Muddy Waters

Each month we at Boom Bap Radio will bestow  the award of “The Douchey McDouche Bag” award on the biggest dickheads in the news.  This category is not limited to politicians or entertainers or even athletes – there’s room for everyone on this bench.

However, each month one person stands out as the absolute winner of our coveted prize.

The award is based on the name I gave a menial worker from a big box department store, who insisted that my item was no longer in stock without looking. This douche actually made me order the item online and had a whole five minute explanation of why the product was not available days after Christmas. Evidently it was shipped back to some remote warehouse – over the hills and far, far away.

Imagine my surprise when about an hour later –while walking to the other end of the store I found piles of my item, neatly stacked and very much available.

So this one goes out to that collared shirt wonder, who obviously knew nothing, but before he knew a whole friggin’ lot –Douche Bag!! Hey dickwad - this award  goes out to you  – You Douche!!!

The February 2016 Douchey McDouche Bag Award

flintbyphilpotWhen I think of Flint, Michigan I think of a hard-scrabble community accented by exceptional athletes and some of the true survivors of the Reagan era auto exodus.

That trickle down attack on the American worker shaped current attacks on unionized workers and made the survivors the hardest of the hard.

My buddy, newspaper columnist Barry Carter, started his career there and referenced to athletes from the city as “Flint Gents.”

All of that seemed further away than yesterday when the national media finally caught up with the douchiness that was going on in the city when it came to where and how it got its drinking water.

As some kind of douchey cost savings maneuver, politicians gathered and voted to change the public drinking water source from Lake Huron to the less than pristine Flint River.

In the end, residents of the impoverished city consumed gallon after gallon of water tainted with lead and worse. To compound matters, local and state officials allowed the bourgeoning health hazard to continue for more than a year before they took action.

No one has a problem with thrifty government, but when cries of government malfeasance began residents and business owners in the city soon realized cheaper meant undrinkable in Flint, that’s when the situation reached douchey proportions.

News of these crimes didn’t reach the national consciousness until a grassroots protest began to call for the heads of those who made the decision of cash over health.

Almost 18-months after the decision to change the water source, in January of 2016, President Barack Obama declared Flint and its orange tainted drinking water a federal health emergency.

It is for that reason the grimy drinking water in Flint, Michigan and the even grimier way in which public officials failed to do their jobs wins our February 2016 Douchey McDouche Bag Award.

Elected officials may be many things, but when they fail to uphold the public trust and put their constituents in harms way, many would call them criminals. Here at Boom Bap Radio we facetiously call them douche bags.

Up The Creek

As the story goes, thoughts of water sports began in Michigan around 2011 when a neighboring county launched the creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA).

The new authority was to bring water to Flint, as well as the city of Lapeer. Two years later the Flint City Council approved the purchase of 16 million gallons of water a day from the KWA rather than using the Flint River for its city’s water.

According to published reports, Flint officials, including the Mayor Dayne Walling, approved the action, but it was later opposed by its old provider and now jealous former girlfriend authority, ) the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

The DWSD said Flint’s use of another water authority should be blocked by the state because its use of the new KWA could touch off a water war between Flint and surrounding communities.

Prophetic or just evil, the DWSD did begin a fatal battle between local Flint officials and those in the state of Michigan.

The DWSD went into “baby please don’t go” mode and began offering all types of deals structure around Flint staying, but for what was spun as a money savings venture, the city left DWSD. Flint signed a new agreement in April of 2013 and the next day DWSD gave its one year termination notice.

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A year later, the city officially switched its water source from the Lake to the Flint River to save a reported to save the city $5 million over about two years. The change, which was not thought to have been a crazy move, subbed in the river, which had long been considered the emergency back-up water supply.

By April 25, 2014 the switch was complete and early concerns about the taste and color of the water began emerging. Boil water advisories were issued to the city due to more concerns about the detection of coliform bacteria.

The General Motors plant in the city also began reporting that the water was corroding car parts and stopped using the water by October of 2014. However, Flint officials did nothing and the water continued to sicken and worry people.

In fact, a state study suggested the river water tested high for THM’s, which is chemical used to disinfect water and can be a carcinogen when people are exposed to it over extended periods of time. City water watchers took note and added additional chlorine and the discolored aqua and citizen complaints ramped up.

Employees of the city public libes, stopped consuming the tap water and opted for bottled water for both workers and the public.

By early 2015 the DWSD offered to re-connect Flint and waive the $4 million reconnection fee. The move was declined by Flint’s emergency manager Jerry Ambrose, citing no threat to the public health by consuming the tainted water.

By March of 2015 the Flint city council had approved a measure that would allow the municipality to again purchase water from Detroit following a report of French based environmental management company – Veolia. The concept was again blocked by Ambrose, the state appointed emergency manager for Flint who again proclaimed the water to be safe at that time by all environmental standards.

Following more environmental reports, which pointed to high lead levels, an orange color and other concerns with the city’s drinking water as well as almost 25,000 signatures on an online petition, then Mayor Dayne Walling demanded Flint be reconnected to DWSD.

