Our Opinion: Folly, cheapness cost Flint residents

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"Mistrust in government is at a heightened level," declared Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in reference to the deplorable drinking water situation in the city of Flint. He's right, and he is part of the reason why.

On Monday, the National Guard sent in more troops to hand out bottled water, filters and testing kits. On Saturday, President Obama declared a state of emergency, providing federal assistance after a long overdue request from the Republican governor.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The City Council, in a bid to save money, decided to draw drinking water from the Flint River in 2014, ending an agreement with Detroit to get it from Lake Huron. Emergency managers appointed by the governor rubber-stamped this and other bad decisions to keep spending down.

Chemicals were not used to prevent pipe corrosion and as a result, lead leached into the water, resulting in high lead levels, which can cause brain damage, in the blood of many children. State health and environmental officials belittled these findings until they were proven true beyond disputing.

In Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton asserted that Governor Snyder would have acted quickly if the water problem had emerged in a white suburban community rather than a largely black city. That is a likely factor, along with penny-wise, pound foolish policies that will cost the state a fortune in lawsuits, and the reluctance of a Republican governor to appeal to a Democratic president for help. Flint residents, primarily children, may long suffer because of the folly and indifference of their city and state government.


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