The handling of the Flint water crisis has been compared to that of Hurricane Katrina and even the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder refuses to step down despite calls for his resignation from citizens and politicians alike. Yesterday, he came out with a $360 million budget to start dealing with the multitude of problems caused by lead contamination in Flint’s water supply.
Gov. Snyder plans to spend $195 million on safe drinking water, including $25 million on lead pipe replacements and $165 million on overall infrastructure improvements.
In response to the water crisis and the long-lasting problems that will result from the poisoning of an American city, a group of 200 experts penned an open letter to Gov. Snyder requesting he establish a compensation fund and a series of other remedies to help the families impacted by the disaster.
Based on the criteria established by Michigan’s constitution and embedded in other state laws, it is reasonable to conclude that rights of the residents of Flint, MI have been abrogated. The people of Flint have not received equal benefit, security or protection from their government. They have been denied equal protection of the laws and seemingly discriminated against because of class and race. Their right to petition government for redress of grievances has also been obstructed.
Dr. Maya Rockeymoore joined Roland Martin on Friday’s edition of NewsOne Now to discuss the open letter backed by 200 experts and what needs to be done to rectify the nightmare scenario that has poisoned the children of Flint, caused several deaths, created a series of health problems that will need to be monitored for at least two decades, and will ultimately cause property values in the city to plummet.
Dr. Rockeymoore, President of Global Policy Solutions, told Martin, “We have an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Flint, MI and the governor and the state legislature is actually slow-walking a response to what is actually a crisis.”
“It’s not only a crisis in terms of the immediate wealth stripping of the population, it’s a crisis in terms of health, but it’s also a socio-economic crisis that is being experienced by the population, specifically the children who have been exposed to these contaminants over a lifetime,” said Rockeymoore.
She continued; the Flint water crisis “has implications for health, wealth, education, and so because of the massive consequences associated by that ill-fated decision of the governor’s appointee, to switch those water sources, the State of Michigan actually has a responsibility to do its job and to make the people, the property, and the environment of Flint, MI whole again.”
Watch the former Mayor of Dallas, Ambassador Ron Kirk, dismantle talking points on the Flint water crisis that attempt to blame the Obama administration for the man-made disaster.
The open letter sent to Gov. Snyder proposes an agenda for “restoring hope and opportunity for the people of Flint” and calling for the following remedies to be instituted:
- Language: Reports have shown that undocumented immigrants have been slow to receive word about Flint’s water problems and that language barriers have interfered with their ability to seek appropriate testing and care.
- Compensation: It is clear that, in addition to compromising residents’ health and damaging their property and city infrastructure, Flint’s water contamination will have long-term psychosocial and socioeconomic effects for individuals and families. We call on you to establish a Flint Health and Compensation Fund, modeled after the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, to improve protection and services to individuals directly impacted by the water crisis. In addition to financing claims of those affected by the crisis, this fund would cover the cost of health evaluation screenings for eligible residents, monitoring and treatment for related health conditions (without deductibles, co-payments, or other cost sharing), research regarding health and socioeconomic conditions related to the crisis, education and outreach to potentially eligible individuals.
- Homeowner Relief: The real estate market in Flint has been destabilized, with fewer people likely to buy homes in the city because of the market uncertainty associated with property damage caused by the water crisis and outstanding questions about the quality of the city’s infrastructure. The entire water system will likely need to be replaced in order to restore the natural real estate market in Flint.
- Infrastructure: For too long, partisan gridlock at the federal and state levels has prevented states like Michigan from making the investments necessary to ensure the safety and protection of its residents.
- Regulation: Partisan ideology has long pushed the notion that regulation stifles economic development and growth, but situations like Flint demonstrate how loose regulations can compromise economic development by polluting public assets and damaging lives and property in the process.
- Taxes: Real fiscal prudence would suggest that it is never a good idea to reduce the tax base when there are obvious needs a government must address. Taxes are designed to ensure that government has the resources to provide for the common goods and services that people have determined they want and need for the betterment of society. Bestowing tax cuts and breaks—especially those benefitting culpable industries—while roads, bridges, and schools need repair, pipes need replacing, and water needs cleaning, is the height of fiscal irresponsibility and malfeasance.
To read the Experts of Color Letter on Flint Water Crisis open letter to Gov. Snyder, visit Global Policy Solutions.
Watch Roland Martin, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the Flint water crisis in the video above.
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