It’s unprecedented that in 2016 in a state within the richest and most prosperous nation in the world we have a city that is being poisoned by high lead levels in its drinking water. Our state made international news over the past couple of years as the Flint water crisis spiraled out of control and Governor Snyder’s administration went into damage control mode. Although I personally believe the Governor and his administration should have done a lot more to combat the crisis at an earlier date, what’s done is done. What faces both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature today is the question as to how best help Flint work its way out of this problem and how best to prevent a crisis like Flint’s from ever happening again in Michigan.
The current legislature has failed Flint’s residents and the city government. The only action they’ve taken is allocating $28 million of state funds to Flint. The federal government also pitched in and gave the state $80 million for Flint’s crisis. The legislature must do more to actively help the Mayor and the city council in Flint’s recovery. If elected I would push for a bi-partisan committee that would travel to Flint at least once every month to meet with the Mayor, their staff and the city council. These meetings would help induce cooperation between a city council that’s been forced to fight for themselves and a legislature reluctant to do much. These meetings would also help quicken the pace of extra funds and materials needed for the recovery actually getting allocated and passed. Also, another goal of this bi-partisan committee would be to work out a time-frame for the replacement of all the lead-service lines within the city.
I would like to work with MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) officials and experts to help provide Flint with all the needed experts, analyses, and resources needed to figure out the areas of the highest levels of lead and how to keep the water safe until we can get new copper service lines installed. In addition we should pursue a new study conducted by MDEQ. Once Flint is on a stable path towards recovery, MDEQ should work with the same bi-partisan committee described above to conduct contaminant studies in other cities and towns throughout the state. If MDEQ experts find other cities in need of resources to combat high contaminant levels then the committee would step in. Both parties would work together with the city or local government in order to formulate a specific plan with attainable and realistic goals towards making the affected communities safer.
This plan would allow the Mayor and Flint to quickly get any and all resources and funds needed to help restore Flint’s water system. A mandated meeting of bi-partisan legislators with Flint’s government would do well to making sure the legislature understands the gravity of the situation in the city. It would also foster better cooperation between the state and city government. The plan would also help MDEQ and the legislature understand possible future problems with contaminants in other communities. This plan would go further and mandate that when communities faced problems with contamination issues, specific goals and plans would be created and agreed by both local/city, MDEQ, and the bi-partisan legislative committee.