Energy

Flint Sheriff Blasts State Officials Handling Of Water Crisis — Calls Them ‘Dictators’

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Chris White Tech Reporter

A top Flint law official called the emergency managers involved in supervising the transition of the city’s water supply from the Detroit River to the Flint River “dictators” and accused them of taking control out of the hands of local citizens.

“They put dictators into Flint — they called them emergency managers,” Robert J. Pickell, a Genesee County sheriff whose district includes Flint, said in a documentary produced by Elite Daily about the Flint water crisis.

“One of the emergency managers signed off on the Flint River without all of the safeguards built in,” Pickell added. “Now they’re all pointing their fingers at each other, but the lesson has got to be that you cannot take government from the people.”

The city’s former mayor Dayne Walling, as well as Darnell Earley, one of the emergency managers appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to manage the transition, 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 MDEQ) and EPA,” Earley said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in testimony released by the committee.

He added, referring to the EPA and MDEQ: “We relied on the experts to verify that the water would not pose any threat to the community – the experts failed all of us.”

Pickell explained how the entire crisis — from beginning to end — was a product of man, not nature, suggesting the crisis was preventable had those in charge been more vigilant.

The documentary, produced and distributed by media outlet Elite Daily, hashes out the plight of many of Flint’s most downtrodden residents. It fleshes out a timeline of how Flint was once a thriving community during the 1960s, with car manufacturer GM employing more than 70 percent of the city’s residents.

Flint has fallen on hard times since that time, the documentary explains. The city is now known for having “food deserts,” or areas with little access to grocery stores, and “water deserts,” as well as having hundreds of abandoned, shelled out homes. It’s a city forgotten by the government, according to residents in the documentary.

Pickell managed to keep his position in 2014 after efforts to recall him failed.

The recall effort came after he signed an agreement to repay the county $15,000 of the more than $129,000 county officials said he was mistakenly given. Officials and local activists called the money transfer a “sweetheart deal,” during a hearing at the time of the incident.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged one of the city’s water department employees, as well as two middling MDEQ regulators, with felonies and misdemeanors for allowing people to continue drinking Flint’s lead-tainted water, The New York Times reported in April. One of the employees is charged with tampering with government documents.

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