In March 2014, the city of Flint began sourcing its water from the Flint River, a decision that would have ostensibly saved the city $5 million over two years, at the behest of state-appointed Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. Soon after the switch, residents began complaining of water with a rank smell and taste, and samples tested in coming months were found to contain fecal coliform bacteria, trihalomethanes (a disinfection product), and high levels of lead. The latter has been found in the bloodstreams of Flint’s children and infants.
Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency on December 15, but evidence indicates that officials in Snyder’s administration not only acknowledged the severity of crisis in Flint for months prior – they tried to cover it up.
Last September, the ACLU found that officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality manipulated lead tests from Flint so as not to attract the ire of the Environmental Protection Agency. And emails sent last July by Snyder’s Chief of Staff, Dennis Muchmore, revealed that the administration was aware of the severity of the crisis months before it decided to switch Flint’s water source back to Detroit.
Now, as Michigan state police go door-to-door delivering bottled water and water filters to Flint residents, people are calling for Snyder’s resignation and even his arrest.
As these demands intensify, it’s worth examining the network of out-of-state billionaires propping up Snyder. It includes not only far-right bogeyman David Koch, but prominent centrists and Democratic donors that fund work around environmental, public health, and education issues. In fact, some of these Snyder donors are major funders of organizations that have taken action around the Flint water crisis, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. Below is a list of notable donors, all of whom maxed out to Snyder’s 2014 campaign (a full list is here).
Given the scale of crisis and the nature of their philanthropic interests, will Snyder’s billionaire network continue to stand behind their guy in Michigan?
Continue reading The Flint water crisis and the billionaires behind Governor Rick Snyder