal "conservative" decision making just HAPPENED to be predominantly poor folks and minorities? Dearborn and Gross Pointe got "lucky"?? Yet again???

If we all had what you're having, maybe we too could whistle right past this graveyard!
jkw (NY)
This is a mess, to be sure. Why exactly is it a Federal issue? Supplying water, plowing roads, collecting garbage, etc. seem like paradigmatic local government issues.
r mackinnnon (concord ma)
Drinking water is expressly under both state and federal jurisdiction and is regulated by both sovereigns. States "run the program" but are obligated to comply with certain federally mandated limits on things like lead and copper. States also receive some monies from the feds to stay in compliance. States have an affirmative obligation to report contaminant levels to the feds, so I am very curious about the reporting, or lack thereof, in this matter.
Chuck (RI)
No one was willing to "take charge". Why?
Mark Glass (Glastonbury, CT)
Governor Snyder, please name the "expert" who supposedly verified the water met all standards and make him available for interviews.
oeddie99 (Boynton Beach,FL)
I believe Gitmo is the place America sends terrorists, so it should be for Gov Snyder. Then we can give him a fair trial if we ever get around to it after five or ten or fifteen years.
amydm3 (<br/>)
To show how seriously the GOP took the news that the water supply for Flint contained lead and that state officials did little or nothing about it for two years, they voted to block enforcement of the EPA regulation known as the Clean Water Rule. One can only imagine what sort of state this country would be in in 2020 after four years of Donald Trump as POTUS and a Republican Congress. The mind reels.
August West (Berkshires)
I remember as a child my father, while not a particularly political person, saying often, "While Democrats may nickel and dime you to death, Republicans will sell you down the (Flint) river wholesale.
I see now how prescient he was.
Jim (Kalispell, MT)
At this risk of over-simplifying the tragedy in Flint, there is one simple step all of us can take this year: don't vote for any republicans. It is high time that this party be driven into obscurity until such time that they show that they can responsibly govern.
marian (Philadelphia)
This amount of negligence and malfeasance is really a criminal matter. At the very least, Snyder should resign. He has proven his strictly business approach to government doesn't work and he is not fit to be in any public office where service to the people is required. You can be of service to people while being mindful of the budget and not overspending. They are not mutually exclusive. But when you only consider money and not people- you have trouble.
This is also a cautionary tale about electing any person to public office who only has experience with the bottom line and no regard for the people. Ironically, the cost of doing the right thing would have been a paltry $100 a day- now, this so called business minded governor will cost the state of Michigan billions with having to replace the water pipes, cover the cost of medical bills, lawsuits, etc. Stupid and shameful.
Bill P. (Naperville, IL)
Can there be a more perfect example of what happens when "government regulatory oversight" is abandoned for the sake of industry and lower taxes on the 1%.
East End (East Hampton, NY)
Snyder must resign if true accountability is to occur. He should be happy to get off without jail time. He was the party with ultimate responsibility. Blaming his subordinates and saying "sorry" are far from adequate. Some people may have already died from this, others may yet die or have their health irreparably damaged. What justice demands is not prayers but prison.
William Case (Texas)
The New York Times is eager to blame Republicans for the poisoning of Flint’s water supply, but the decision to switch the water supply was not made by Republicans or Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager. The Flint City Council voted to switch the city’s water supply. The Flint mayor and seven of its nine city councilmembers are black. The city elections are nonpartisan, the mayor and most councilmembers are affiliated with the Democrat Party, not the Republican Party. It was a decision mostly made by black Democrats. Darnell Early, who served as the city’s state-appointed emergency manager from September 2013 until January 2015, told the Flint Journal in an email that “The decision to separate from (the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) and go with the Karegnondi Water Authority, including the decision to pump Flint River water in the interim, were both a part of a long-term plan that was approved by Flint's mayor, and confirmed by a City Council vote of 7-1 in March of 2013 — a full seven months before I began my term as emergency manager.”
Karen (Ithaca)
Was it the Flint City Council's decision to ignore and suppress water concerns after the switch was made? Do you really think they made the decision to switch water sources knowing the water would be tainted and they'd then need to sweep any negative information under the rug?
Dennis (New York)
Governor Snyder is a day late and a dollar short. It is astounding how this dunderhead could now stand before the people of Michigan and apologize. No apology would have been needed if the governor had acted appropriately in the first place. He didn't act, and now has the gall to kick down and blame subordinates for neglecting to do their job. The sheer nerve of this pious ignoramus.

Flint has the misfortune of being a poor neighborhood which did not vote for Snyder. It is populated by folks not like the good governor. What good could they possibly do him? Now, if this were to happen say in a community like Grosse Pointe does one think for a moment that the governor or any official in Michigan would ignore their concerns? Not for one damn minute.

L’OsservatoreA (Fair Verona)
Tell me again why Flint didn't simply go back to buying water from Detroit.
B Da Truth (Florida USA)
Because they don't wan to pay their bills for it.
dobes (<br/>)
If people the government labeled terrorists had poisoned Flint's water, everyone would be screaming for the death penalty. So when is someone going to jail for this - or worse?
C.C. Kegel,Ph.D. (Planet Earth)
Here we have an excellent example of what Republican governance does to people.
P.J. (Michigan)
I have a very wealthy family member who was an aid to Governor Snyder when he first campaigned for election. The bragging point put out to the public was his business acumen. There is a distance and coldness to people who have so much towards people who have so little. Politicians can sound so caring, but in the end it is a exaqqerated act. Republicans are referenced here more than Democrats, but it exists in both parties. Everybody wants the best for the their children. Money can never assuage the cost of what has happened to these children.
John (Amherst, MA)
Reckless endangerment is a criminal offense, and there is a plausible case in Flint. There should be a thorough investigation and the perps prosecuted.
jacrane (Davison, Mi.)
Isn't that amazing. Snyder stood up to the plate and admitted an error. Now many are demanding his resignation. Where are the 7 people on the Flint Council that voted for this water change in 2013. The vote was 7 to 1 for. They are the ones that started the whole mess and are walking away scott free. Could it be that this is because they are DEMOCRATS?
Phil (Philadelphia)
Snyder and his cronies have walked away scot free as well.

If you've followed the story, you know full well that the problem was not changing the water to a new authority per se (that is the vote in question) but in getting the supply from the Flint River because the infrastructure to get it from Huron was not yet ready. That was purely a state (emergency manager) decision, with no local input.

More likely, you haven't followed it and are merely spouting partisan nonsense. But even on partisan nonsense terms, anyone who follows Michigan politics knows the Democrats have no power in the state.
Aimee (<br/>)
The one guy abstained because "I knew they had the vote. I just think Flint River water is good." meaning he didn't even want to change over to KWA, just go to Flint River and stay there, not even spend on the new water system.
JoyM (Flint, MI)
Jacrane, Since you are a neighbor you will remember that Flint had no democratic officials. The Emergency Manager, Darnell Early was appointed by the Governor to rule Flint. No vote by the sitting council matters. Early was a Democrat and cut costs to the bone and the water was just the start. He also cut our fire and police departments. Snyder and the DEQ tested that water from April of 2014 and knew of the lead levels. Saying Sorry at this point is useless. What if this was your grandchild?
bnc (Lowell, Ma)
Henrik Ibsen penned this saga in "An Enemy Of The People". Why, after over 50 years, has the story not changed? Keep things the same. Is this what "being a conservative" means? Apparently so.
Portia (Massachusetts)
Outrageous. Criminal. Racist.
partlycloudy (methingham county)
Lock up the governor and make him drink the water. Right now his only excuse for his stupid blunder is that he "didn't know."
Carol Wheeler (<br/>)
And rand this idiot Republican (but I repeat myself) governor STILL thinks it's enough to release these horrible emails. Hoisted on his own petard for the most horrible behavior, he obviously thinks that if he's so gracious as to apologize, he's in the clear. A monster, truly.
Tom (California)
The Republican War on the Poor and Sick continues...

Then they go to church on Sunday and forgive themselves...
sleeve (West Chester PA)
This little jewel: "“It’s also clear that folks in Flint are concerned about other aspects of their water — taste, smell and color being among the top complaints.”
Those residents of Flint were so demanding of their court oversight by Gov. White Male Supremacist Snyder. They want their water to be free of contaminants and to have the usual qualities of clean water? How dare they expect the water they buy not to taste, smell and look bad. They must be uppity, right Kochian dynasty of Gov Synder? Wy are these people not in jail yet? This is a crime against humanity to intentionally poison the public water supply. ISIS has nothing on the Koch plants in our red state governor's mansions. Why didn't Kansas think to poison their citizens? Fewer there are, the less it will costs the Koch's in taxes.
Joseph Zhou (Ottawa, Canada)
Sage, you should point your anger to your Democratic Mayor Dayne Walling, if there is anyone should go to jail is her, even elementary school kids knew, if they have problem with parking, sewer, and water, they should call mayor’s office. Just because governor is a Republic, every liberal media are going to blame the governor for everything went to wrong at Flint… Where is Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and Black Life Matters, oh, they are not going to criticize a mayorr… this Flint mayor is so incompetent, sleep on the wheel – this is truth, this was what happened, but Liberals and liberal medias will never admit it.
Rose in PA (Pennsylvania)
Joseph, oh Joseph, did you read the article? Have you read anything about what actually happened? The STATE took the mayor's power away and appointed an "overseer". The appointees decided to save MONEY. The Mayor didn't make the decision because the office was stripped of power.
Pam (<br/>)
"EPA official Susan Hedman did not publicize the EPA’s concern over Flint’s water quality or the water’s dangerous health concerns. The federal agency instead quietly fought with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for at least six months about what should be done."

Then there is the mayor that NEVER drank the water but let all of her residents drink it.

These people were failed by every single level of government. Every single one. But in the era of "how can i spin this so my team wins", no one is actually interested in accountability or protecting the vulnerable. NYT- if Snyder resigns, will you pursue the EPA on its actions during the crisis?
Demeralda (Flint, MI)
You do realize this is a new mayor as of November. She won partially over this issue.

The last mayor,Walling, did drink the water. It's on video. He still isn't the one who made the decision.
Heather Mithoefer (Taos NM)
This is what Republican leadership looks like.
V (Los Angeles)
I am sick and tired of Republicans and Conservatives denying science all in the name of money.
Bill Camarda (Ramsey, NJ)
Some American lives are more important to modern Republican politicians and their supporters than others.

If this was not so, they would have come up with a credible alternative to Obamacare by now for the 20 million people they are so determined to throw back off of insurance. They've had seven years.

But they really don't care, do they?
Martin (Brinklow, MD)
When you elect people who hate government to lead government you get amateurish results. Governing is an art and should not be left to hateful hacks.
RLW (Chicago)
Time to fire the anti-everything state officials. Then maybe prosecute them for endangering lives and perhaps even being responsible for deaths related to water contamination. Just because they work for state government is no reason to let them get away with malfeasance.
Tibby Elgato (West County, Ca)
It would benefit everyone if there was very low cost hardware and software for a smartphones, tablets or laptops that would test water for contamination, the environment for radiation and food for GMOs.
Marie (NYC)
Of course people would have to be able to afford these gadgets...
Dan (Tn)
Snyder's statements are false, and show the smarmy nature of business folk who wreck havoc on communities, blame the whole thing on government which should be drowned in the bathtub, and perversely declare that only they, the very causes of the catastrophe, shall ride in as white knights to save the day. They really believe that the public, especially low income and minority, is so stupid that they will never be found out. I must say that this does not bode well for all the other states with republican administrations.
Thomas Payne (Cornelius, NC)
Because we are SO exceptional.
Charles Reed (Hampton GA)
The EPA did not know something they should have known over 100 children in the city were poisoned, but is today the first President Obama know about these babies conditions? Where is the outrage by blacks of the tea colored water that people were being told it was safe to drink and to take a bath in?