Reports later disclosed Flint water contained high levels of lead due to the water treatment process and the orange in the water was corrosion from the iron main pipes which were leaking back into the system due to the “purification process. “

By October 2015 Flint’s water supply was switched back to the DWSD, but despite treating the Flint River’s dirty water, lead levels remained high and a possible link to Legionnaires disease was discussed. October was also the month an independent investigatory unit was formed to figure out how all checks and balances were missed in Flint.

In its final report, in March 2016, the independent task force deduced that there was more than enough blame to go around in this mess.

Primarily it appeared the bulk of the blame went to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) which never asked about the possibility that treatment could cause century old pipes to corrode and leak lead into the water system.

In addition, the state Department of Health and Human Services also fell down on the job by not dispensing environmental data it had in its possession.

However, the cherry-on-top went to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, which did not more aggressively intervene in what appeared to be a bourgeoning health crisis.

Political Football

As 2015 came to an end, community members continued to complain and seek alternate sources of water, city as state officials twiddled their collective thumbs.

The stalemate did nothing to alleviate the effects of the tainted water, but began a douchey political football match that allowed politicians from every conceivable walk of life to give us a lesson in what it looks like when government over-reaches.

With the world now knowing about Flint’s dirty little secret, in December 2015, its newly elected Mayor Karen Weaver put an end to the insanity and finally issued a citywide public health state of emergency.

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Citing the impact lead poisoning would have on Flint youngsters, the local hue and cry grew into a county declaration in Genesee County.

Sheriff Robert Pickell dispatched work crews to distribute bottled water, water filters to residents living in homes built before 1920. It was discovered that older homes with older infrastructures were more likely to leak lead from the pipes back into drinking water.

Soon after Mayor Weaver also dispensed lead testing kits and partnered with the American Red Cross to dispense more bottled water.

By January 2016 crowds of those abused by their government called for the resignation of state Governor Rick Snyder, who in turn, issued a formal apology.

Then something funny happened.

An issue that could not gain traction in Michigan became a federal issue, just months before the Republican and Democrat Presidential candidates were due in Michigan for a primary. Suddenly it was on and popping for a government that had been inept from stem to stern.

On January 6, 2016 Gov. Snyder ordered the Michigan Emergency Operations Center to open an information center for the public to field questions and coordinate outreach. State sponsored lead testing began for children under the age of six-years-old. Water pick up sites were also set up around the city and coordinated with the United Way.

By January 14, 2016, U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence was calling for a formal congressional hearing on the issue from the most inactive Congress in U.S. History. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began its hearing on the Flint water crisis on February 3.

Before the month could end, the circus was coming to town and nothing could be the same again.

In those days, the 2016 GOP race for President featured about 18-candidates for the nomination and previous debates had de-evolved to playing the dozens by front-runner and former reality television show star Donald J. Trump.

When the GOP got to town, replete with a fat man, bearded lady, thin man and dog-faced boy, the battered group actually forgot there were actual issues to argue. Failing to see the elephant in the room, proved to be a vital misstep for the field, which remained focused on “The Donald.”

The debate was marked by personal attacks from Sen. Marco Rubio, who questioned Trump’s spray tan and the implications of his hand size and generally de-evolved into a literal pissing contest, replete with weiner jokes and references to length and sexual triumphs.

However, it was no laughing matter for the residents of Flint.

It wasn’t until Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hit town in March that the lost opportunity became apparent.

The former First Lady and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton hit Flint early and often and hooked up with its current Mayor Karen Weaver to launch a Flint “Water Works Initiative.”

The new program was created by new city leadership in the wake of the toxic water crisis. It provided youngsters with jobs distributing clean water, healthy food and provided nutritional information and services to needy families in Flint.

Bernie Sanders pointed his finger of blame directly at Gov. Snyder.

Sanders said Snyder should understand his part in the poisoning and both he and Clinton agreed the governor should resign.

The fiery words of Clinton and Sanders did not go un-noticed by Snyder, who continued his fight to portray himself as problem solver in the mess he’d obviously helped to create.

“In the coming days, political candidates will be leaving Flint and Michigan,” Snyder quickly tweeted. “They will not be staying to help solve the crisis, but I am committed to the people of Flint. I will fix this crisis and help move Flint forward. Long-term solutions are what the people of Flint need and what I am focused on delivering for them.”

In the end, whichever dog and pony show you watched, be it Democrat or Republican, it was obvious the poison water of Flint was no longer a secret, nor was the role of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the water emergency.

On March 2, Snyder announced the state will partner with the employment agency Michigan Works! Association to hire 81 Flint residents to work at water distribution sites throughout the city.

Nagging Questions Always Remain What Was the Answer and Who Was to Blame

I guess admitting guilt is supposed to evoke feelings of empathy and understanding, but in Flint it only seemed to bring more anger over what appears to be blatant institutional douchiness.

