Saturday, June 17, 2017

Michigan AG Charges Officials with Manslaughter over Flint Crisis

You may recall that the residents of Flint, Michigan suffered greatly because of the decision by the Republican installed Emergency Manager and crew to switch from Detroit supplied water to local water in order to save money. This proved to be not only a bad idea but also disastrous as neither the local infrastructure nor the local water was safe. As a result, residents of one of Michigan's most storied cities had to attempt to live in a stereotypical Third World manner with regards to water. The water was not safe to drink. It wasn't safe to use for bathing or showering. It wasn't safe for cooking. It wasn't safe to use for ice. It wasn't safe to use for washing your hands. It wasn't safe to use for anything at all. Some people abandoned their homes. Others tried to make the best of a bad situation and reduced their exposure to the dirty water. Other people relied on bottled water for everything, a response that can get pretty expensive when you think about how much water you use every day

Elevated lead levels were discovered in children. The state leadership attempted to ignore the issue and/or insist that there was not a problem long after evidence showed that there was. Despite the fact that Steve Harvey thought that this issue was far enough in the past to joke about, it's not completely solved. It's not a joking matter. One person who doesn't see the humor involved is Michigan Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. AG Schuette has charged five state and local officials involved in the Flint debacle with involuntary manslaughter. Some of these people are still being praised by Governor Snyder for their role in the cleanup.

FLINT, MI - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged five water officials -- including a member of Gov. Rick Snyder's cabinet and a former emergency manager -- with manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act in during the Flint Water Crisis.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith and former district supervisor Stephen Busch will all face involuntary manslaughter charges related to their alleged failure to act in the Flint Water Crisis, Schuette announced in a release on Wednesday, June 14.

Involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine. The manslaughter charges are connected to the death of Robert Skidmore, who died Dec. 13, 2015, due to the area's Legionnaires' disease outbreak.


Some local people argue that this is mere political grandstanding by Schuette in preparation for a run for governor. That might could be. I can't say. And given the vagaries of our justice system and the fact that for a lot of racists, Flint's problems are no big deal, I have no idea what would occur if the people charged ever went to trial. So this is just a first step. But I am encouraged by the idea that whether you shoot someone in the face because you want their gym shoes or deliberately deprive them of clean water in order to save bucks and look good to your boss you are still morally and legally accountable for your actions. Murder is murder. Or manslaughter as the case may be. Obviously all of the individuals charged are innocent until proven guilty. But in the same way that RICO has been used to damage organized crime it's past time that malefactors in corporate or government arenas be held responsible for criminal actions. We'll see what happens here.
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