Back in 2011, when an unknown, nerdy former chairman of the board of a former computer giant called Gateway was sworn in as governor of the state of Michigan, his plans for the state set off alarm bells in more than a few state residents. Raising taxes on poor people and old people, cutting over a billion dollars out of the school budget to offset two billion in corporate tax cuts made us cringe. Then we learned of something even worse: A plan to substantially increase the powers and duties of the Emergency Financial Manager.
Governor Blanchard first used emergency managers during his administration. They had no power in any way to overrule the democratically elected local government, their purpose simply included helping that government work on budgeting better and get out of debt. The Nerd changed that. He decided that emergency managers shouldn’t share power, they should have ALL the power. They would strip the local government of all authority, break contracts, fire at will, and privatize any and all services the city, school district, township, or county provided to the residents. The Up North Progressive was one of many who noticed this sounded an awful lot like the plot of RoboCop.
It didn’t take long for those of us who were alarmed by this venture capitalist nerd and his sinister plans to organize and beat the streets. We worked through the summer of 2011 collecting signatures to recall him and hold a new election. We worked hard asking the unions to get involved. They refused. We worked hard to get the Democratic Party behind us. They refused. Michael Moore? Not a peep from him. As it slowly and depressingly sank in that we were stuck with Snyder for four years, we worked on other petition drives, including getting rid of the Nerd’s despicable emergency manager law. We didn’t succeed in collecting enough signatures to recall him, but we did collect enough to put eliminating P.A. 4 a.k.a Rick Snyder’s democracy-killing emergency manager law up to a vote of the people. The referendum went on the ballot in 2012, and the law was repealed.
Then Rick Snyder simply had the state legislature write up and pass a new version of the emergency manager law. Despite promising the city of Detroit there would be no bankruptcy, he secretly worked on finding an emergency manager to do just that. Despite obvious evidence that the Education Achievement Authority was a colossal failure, he threatened the rest of state he would expand his special pet school district to everyone. Despite the Michigan State Constitution banning school vouchers, he had software developers and members of his administration holding secret meetings called ‘skunkworks’ to force illegal school vouchers down Michiganians’ throats.
By the time 2014 came, his emergency managers were entrenched in communities helping Snyder’s corporate friends scoop up the assets and privatize them. Detroit residents had their water shut off. Detroit businesses continued getting all the water they wanted while owing millions to the city. As if cutting off city residents to water wasn’t bad enough, an even more deadly horror silently flowed into the taps of homes of Flint residents.
Resignation that the Nerd won another four years to destroy Michigan gave way to anger when people made noise that Flint was being poisoned by the water they had to drink thanks to Rick Snyder’s emergency manager. There is no way to blame this on the city of Flint, or their elected leaders. The local government had no power. They didn’t make the decision to switch to a water supply that was toxic, the decision was made for them by a Snyder appointee who only had to report to Snyder.
So far, making sure branding the crisis is a priority to helping the people suffering through the crisis:
Good thing we have the logo sorted. How else would anyone know the state is taking proactive steps to solve problems? They’re not taking proactive steps. Mostly the state has been in damage control mode trying to figure out how to deal with what is according to them “apparently going to be a thing now.”
According to FOIA records, we know the Snyder administration knew 6 months ago there was a problem with the water in Flint. The city had already been poisoned with the water for a year by then. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality denied the reports, told the EPA they were wrong. Told specialists from Virginia Tech they were wrong. Told pediatricians testing children’s blood and finding alarming levels of lead they were wrong. None of them were wrong. Lansing was wrong. Rick Snyder was wrong.
What happened in Flint, Detroit, and everywhere else Snyder has touched with his toxic hand is criminal. At the least, he shouldn’t be Governor anymore. His political career should be dead. Ideally, Snyder should have to answer for his crimes. Unfortunately he won’t.
Back in 2011, a small group of people realized the damage Rick Snyder could potentially do to the state and organized a recall campaign to get rid of him. Imagine how different things would be today if we had support from the unions, the Democratic Party, more people who knew what Snyder was doing was wrong, but didn’t get involved. Hate to say it, but we told you so.