Thursday, January 14, 2021

Justice For Flint

See, you can hold government officials accountable for their actions.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, The Associated Press has learned.

Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution told the AP on Tuesday that the attorney general’s office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The AP could not determine the nature of the charges against Snyder, former health department director Nick Lyon and others who were in his administration, including Rich Baird, a friend who was the governor’s key troubleshooter while in office.

Courtney Covington Watkins, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said only that investigators were “working diligently” and “will share more as soon as we’re in a position to do so.”

Snyder, a Republican who has been out of office for two years, was governor when state-appointed managers in Flint switched the city’s water to the Flint River in 2014 as a cost-saving step while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. The water, however, was not treated to reduce corrosion — a disastrous decision affirmed by state regulators that caused lead to leach from old pipes and spoil the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents.

Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon, released a blistering statement Tuesday, saying a criminal prosecution would be “outrageous.” He said state prosecutors have refused to “share information about these charges with us.”

“Rather than following the evidence to find the truth, the Office of Special Counsel appears to be targeting former Gov. Snyder in a political escapade,” Lennon said.

Snyder apologized for the catastrophe during his 2016 State of the State speech and said government at all levels had failed Flint.

Finally. Perhaps the lesson learned is that while it may take a long time, justice can come through.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Slammed Into Reverse

Hard-core Trumpists in Wayne County, Michigan, which is Detroit and the most heavily-Democratic part of the state, tried to subvert the election by refusing to certify the votes in that county. This intransigence lasted about as long as a Trump rally, and they reversed themselves.

Republican appointees on a key board in Michigan’s most populous county Tuesday night reversed their initial refusal to certify the vote tallies in the Detroit area, striking a last-minute compromise with Democrats that defused a political fight over the process to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The unexpected twist came after the four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on the day of the deadline for Michigan counties to certify the vote — a move President Trump celebrated on Twitter as “a beautiful thing.”

The Trump campaign has alleged irregularities in the vote count in the county seat of Detroit, accusations city officials have vigorously denied. Democrats accused GOP officials of seeking to disenfranchise voters in the majority-Black city of Detroit.

State Democrats say Trump has no hope of overturning Biden’s 148,000-vote lead.

For all their stalwart claims about standing tall with their Dear Leader, these guys can’t even keep up the sham for one news cycle. And a good thing, too.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Paying For Being Poisoned

If your city was piping poison into your house, should you pay for it?  The residents of Flint have been living with poisoned water for two years now and refusing to pay their water bills.  It makes sense; why pay for the privilege of being poisoned?  If anything, the city and state should be paying you.  But the the state of Michigan thinks differently: Pay up or move out.

While residents had been anticipating the shutoff notices, the tax lien letters showed up without any warning. Now, just over 8,000 residents who have received those notices have until February 28, 2018 to pay their bills in full to forestall the foreclosure process.

This could be a tough hurdle for many residents to clear. More than 40 percent of Flint’s population lives below the poverty line.

This has all the makings of a really bad melodrama; Gov. Snyder doesn’t have a mustache to twirl.

You would think the federal government would at least make an effort to help these people out, but with the current administration, I wouldn’t be surprised if they put the state up to this.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

Making A Mockery

I can usually come up with a joke about anything, but even I know that there are some things you don’t make fun of at the expense of people who are being poisoned.

The latest e-mails released  from Gov. Rick Snyder’s office on Thursday include playfully written messages about the quality of Flint’s drinking water and the challenge of confronting the issue.

One was sent from a DEQ district engineer who repeatedly told residents that drinking water from the Flint River is safe and downplayed suggestions otherwise from reporters and other officials.

“Thanks Richard…now off to physical therapy…perhaps mental therapy with all of these Flint calls….lol,” engineer Mike Prysby wrote to fellow DEQ official Richard Benzie on Sept. 18, 2014, five months after Flint switched to the Flint River as its drinking source. Prysby did not immediately respond Thursday to an e-mail requesting comment.