The Dept of VA Medical did not realize that Veterans where dying waiting for appointment? But did you know that also 50,000 Dept of VA homes were illegally foreclosed in 2009-20100 while not being reviewed for the President Making Home Affordable HAMP & VA HAMP and instead MERS created forged titled to foreclosed.

How can these things happen and they are government departments yet we are not holding the President accountable and if we mention the situations black act as if we are speaking against Christ!
maryann (austinviaseattle)
"Two state agencies responsible for health and environmental regulation “feel that some in Flint are taking the very sensitive issue of children’s exposure to lead and trying to turn it into a political football claiming the departments are underestimating the impacts on the populations and particularly trying to shift responsibility to the state,” Dennis Muchmore,... Snyder Chief of Staff."

As long as we're not politicizing things, Snyder is a Republican, 27/38 MI State senators are Republican, 63/110 MI State Reps are Republicans. The decision to change water supplies was done under the leadership of an emergency manager appointed by the Republican governor.

For years, Republicans have been saying "Why don't we run the government more like a business?" Because this is what happens when you do.

I can't wait to see how they try to scapegoat the liberals on this one.
workerbee (Florida)
"Even small amounts of lead could cause lasting health and developmental problems in children."

Lead can cause problems for adults, too. Osteoporosis, mental illness, anemia, unexplained weakness, and irreversible kidney and brain damage are among the many known dangers of lead contamination. Lead as a threat to public health was known far back in history yet the oil companies added lead to gasoline for about 65 years until the EPA forced them to remove it in the 1990s. During those decades car exhausts spewed hundreds of thousands of tons of lead into the atmosphere, causing a myriad of health problems that ironically were only rarely if ever attributed to leaded gasoline. It is likely that attention to the health problems caused by lead in the water supply will be diverted into a political sideshow, thus keeping the public unaware that environmental contamination from industry is the fundamental cause of many health problems. Also, after reading several articles about Flint's water supply problem, it is unclear to me as to whether the industrially contaminated river water is being treated or is being fed directly into the city water pipes without purification treatment. The articles should explain what type of treatment, if any, was being done to the water.
Wnyer 73 (batavia NY)
These are recall type gaffs by Michigan state officials; they cant blame the locals as this all occurred under state receivership. Gov Snyder is a poor excuse for a leader and his DOH and DEC cronies should all be put out of the state workforce. The Citizens of Flint shouldn't have to suffer further problems due to incompetence and coverups by all the alleged decision makers. $28M isn't going to cover the cost of almost complete water line replacement city wide which is likely necessary based on the corrosive nature of the Flint River water and damage already done. Shame !
rocketship (new york city)
One of the most important things of being a governor of a state is to protect its citizens. This governor didn't do that. Yet the issue is not that he didn't cross a "T", he for months did not act on a public hazard and for that reason, he must leave his position. In private industry like I'm in, I'd be fired. So, must he.
Bob Burns (Oregon's Willamette Valley)
This issue in Flint is a textbook example of the prejudiced and dismissive attitude of the white and privileged upper class. They are so removed from the real world, living in their gated or otherwise segregated enclaves that they simply cannot accept what the residents of Flint knew was a problem. Rather, they blamed the black residents for just being whiners, as their children were being poisoned.

Privilege does one of two things to people who are given it: EIther one works to make all the boats in the harbor rise with an incoming tide, as the Kennedy family has been doing for years, or as FDR did in his day, or they simply retreat behind barricades and work to continue the pretense to a Panglossian world. Rick Scott is Exhibit No.1 of the latter.

Shame on him.
P Taco (Iowa)
All the corporate maximizers-of-the-bottom-line-at-all-costs and climate change deniers should heed the folly of Gov. Snyder and his enablers. Please do not ignore the pleas of poisoned citizens and their compromised futures. Leaders (and wannabe leaders) who choose to sell out humanity for personal gain are despicable and disgusting. They have no shame, ethics or sense of responsibility.
One doesn't need to look very far to see further examples of such abhorrent behavior, such as DuPont’s FPOA (C8 or Teflon Toxin) fiasco. Please see

Rob Billot truly represents a profile in courage with respect to his dogged legal work concerning the tragedy. DuPont’s actions certainly indicate a behavior of denial, cover up and foot-dragging, with little regard for the consequences to human and environmental health.
coale johnson (5000 horseshoe meadow road)
if the governor and his people don't get prison time for this? our country is truly lost. apologies mean NOTHING.
Melissa Wantz (California)
Honestly, we are becoming more like a developing country every day.
Paul (Virginia)
The problem of whether water is safe to drink, cook and bath in is the survival, health issues confronting poor developing countries and not the US, the most advanced and richest country in the world. It is criminal to see water safety as a life and death and health issue happenning in many US communities because saving money from cash trapped towns and cities has become a higher priority than protecting public health. It also points out the ugly truth is that the aversion to taxation and higher public spending for the common good is coming home to roost. Across the US, infrastructure - roads, bridges, airports, rails, public buildings - is neglected and crumbling; cities and towns are trapped for cash just to provide minimum public services let alone maintaining existing infrastructure. Expect to see more Flints in the future.
David Gustafson (Minneapolis)
Interesting synergy between the "Putin, the Poisoner" and "Snyder, the Poisoner" stories. One poisons for political power, the other for money, both being cases of, "You've got to die now; nothing personal, just business."
Lynn in DC (um, DC)
The governor should move to Flint and stay there until the water crisis is resolved. He should live like everyone else in the city, no preferential treatment, and share the common experience. If Snyder's apology is meaningful and he is a stand-up guy, he will do this, if not, well.....
Sandy Reiburn (Ft Greene, NY)
It is not too far a reach to call out those who are our own government terrorists...

They are armed with PAC money...ALEC sponsored legislative self imbalanced SCOTUS...and an electorate that -not unlike the religious fanatics who are brainwashed in"other places"-actually believes these predatory electeds and would-be candidates are going to govern on their behalf.

They may not have IEDs...nor AK47s...but subjecting whole populations to poison...promulgating fossil fuel and ethanol to the demise of our earth...selfish pride in absconding with tax money which should be required for infrastructure safety... violence against their own
Usha Srinivasan (Martyand)
What a public health disaster. I lay this at the feet of larger problems.
1. Science illiteracy. Many politicians do not care to understand science. They disparage scientists, they under fund the NIH and science research. They disbelieve the signs and symptoms of global warming. They politicize science and the Republicans, infamously mix science with old wives tales, personal biases and religion.
2. There is scant respect for the average citizen from the seats of power, more so when the average citizen is black. Officials disparaging citizen concerns as cosmetic and superficial, as though the color and the smell of the water do not point to deeper problems and instead of simply testing the water as it should be tested and reporting the findings and seeking remedies, hemming and hawing about unwarranted citizen hysteria, tells me that the focus was not on citizen safety and health. This is public service gone awry and become self service.
3. Putting money over public health. There were many dire calls from the citizens of Flint, for the city and the EPA to do the right thing. Everyone seems to have dropped the ball. City officials because they were ecstatic about money saved, the state, because it wanted to pass the buck to the city and the EPA officials who wrote letters without declaring a state of emergency--timid to say the least.
What happened is criminal and people in charge should be prosecuted. Apologies won't do.
M. Edward (USA)
Impunity is alive and well in Flint.
Dan Smith (Austin, Texas)
And Gov. Snyder says he's going to "fix it." Just how is this lousy Republican going to unpoison those poor kids? This is yet another example of the Republican determination to prove government is the problem by making it the problem when they hold office. They're not just incompetent to hold office; they're deliberately incompetent to hold office.
aek (New England)
This is exactly what the Republican vision for government is: not making it small enough to drown in a bathtub, but making it poisonous enough to harm what it deems the surplus populace.
Paul Gamble (New York, NY)
When you ignore facts which are right in front of you, that's called denial. If someone handed the Governor a glass of water at a party the color of the water in Flint, he wouldn't drink it. I'm fascinated by the attempts to cover a problem by attacking the people making the complaints as if their lack of "stature" makes the claims automatically suspect. But hey, he's a "small government" guy and probably believes money spent on enforcing clean water regulations would be put to better use as a tax cut.
Tony P (Boston, MA)
The city switched its water supply in April 2014. Almost immediately residents complained of the smell and color of the water and some health concerns, rashes in particular. April of 2014? Nearly 2 years ago? Such significant problems in a city's water supply and it takes 2 years for action? This is a huge societal break down on the part of local and state government, local businesses, and local and national media.
Bob Milnover (upstate NY)
Would I be unrealistic by changing my thinking to the position that elected officials and politicians are corrupt and protecting moneyed or other special interests most of the time?
Joe (Iowa)
Michigan, Iowa, California, you name the state and I'll show you state workers who would rather blame the victim than actually lift a finger and do something. I've mentioned many times I used to do contract work for a state IT department, and the state employees were masters at turning a one day job into a two week effort. And with no accountability, nobody questioned it. I don't blame the people, I blame the culture. When I first started, a fellow contractor who had been there a couple years told me to be careful because this place would "eat your soul".
Jack (Illinois)
Flint is the result that those who have a disdain for government, and continually say it's the problem.

Flint is the result of your sentiments about government.
Jack Toner (Oakland, CA)
Nobody's been poisoned by a municipal water supply out here in California. Of course we don't let Republicans have any power, hint hint.
John (Stowe, PA)
The folly of deregulation, eliminating environmental regulations, as Republicans tried to do yesterday in congress, and the stupidity of approaching government as if it were business.

Businesses are amoral and exist for the purpose of maximizing profit.

Governments exist to protect the rights of the people, and promote the general welfare.

These are two very different things, and the profit motive is so powerful that it very often directly conflicts with the general welfare and the public good.

That is why business people are often so terrible when they try their hand at governing, especially when they come at governing with the same mindset and assumptions that would serve well in the corporate boardroom but are a disaster in governance.
G.E. Morris (Bi-Hudson)
People, mostly Michigan office holders, applauded Gov Synder during his State of the State addresss. His address demanded silence, the kind made of stone. Flint, Michgian does not operate like a democracy or a democratic republic. It operates as if it is a subsidiary of the governor's office. They do not have a local government. Lead is poision. The governor and his appointees poisioned Michigan families.This is not a generic case of bad government. This is a criminal act.
JoyM (Flint, MI)
We in Flint have been under the control of Emergency Managers and so have had our democracy taken away. The EMs cut costs everywhere, water, fire and police too.
The most significant story in America today.... the failure and concealing activity by a purportedly responsible government merits serious legal actions.. a feeble apology from a visibly feckless governor just won't cut it .... a primary function of an elected and financially supported government is public safety .. the violation here is beyond any notion of oversight ... the financial impact the is to follow will cost all Americans - as US AID will no doubt be used... Poor Flint has had not much of a go at modern times ... this is to be their final insult..
Michael L Hays (Las Cruces, NM)
Really, what else is to be expected. The entire point of autocratic rule--governor-appointed city managers with plenary powers--is to govern without regard for the people. If you do not govern with the "consent of the governed," you do not listen to their complaints. And from positions of power, you can belittle them because you have made them powerless.

The belittling will continue when the 7-2 Republican Supreme Court excuses all important Republican officials involved on grounds of good intentions or government immunity. The only restraint on smirking in the mean time will be whether ech such official is on the "short list."
Dochoch (Murphysboro, Illinois)
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan:

Government isn't the solution to the problem.
Republican-led government IS the problem.
A. Davey (Portland)
"As Water Problems Grew, Officials Belittled Complaints From Flint."

