Friday, October 27, 2017

Flint Water Crisis: Curt Guyette on the KWA Pipeline Project

Flint Water Crisis

Photo Illustration by Robert Nixon via Metro Times.

If you are trying to understand how the KWA pipeline project is intertwined with the Flint Water Crisis, this story by the Michigan ACLU's Curt Guyette in the Metro Times is essential reading.
Last year, a task force appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to investigate the causes of the disaster urged prosecutors to do a "complete and thorough review of the development and approval of KWA and of the City of Flint's commitments to KWA water purchases." 
Since then, four officials — including two of the city's former emergency managers — have been charged for allegedly using false pretenses to obtain an $85 million loan needed to finance Flint's share of the new pipeline.
And then there's a report issued earlier this year by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which spent nearly a year investigating the crisis to determine what role, if any, racism played in creating this completely avoidable manmade disaster.
Read the rest here.


Flint Photos: Greenway Avenue

Gordon Young Flint Water Crisis
Thanks to Jim Holbel for the photo.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Flint Water Crisis Event with Curt Guyette and Gordon Young

Flint Michigan



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to Fix Flint: Replacing the pipes in my hometown won’t revive the city. It will take the equivalent of a Marshall Plan to save it. By Gordon Young

How to fix Flint
P-Nut and Raevyn work on their Civic Park home in 2010.

My friend P-Nut was shopping at the Flint Salvation Army in March with Sherman McCathern, the pastor of his church, when he got a phone call. 

It was one of his buddies from Civic Park, a neighborhood of houses primarily built for autoworkers that is now one of the most blighted areas in a city often defined by decay and loss. 

“You know your house is on fire?” the friend asked.

P-Nut and the pastor headed for their car and rushed home. When they pulled into the parking lot of Joy Tabernacle Church on North Chevrolet Avenue at the corner of West Dayton, two blocks from P-Nut’s house, smoke was wafting through the neighborhood.

“So I knew it was bad before I even saw it,” P-Nut told me. “When I got to my house, it was blazing.”

Long before Flint had a water crisis, it had an arson problem. And decades before Cher and Snoop Dogg arrived on the scene with their PR teams, or the journalists and presidential candidates showed up, my hometown was vanishing in ways both large and small. Shifting global economic trends aren’t big on taking union industrial strongholds along for the ride, and Flint was left behind to fend for itself. Obviously, it hasn’t fared well. Decades of double-digit unemployment, population loss, and artless budget cuts equal crime, abandonment, and burning buildings.

All Flintoids — as we sometimes call ourselves — can catalogue the places that meant something to them that have disappeared. My personal list includes Homedale Elementary, the East Side school my mother and I attended less than a mile from the massive automotive complex known as Buick City. The school was torched and then demolished in 2010. The factory is long gone, too, along with thousands of G.M. jobs. My grandfather’s elegant brick office building downtown, where he earned the money that kept our family afloat, is a parking lot. And the pool where I learned to swim is a grassy field in Kearsley Park.

Now I have to add P-Nut’s house to the tally. Sure, it was just a two-story saltbox that needed a lot of work in a neighborhood that might not exist in twenty years. But it had a meaningful past and, I foolishly thought, a future. It was a symbol of hope for P-Nut. And for me. And hope is a tenuous thing in Flint.

When I got the news, I flashed back to a cold December morning in 2010. I was sitting in the lobby of City Hall in Flint, waiting to shadow the mayor for a story I was writing about my hometown. I was alone because the receptionist I had gotten to know over the previous year had been laid off, a victim of the city’s relentless quest for a balanced budget.


A disheveled guy with an armful of manila file folders tucked under his arm walked into the lobby. He had to angle his head toward the offices behind the desk and call out, “Hello, anyone home?” A staffer finally emerged and asked if she could take a message for the mayor.

“Well, I’ve given up on Flint,” the man said, “and I wanted to see if he could give me a reason not to give up on it.”

The staffer took his name and number, promising to pass his message along to the mayor. The guy left with his folders, more disappointed than angry.

I couldn’t really relate to his request at the time. I was cautiously optimistic about the city’s future. But after years of steady decline and the ongoing water crisis, I understand him a lot better. In fact, I think I’m becoming that guy now, desperately searching for some evidence that things will ever get better in Flint. And worried that I won’t find it. For someone who once naively thought he could help solve the city’s problems, it’s not an easy thing to admit.

As a journalist who has written about Flint for more than a decade, I’ve been lucky to meet dozens of smart, inspiring residents like Pastor McCathern and P-Nut who are fighting to save this troubled spot on the Michigan map. But I’ve also talked to enough economists, urban planners, and politicians to know that all their efforts will never be enough to pull Flint out of its socio-economic free fall. It will take a monumental national effort to reinvigorate Flint and cities like it. That means an investment of federal and state money that gives Flint a chance to prosper but might not pay dividends for years. And I fear our bitterly divided country does not care enough to make it happen.

I hope I’m wrong. I don’t like thinking that bad things are likely to keep happening in the city where four generations of my family lived. But I also know that Flint is a place where reality destroys the best laid plans, and optimism gets its ass kicked on a regular basis.