“I cannot provide the context for a message I did not compose, and for which I cannot recall the circumstances from more than 18 months ago,” Benzie wrote in an email responding to a request for comment.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Priorities in Michigan

Thousands of people can’t drink the water in Flint.  The schools in Detroit are falling apart.  The roads and bridges across the state are crumbling.  And yet the Michigan state senate decided to take urgent action on … what?

Michigan is one of the last states to keep an “anti-sodomy” law on the books, which criminalizes oral and anal sex — most states dropped theirs when the Supreme Court ruled that law like these are unconstitutional.

Michigan’s anti-sodomy law also bans bestiality, lumping together sex between consenting humans and humans who have sex with animals. State Republican Senator Rick Jones has introduced an updated animal cruelty law, SB-0219, which is part of a package of laws aimed at protecting animals from abuse. But it keeps intact the language that bans oral and anal sex between humans.

The bill reads, in part: “A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony” — that felony is punishable by 15 years in prison.

Jones says he kept the language intact because he thought that his fellow lawmakers and his constituents would have blocked the animal rights reforms if the bill addressed the rights of humans.

The bill has passed the Michigan senate.

Old Professor, stop reading now; you will not like the language I’m about to use.


Are you out of your fucking mind?  Seriously, are you fucking kidding me?  Your state is literally falling apart underneath your feet, children are being poisoned by the governor’s handiwork, and you’re worried about people getting or giving a blowjob?  Jesus H. Christ in a birchbark canoe.

And you, you geniuses of Grand Ledge, you actually elected this alleged human being to office?  What the fuck is wrong with you?  Are you that obsessed with other peoples’ private lives and behaviors that you allow this jackass to propose and shove this bill down the throat of the state senate?


Okay, OP, you can start reading again.

The pundits say that the American electorate is angry and fed up with the political system.  Well, it’s things like this, not Obamacare or even the juvenile behavior of the House of Representatives, that has people hating government.  It’s the panty-sniffers and the busybodies who preach smaller government unless it means leaving people to their own lives and women to control their own bodies that makes people want to stand up and throw up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fed Help For Flint


With chanting protesters demanding his resignation in the background, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Monday that he plans to ask for federal aid to deal with the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint.

At a press conference, Snyder was repeatedly questioned about the state’s admitted mishandling of the water emergency and whether he knew it was a major problem before he addressed it in a press conference in early October.

“I have a degree of responsibility,” he said.

No shit, Sherlock.

It’s always ironic — if not tragic — that all the Republicans who demand states’ rights and run for office on a platform of smaller government, get-the-feds-out, and local control, come running to Washington whenever something like a tornado or a hurricane overwhelms their state.  The first thing they do is demand federal assistance, and they usually do it while saying something along the lines of “Well, we pay all those taxes, we might as well get something out of it.”  That’s code for “Holy crap, we are in over our heads.”

What’s worse, though, is a governor who refuses to ask the federal government for help even though they’re in way over their heads and it either becomes glaringly clear that they’re up the creek or there is a mob of chanting citizens getting on CNN.  Gov. Snyder could have asked for federal help six months ago, but no, he had to be all for freedom and shit until he realized that the state of Michigan will be on the hook for fixing this problem for the rest of the decade, long after he’s logged into the history books as just another right-wing bean-counter who would rather suck up to his Tea Party flakes than actually govern like a grown-up.

It would be just desserts for him if the federal government took their own sweet time to think about sending help to Flint.  But that’s not how they roll; at least not under a Democratic administration.  That’s because they actually care about the people injured by the disaster, not by what political points they can score.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Poisoned Water

It is not news that the water in Flint, Michigan, has been poisoning the citizens for almost two years since the city was forced to stop buying water from Detroit and had to take it from the cesspool that is the Flint River.  The city has since switched back to getting its water from Detroit until the pipeline to Lake Huron is completed, but the damage is done:  lead is in the water from corrosion to the pipes and people are getting sick.