We need names, prosecutions, indictments, convictions and meaningful sentences sooner rather than later.
R. L. Norton III (Seattle, WA)
This happening in the first place is an embarrassment for the entire nation.
Me (NYC)
Once again we see: Republican policies are harmful to the country. Snyder appointed unelected officials to run a city? He needs to resign stat.
Elizabeth Bennett (Arizona)
The atrocious conditions in Flint, Michigan clearly demonstrate the future of an America under Republican rule. The despicable actions of Rick Snyder and his appointed managers show how a conservative politician handles the welfare of his constituents more clearly than any marketing fantasy churned out by his party.

The first and worst action of Snyder was to overturn elected officials in favor of his own appointed "managers", who in turn made crucial decisions for, in this case, the residents of Flint. Democracy was out the door!

The decision to use the Flint River as a cost cutter--Detroit's water was deemed "too expensive"--was a clear declaration that Flint's money problems were more important than its residents. The callous decision to pump water through lead-filled pipes from the Flint River was a reprehensible action, but the dismissal of complaints from residents was outrageous.

Snyder's actions foretell what a Republican presidency would look like, so we all have to take responsibility for ensuring that that doesn't happen!
M Peirce (Boulder, CO)
The failure to take residents' water complaints seriously is just one of a long, long, list of injustices. If you are poor, you live in a different world. When you approach gov't to address a very real problem, you are treated as a whiner, a sourpuss, an over-exaggerater, or someone who wants "puppies and rainbows." Shift your income, and the very same complaint is taken quite seriously, and you are treated with respect.

Exs: A wedding party uses a PA system so loud you can follow what the announcer is saying a mile away. A rich neighbor complains about the noise, and the police shut down the PA system; a trailer park neighbor who complains that the noise is disrupting their ability to work, is dismissed as spoiling the revelers' fun.

A business in a location zoned residential-commercial starts to violate zoning rules, using the parking lot as storage for reclaimed construction materials and a decrepit non-working truck. The poor neighbors next door complain. Nothing is done. A rich neighbor who doesn't live next door, but down the street, complains and the lot owner is fined.

A person in a beat up car is followed and stopped for not coming to a full stop (something 90% of all drivers do, and so, a "violation" that can always be used to justify a stop and a ticket). The person in an expensive car, doing the same, is rarely if ever bothered.

Justice is not a luxury good. But in the US it is treated that way.
L L J (Grand Rapids, MN)
And, we point fingers at Putin?
The motive matters little ... poison is poison ...
And, Flint's victims are mostly children !
Steve Struck (Michigan)
This is another example of why it is generally a bad idea to let government do a job. The Snyder administration made a mistake, but the arrogance of public officials is the real problem. Snyder has done many good things for Michigan but this situation also demonstrates how difficult, or even impossible, it is for any one leader to manage public employees who are often a law unto themselves.

A good guideline is to do things at the lowest level of government possible. At least with local officials you have a chance to have specific impact. At the state and federal level it's difficult at best. Sadly, the reason Flint had state guidance in the first place is that local officials were unable to control finances to the point that state guidance was the only option. And everyone is forgetting that another local government disaster is complicit here. Detroit was overcharging Flint for water because of its own fiscal problems.

The take away needs to be to keep it local and then keep your thumb on all government officials who are spending your money.
twofold (detroit)
The article states "...state leaders who were at times dismissive of the concerns of residents, seemed eager to place responsibility with local government and, even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it." This is a rather concise encapsulation of the whole republican philosophy toward people, the role of government and science. Then they claim the whole thing has been politicized when it blows up in their face.
alayton (new york)
This Governor should be sentenced to drinking the water for the rest of his life
leslied3 (Virginia)
Indict these rats for malfeasance and let them be tried before a jury of their Flint, MI, of course.
Mary (North Carolina)
NYT other article on this subject has 'no comment' section but title is 'Republicans ignore...'. When President Obama visited the car show in Detroit he ignored the plea to visit Flint. The last time I knew Obama was a Democrat. Everyone will agree, this is a disgrace but the NYT repeatedly shows it socialist bipartisanship which is a shame.
Gregg (Ft. Lauderdale)
In an effort to give the complete picture, it seems the reporters should give more details regarding the EPA's actions/inactions in this crisis in addition to the failures of local and state people. Had I not searched further into some of the Michigan media and read only this article, I would never know that there is likely some EPA responsibility for enabling this process to drag out so long at great risk to residents. It seems to me this should be characterized as a failure at local, state, and national levels.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Rewrite. All they had to do was add the proper chemicals. Like lots of other Michigan city managers do.
Joy M (Flint, MI)
The DEQ and City Water officials were involved from April 2014 on. One family that has lead this call to action had her water tested weekly and her lead rates ranged from 300 to 13,000 ppb where anything above 15 is toxic. Look up the story on MPR. No one in the state wanted to take this on. She and others had to go to Virginia Tech to get attention. That is when we all had our water independently tested and we all saw the large physical area covered by the lead issue.
Susan (Canada)
It is not surpriising, in the euphoria of the initial election of the US first Black President and the media's fawning over how America has faced racism in the face and beat it down, what in fact actually took place was the rise of that very dark and poisoned pimple on the very backside of American politics right out there in the open for everyone to see. Can't run from it now.
Gov. Snyder appointed the city manager. I am sure he was well aware of the water being changed to a polluted river for the city of Flint.

I also imagine a number of employees within the Water Municipality department knew in 2014 and certainly by early 2015 the huge issue with using this water. I can almost out hear the jokes and innuendos spoken as Flint citizens brought their brown water to civic meetings.

This is a crime, not just a mistake. It became a crime once the water was determined to be contain lead or determined to be unsafe to drink.

There must be one whistleblower who can come forward proving how early this water management knew about the problem and its severity.

Impeach Snyder and indict the City Manager and anyone else involved in this coverup.
Allecram (New York, NY)
Once again, this proves that Republicans care more about their pockets than their people.
Panthiest (Texas)
Those pesky residents of Flint.
Asking their state government for clean water.
The nerve.
Wendell Rector (Travelers Rest, SC)
Again, would governmental actions have been different had the impacted parties lived in Grosse Pointe or Ann Arbor?
Gus (Hell's Kitchen)
Is this the same Rick Snyder who was on Romney's short list of vice presidential running mates?
Maria Carballo (NYC)
This is a tragedy of inmense proportions. To ignore the complaints and not do nothing putting residents well being at risk has no excuse. To the writers of this article please address our President as such.
J&amp;G (Denver)
The new breed of Republicans have displayed the worst that human beings have to offer. We have to vote them out of office before they drag all Americans down the drain.
vballboy (Highland NY)
Some Americans blindly accept a heavily propagandized political view that all government is evil and needs to be slashed plus taxes are almost unConstitutional from a rabid fiscal conservative perspective.

These same Americans vote in a business-minded Republican who cuts spending for safe water contrary to clean water and health department requirements and don't see the irony.

Taxation if for safe, reliable infrastructure, not endless neoconservative wars in the Middle East solving little or nothing. Tax cuts for the 1% never trickled down or made an equivalent number of fair wage jobs inside America.

As a civil engineer with 10 years in public works, I see underfund infrastructure maintenance daily yet "special projects" are miraculously funded for political platforms or favoritism. It's infuriating.
niobium (Oakville, Ont. canada)
When an Empire implodes, as is happening to the US Empire now, infrastructure deteriorates as the Empire uses most of its resources support the military (see 500 bases around the world, NSA, 19 trillion dollar debt,Homeland security et al).
As this process widens, there will be many more Flints.
Dan (Chicago)
What about the United States EPA? Did they have trouble synchronizing their unofficial email addresses and unofficial cell phones like the inner city cop who carries a gun to plant on bad shooting victims? There was actual EPA work to do in Flint.
JPE (Maine)
Surely I am not the only one who remembers, just last year, the Michicganders (perhaps in Detroit) agitating and demonstrating because they wanted FREE water? And is it a little odd that the story doesn't mention the political affiliation of all the various officials who made/approved the decision to leave Detroit's water supply as a source? The Governor seems to have been slow to grasp and deal with the problem...but who caused it?
MKM (New York)
The African American city council and the African American Mayor voted for the Detroit disconnect and using Flint River Water; it was then that the State appointed African American City Manager approved this mess. Yes, they were let down by the engineers the City of Flint used in that the engineers did not consider the effect of the harsher water on the pipes.
herrick9 (SWF)
Gov. Snyder's dismissive attitude of the human condition while tangible medical and scientific proof remained in place is absolutely appalling yet somehow consistent with his political affilations's view of science at large.

On the business side of things, he is now going to spend $28M to rectify what was thought to be a giddy $2M savings utilizing a substandard resource...
Hardly the stuff of any prudent C.E.O.....
Bill Courson (Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Q: Why did it take months before complaints about the water’s odor and rusty color were taken seriously? Would it have happened at all in a city populated by affluent white people?
A: Because Flint's population is poor, and black also, a different standard of care prevails owing to the foundational racism and "classism" of Michigan's governing political party.

"What did Rick Snyder know, and when did he know it? "Depending on the answer to that question, it may be that Michigan's chief executive needs to be held criminally answerable in a court of law. The law(s) shielding his email correspondence from public scrutiny needs to be abrogated for the sake of the state's public health: "I'm sorry, and I will fix it " is far too little, far too late. Were this country China, and were the Governor's culpability proved, he would face the death penalty, as would his reptilian advisers and staff who participated in the cover-up.

But perhaps I'm too hasty in my judgment; I see that today Michigan's GOP is organizing citizen donations of bottled water to come to the aid of Flint's beleaguered residents. (This last paragraph is sarcasm, by the way, for those readers who may be Republicans).
Lonnie Barone (Doylearown, PA)
Any party or national politician bent on disbanding agencies like EPA is countenancing mass misery, impairment, and death. Let's cast our vote for reason, human solidarity and common sense.
An old Southern who is a Chef (<br/>)
If this situation occurred in Bloomfield Hills, some 45 miles away from Flint yet in many ways a different galaxy, would the reactions have been the same? Flint is a economically depressed city that is falling in on itself. I suggest no one in Lansing takes the concerns of Flint seriously. Bloomfield Hills is a very wealthy community. When the residents there call everyone in Lansing takes the call and quickly responds. The emails remind me of Marie Antoinette ... Let them eat cake.
Sylkirk (Long Island)
Michigan has a Republican government--governor, senate, house. Republicans have all kept their promise to Grover Norquist that they will never raise taxes. Michigan doesn't have the money to provide clean water to all its citizens.
Can you connect the dots??

