A new poll shows more than 70 percent of Flint, Michigan citizens do not trust local and state government assurances that the city’s water supply is safe to drink.
The poll was conducted by Target Insyght/MIRS News and surveyed 400 Flint residents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The majority of Flint citizens, according to the poll, have a deep distrust of local, state, and federal government, at least as it regards to cleaning up the water crisis.
Only 11 percent of citizens said they trusted the government’s repeated assurances that the water was safe for everybody other than pregnant women and those below the age of six. The other 89 percent of people said they were either unsure or were distrustful.
Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, a liberal, managed to put their political differences aside on during a May 12 press conference telling citizens water was safe to drink.
Snyder, for his part, indicated he doesn’t understand why citizens are so distrustful of the government’s assurances, as both he and President Barack Obama drank the water to demonstrate its safety.
“I really did need a glass of water. This is not a stunt,” Obama said after taking a sip of water at a press conference in Flint. “If you’re using a filter, if you’re installing it, then Flint water at this point is drinkable.”
Snyder said the state would continue its marketing campaign showing Flint’s water is no longer dangerous to drink.
Nearly half of the respondents in the survey — 48 percent — said their home’s water supply had not been tested for lead at all, while 44 percent said theirs had. The number is startling, considering the amount of media the crisis has attracted.
It is not surprising that Flint residents don’t trust the government to properly fix the city’s lead-tainted water supply, as state, local officials, federal regulators have continued to bicker about who is at fault for the crisis.
The city’s former mayor Dayne Walling, as well as Darnell Earley, who was appointed the emergency manager by Snyder, directed much of the blame toward state regulators and federal officials during a House oversight committee hearing in March.
“Unthinkable errors all underscore that Flint’s crisis resulted from improper treatment of the water, an issue that fell squarely in the bailiwick of [the Michican Department of Environmental Quality] and EPA,” Earley said.
The all around incompetency has, no doubt, caused a serious decrease in credibility and trust in Flint.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette dolled out criminal charges against two state officials and a city employee in April. The charges were leveled against one Flint water department employee, as well as two mid-level Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regulators. They were charged with felonies and misdemeanors for allowing people to continue drinking Flint’s lead-tainted water, reports The New York Times. One of the employees is charged with tampering with government documents.
The finger-pointing has turned many local residents and community leaders against Flint and the state of Michigan; some have even begged Obama to come to their rescue, thinking the president has the ability to solve the city’s problems.
“It is time for the President to help bring this ugly mess to an end,” Flint activists Pastor Allen Overton and Rhea Suh wrote in a May editorial in prior to Obama’s visit to the area. “And that means taking the fix out of the hands of the folks who made the mistake to begin with and have moved far too slowly to resolve it.”
Suh and Overton added: “President Obama, we are glad you are coming to Flint. Now help fix it.”
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