Because the initial betrayal of the public trust happened a long two years ago, by the time Congressional hearings commenced the only douche bags left to blame were the ones already openly covering their asses.

Michigan Gov. Snyder had already begun mea culpa mambo months before with the creation of a 75-point relief plan that encompassed the water supply of course, replacement of the compromised water infrastructure and education. He also empaneled a 17-member coordinating committee to make recommendations about ways to deal with the health problems connected to exposing your entire population to lead.

Dude was partnering with organizations and distributing water like an open faucet when the Federalis came a knocking and declared the Flint water crisis not just a kerfuffle, but a full blown health emergency.

In January, President Obama sent two liaisons from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Michigan to take closer look. Days later Gov. Snyder requested that Genesee County be designated a federal disaster area.

Obama declared an emergency in Flint a day later and gave the city $5 million in federal aid.

FEMA announced it would join with the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief for the local population. Under the order FEMA is authorized to provide the necessary equipment and resources to lessen the impact on the local populous. The federal funds were largely earmarked to provide water, water filters, filter cartridges, test kids and other essential items until April of 2016.

Also in January, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Michigan also began investigating and working with the FBI and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division as well as the Postal Inspection Service.

Called into question were internal memos from Michigan officials that clearly showed a pathetic tug of war and finger pointing fest among the local, county and state government that got the water no cleaner and did nothing for the upgrading of the infrastructure.

During a March House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearingsnyderbeforecongress Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy had to answer Congress about the crisis and how it managed to overlook the seepage of lead into the Flint’s water supply.

Without any resistance from the accused, both Snyder and McCarthy admitted the poisoned water in Flint was the sum total of a failure of all levels of government.

Legal action against Flint and Michigan officials streamed from the courts since as early as November of 2015 when four families filed a federal lawsuit against Snyder and other city officials, including former Mayor Walling alleging recklessness that lead to lead poisoning as well as autoimmune disorder and rashes.

More legal action began in the state Circuit Court in January of 2016 pointing at “lower level” officials who were not protected by state regulations, very possibly implicit in the douchey action of not protecting Flint drinking water. A separate suit was filed in the same month alleging constitutional violations by Snyder and various state agencies that seemed more concerned about covering their collective asses rather than protecting the public.

A new federal lawsuit filed on January 27, 2016, seeks the replacement of all lead service lines in Flint at no cost to residents following claims city and state leaders violated federal laws designed to protect drinking water. The lawsuit also seeks to mandate city and state officials to provide safe drinking water to Flint residents and require them to follow federal regulations for testing and treating water to control for lead.

On February 2, 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Beatrice Boler, a Flint mother of two, Pastor Edwin Anderson with his wife, Alline Anderson, and a company, Epco Sales LLC. Filed against Snyder, the MDEQ, two former state appointed emergency managers and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, the lawsuit seeks more than $150 million in refunds and compensation for damages for “water that was extraordinarily dangerous, undrinkable and unusable.”

Later in February four Genesee County residents who contracted Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis filed a lawsuit as did the parents of a toddler who was diagnosed with high blood lead levels.

Despite all of the legal actions and investigations, Snyder continued to fight to keep his job and even swigged Flint water publicly to restore the fragile public trust.

In the end, if it were not for the local outcry, Snyder’s benign neglect of Flint may have gone un-checked.

Gov__Rick_Snyder_Flint_Water_Crisis_Waterloo

Protests never ended and a movement to impeach the Governor remains a mainstay and Snyder continued to admit his role and ask forgiveness.

An April meeting with Obama in Flint centered around one of its smallest protestors – Mari Copeny and was again seized upon by Snyder to plead his cause. The governor even had Obama drink Flint tap water to proclaim its safety.

At the time of press, only three members of government affiliated with the water crisis had charges filed against them by the state Attorney General.

The City of Flint’s Michael Glasgow and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch were brought up on criminal charges for deeds ranging from misconduct in office to water treatment violations to tampering with evidence. The charges that reflect the trio’s hands-on roles in Flint’s 2014 drinking water switch and subsequent failure to properly treat its water.

In the end, we really don’t care if you increased nutrition program kids for kids with high lead levels asked for additional federal healthcare or helped children and pregnant women poisoned by lead in their drinking water, even a blind person could see Gov. Snyder’s role in the crisis.

However, as arguably the biggest douche bag in the whole affair, Snyder continues to admit he screwed up and his voting public simply doesn’t seem to care.

During a visit by President Obama, Snyder even got the leader of the free world to co-sign his efforts by taking a swig of Flint tap water and proclaiming it’s safety.

The only problem is the myriad of health problems stacked up by residents by drinking the tap water when it wasn’t safe, but were just as convincingly told it was safe.

Closing the barn doors after the horses have escaped can’t bring those ponies home.

So raise your glass in a toast Michigan politicians, you are the Boom Bap Radio Douchey McDouche Bag Award winner for the month of February 2016. You bureaucratic, dastardly dismissive douches!

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