Imagine how it will be if, god forbid, we elect a Republican president in November...
Jon W (Portland)
Plainly one of the most outrageous and totally unacceptable government REPUBLICAN policy in the US today,even if it did start in 2013.It's equivalent to the DuPont and C-8,only one was a republican business and the other a republican governing body.WHATS THE DIFFERENCE-
Rand Careaga (Oakland CA)
It's reassuring to know that Governor Snyder values transparency in public administration. It's too bad that he and his people apparently were less concerned with transparency in public water.
Pat (NYC)
I would like to know if the Governor and his family were also drinking this water. I would give him a nice tall glass of it right now and watch him drink it. Politicians are ignorant - the people are not.
By the way, I think Flint is a great city with poor leaders.
Mike (Lancaster)
I used to test water for municipal systems in PA. The standards for drinking water are pretty high. If the water meets their criteria then it would be safe to drink. The fact that the water was yellow and had an odor would fail the first two tests. How could they have water that would pass these tests but in reality be bad? The first thing to check is where did they take the samples for the testing. On the surface it looks like someone was not taking the correct samples for testing. This could be by mistake or on purpose. I have run into other issues where the people in charge of running a municipal water system are more or less inept. They could be taking relatively acceptable water and over treating it causing these issues.
Rose (WV)
Mike, I used to do the same job and have been wondering the same thing. The field pH test should have been a dead give away. Who was doing the collection, the mayors brother-in-law?
William (Georgia)
It is most difficult to understand how the Flint municipal water situation went on so long, let alone began in the first place. In my city, and in all others in my state as far as I know, the municipal water is tested by a civil engineering firm, frequently, for pathogens and other contaminants. If there is a problem, it is found early and corrected. This apparently was not done in Flint. If it had been, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Northeast (Pa)
The problem with calling for a politician's resignation in a case like this is they end up becoming consultants or go into some other private sector job. If Snyder et al were doctors or nurses they'd lose their licenses. Jail is what's called for here.
Jerry (Washington, DC)
A clear look at Tea Party governance. Contempt for science, the environment, and people "not like them."
Ellen (Brooklyn)
Although I oppose the death penalty for crimes like face-to-face murder that it is often used for, people who cause environmental disasters for profit or savings, like the Flint water disaster, ought to be subject to it. They did it deliberately, the emails show they knew what the consequences were and tried to cover them up ("pre-flushing" of pipes before testing to lower the lead level), and have caused profound, irreparable harm to children and adults. This was premeditated. This was targeted at a poor, black, vulnerable community. Its perpetrators surely went home at night to comfortable homes with clean water. Snyder and the entire pileup of officials involved probably planned to write up their terrific cost savings enterprises on their resume for the next step up in their careers. The prospect of severe criminal penalties might make such officials think ahead to the consequences when they swim in ethical and moral cesspools.
mediakyote (Los Angeles)
When you let the Chamber of Commerce run the state government, you get dead kids, lies, secrets and payoffs.
Bill Erickson (Vancouver)
Why are any of the officials involved in this still in office? They should be in prison.
MoneyRules (NJ)
Keep electing Republicans, and you will have a thousand Flints in across the country. Poor and minorities being poisoned by "free enterprise," while the State runs a $500M "surplus," earmarked for tax refunds for billionaires and corporations.

Welcome to America.
Martin L. (Ringoes, NJ)
What's funny, if we can look for comedy amidst the ruins of catastrophe, is that this entire fiasco was precipitated by the lure of saving $5 million. Yes, a whopping $5 million.
Raindrop (<br/>)
And worse still, the anti-corroding treatment that should have been included, but was not, would have cost a whopping $100 per DAY!
Tellthetruth (US)
So who is responsible for the river being polluted in the first place? Shouldn't they also be held accountable?
Republican Skeptic (Westchester County, NY)
Michigan officials who were aware of lead in the water supply and allowed this to proceed should face prosecution and, hopefully, prison time.
gc (chicago)
No one with a heart would have missed this! and now we get to pay for the repairs because they were too miserly to spend $100 a day? His business background should have kicked in and told him what to do... it was a purely political decision...don't blame his background blame his greed.
DaDa (Chicago)
Republicans dismissing scientific findings? I'm shocked, shocked, that there's gambling in this casino.
joe (THE MOON)
Another crime on poor people by a republican administration. The beat goes on and on.
Lomboc (Flordia)
I see the article somewhat one sided in the discussion as are the comments. Overall, the issues is the failure of the government at all levels. The mayor of Flint, the government organization responsible for providing the water, the State, and the Federal government through the EPA, which was also aware of the issue but took no action. I shutter when I hear that the solution to our problems is simply more government oversight and spending. It was the government who created the crises and the government who was covering it up. I want clean water and expect it from our government who has a monopoly on its supply. Pointing fingers is not the solution but accountability is. More blotted bureaucracy is not the solution.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Please write about the prequel to this disaster. Meaning: Two votes by the citizens through the initiative process, stopping the "emergency managers" from stripping locals of all control. Then, the gerrymandered state legislature passes a bill allowing just that, (along with a spending bill amendment) so that it can never be overturned by initiative again (Michigan does not allow initiative votes when spending is part of them).

That led two the emergency manager (usually appointed to all black and poor areas) as well as the entire crisis.

The chemicals to stop the corrosion in older pipes are common in many other Michigan cities and cost about 3,000 per month. This expense was refused. Further, the emergency manager now runs DPS, also a state takeover of the Detroit School System (currently shut down as teacher refuse to show up for work this week). Which is a concurrent disaster.

The entire state has been commandeered by out of state money and has been gerrymandered. Although Obama beat Romney 56% to 44%, Michigan has only 5 Democratic Reps in the House to 9 Republicans.

Now, the Republicans want one final change, electoral votes based on House elections, meaning Romney would have carried Michigan during the last election.

It is truly sad what has happened here with this secret out of state money as well as with the hard right wing DeVos family money.

Welcome to Michissippi. The rich have gotten what they want, see, everything is much better now!
Claudia (Oregon)
Very informative. Thank you.
JohnS (MA)
Funny, must be a double standard, unless I'm seeing double.

Residents of Chicago have been complaining for 50 years that Democrats, who have run the place since time began, that Democrat politicians have done zero, nada, about the thousands of Blacks that have been killed by their brothers.

I must have missed something - have thousands been killed in Detroit from the water pipeline?

Didn't think so!
Eric (Santa Rosa,CA)
So that makes it okay? All politics is prone to corruption and gerrymandering only leads to an institutionalization of that corruption.
billyc (Fort Atkinson, WI)
It is hard for nearly all Republicans and many Democrats to do right by the 47% of us who live on their reservations and plantations. Let my people go.
J McGloin (Brooklyn)
The Republicans wouldn't be getting away with all of this nonsense if the Democratic Party wasn't such a spineless, triangulating organization, always in retreat, always sacrificing the poor and middle class for a couple of poll points..
"Centrists" like the Clinton's and Obama, think that you can limit the damage by moving to the corporate middle, as defined by corporate media. It doesn't work. Limiting damage is not an effective political strategy.
You have to have principles and a vision that you fight for. That is how you change hearts and minds and gain the respect of the American People.
Get off the couch, get informed, get involved, join the movement of movements. Get ready to protest the next government, because no matter who is president, they won't be able to do anything without millions of people demanding true democracy and policies to help real people instead of the billionaires.
Viva la Evolution.
Garth (NYC)
No doubt Snyder should resign but I would have much more respect for NYTs is they even mentioned EPA had negative report in Feb 2015 and did not release it to public or even to city officials. Only reason why NYT leaves out this very irresponsible info must be because the EPA regional head was appointed by a democrat and NYT places loyalty to one party over the health of children and others poisoned as a result of inaction by BOTH parties.
anr (Chicago, IL)
The Michigan officials belong in prison !
Osha Gray Davidson (Phoenix, AZ)
Race and class are a key components of the Flint water crisis, but only extremely wealthy Americans are truly immune from similar problems in the near future. America's water infrastructure is old and starved for funding. In 2010, the EPA put the shortfall of capital investment in drinking water infrastructure at $55 billion annually. If the trend continues, by 2040 the deteriorating infrastructure will cost businesses and households $2 trillion, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Last year, NJ Gov. Chris Christie was one of a growing number of elected officials who, instead of investing money to modernize infrastructure, sold off the state's public water supply to corporations. The idea that private companies -- with less oversight, and driven by the need for profits -- will invest more to keep residents safe and water rates affordable seems like a poor gamble. Of course, as in Flint, communities of color will be the first to suffer, but they won't be the last.
Diego (Los Angeles)
Typical penny-wise pound-foolish thinking with a side of criminal negligence and lack of empathy bordering on sociopathology.

The Rs like to cast the work of government in terms of running a business. Okay - then can you imagine the head of a company and his/her underlings treating customers with such contempt.
Judy Parr (Holland, MI)
The Flint story is a serious challenge to the "Pure Michigan" campaign to boost tourism.
maisany (NYC)
As revealed on "The Rachel Maddow Show" last night, the Snyder administration has cleverly released emails from 2014 and 2015, but the actual order to switch the water supply over to the Flint River was signed in 2013. So without the emails from that year (at the very least), you may not have the full picture of what the thinking and decision making process leading up to the switch was and who was involved.
Whoopster (Bern, Swiss-o-land)
Wasteland of the not-so-free...
DavidLibraryFan (Princeton)
While I'm supportive of Snyder's state stock market idea, this does not make me a blind follower of the guy. A federal investigation needs to a occur of sorts. If Snyder is proven to be guilty of anything then he ought go to jail.

I'm trying my best Republican's to support a two party system, but stuff like this is making it more likely that'll vote Democrat. The other parties are jokes. Sooner or later we'll be a one-party system because of your own idiocies.
n1176m (Omaha, NE)
At this moment, the State of Kansas is writing a letter thanking Michigan for allowing the State to be removed from the #1 spot in the "Most Poorly Run State" list.
TabbyCat (Great Lakes)
Wait, I thought Wisconsin had that spot.
Trakker (Maryland)
I suspect there are guidelines on testing water quality when switching water sources, and it would include not only testing the quality of the water going into the system, but extensive testing of water from a random sample of customer's taps, extending over a period of months, especially given lead's dangerous properties (since lead pipes are still present in most water systems).

This is so common-sense that I wonder if this was not done because it would have cost a lot of money and then the politicians couldn't brag about the many millions of dollars they saved the taxpayers?
DJMacKenzie (East Lansing, MI)
Governor Snyder threw state employees under the bus saying that they "did not get the message" regarding his administration's values. Well, I was there and the problem was that they got the message. From the get go, his appointments slashed and burned community and family supports, demonized the poor, and called anyone who presented reasoned disagreement a "naysayer". His focus on business neglected the most vulnerable and ignored civil rights. I think (but do not know) that he cares about those things but not enough to see them. The message of his administration was shut up and get out of the way. As in all tragedies, nothing good can come from that message.
LNielsen (RTP)
Having myself personally read thru all 247 pages of these publicized e-mails I am just sickened by the repetitive back and forth backslapping, the smarmy political double-talk made a thousands times darker when I read the specific note where a citizen shows up at one of Flint's public health clinics complaining of suspected water poisoning symptoms and the public health 'nurse' who examines them belittles the complaint and sends them home. Goes to show just how far and how low these 'financial emergency managers' and their hired guns were willing to stoop for the benefit of themselves and their sainted governor Synder at the expense of basic safety and public health 101. This is 2016, not 1900. Time for Snyder and his wrecking crew to be led out of the building. Now.
Charles Kahlenberg (Richland, WA)
Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" come true...sadly and tragically...
As a HS English teacher who often includes the play in my college-level course in rhetoric, I have no choice but to include it in this year's curriculum.
idimalink (usa)
Not only should the governor, his family, his staff, and their families be forced to drink Flint River water, it should be bottled and sold as Republican Water at the Republican national convention later this year, along with that licorice flavored water West Virginians like so much.
Mark Schaffer (Las Vegas)
Since the initial decisions regarding this were made by the governor in 2013 people should find it unacceptable that he hasn't released those emails and correspondence in full and that he has clumsily redacted some of the emails he HAS released. Since when are state emails classified and by who?
A decent governor would resign and the GOP would front the money to fix all the infrastructure problems in Flint along with a trust fund to care for all those harmed going forward.
But the Republicans are the party of bad government and sociopathic behavior.
Aurel (RI)
I am a supporter of President Obama. But throughout his tenure as president I have felt his seeming inability to reach out to people in need of emotional support. This water contamination matter has the potential for sever damage to the local population. Why didn't he fly over to Flint to give his support when he was practically next door in Detroit. It's non-actions like this that bother me about his leadership.
Jack (Illinois)
The situation in Flint is red hot. A president to show up when there is so much going on would accomplish nothing. It may even complicate matters more than necessary and possibly do less than good.

I question your support for Obama. It sounds like another FoxNews wolf in Dem's sheep clothing.
Marie (NYC)
You nailed him, Jack. Bravo.
Dryly 41 (<br/>)
First, the Republican governor should be impeached.

If what was done here was not criminal it should be. It is hard not to believe that criminal statutes with respect to poisoning should not be brought.
Cee (NYC)
First, "receivership" results in no local representation and a centralized entity focused on "efficiency".

