Right to Work Governor Arrested
Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been arrested for his role in the Flint water crisis
In 2014, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder decided to switch Flint, Michigan’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. This plan was supposed to save money, but instead caused corrosion in the city’s pipes and delivered water contaminated with lead to the city.
For years since then, the residents of the city have suffered. Many can’t use water from their faucets and relied on bottled water for years. It also caused a Legionnaires outbreak that killed 12 and infected another 80 people. It wasn’t until 2019 that the water appears to have safe levels of lead, although many Flint residents are rightfully skeptical about listening to state leaders on this issue.
That makes what happened on Wednesday all the more important. On Wednesday, the State Attorney General charged former Governor Rick Snyder with willful neglect of duty for the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease.
While Snyder was Governor, he instituted a plan to put City Managers in charge of cities that were in fiscal emergencies. The City Managers had almost complete control over the government, so they could unilaterally slash costs with the Governor's support. They could reopen labor contracts and fire employees. In Flint, one cost-saving measure was to move the city’s water supply to the Flint River, a move that Governor Snyder agreed with and signed off on.
Almost immediately residents began complaining about the odor of their water and how it looked discolored. However, Snyder’s government told them there was nothing wrong with that water. Yet, VICE has found that Snyder was warned about the dangers of using the Flint River more than a year before the switch was made. They also found evidence that Snyder knew about the outbreak as early as October 2014, just six months after the water switch, but failed to act until 16 months later.
The Flint River water ended up being contaminated with not only Legionnaires Disease but also lead, which can lead to a number of long-term cognitive challenges and health issues for kids. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality told city officials not to worry and that the pipes didn’t need any anti-corrosion control measures.
Union members might remember Rick Snyder, who left office in 2018, as the Governor who made Michigan Right to Work in 2012.
If convicted, Snyder could face one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Snyder has pleaded not guilty and was released on a $10,000 bond. His next court day will be Tuesday.