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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan - still sending water bills?

Flint Michigan residents already pay high water bills. Now, although their water is lead poisoned, the city's residents are paying for water they can't use! (Average Flint water bill is $140 a month!)

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Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder apologized for the water crisis, but he didn't offer reparations, while bills for contaminated water are being sent to residents.

Michigan's Republican Governor Snyder apologized about the Flint River water crisis, during his "state of the state" address to the legislature. Nevertheless, Michigan's water company continues to serve invoices to Flint's city residents! In other words, the Flint residents, who are the victims of the water pollution crises and thereby are lead poisoned by the state's austerity policy to save money by changing the city's source of public water, are still paying for their polluted water

It seems like "common sense 101" to me! If Governor Rick Snyder sincrely wants Flint's citizens to acept his long overdue apology for the water crises, then he should declare a moratorium on sending water bills to the victims of this emergency.

Governor Synder shouldn've fixed this emergency over a year ago. That's when the issue was reveled by public health and enviornmental water analysis reports, when the lead contamination leaked from Flint River transport pipes was discovered.

Meanwhile, CNN reports how the Flint residents say, "We've lost public trust".

Instead of fixing the Flint River water problem, Governor Snyder has apologized, but the water bills continue to flow:

Detroit Free Press reports:
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan issued a sweeping apology on Tuesday to the residents of Flint for a contaminated water supply. (In his "State of the State" speech) Snyder pledged to promptly release his emails about the (water crisis) issue, and laid out more specifics than had previously been known about the state’s handling of the matter. Nevertheless, Snyder had long boasted about his ability to solve fiscal municipal problems. Yet, in his apology, he said, "....I let you down.  I'm sorry...You deserve better..."

Flint's lead tainted water crises started because the city was looking to cut the cost of municipal services. Yet, the result of the lead poinoning in the water, as a result of installing water pipes without protecting them from corrosion, will result in class action law suits. In fact, in the long run, the cost of reparations resulting from this $5 million bogus savings are likely to be far more expensive than the projected savings on the failed water pipes transport system. Certainly, it doesn't take a law degree to figure out the accumulated cost of this lead poisioning catastrophe.

Okay, the "lead tainted water is over the dam" so to speak.  In other words, the damage to the children and the citizens is pervasive. Along with his apology, the Governor should have offered some reconciliation other than saying he would "fix" the problem.  At the least, he should have declared the Flint residents to be "water bill free" for the rest of their lives.  It's the very least he could have done, but he didn't. Sadly, Governor Snyder's apology didn't offer measurable or quantiative reparations.

FLINT – Residents of the impoverished City of Flint pay some of the highest water bills in Michigan. And those bills have not stopped coming or been reduced since state and local officials acknowledged the water is unsafe to drink without filtering.

That's wrong, says a growing chorus of residents and advocates.

They say the State of Michigan — which has acknowledged significant responsibilityfor the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water, which began in April 2014 and continues to pose a health threat today — should be picking up some or all of the tab.

Given the potential health and infrastructure implications of the Flint drinking water crisis, the water bill issue could be small change in the big picture. But it's galling for residents who get big invoices for water they now know they can't drink, and that — in some cases — they and their families consumed before knowing it wasn't safe. Lead can cause permanent brain damage in children.

Leon El-Alamin, executive director of the M.A.D.E. Institute in Flint, a nonprofit organization that has been distributing clean water, said a reduction of at least 50% in water bills is in order "until we get this thing resolved."

The Flint Journal reported in 2014 that the average water and sewer bill in Flint was about $140 a month. High charges from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department were cited as the primary reason the Flint City Council voted 7-1 in 2013 to split with Detroit in favor of a new pipeline being built to Lake Huron, the Karegnondi Water Authority.

Former Mayor Dayne Walling was quoted at the time of the vote as saying the city planned to keep getting its drinking water from Detroit until the new pipeline was built. But records show the decision to use the Flint River as an interim source was made while the city was under the control of state-appointed emergency manager Edward Kurtz and that the actual switch occurred while Flint was governed by his successor as emergency manager, Darnell Earley.

Earley is now emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools.

State officials have acknowledged that lead got into the drinking water because the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to require the addition of corrosion-control chemicals to the Flint River water, which caused lead to leach into the water from pipes and fixtures. Flint switched back to Detroit for its water in October, but a potential health hazard continues because of damage to the water-distribution infrastructure.

City water officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

Gov. Rick Snyder, asked about the billing issue at a Monday news conference in Flint, wouldn't comment on the issue. "I'm not going to speculate" about Flint water billing issues, he said.

Flint resident Amado Saldana Sr. said he has had his water shut off twice but scraped together hundreds of dollars to get the service reconnected both times. He said he feels a refund is in order.

"I would pay the bill, and it wasn't even 30 days after I paid it that I got another shut-off notice in the mail," said Saldana, 62, a retired GM worker who lives north of downtown with his two dogs.

Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Michigan, said Flint residents shouldn't be charged anything for drinking water for the entire time the Flint River was used as a source. That's particularly true, she said, because records obtained by the ACLU show state DEQ officials may have manipulated water-testing data to show the water was safe to drink when it wasn't.

"All arrears should be cleared," Moss said Monday. "Nobody should have to pay for any of this." Asked who should pick up the cost of the water, Moss said: "That's something the city is going to have to work out with the state."

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said his city water bill for him, his wife and infant child is about $150 a month, Most residents there can't afford such charges, even for drinkable water, he said.

Ananich said he doesn't want to suggest people shouldn't pay their water bills, but since the state was at fault, the state should look at addressing the issue.

Val Washington, a Flint attorney who since 2014 has been in litigation with the city over unlawful billings and water shut-offs, said the city for years used water bills to subsidize city operations, instead of keeping the money in a separate fund used for the water system.

Records show a Genesee County Circuit Court judge in August ordered the city to remove unlawful charges, and Washington said the city has been found in contempt, in part because it hasn't made the required reductions to water charges.

On the water bills, compensation for health problems due to lead poisoning and fixing damaged city infrastructure, "the people who made the problem need to come in and fix it," Washington said.

Contact Paul Egan:517-372-8660, pegan@freepress.com or on Twitter @paulegan4

Maine Writer summary- Flint residents who want to pay their water bills, should consider rolling their cash payments into lead pipes and delivering them in person. Contaminated and cash filled pipes should be delivered to the water administration's management, whereby, in order for them to get the payments, the corrosion will obviously infect their access to the money.

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