Then, the water system is changed for the first time in fifty years to save "$1 million per year". (Since Detroit was providing the water, from a Michigan perspective, isn't that just changing pockets?). How was the contractor selected? Was there any testing done?

Complaints about odor and color pile up and are routinely dismissed.

Commercial interest complain of corroding parts and take extra steps to improve the water supply.

Bacterial infections, followed by chemical infections and test results of elevated lead...

The State's test, after "pre-flushing", finds troubling amount of substances but still the typical response is to ignore the facts and dismiss the complaints and discredit the messenger.

Synder should resign immediately but more importantly, criminal charges should be filed.
dee (Lexington, VA)
People of Flint, people everywhere, vote.

Vote, Vote, Vote, Vote. In every election from council and supervisor, to governor, to state and national representatives. The powers that be who ignore poor communities and favor the wealthy, count on you not going to the polls.

No vote, no voice. We have elections coming up this November. Adopt a "hear me roar" attitude to this kind of criminal governance. The same voter turn out that got Obama elected, is idling on the sidelines. It's time to shift into high gear. As Bernie says, "It's time for a revolution."
Jay (Florida)
In every state where Republican majorities rule the legislature and a Republican governor is in power, the first items on the agenda of those legislatures is to gut the regulatory agencies that protect the public. Michigan and Flint are no exception and we should not be surprised. Every thing that the Republicans do is to enforce cost saving measures regardless of the impact upon the health and safety of citizens. First Republicans cut funding, then staff and finally they repeal or gut legislative acts that protect the public. Or as in the case of Flint the administrators simply ignore their responsibility and assert that the complaints are ill founded political complaints that do not warrant real inspection. It goes on in Flint and across the nation. This is Ronald Reagan's "Starve the Beast" strategy to dismantle government and compel self-reliance while preserving the wealth of the elite Republicans, the 1%.
We also know that Michigan schools are in grave financial straits. The state legislature is failing to fund the schools even though buildings are falling apart and students are failing to get an education. Busting unions too is part of the strategy used by Reagan (remember the air traffic controllers). That too adds to the inability of state administrative agencies to maintain high-quality employees as wages and benefits fall.
Lead poisoning is more than just a health problem. It affects intellectual development and the future of children. Republicans don't care.
Naples (Avalon CA)
So the maxim goes, Jay: When you put profit before people the only possible outcome is death.
Anne (Mass)
Writing as a middle-aged, white, middle class female, I question how we Americans can expect African-Americans NOT to believe that there is a conspiracy against their racial group, when the human right of access to clean drinking water was denied, and their concerns mocked. I read about this issue last fall, and cannot believe it took months for the government to take it seriously. I also heard a Flint pediatrician speak on NPR, and her words were so diplomatic and guarded, that I assume that she had been bullied and threatened by Michigan officials for her proactive response to the lead poisoning, and she must be very careful in her words less she be "punished" for trying to protect innocent children. That local control over water was lost to a government appointee also shows a breakdown of democratic institutions. I thought that Republicans were all for local control, but apparently they think it only applies if they believe the local people are worthy of democracy. This massive fail demonstrates why we must respect our democratic institutions.
Depressed Citizen (Madison WI)
People (stupid Republicans) seem to forget or deny history...that public health measures such as the EPA, social security, medicare, etc. arose from real, serious problems such as air & water pollution, rising poverty and inability to get health insurance among the elderly, etc. They want to deregulate, defund, etc. the solutions that were put in place to fix these major societal problems. God help us all if their stranglehold on us increases.
Kate (New York)
Stepping over a dollar to pick up a penny, the Republican way.
Wally Wolf (Texas)
It's difficult to watch something like this happen in our country. We are close to becoming a third-world country. There is no excuse for the neglect and arrogance that have been demonstrated against the citizens of Flint. If people don't wake up and stop voting against their own best interests and allowing the republican politicians to keep siphoning from the poor and middle class to give to the rich, it's going to be too late to save them or our country.
Tom (California)
The Koch Brothers funded the campaign of this heartless lying Republican clown posing as a Governor... And this easily avoidable tragedy is the result.

Send these serial polluters half the bill to clean up their mess... Send the other half to all who were dumb enough to vote for a criminally negligent clown to run their state.
jack47 (nyc)
Gov. Snyder won't release his personal email on the matter? Let me guess, the contents when exposed to the light are brown and stink.
Carol Jackson (Michigan)
What you don't seem to be stating plainly enough is that "local officials" had no power. Flint was run by a succession of emergency managers (most of whom chose to resign after no more than a year on the job) from 2011-15. The way Snyder chose to structure the role of EM was to give the EM total control -- the hapless elected officials were just rubber stamping what the EMs decided. It's important to note that the voters of MI passed a referendum abolishing EMs, but Snyder & the Republican legislature overrode that by strengthening the power of the EMs. This article does not stress enough how much a role Snyder paid in eviscerating local control, & his appointees stated confusion over why people might blame the state that so ruthlessly & fully took over what had been decisions of local government is as maddening as it is self-serving.
In the run up to the war on Iraq, Colin Powell warned George Bush of the "Pottery Barn rule:" you break it, you own it. This applies to EMs -- in MI, their job is to take over the city government -- both the executive & legislative roles. So if something's broken on their watch, THEY are responsible. The governor appoints EMs (although they report to the state treasurer after appointment), & they serve at the governor's pleasure. So yes, the state is 100% responsible for this, & all this blathering about essentially Potemkin city council votes is a smokescreen. Btw, most EMs leave cities in debt; the system works poorly.
Peter (Metro Boston)
I nominate Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the courageous Flint pediatrician who single-handedly took on the task of testing that city's children for lead levels and forced this confrontation with the state authorities. Dr. Hanna-Attisha deserves greater recognition from the Times than just a one-line reference to a "concerned pediatrician." She is a national hero.
Raindrop (<br/>)
She is amazing, and her research was not only downplayed but made fun of.
Demeralda (Flint, MI)
I'd also like to see her get a MacArthur Genius grant.
LaylaS (Chicago, IL)
It's a good thing Snyder's not running for president. This scandal might be too big EVEN for Republicans to overlook, maybe. It's certainly bigger than a mere traffic jam on the GWB. Christie just made people late for work or school or for hospital treatment. Snyder actually poisoned a whole city. That's pretty big, isn't it?

But it's probably going to be blamed on Obama or Hillary, anyway.
Dennis Deitch (Seaville, NJ)
There is a line in this story where it states that a "state expert" declared the water safe for use. Has anyone named this expert? I would consider the identity of this inept political tool crucial so the public knows this person cannot be trusted to offer sound advice on pretty much anything.
Miriam (Raleigh)
In North Carolina our ALEC govenor (there is no more GOP), gutted our Department of the environment and put half-baked "experts" and donors place to make sure Duke Power got a pass. Almost worked and still might. Oh and they forbid anyone from using the term or concept of climate change in planning for the coast.
mj (<br/>)
What really surprises me, knowing Governor Snyder's shenanigans well, is that he didn't seize upon the opportunity to hand a fat private service contract over to one of his cronies as soon as the problem cropped up. He dropped the ball. He could have funneled cash from the State coffers into the private pockets of his buddies for decades after causing the problem that needed to be fixed in the first place.

This man is reprehensible. Prison is too good for him.
KB (Michigan)
Michigan Governor's office and legislature are EXEMPT from Freedom of Information act. How convenient! Michigan is one of two states that exempt electronic communication from the Governor's office and legislature. All the three branches of Michigan Government, the governorship, legislature and the judiciary are run by the GOP. Michigan GOP has ensured that its corrupt practices are hidden from the public's eyes. It is ironical that the state Attorney General will be "investigating" the Flint Water Crisis.
We have become a third world state within the US. This is what happens when moneyed interests buy the best politicians, and use the underhanded methods perfected by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass laws favoring the special interests.
Voters' rights have been trampled. This nefarious Governor recently signed two bills.
1. Raised the amount a political action committee can donate to pay for expenses incurred in any statewide campaign, from $68,000 to $136,000.
2. Prevent publicly funded entities like school boards to allow open discussion of issues related to bonds.

The voters in Michigan are reaping the harvest of lies they sowed in electing the corrupt politicians. Wonder what would it take to wake them up from their self induced stupor.
drspock (New York)
This is what austerity programs look like. It doesn't matter whether it's Flint, Detroit, Greece or Portugal. The primary objective is that bond holders get paid, even if it means that basic municipal services, like clean water or education get sacrificed.

This story isn't about good people or bad people in government. It's about a class of people who have decided to serve the interests of Wall Street rather than the people who put them in office to serve the public. The imperative to to cut taxes across the board benefiting the wealthy over working people and starve government to do so is part of this mind set.

And of course this story is about race and class. Everyone knows that if this had been the parents of Dearborn (Ford's corporate headquarters) making these complaints the response from the state would have been different.

This is what legal corruption looks like. Billionaires are supporting politicians to get policies that support their interests, not the interests of the general public. But now these austerity measures have gone so far that the most basic of municipal services can no longer be provided by government. Look at Camden New Jersey or the Philadelphia public schools, look at the slow death of New York City public housing where one month they can afford light bulbs and the next they can't.

The question is what are we going to do about it?
Phil (Philadelphia)
Dearborn is a Democratic stronghold, a working class city with a huge proportion of Arab immigrants. It's not exactly the kind of place upstate Republicans care about either.
Dottie (Texas)
While you can spend your way to poverty,
you cannot save your way to success.
The GOP has spent the whole country into poverty -- a poverty of education, a poverty of infrastructure, a poverty of jobs that make something, a poverty of financial security. They have brought us nothing but war, fear, uncertainty and doubt. Why are they still warming their seats in the Legislature, the Governors' Mansions and state Legislatures?
DMatthew (San Diego)
The sad answer is, "next to nothing"

Governor Snyder and perhaps a few others will be "sacrificed," forced to resign and accept better paying jobs in some "conservative think tank" there is an oxymoron...but they will be replaced by individuals that will act in the same egregious, negligent manner or worse.

This tragedy should be a call to comprehensively review all of our infrastructure and public services.

We will do nothing.....some of us know why.

We are a country ruled by obfuscation and spin.
JohnB (New York, N.Y.)
My heart goes out to the victims of this crime.

Even sadder: When the victims will be given assistance, they'll be sneered at as "takers."
Barrbara (Los Angeles)
There is no excuse for what happened in Flint. The water utility violated all safe water standards in using the Flint River water. All officials should be fired and prosecuted including the governor. Republicans are against big government - but only the policies not in step with their financial priorities. Red states lack many basic services have increasing drug problems from a destitute population. They blame Washington yet it is the state that are the root of these problems.
Tom (California)
What will the Republican Congress do to address the Republican-Poisoned People in Flint?

Answer: Roll back their healthcare, suppress their votes, and gut the Clean Air and Water Act.
elshifman (Michigan)
For all those of you rightly bemoaning the obvious Republican, conservative, illiberal, ALEC, dehumanizing POV, politics of Republicans in Michigan, please notice the linkage of this situation with that of neighboring Wisconsin and its Gov Walker's actions, and those of Christie in NJ, and the spill and ensuing pollution in West Virginia and North Carolina, etc. etc. And try to remember it in November and pass the word in October for a rising-up. There's no other rational peaceful way. Otherwise....
Joe (Grand Haven, Mich)
This catastrophe has been going on for almost two years in my state, and I remember looking at the photos of the brownish water the people in Flint were expected to drink. The official response was to have a photo-op showing state and local officials smiling while drinking the water, saying it was perfectly safe. This would never have happened in East Grand Rapids or Bloomfield Hills, two of the most educated wealthy communities in the country. If anyone still doubts the effects of socio-economic inequality, they are blind to reality. I used to have a favorable opinion of Governor Snyder, but now I hope that he and everyone responsible for poisoning thousands of children goes to jail.
Cab (New York, NY)
This is an inevitable result of letting businessmen run government like a business. Money matters more than people.

