A criminal investigation into the Flint, MI, water crisis has led state officials to seek federal charges against two former state-appointed emergency managers, accusing them of having a focus on saving money instead of the safety of residents.
The New York Times reported that the managers, who had been appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, were “charged over their roles in the public health crisis prompted by the city’s switch to a new water source, as well as the delays in responding to residents’ complaints as they suffered the devastating effects.”
Bill Schuette, the state’s attorney general, had formally announced the charges at a banquet center.
“All too prevalent in this Flint water investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” Schuette said.
Schuette had called a news conference at the Riverfront Banquet Center in Flint, according to the Detroit Free Press. No details were released at that time on who would be charged.
The New York Times reported that there are some majority-black Michigan cities, including Flint, that argue “that the intense state-assigned oversight disenfranchises voters, shifts control from mostly Democratic cities to the state’s Republican-held capital and risks favoring financial discipline over public health.”
According to Michigan Daily, state-appointed emergency managers were plagued by the state’s financial troubles, and, working together with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), switched the city’s water source from Detroit-supplied water to the Flint River in April 2014.
The Times reported that the investigation into Flint’s water crisis started in January and previously “led to charges against one employee of Flint’s water plant and eight state officials, including a state epidemiologist and the former leader of Michigan’s municipal drinking water office.”
Of the nine, only two have accepted plea deals while the rest are awaiting trial. Some have looked for the dismissal of the charges against them.
This week, more Flint officials were charged with crimes. Both Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson were accused of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses.
Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Snyder, told the Times in a statement that the charges were “serious accusations that should be moved through the legal process as soon as possible.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to helping the people of Flint recover,” Heaton said, “which is evident in the support the state has provided regarding water quality and resources, educational improvements, expansion of healthcare and economic development.”
Image credit: "Want To Drink, April 2010" Dharanna © 2010 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/