That’s not the worst part.  The state knew about the hazard to the people almost as soon as they started pumping water out of the river, but the unelected “emergency manager” of Flint — appointed by the governor to run the city during its financial crisis — did nothing about it.  Governor Rick Snyder (R) knew about it as well, but it wasn’t until last month that he took it seriously.  Jordan Sargent at Gawker:

Among the most crucial questions of all are: Who should have known that the water in the Flint River was unsafe, who did know, and when did they know? That includes Synder, the governor, who is now apologizing for the crisis while also attempting to distance himself from it at the same time. At a press conference on Thursday, Snyder essentially plead the fifth on what he or his office might have known and when, but incriminating documents regarding his administration’s knowledge of the crisis have already been uncovered.

On Wednesday, NBC News reported that researchers at Virginia Tech who have been studying lead levels in Flint’s water received, via a Freedom of Information Act request, an email sent by Snyder’s ex-chief of staff Dennis Muchmore in July of 2015 expressing his concern about Flint to a “top health official.” In the email, Muchmore wrote:

“I’m frustrated by the water issue in Flint. I really don’t think people are getting the benefit of the doubt. Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level studies they are receiving. These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we’re just not sympathizing with their plight).”

It would be hard to conjure a more damning piece of evidence than this. Snyder didn’t declare a state of emergency regarding the water crisis until this week, but at least five months ago his top deputy was complaining about the administration having “blown off” the residents of Flint who were “scared and worried about the health impacts” of the water they were being asked to drink.

What needle does the governor conceivably thread here? At best, Snyder can plead complete ignorance—of the decision to temporarily pull water from the Flint River, of the water’s toxicity, of its effect on its consumers, of what his administration may have known. Though that might be the first step to protecting himself legally, it would paint him as a deeply negligent governor, one whose special “emergency manager” program directly led to an environmental disaster and who had no connection with a chief of staff who was trying to stop that disaster from becoming even worse.

The other reality would be that Snyder knew that Flint’s drinking water was perilously toxic but just decided not to do anything about it. Flint ended up pulling from the Flint River for 18 months, starting April 2014 and ending in October 2015, when it once again began buying water from Detroit. In that period of time, the city and state, as directed by Snyder, could have taken any number of opportunities to disconnect Flint’s water supply from its poisoned river, but did not.

Estimates to replace the damaged pipes and water system in Flint are running into the billions of dollars, and the healthcare issues will be with the city and the citizens for years.  So who will pay for it?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pure Genius

You have to admit that this is very creative.

[Michigan] State Rep. Todd Courser planned the distribution of a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal his relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat, according to audio recordings obtained by The Detroit News.

Courser, a Lapeer Republican, said on one recording the email was designed to create “a complete smear campaign” of exaggerated, false claims about him and Gamrat so a public revelation about the legislators’ relationship would seem “mild by comparison.”

So he thought that being accused of having sex with a hustler would sound better than cheating on your wife with a colleague?

I would say that all depends on the hustler.

At any rate, can you imagine how much better off the state of Michigan would be if their legislators would put as much energy into their jobs as they did covering up their peccadilloes?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Putrid Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

On Wednesday, Republican majorities in both chambers approved a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies — including those who take taxpayer dollars to place children who are in the state’s custody — to discriminate in the practice of their work. They can deny services to families that violate the agency’s religious beliefs, including unmarried couples, same-sex couples and those who hold different religious beliefs.

The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care — entirely out of the equation.

Even worse, it sends Michigan in the exact wrong direction just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court could invalidate all legislative or constitutional provisions that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Should that happen, this statute, along with bigoted laws in states around the country, would fall like their predecessors — Jim Crow-era laws and regulations — after landmark rulings in the 1960s.

That’s lousy moral company for Michigan to keep. It’s lousy business company for Michigan to keep. And it’s especially shameful for a governor whose own preachings about tolerance and acceptance obviously mean less than appeasing his party’s religious conservatives.

