First up, we're joined by Connor Coyne, Flint resident, father and novelist, to discuss his detailed article at Vox on "what the national media got wrong" in their coverage of the city's disastrous and continuing water crisis.
Coyne, who is a stay-at-home dad, says that while his two young daughters appear to be fine at the moment, "Nothing is definitive. And, in a way, that is part of what makes this such a scary experience for all of us. We don't know now, and really will not know for quite some time, how extensive the damage is."
"Flint now has hundreds, possibly thousands, of kids who are going to be dealing with the consequences of this crisis for the rest of their lives," he tells me. "They could live to be 90 years old, they could move anywhere in the world, they're going to be dealing with lead poisoning their entire lives." He adds: "If there is one organization I'd like to give a boost to it's FlintKids.org," a local organization collecting funds to help with medical support that the children of Flint are going to need for a very long time.
Coyne then goes on to explain how this disaster came about, thanks directly to Michigan's appalling, undemocratic "Emergency Manager" system that allows Governor Rick Snyder (R), to unilaterally appoint anyone of his choosing to completely replace local democratically-elected officials, including the Mayor and the entire City Council, in any city he likes, for whatever reason he determines.
It was, in fact, one of Snyder's hand-selected Emergency Managers who switched the city's water supply from the clean Lake Huron to the corrosive Flint River without bothering to put the appropriate filtering system first. As he notes at Vox, it's "inconceivable" that this problem would have occurred or, at least, gone this horribly wrong, "had Flint residents been able to threaten incumbents at the ballot box." But with the Emergency Manager system, there is no such accountability.
"Flint may be the most dramatic example of that system having gone wrong," he tells me. "But I think about all of the cities that have been under Emergency Managers — Pontiac, Detroit (also Highland Park, Benton Harbor and elsewhere) — it hasn't really gone right anywhere. Emergency Management doesn't work ethically, but it also doesn't work practically. It just flat out does not work."
Coyne explains how voter turnout has been getting "worse and worse and worse since" Flint's Emergency Manager was installed and, of course, why shouldn't it? Elected officials are stripped of all power under Snyder's tyrannical system. We also discuss how voters, state-wide, voted to do away with the Emergency Manager law in a statewide referendum back in 2012, only to see it immediately re-implemented by state Republicans in an almost identical form — though with an added provision that legally bars the law from repeal by voter referendum.
Where are the "Tea Partiers" and "Patriot Movement" and "Militiamen" now? And how can it be that even the Washington Post, who reported on this story in December after well over a year of poisonous drinking and cooking and bathing water in Flint, didn't even bother to use the words "Emergency Manager" in their coverage? Unfortunately, WaPo wasn't alone either, as we discuss in our enlightening, if disturbing, interview today.
Also on today's show: The GOP establishment continues to warm up to Donald Trump (because, in no small part, they despise Ted Cruz even more); New polling numbers out of Iowa show fairly remarkable surges for both Trump and Bernie Sanders (though the poll's specific type of sampling may be key in both cases here); Vets blast Sarah Palin for blaming her son's domestic violence arrest and PTSD on President Obama; And Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report on the hottest year ever recorded on Planet Earth and much more…
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