While I've been busy with entertainment news, there are two stories that I've been ignoring, the North American International Auto Show and the Flint water crisis. In the case of the former, which I'm usually all over every year, the awards shows proved to be shinier objects. In the case of the latter, I've been watching the story, but just couldn't find much to say until it got national attention, much like the Courser-Gamrat scandal. Yesterday, something happened to finally direct my attention to both: President Obama visited Detroit.
President Barack Obama was in Detroit today to visit the auto show.PBS has more: Obama tours auto show, pledges help for Flint’s water crisis.
DETROIT — President Barack Obama hailed the revival of the nation’s auto industry on Wednesday while acknowledging the water crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan, saying the detection of high levels of lead serve as a reminder that the government can’t shortchange basic services.I could see the beginnings of the Flint water crisis in Detroit Regional Water Authority talks in the news, when I wrote about Detroit's contracts with Flint and Genesee County expiring in 2014 so they would stop using Detroit water. I thought it was premature for Flint to leave the system then, as the new system wouldn't be finshed, but I had no idea the results would be so disastrous. Sometimes, I'm not pessimistic enough!
Speaking to auto workers after taking in the North American International Auto Show, Obama said he would be beside himself if his children’s health were put at risk. He said he met with Flint’s mayor the day before and promised federal help.
“I told her we are going to have her back and all the people of Flint’s back as they work their way through this terrible tragedy,” he said.
Obama spoke at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, the national headquarters of the joint relationship between the United Auto Workers and General Motors. His visit took place as longstanding problems with the drinking water in Flint have begun to capture the nation’s attention.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked Obama on Wednesday to reconsider his denial of a federal disaster declaration to address the drinking water crisis, saying its severity poses an “imminent and long-term threat” to residents. Obama declared an emergency — qualifying the city for $5 million — but determined that it is not a disaster based on the legal requirement that such additional relief is intended for natural events, fires, floods or explosions.
In his appeal letter, Snyder called it a “narrow reading” and likened the crisis to a flood, “given that qualities within the water, over a long term, flood and damaged the city’s infrastructure in ways that were not immediately or easily detectable.” He also said the state and city cannot meet all the needs of Flint residents. He again painted a bleak picture of the city and said the “economic injury” from the crisis is significant.