When times are tough a businessman will let people go. This is an example of a government laying its own citizens off.
Bean Counter 076 (SWOhio)
An unfortunate chain of events, with competing government agencies snubbing each other, waiting out the ending blame game.....taxpayers, voters, who needs them, our elected officials answer to a higher being, their egos, and whom ever is paying for their next election...

Has anyone in Michigan considered any issues with the daily wear and tear of the states' infrastructure?

I guess not....

Cutting services to pay for the next tax cut is simply wrong....
Shenonymous (PA)
What is holding up fixing the water system? Just get it done! Done NOW! And get rid of the politicians and businesses who had any part in the pollution of drinking water!
CG (Greenfield, MA)
This is what happens when you have government who doesn't respect the environment and tries to balance the budget on the backs and health of citizens. American can't afford Republicans!
John LeBaron (MA)
OK, OK, all very well. I get it. Poisoned babies in Flint. Whole lives ruined forever. School district overwhelmed for decades. Parents devastated by grief and rage. Alll this and more from the democracy-destroying tactic of Republican-inspired state receivership.

But ask yourselves. Is Flint free from the ravages of Sharia law? Are Syrian refegees effectively barred? Are whatever jobs still exist threatened by illegal Mexican immigrants? Has the Flint economy been destroyed by its teachers, trash collectors and road repair crews?

If you think the answers to these questions are "yes," then give Rick Snyder or his GOP successor another term in office.
Rudolf (New York)
So Obama was in Michigan to celebrate the American Dream of driving beautiful, way too large, gasoline slobbering vehicles made with the blood of poisoned workers in Flint. This was his chance to explain the connection. He didn't.
Stacy (Manhattan)
This should be a wake up call to the nation - a clarion call that couldn't be clearer.

The rationale for Governor Synder's decision to appoint emergency managers in Flint and other struggling, black-majority cities was a textbook case of Republican ideology. They would override the supposedly dysfunctional local government with a wonderful dose of business acumen.

Better services would be delivered at lower cost.

Well, it hasn't worked out that way.

Better services weren't delivered. Dangerously horrible services were delivered. And these horrible services were delivered at great cost to everyone from the local community to the federal taxpayer. Cleaning up this mess will cost tens of millions of dollars. And there is no "cleaning up the mess" when it comes to the ruined lives.

The magical formula of "treat government like a business" and "pay less, get more" is a con. It is a con in Kansas, and a con in Louisiana, and a con in Michigan. It is a con when Trump says he'll bring you a giant wall for free. It is a con when Ryan says he'll provide Social Security for less.

These people bank their whole approach on the assumption that voters are suckers. And unfortunately, we've proved them right, time and time again. Let's wake up, folks! Smell the stinky brown water!
Mike Mencotti (Farmington Hills, MI)
Earlier this month, Snyder was concerned that he needed "to regain the trust of the people of Flint." Ha! He would regain my trust in him if he and his family drank Flint water for a few months.

These emergency managers seem to have a downside every time one is appointed. In this case, they celebrate cutting corners to save $1 million by looking the other way after the water supply is contaminated. The residents -- who had nothing to do with causing the debt-- suffer. In Detroit, the school buildings are falling apart. The children suffer, and when the teachers protest, they get slapped with a court injunction to get their butts back to work.

But, hey, they are getting out of debt. Isn't that what America is all about these days? Life, liberty and a balanced budget. Disgusting!
Erich (VT)
Good moral Republicans everywhere realize that poor black people didn't even have nice things like running water, poisoned or not a long time ago, and wish poor people everywhere would be more grateful! Good Republicans realize that poor black people deserve poisoned drinking water because it makes them, you know, less likely to vote and stuff.

Also, led poisoning leads to lots of other great kinds of brain impairment that reinforces nice moral Republican's deeply held view that black people are just dumb and violent, so it's a huge win for everyone!

Studies have tied the massive reduction in violent crime in this country since the 70s to the removal of led from gas. Indeed, it is the only correlation yet demonstrated for this phenomenon. Republicans can only do so much to help by implementing the harshest criminal penalties possible for the kinds of drugs poor black people can afford, destroying families and entire communities by locking up virtually all the young men.

Yes, good moral Republicans everywhere see this as a gift.
jack47 (nyc)
Michigan State University Medical School switched to bottled water after their equipment was damaged. GM switched after their machinery was corroded.
And the patients? And the workers?

Did the penny never drop that these outsized players in Flint's civic and commercial life had a responsibility, not secondary but primary, to advocate for the human beings of Flint?

I hope this is an oversight in the article. I hope that the hospital and the byword for corporate responsibility raced to the microphones or the halls of power to speak out and stop the poisoning of children.

What's good for GM is still good for America not least clean water.

And as for business governor's like Gov. Rick Snyder who poison children, prison is barely good enough for him and only if his stay is a long one.
Toutes (Toutesville)
The officials who oversaw this mess are criminals. Throw the books at them.
Joel (Michigan)
When reading the responses of state officials to complaints about the water in Flint, a line from Liam Neeson's character in "Taken" comes to mind; "Your arrogance offends me."
RB (Maine)
This country's primary asset is its people. If we fail at providing our people with something as basic, and important, as potable water, then what does that say about US as a nation?
Smotri (New York, New York)
The people need to pay attention before they vote - that is, if they can even bother to vote - for the likes of Snyder and his ilk. This is something that seems to be a disappearing skill amongst the electorate, these days. The result, we reap what we sow.
hen3ry (New York)
That the only people who count are the rich white people. Especially white males. The rest of us, not being rich white males don't count. Think about it. Look at who is controlling the agenda in DC. Look at the Koch Brothers and you have the billionaire answer.
Norman Rogers (Connecticut)
Gee, what are the political stripes of all these government types who wrote these emails? I'll bet nearly all of them are Democrats (cuz they're from urban Michigan). But the NYT intends this to be a hit piece on the recently elected Republican governer. Why are we not surprised?
bigsister (NYC)
Once again the Feds have to come to the rescue to clean up another Republican mess.
WR (Midtown)
This unfortunately means that business-people are most likely ill suited for public service, they seem time and time again to be way out of their league. There is much much more then balancing the books entailed in leading a state government.

It seems that this particular buffoon Snyder, has managed to destroy Michigan. It is a shame that people have placed their trust in another greedy businessman.
Patricia (Edmonton)
Dig Deeper. What testing was done months after the switch when GM found the water corroded parts and a hospital saw the water damaged instruments? What were the results? Who did the testing and who received the results? What reason was given for not acting on the results? Who are the actors in this "testing", "results", "ramifications" nightmare. Who ordered the preflushing prior to compliance sampling?
Beth (Vermont)
The federal government should, as part of a declared state of emergency, remove the governor, just as the governor previously removed the elected mayor. Then a grand jury should be called to decide whether he should be charged with attempted genocide, and perhaps referred to the World Court.
RS (Massachusetts)
Rick Snyder and his state-appointed manager treated Flint in the same way that George W. Bush and his envoy Paul Bremer treated occupied Iraq; neither represented the people they governed nor cared while the people suffered and damage went unchecked. Shame on them.
violetsmart (New Mexico)
Some have commented here that President Obama should have gone to Flynt. Actually, he was wise not to do so because if he had gone, he would really have been accused of grandstanding and making the issue political. Think, folks, think!
jackslater54 (Buffalo NY)
The e-mails that were released only cover the time AFTER the water problem started to become an issue.
I'd like to see the e-mails leading up to the decision to "cheap out" on the citizens of Flint, change their water source and scrimp on chemicals necessary to prevent lead contamination.
I'd like to know more about the communication between the governor and his appointed "city manager" - most importantly - who approved this and why?
What's done is done - now we can only clean up the mess in Flint.
There are still city managers reporting directly to the governor in other MI cities - let's find out what they are doing to insure the safety of their citizens too - and institute a system that makes them accountable to more than just the governor.
momb (Bloomington)
Just sit down, shut up, and let us poison your kids. It's the Republican creed.
George Pequignot (St Petersburg, FL)
So, the politicians in Michigan hide a health threat, the politicians in Chicago hide incriminating video proof of a murder and they are from different political parties, profess different political views, and very self-serving rather than serving the people they are supposed to protect. These people are disgusting.
Steven Greseth (Louisville, Kentucky)
I'm a registered professional engineer with 20 years of leading experience in water and wastewater treatment in the U.S. and Europe. I worked for 11 years for the firm that designed the Waterworks Park Water Treatment plant for the City of Detroit, and worked for 2 years as a consultant engineer of record for one of America's top water utilities, The Louisville Water Company. The situation in Flint is very troubling and complicated. Meaning the water chemistry is complicated because the distribution system stretches for hundreds of miles and is variable. When a city switches water sources, concerning color problems can develop. The best engineering firms have been fired in other American cities because the city administration needed a scape goat because they did not listen to the advice of their engineering team. The EPA has enacted the lead and copper rule to protect communities from situation that happened in Flint. The river water is filtered and disinfected at the water treatment plant. The problem though is in the interaction between the water pH and lead fittings in the distribution system. One of the simple methods the Louisville Water Company used was a proactive water main replacement and rehabilitation program to remove all sections of main that have leaded joints. That way if the water chemistry gets out of tolerance like what appears to have happened in Flint, the actual risk of lead contamination is dramatically reduced. It worked really well.
Sasha Love (Austin TX)
I'm also seeing little reported of the 10 people who have died so far of Legionnaire's Disease from bacterial contamination coming from the Flint water supply.

This environmental crime and gross negligence is the result of the 30 years of GOP double-talk and balderdash, by stating over and over and putting into practice -- 'government is the problem', 'less environmental regulation is better', and 'paying low taxes is good.'

As for paying $100 to $200 a month to the water utility, when you live 50 miles away from one of the largest fresh water supply in the world (Lake Huron), I call this gross corruption.

What you end up with is this heinous crime against humanity right in our own backyard.
Joel Parkes (Los Angeles, CA)
If the government officials involved in this aren't criminally charged, tried, and put in jail if found guilty, then our entire justice system is simply a joke.

It is now common knowledge that oligarchs run things for their own benefit, but mass poisoning of children is something new.

Where is the FBI? Where is the Attorney General?

This simply must not stand.
Phil Levitt (West Palm Beach, FL)
Not all government is the problem. It seems that government by Republicans is the problem. The rejection of science, a conservative trope, may have played a role here as the governor's minions rejected the lead levels in water and babies as mere "data". This was criminal negligence. Of course the governor is sorry. His political career is hanging by a thread. He'll have more difficulty oppressing his constituents from here on in. Don't tell me he actually cares about the people. It's too late for that.
Catherine Fitzpatrick (New York)
What's missing from all reports on this crisis, which indeed seems serious and indeed was denied for a time, from all indications, is an actual reporting of the level of lead in the water and in the children. Instead, there's a facile claim that any amount is too much, and any amount can cause damage. That may be, but it's not exactly a matter of confirmed science and debated. The CBC gives exact numbers for what levels are considered "too high". So reporters need to get that information and tell us what it is. They also need to report the scientific facts -- and debates involving studies -- over what level constitutes likelihood of damage -- and whether in fact this is irreversible. There also seems to be some disagreement on how much the damage can be reversed. There's also the implication that poisoning people with lead is some kind of deliberate act, and there's no evidence of that. Venal leaders tried to save a buck at the public expense; that's not deliberately poisoning children. Let's get the facts on these exact levels, and aggregates of what is being found in children in Flint.
Patrick Stevens (Mn)
Is Flint's water problem another example of America's exceptionalism? An unknown number of Flint's children face decades of health issues because the government failed them. Governor Snyder glibly says that he will take responsibility for Flint's water crisis; that he is sorry, but what does that mean?
Will he see his children suffer lower IQ's and changed personalities? Will he have his grand children suffer long term disease because of his inaction? I think not. I think he will push some money at the problem and walk away. What is impeachment for? When do voters call it dereliction of duty and throw the bums out?
" did a local university."
That wouldn't be the nationally recognized, intellectually pure, ethically driven, highly advanced health care innovator, and Big Ten football hero called the University of Michigan - Flint Campus. Now would it?
That is wholly unacceptable UM President Mark Schissel.
memosyne (Maine)
Republican governance is on display in Michigan. Especially the denial of science.
halloween4 (ar.)
Some are playing the race card, isn't the mayor of Flint Black, she knew what was going on didn't she. if not she needs to be replaced, why has she Not said anything or if she did why wait so long.
Stacy (Manhattan)
The mayor you've seen was just elected - on a platform of fixing this problem.