The bills Gov. Rick Snyder signed Thursday spell nothing but trouble for the children in this state who are waiting, desperately, for the chance to join willing families.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Pure Michigan Madness

When did the Michigan legislature go completely medieval?

Michigan residents who buy health coverage in the private marketplace after Thursday will not have access to abortion coverage, even if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

On that day, a new state law goes into effect that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion services unless customers purchase separate add-ons – called riders – to their insurance plans ahead of time.

No insurance companies will be offering those riders to new customers in the private marketplace after Thursday, according to the state’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

This is insane.  I cannot fathom the mentality of people who believe this is anything but a horrific way of trying to prevent abortions.  It has nothing to do with “preserving life.”  It is all about control and the belief that women are incapable of making decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.

The people who passed this monstrosity and the governor who signed it into law can whine and carry on about how they are all so “pro-life,” but the kind of life they seem to favor is that of cruelty, shaming, and smug patriarchy couched in the sickly sweet stench of religious fervor and bumper-sticker answers.

Rape and incest are things the state needs to use every weapon to defend its citizens against, not turn its back and say “Sorry, you’re on your own.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Misogyny In Michigan

This is what happens when you turn a state over to seriously hateful people.

Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.

Supporters of the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the “rape insurance” initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time.

“This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) during debates. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens’ initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.”

The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure last year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he does not “believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”

But the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan was able to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures on a petition this year to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically becomes law now, even without Snyder’s approval.

This law will no doubt be challenged in court, but the people who voted for it need to be voted out of office, and the so-called “right-to-life” people need to find a nice quiet island in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay where they can scrape gull crap off the rocks for the rest of their lives.

See Sen. Whitmer’s testimony here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

More Minority Outreach

The Michigan GOP tries to do its best to reach out.

The Michigan Republican Party will launch its new African American Engagement Office in Detroit next month, aiming to improve on the mere two percent of the vote their presidential nominee received in the city last year. To headline this event, the party has enlisted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — though Paul has been an outspoken critic of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Huffington Post reported Friday that Paul will be the star of the December 6 kickoff event. His selection, the article notes, is odd given his record on civil rights and his staunch opposition to a federal bailout of Detroit.

While Paul has since denied ever making the comments, he has repeatedly criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964′s bans on whites-only lunch counters and discrimination by private employers. “The hard part of believing in freedom,” he has argued, is that it requires believing companies should be free to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation — even though he personally opposes such discrimination.

David Duke was already booked.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Michigan Medicaid

In a dramatic shift, the Michigan legislature voted by the narrowest of margins to provide healthcare insurance for the state’s poorest citizens.

The GOP-controlled chamber approved the bill by a 20-18 vote at about 8 p.m. Tuesday after being in session for more than eight hours, much of it spent in caucus debating how to get the expansion passed. Eight Republicans finally joined 12 Democrats to pass the bill.

The House, which had already passed an expansion bill, will soon take a concurring vote, and Gov. Rick Snyder’s office confirmed to TPM that the governor would sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.

Before the bill ultimately passed, the legislation was stuck in parliamentarian limbo for more than two hours.

The bill needed 20 votes out of the 38-member Senate to pass. On its first vote at about 5:30 p.m., it received 19 yea votes and 18 nay votes in a floor vote, but Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck, who is vehemently opposed to expansion, abstained from voting. If he had cast a nay vote, leaving a 19-19 tie, then Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley could have cast the tiebreaking vote to pass the bill, as Calley has pledged to do.

Michigan joins a number of states with Republican governors who all campaigned against Obamacare only to decide later that “well, it might not be such a bad thing after all.”  They are incurring the wrath of the Tea Party — it’s socialized medicine rammed down the throats of Real Muricans by that secret gay Muslim Kenyan usurper, and besides, what’s an emergency room for?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott came to the same conclusion as Gov. Snyder, but he couldn’t get the legislature to go along with the expansion.  What a shock.

Thursday, July 25, 2013