Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others likely to be charged for roles in Flint Water Crisis

Two years ago, I observed that "The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in this case, but I expect they will indeed grind exceedingly fine" regarding the Flint Water Crisis. When Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy dismissed the criminal cases without prejudice, which means they could be refiled and the revised cases would be stronger, I added "If anything, they're grinding even slower than I expected, but also much finer." When prosecutors explained their action to residents of Flint in a town hall, I worried that "they can only grind so slowly because of the statute of limitations, which imposes a deadline nine months from now." That deadline passed almost a year ago, but either I was mistaken about the time limit or the statute of limitations didn't apply to all possible charges, because WNEM TV5 in Flint reported yesterday AP: Charges against Gov. Snyder, others likely.

Former Gov. Rick Snyder and other former state officials are likely to be charged in the Flint water probe, according to the Associated Press.
WNEM was vague about the likely defendants beyond former Governor Rick Snyder and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, but WXYZ's Former Governor Snyder to face criminal charges in connection to Flint water crisis was not, naming names and showing faces.

Former Governor Rick Snyder and several other state officials will be facing criminal charges in connection with the Flint water crisis.
In addition to Snyder and Lyon, the reported defendants include Eden Wells, former chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Darnell Earley, former Emergency Manager for the City of Flint and Detroit Public Schools, and Gerald Ambrose, also a former Emergency Manager for the City of Flint. All of them were previously charged in the previous round of prosecutions brought by former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, about whose motives I expressed cynicism.
Schuette is a Republican, but he doesn't owe Snyder much in the way of favors. He's going to thread (sic — "tread" fits the metaphor better, but it's a common mixing of metaphors) a narrow path. On the one hand, he's going to use this to make enough of a show that he'll help himself look "independent" for a general election. He might even harm Snyder as long as it also hurts the current Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, helping himself in the primary. On the other hand, he doesn't want to hurt Snyder so badly that it makes him look disloyal to the GOP. He especially does not want to force Snyder from office. The last thing he wants is Calley as an incumbent Governor to run against in a primary. That will be quite a balancing act!
I think Schuette did exactly what I described in this case, which was to look tough and independent while not going directly after Snyder. It worked for him, as he became the Republican nominee, not Calley.
While the residents of Flint were worried that the likely defendants would never be brought to justice when the previous charges were dismissed, it looks like they have not escaped being "ground exceedingly fine," not yet.

The person who caught my attention most was Jarrod Agen, Snyder's former Chief of Staff, Vice President Mike Pence's former communications director, acting chief of staff, and deputy chief of staff, and current Vice President of Communications for Lockheed Martin. This scandal follows him to go beyond the state lines of Michigan to the highest levels of government and industry. When I write about the revolving door between industry and government, it's not just about Monsanto and regulation of the food supply.* It happens all throughout government, including defense and aerospace, as Agen's example demonstrates.

Follow over the jump for reactions to this news from activists and local politicians.

I begin with WNEM TV5 reporting Flint activist skeptical justice will be served as charges rumored in water crisis.

People in Flint want to see accountability, but many are skeptical and wonder what will happen next.
Melissa Mays wasn't alone in her frustration. WDIV/Click on Detroit interviewed other activists in Flint residents react to expected charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder who expressed similar sentiments.

I understand why residents of Flint are skeptical. After all, assistance has been slow coming and they need more help than the settlement will give them and more justice than prosecuting government officials will offer them.

I conclude with WNEM TV5's Flint mayor, former mayor speak out following news of water crisis charges.

To this day, the Flint community is still dealing with the effects of the water crisis. But some say the potential charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others brings them closer to achieving justice for Flint.
I hope the residents of Flint, including their present and former elected leaders, get the justice they deserve.

I might have more on this story Friday. Tomorrow, I'll probably cover soon to be ex-President Donald Trump's second impeachment. Stay tuned.

*Monsanto's brand became so toxic that Bayer killed the name when bought the company and absorbed its products and operations completely under AG Bayer. Good riddance!

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