But it was the state-imposed emergency manager who was in charge. The local government was largely divested of its power under Synder's take-over.
maryp (ann arbor)
She was just recently elected.
Great Lakes State (Michigan)
There are a number of states here in the USA that would give their eye teeth to have access to three major bodies of fresh water that could supply citizens needs. Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are huge bodies of accessible water, yet the SOM forces the citizens of Flint to drink putrid water. Snyder has to go, NOW.
Thomas Renner (Staten Island, NY)
This really is no surprise. The GOP cares nothing about the average person let alone poor people of color. Their goal is to cut, cut, cut every government service, here is a example you can not double talk and blame on the President. I think it funny that, as usual (think of Chris Christie hugging the President) when things go really wrong they turn to the Federal Government and the person they dislike the most.
TravelingProfessor (Great Barrington, MA)
Leadership comes from the top down "President Obama, who met with Ms. Weaver on Tuesday and declined to visit Flint while attending the annual car show in Detroit,.."
Laurette LaLIberte (Athens, Greece)
By law, you are required to sign a statement if you buy or rent a house built before a certain year, acknowleddging the possibility, however slight, of the presence of lead-based paint, because it can cause severe and irreversible health and developmental problems. And that is for residue from PAINT apllied more than 40 years ago. I remember when certain brands opf mini-blinds were recalled because they had a powerdery residue that contained traces of lead. This is water, pumped into homes for drinking, cooking, and bathing, NOW, in 2016. Disgusting beyond words!!!!! Ever single person involved in this scheme and the resulting coverup should be in prison for crimes against humanity! (though that still won't change things for those affected by this; the final cost will be well beyond the relative pocket-change that was saved by poisoning people)
Kenneth McGraw (Ann Arbor, MI)
The Tea Party has been "running Michigan like a business" for the past several years. These are the results.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
What is tortious in the Republican governor Snyder's conduct is his blatant disregard and criminal negligence in the face of a city's water contamination crisis. And to treat the crisis like it was a nuisance that would simply dry up and go away is criminal. We have impeached presidents for less than this. Why aren't the citizens of Michigan calling for his resignation and prosecution?
Laurette LaLIberte (Athens, Greece)
This infuriates me, not just as a Michigander, but as a human being. Why are efforts to cut costs always at our expense? Why are the real concerns of citizens always brushed off and ignored? Now the clean up will cost billions, not to mention the irreversable damage to public health, especially children. No amount of apologies that came too late and crocodile tears or half-hearted promises are going to fix this or undo the damage! Governor, resign now!!
G.B. III (Kailua, HI)
Governor Snyder's career is toast - or certainly should be. The larger question is whether this catastrophic debacle can inform a broader national collective discussion and judgement about what constitutes minimally acceptable governance. President Obama's well intentioned and earnest efforts notwithstanding, we seem to have long since passed the "good governance" mile marker. The substance of the current Republican discussion blissfully ignores any difficult or realistic questions of serious governance altogether. One cannot help but feel we are all headed for trials as devastating as those experienced by our fellow citizens of Flint.
John Townsend (Mexico)
The Flint fiasco is not only a festering social tragedy, it's a canary-in-the-mine warning of the consequences of widespread reckless irresponsible governance in GOP-dominated state legislatures across the land where there is:

- wholesale gerrymandering of voting districts to ensure safe seats
- deliberate suppression of voting rights and voting registration
- the thwarting of sensible gun laws at every turn
- a straight up frontal assault on women's rights to healthcare
- a concerted effort to ensure science and knowledge have no place in public discourse
- a deliberate move to handicap the CDC, the EPA and other regulatory bodies so corporations can poison or even kill with impunity
- a curtailment in spending on public education and an expansion in tax credits for elite private schools
dan kloke (Abq, NM)
A perhaps more specific example of the functional disconnects at work in the Michigan Governor's office, this article, published Sept 29, 2015, refers to a distribution of 1,500 water filters that took place on Sept 1 of that year:

FLINT, MI -- Gov. Rick Snyder quietly helped deliver 1,500 water filters to Flint last month -- even as state officials gave assurances that the city's tap water was safe and meeting all regulatory standards.

Dave Murray, a spokesman for Snyder, confirmed that the filters, distributed by the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, came from a "corporate donor that does not wish to be recognized but cares deeply about the community."

The donor "worked with the governor to provide 1,500 faucet filters to be distributed to city homes," Murray said in an email.

The state's involvement in the filter distribution was never publicized and pastors told The Flint Journal-MLive Tuesday, Sept. 29, that they were asked by staffers in the governor's office not to speak about it.
Don P. (New Hampshire)
Flint, Michigan...Government arrogance and inaction at its worse. A compelling case not to trust government.

Government at all levels has a primary function and obligation to protect its residents/citizens and deliver quality basic services. Safe drinking water is one of those basic essential services whether is delivered by public or private utilities.

Flint and its state appointed officials chose dollars over safety and then when confronted with evidence circled their wagons and blamed and damned the very residents and professionals who were trying to help.

Flint and its water crisis is the very reason residents and citizens don't trust government and make it harder to get public and political support to properly fund the operation and maintenance of critical services and infrastructure systems.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
Uh....state appointed officials only.
J Burkett (Austin, TX)
Proof yet again "Compassionate Conservative" is an oxymoron.
Tom Paine (Charleston, SC)
Flint is a disaster; maybe the best solution is to bulldoze level the "city" to save its residents. More than its current predicament is the fact of Flint - representative of forever Democratic rule and mismanagement; just like Detroit.

Democrats and the UAW led Flint, Detroit and a lot of other Michigan and midwest cities (see Chicago) to the current state of hopelessness. Why is Flint a "black city? Where did all the high paying jobs go? Why is Flint run by the state? Apparently the blame is on the GOP governor for the very present Flint mess. But after the water issue is fixed Flint will still remain what it is: just another run down by Democrat past rule poor excuse for a city with no future and no hope after the Hope and Change president departs office.
Almighty Dollar (Michigan)
So wrong on almost all levels, but hey who care about facts? It was the Republican emergency manager, not "years of Democratic rule". All old cities in America have these same pipe issues and the fix is simple, 3,000 a month for the additives to stop the corrosion, thereby stopping the lead from leeching into the water.

Question, is the fact that only 67% of South Carolina's 8th graders are literate indicative of "years of Republican rule"?
Trakker (Maryland)
Yes, Democrats at the national level are partly to blame for the loss of well-paying union jobs - all over the country, not just Michigan, but the plight of those left behind in cities like Flint cannot be blamed on the Democrats.

When the good jobs disappeared, those who could afford it left too. Those left behind were generally poor, unskilled, and people of color who, as most know, are the last hired when white unskilled workers are also applying. Sorry, that's a proven fact. Also a proven fact is that people of color don't trust Republicans (with good reason e.g. Flint's water) so they vote for Democrats who must then run a city with a small tax base and the needs of a high poverty population.

I know, I fled a city like Flint. I've watched in sadness as it crumbled, just like Flint.
stevenz (auckland)
Belittling and mocking are the republican equivalent of public service and considered debate. Nothing new here.
Lazlo (Tallahassee, FL)
" and, even as the scientific testing was hinting at a larger problem, were reluctant to acknowledge it."

That's it in a nutshell: Republicans don't do science, they only do ideology and theology.
sumit (New Jersey)
NYT has placed a key bit of evidence at the end.
"Mr. Del Toral had written: “Given the very high lead levels found at one home and the preflushing happening in Flint, I’m worried that the whole town may have much higher lead levels than the compliance results indicated, since they are using preflushing ahead of their compliance sampling.”

SO: State authorities knew that water at the consumer end was contaminated AND were actively diluting samples before testing in order to conceal that. Sounds like an indictable offense.
Garth (NYC)
Del Toral works for the EPA (a federal agency). What did the EPA do with his report? Bury it according to what has been indicated. Of course this fact does not go along with NYT crusade to make this only a GOP issue so they leave out what happened to Del Toral report. Disgusting as GOP and Dems are both responsible here despite what their media lapdogs admit.
Karen (Ithaca)
Like Volkswagen and all the other cheaters. Just make the results the way we want them and nobody will question us. Talk about an epidemic.
Aimee (<br/>)
Reading the recommendations by "experts" on the water crisis in Flint, the people were told to preflush their pipes five minutes before using them. It was assumed by most people in Flint's government - based on reports the governor released - that this was a localized problem based on the lead pipes in people's homes (installed decades ago) and lead pipes being used from Flint's system. Many of these homes were in areas where population had declined and water sat in the pipes longer.
Jim in Tucson (Tucson)
Mention lead to a pediatrician and you'll get an instant response; the stuff has been a known toxin for decades, even in the smallest dosages. Mention it to a Republican politician, particularly one hell-bent on saving money, and the response is, "but look at the money we'll save."

So much for Public Safety.
Miriam (Raleigh)
I have the solution for alll the money that is going to be needed to address this (there is no "fix" for the children that were posioned). First ALEC tap its donors and perhaps the beneficint Koch brothers for the billions needed to utterly replace the infrastructure - it would be chump change to them. There is a direct line to ALEC\GOPTP\Koch with their incessent mantra of state rights, destroy federeal oversight of anything and everything. In short this is what the social darwinism on the part of the GOPTP and the Ann Rynd devotees have in mind for this country.
Lou (Norway, MI)
As a Michigan resident and a school superintendent here, I can tell you that the attitude of leadership from our capitol in Lansing is tragically reflected in the Flint water crisis.

Snyder and his supporters see government as an evil to be dismantled, destroyed, or made dysfunctional. The managers Snyder sends in to identified schools and cities serve to find ways to move public services to private providers. This is done under the false notion that private firms will always do better than public entities. In most every case this has proved false.

Detroit Public Schools is another sad example of the goals and tragic ineffectiveness of Snyder's leadership. That those who suffer most at the hands of Snyder's minions are largely poor, minority residents who did not vote for or fund Republican candidates is no accident either. I have absolutely no doubt that had something similar happened in wealthy Oakland County, a solution would have been forthcoming nearly immediately.
chaspack (Red Bank, nj)
The state of Michigan and even some parents have recently cited blood tests to show that lead may not be a widespread problem for the children of Flint. However, the Flint pediatrician who exposed this problem says that while lead is quickly removed from the blood after exposure, the damage remains in key organs and bones. Only blood marrow tests can reveal this degree of damage.
Gary (Alexander)
Governing is hard enough for rational people. But a political party that counters science with ideology, represents a real danger to it's constituents; whether it's the water we drink, the air we breath, or the food we eat. This isn't just about Flint...
Peter Zenger (N.Y.C.)
At last! Those who claim we are an "exceptional" nation, finally something to hang their hat on.

What other modern, industrialized nation could have lead-poisoned it own people, in a city with a population over one hundred thousand, and then tried to cover it up?

The only thing that could be worse, would be to find out that it really isn't exceptional, and the same thing has been happening all over America. Is our federal government checking? Or this is this one of those "States Rights" issues that the "Exceptionalists" are so hot on?
Terry McKenna (Dover, N.J.)
This article show how the business style of operating, while it allows decisions to be made quickly, also can result in genuine harm. Many heads should roll.

