“This is very personal and it’s a sad day for me,” Congresswoman (D-MI) Brenda Lawrence told Gov. Rick Snyder at a House of Representatives congressional committee hearing in Washington on the Flint Water Crisis. “You stated that state officials did not tell you about these problems. You said it wasn’t until October of 2015 despite the number of stories citing headlines as far back as June 2014,” Lawrence continued emotionally before producing a slide show of headlines from national publications announcing that there were serious problems with Flint’s water.
“We all know when we are elected to office, we take an oath and we are empowered to hire staff. Do you have staff who reports to you and do you have regular staff meetings,” she asked rhetorically, implying that either governor’s staff was incompetent or the governor was lying.
“It’s ironic that Michigan’s slogan is Pure Michigan,” said Congresswoman Kelly, after reprimanding the EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Gov. Rick Snyder for their handling of the Flint Water Crisis. Kelly said flatly “Being a person of color, I have to say this wreaks of environmental racism.”
McCarthy held that she was bound by legalities on when the EPA could intercede and the level of engagement allowable under the law. Snyder who initially refused to appear before congressional committee, maintained that he was unaware of the problem until late September 2015.
“At some point you can only take so much,” Gov. Snyder said in a defining moment at the Congressional hearing in Washington this morning regarding the Flint Water Crisis. Congress person after congress person battered the governor and EPA administrator McCarthy with a slew of tough questions to determine who is responsible for the failure to protect the residents of Flint from contaminated drinking water.
The scene in the House of Representatives was reminiscent of a Law and Order court room drama with Jack McCoy style prosecution, with one congressman producing 8,000 pages of emails and correspondence about the severity of the water problem and the urgency of the issue.
Congressman Cartwright “Do you admit that you personally received a letter from Flint’s mayor on Jan 18, 2015 saying there is no more important in Flint right now than fixing the water programs?” Snyder admitted he did receive the correspondence and also admitted that he didn’t visit Flint for seven months after being made aware that there were problems with the water system and lead levels.
Several members of the congressional committee called for the resignations of both Gov. Snyder and EPA administrator McCarthy.
“Did you read any of those stories about, legionnaires disease, sick kids, rashes, since the switch to the Flint river and the number of cases …” Cartwright grilled. “Even after the whole world knew about the problem you were still unaware governor” he asked incredulously.
“Plausible deniability only works when it’s plausible. You were not a=in a medically induced coma for a year. I have had enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. Here you are dripping with guilt, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people. … You should resign.”
Several members of the committee asked that Snyder remain mindful that he was under oath. Cartwright from Pennsylvania. You do admit that you and your admin failed the people of Flint.
Snyder holds that the corrosion control responsibility belonged to the city.
And as for the people of Flint, they too can only take so much.