By the way, remember after 9/11 when Christie Whitman, opting for the same business style, told us that it was safe to re-enter the area around the fallen WTC. Another instance of business style. In the sphere of public interest, we need something else.
Sherr29 (New Jersey)
Of course Gov. Snyder is a Republican and of course contaminated water was good enough for poor black people to drink in order to save the city "millions" of dollars. My bet is that the water in Grosse Pointe isn't contaminated because it's flowing to wealthy white people.
Just one more reason that no one should ever elect a Republican to any office, anywhere as they will always find the way to do the wrong thing in order to "save" money. Just despicable action on the part of the governor and his minions all of whom should be arrested, tried and jailed for endangering the health of thousands of people.
J. R. Freed (West Palm Beach)
As a Democrat, I'm surprised by all the negative comments concerning Republican Governor Snyder. Not that he's blameless, of course - but let's all acknowledge that the actual cause of these problems in Flint and Detroit (and the rest of the country) is directly due to Bill Clinton and NAFTA.
A vote for Hillary will be a vote for more of the same.
Go Bernie!
veh (metro detroit)
GM stopped using the water because of its corrosive properties. Even independent of the lead issue, how was that alone not a big deal? Who wants to be drinking corrosive water? How do you think that water affects washing machines and dishwashers?

And on a simple level: Lake Huron is beautiful, deep, clear and blue even on a cloudy day. The Flint River is a river, muddy and brown. Where would YOU rather see your water be sourced from?
OldBoatMan (Rochester, MN)
Flint's water crisis is a symptom of the crisis infecting America. Flint's deteriorating lead pipes should have been replaced 50 years ago. Take a long look around. You'll see infrastructure - roads, highway bridges, railroad bridges, electric power systems, water systems, sewage systems, schools - the backbone of society. Every fours years the Society of Civil Engineers issues an American Infrastructure Report Card ( The most recent report card (2013) reflects a grade of D+ and that grade is indeed generous. The report card estimates that over $3 trillion should be invested between 2013 and 2020 to maintain America's infrastructure. The report card includes the following statement on drinking water infrastructure.

"At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced, the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare."

Surely the richest, most powerful nation on Earth can afford to address its deteriorating backbone.
Dave G (Melbourne FL)
As an engineer involved with water and wastewater treatment, I am disgusted by this totally preventable disaster. I encourage all Flint residents to come together as a voting bloc and tell the governor and his cohorts what you think in November. Politicians might be able to ignore protests, but 50-60 thousand votes can definitely change the outcome of many elections.
Chingghis T (Ithaca, NY)
This is part of a larger story of how Republicans have so unfortunately become the party of know nothings, who reject scientific facts in favor of ideological prejudices and the interests of the powerful.
Les (Bethesda, MD)
Why is it that Republicans are so obsessed with personal responsibility, but when a governor allows an entire city to be poisoned, he thinks he deserves to keep his job?
Steve Projan (<br/>)
This is, quite simply, criminal malfeasance. Willful neglect doesn't go far enough. And this wasn't "penny wise, pound foolish" it is "penny stupid, pound stupider". Smallish government on the cheap, no thanks. Snyder's cronies have proven their callousness and rejected out of hand legitimate concerns before , during the after the switch of water supply for purely ideological and political reasons, the facts be damned.
r mackinnnon (concord ma)
This is horrible and shocking, but should come as no surprise, when regulations have somehow become synonymous with waste, the free market is billed as a solver of all problems, and the "serve and protect" mission and model for our government is replaced with a craven "bottom line" approach that undermines health and safety.
Carsafrica (California)
A total disgrace beyond comprehension.GM saw fit to stop using the water because it was corroding its cars in production but Snyder did not see fit to stop at the earliest stage the corrosive effect on the children of Flint.
He now wants the Federal Government to bail him out financially ,yes the very Government he and other Republicans want to stay out of State affairs.
As a federal tax payer living in California I should not have to pay for his incompetence.
No the people who should pay are the high income earners in Michigan , they voted him in and should pay with an immediate surcharge on their income
Naples (Avalon CA)
Reagan's phrase "I'm from the government and I'm here to help"—the great popularity of which, at this point, is hard to understand—has effectively been changed by his revolution to: "I'm from the (Koch-funded) government, and I'm here to hurt."

Seizing control of an elected government simply cannot be constitutional. And that is first of all. But then to attempt to blame the government you yourself deposed is mendacity of a breathtakingly high order. Blaming the EPA is ironic mendacity—when whole sections of our society work their propaganda to rid all regulation of capitalism which simply creates predation. Agencies like the EPA, health, education and also the security of foreign embassies are deliberately underfunded and attacked, then blamed for a job they are prevented from doing. If the EPA had acted with a heavy hand, the entire clown car would be screaming for its demise.
merc (east amherst, ny)
This is another example of how a white community, feeling superior intellectually, dismisses a black community as if they were children and not to be taken seriously. Racial prejudice, plain and simple.

And what else can the governor and his cohorts do to protect themselves?
They have to come forward, tail between their legs, and feign how sorry they are. They have to do this in case of a lawsuit(s). There were peoples' lives altered forever mind you, children are being diagnosed having a lead content racing through their bodies at levels way past what is considered safe.

This is racism at its worst.
Sten Deadio (Ohio)
Republicans-The party of personal responsibility with the perfect record of never taking any
Surviving (Atlanta)
Completely and totally despicable, immoral and unethical to ignore such a terrible health hazard. To know that there are people who knowingly let children be poisoned.... what has our American culture come to when people in power sneer at those just trying to protect their children and communities. GM made the switch to protect AUTO PARTS; hospitals made the switch to protect INSTRUMENTS, but God almighty, the officials couldn't make the switch to protect PEOPLE.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Think Ayn Rand. and the fact that the GOPTP (including Ryan by the way) views it as some sort of gospel according Koch.
Counce Hancock (Avon, CT)
Several weeks ago, after one of your articles, I said to my wife, "you know, Michigan is almost a "failed state". How unfortunately right I may have been.
mevjecha (NYC)
How Gov. Snyder still has his job is beyond me. I hope the people of Flint rise up and get this guy evicted. That's the lesson he needs to learn.
anthony weishar (Fairview Park, OH)
Lesson to other cities. If you have problems with the basic needs in life, don't be poor. Politicians will ignore you.
The governor and others should be charged with manslaughter and criminal neglect.
herje (ft. lauderdale)
this is an example of what proper "regulations" protect us from and an example of what would happen if we allow republicans to get rid of "government regulations".

clean air and clean water are in danger for all of us if you vote for any republicans!
NYChap (Chappaqua)
This entire situation was set up when Detroit cancelled the 50 year old contract, without warning, that supplied had been supplying Flint with clean water knowing full well, no pun intended, that it would cause a big problem. Ask Detroit why they saw fit to create that situation.
I know the government in Flint reacted poorly, but I still would like to know why Detroit set them up in such a bad position deliberately.
Stacy (Manhattan)
The decision in Detroit to raise the price of water was made under the emergency manager there (to raise more revenue for struggling Detroit), also appointed by Governor Snyder. Not exactly a well-coordinated plan.
Real Iowan (Clear Lake, Iowa)
Lead paint was banned decades ago, and for good reason. It contains a horrific kind of poison, and brings it into homes where children and others ingest it by breathing paint dust or when children sometimes bite on window sills or furniture or toys. Now, the consequences of lead in water systems are also well known. As municipal officials responsible for safe water they should have known this. Now, they are in for major lead abatement law suits that will get to the bottom of how this very foreseeable outcome came about.
Josh (Grand Rapids, MI)
Typical that everyone only blames the Republican Governor. Since this is now political, let's all remember that Flint has been run exclusively by democrats for generations. It was a Dem mayor who approved a Dem City Council deal to pull from the Flint River, and approved by a Dem Emergency Financial Manager.

Stop with the politics and start with the solutions.
David Mussington (Washington DC)
The dem mayor was not the decider - a republican appointee - the emergency manager - was.

Please try to keep up.
Miriam (Raleigh)
Now that is hysterical. Who exactly appointed the Emergency Manager that superceded the city? Who did that guy report too? The governor. Why do you think he was democrat, hmmm?
Marie (NYC)
Stop with the politics... Don't you mean stop blaming a Republican governor regardless of what he did?
MDV (Connecticut)
This is a catastrophe. I would like to know the plan to help the thousands of children who have been poisoned by this water. I was disappointed that President Obama did not visit Flint when he was only 70 miles away looking at automobiles.
Cayce (Atlanta)
And people say we don't have a race problem in this country. The mayor is right - this would never have happened in a rich (or otherwise) white community.

Our inability to deal with our widespread racial prejudices will ultimately be our downfall.
jeankathleen (home)
The state officials didn't bother to hide their contempt for Flint. The fact these emails are so readily available shows they didn't think poisoning Flint was a crime. Will someone please stand up for justice and have Gov. Snyder say "guilty" instead of "sorry"?
george eliot (annapolis, md)
Methinks the white oligarchy of Michigan, being unable to put the "untermenschen" in concentration camps, figured the Flint River would do the trick.
SLLaster (Kansas)
Consistently unmentioned is how Snyder's emergency manager in Benton Harbor, MI did so well by Congressman Fred Upton, Whirlpool scion, his friends & family. I don't believe anyone was poisoned or died though.
Jeremy Fortner (NYC)
I think it's great that the NY Times and the rest of the media have finally discovered what Rachel Maddow has been reporting on for months, now.


Still glad the story finally got traction.
Sheldon Bunin (Jackson Heights, NY)
Governor Snyder and his henchmen have shown an absolute contempt for the poor and the black, their lives, their health and to their right to democratic government. ‘Those people” cannot govern themselves and “we know better!” Well they did not know better and poisoned everyone in Flint who drank the water as a result of their ignorance and mean spirited cost cutting which has ruined the lives of the children of Flint and made that city uninhabitable.

Snyder has apologized saying that federal, state and local government had failed them. Yes government is to blame when in fact government is the only solution and Snyder and his henchman alone are to blame. Hillary and Bernie have called for his resignation, as do very many in Michigan. However, for crimes of this magnitude resignation and going to work in a right wing think tank does not deliver justice or present a believable apology. Nor can the public wring a sincere apology from a man who has perpetrated what amounts of a war crime on his own people.

A resignation will not balance the scales of justice but a suicide would. No politician can advocate suicide or should, but those with signs in Michigan certainly can. He should commit suicide by drinking untreated water from Flint river which he poisoned and gave to 8,000 children to drink. Every day Snyder is in office she should drink a big pitcher of Flint water. That would be justice and suicide.
Fred (Kansas)
The current Republican Governor in Michigan like most Governors is more of Libertarim who dislikes state workers and does not listen to them, because it would cost money if he did. As a result he waited until their was crisis and costs spiraled.
Kosovo (Louisville, KY)
Arrest the Governor and the emergency managers, the state treasurer and everyone involved in the decision making process for criminal negligence. Put them in jail!
Charlie (Upstate NY)
In his apology, the governor blamed "federal, state, and local officials." But the federal government was not responsible for providing polluted water and ignoring the consequences--in fact, the EPA warned the state that they had a problem they had not acknowledged. The responsibility for the mess rests squarely on the governor, since he had appointed state overseers to Flint. I suspect the President passed on going to Flint in order to underscore the point that it was the governor's problem, not his.
David Mussington (Washington DC)
I am sure that Snyder thinks the federal government should have helped him to conceal the true nature of the situation from the American people.

Many criminals blame their victims for resisting.
If this is the Government for the people , by the people, then the federal government can only fix this by cleaning up the water and demanding the resignation immediately of the Governor and the officials who did not do their jobs. Enforce the laws and prosecute.