Media Misses the Mark, Vote Theft at Core of Flint’s Problems

Media Misses the Mark, Vote Theft at Core of Flint’s Problems

Three significant mainstream media outlets all published disclaimers this week, arguing that although the emergency managers appointed by Michigan Governor Snyder clearly made the ill-fated decisions to poison Flint with corrosive river water, and ignored the subsequent outcry from their victims for a year and a half, somehow – they conclude – Snyder’s unprecedented emergency manager statutes are not to blame!  What’s really going on here?

The New York Times, which has previously called out Snyder’s “depraved indifference” toward Flint, editorialized on the role of emergency management in poisoning Flint’s water on February 4. “The lesson from Michigan is that emergency managers succeed only if they work with the communities they serve.

On the same day, Bridge Magazine, in conjunction with an impressive time line of the Flint disaster, editorialized: “The suggestion that the state’s emergency financial management law itself led directly to lead poisoning in Flint children, is not supported by the public record.

The next day in the News, Dan Calabrese, echoing the Times, gushes with premature praise for the supposed benefits to Detroit of emergency management via Kevyn Orr’s work.

The Times has the facts wrong.  The emergency management statute itself (PA 436) prevents the EM from “work(ing) with” the communities they serve. Appointed by the governor with unrestricted power and no accountability, they are incapable of “serving” communities beyond Wall Street.  Indeed, Flint’s serial EMs “work(ed) with” the opportunistic local elite leaders of the Karegnondi Water Authority to poison Flint by using the Flint River as a water source!  The drain commissioner of Genesee County was and still is the CEO of the Karegnondi Water Authority.

Bridge Magazine also gets the facts wrong.  Emergency management removes all local control and places all authority in the hands of an appointed person accountable only to the governor. The EM and the governor knew for a year that Flint water was not being properly treated. State office workers stationed in Flint had bottled water trucked in for their buildings.  Because of the structural features of emergency management, the authorities did not care and did nothing for Flint until their own misconduct blew up in their faces, after independent activists, journalists and scientists decisively exposed their lies and abuse.  Emergency management enabled both this unaccountable decision making and unconscionable delay.

Mr. Calabrese also gets the facts wrong.  At best, the jury is still out on his Orr/Jones Day miracle of Detroit.  His emphasis on “the revival of Midtown”, “people brokering downtown real estate”, and characterizing Detroit-without-emergency management as “a hopeless disaster” reveal his bias.  As eminent historian Thomas Sugrue and virtually every other credible observer has repeatedly stated, the current downtown investment bubble will not by itself generate a broad, equitable or sustainable recovery for Detroit as a whole and our People.  Today the overwhelming majority of Detroiters are like the People of Flint who were denied the bottled water trucked in to favored spaces for privileged People, like downtown Detroit.  Detroiters still face horrifying crises of public education, water shut offs, housing foreclosures, inequitable community economic development and democracy-destroyed-by-corporate-finance.  With regard to Detroit’s water, Orr and his investment banker partner Miller-Buckfire wanted to sell Detroit’s water department to Veolia, the largest private owner of water systems in the world. Intervention of public authorities across southeast Michigan prevented that sale, and, under pressure from federal bankruptcy court, created instead the Great Lakes Water Authority as a preferred mode of exercising corporate, white supremacist power over this crucial infrastructure and resource.

The EM law in Michigan is racist in its conception and form. With the majority of African Americans in our state under city emergency managers, the first EM statute was recalled by Michigan citizens in a 2012 referendum vote, with nearly every county in the state overwhelmingly rejecting it. A new EM law was passed again, this time by a lame duck legislature under dubious circumstances, with the addition of a small amount of money which rendered it immune from democratic accountability via another recall.

In a list of financially troubled communities published in 2009, there were white communities with more severe financial problems which were never placed under emergency management. The list of EM cities are overwhelmingly African-American majorities — Highland Park, Saginaw, Pontiac, and Benton Harbor as well as Flint and Detroit.

In 2013, Michigan’s Department of Education published a list of 55 financially troubled school districts that are overwhelmingly white; none had an EM appointed over them. In almost every situation, a string of EMs has worsened the situation of the city or school district under their control. The Detroit Public School System, overwhelmingly African-American, was originally taken over by the state when it had a budget surplus, and now has an insurmountable deficit. Emergency management has been applied to undermine the democratic and human rights of African-Americans, with no benefit to those communities; the benefactors are private companies acting parasitically on these communities.

The law supports and reinforces the institutional racism inherent in Michigan’s public institutions. Eliminating democracy and checks and balances is bad policy. The EM law is a bad law.

In light of the true facts and a realistic analysis of the power dynamics at work, the conclusion is clear: Emergency management caused the Flint River catastrophe, and one of the responses must be repeal of Snyder’s emergency management statute.






Boggs Center ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY December 19th 2015

James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
in collaboration with Allied Media Projects
Cordially Invites You to Our
ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY December 19th 2015
 6pm to 11pm
 Allied Media Projects
4126 3
St., Detroit, MI 48201
Please R.S.V.P. by December 13th to
Tawana at
Food by Meiko Krishok, live harp playing by Ahya Simone, karaoke
hosted by Millionaire and photo booth available all evening!
Children and loved ones welcome! Bring a treat or drink to share!
We look forward to celebrating with you!

Get on the Bus! Water Justice Call to Action! Subject: Human Rights Day December 10th Plan/Agenda

Get on the Bus! Water Justice Call to Action!


water2Hey all this is the plan for Thursday.

Last week was really pressed for Rep Chang so we completed planning today.

Please help us reach our goal of 100 people on the capitol steps

Spread the word, Call 7 persons, to make the trip, encourage persons with water shutoffs to go with us, make it happen.


Leaving at 7am from Central United Methodist Church, Woodward at Grand Circus Park returning at 3:30, Thursday, December 10th

Register at our website or call 313.520-7465


Bring your message for the governor!!!


Lobby Day Training Monday, Dec 7, at

2727 Second Ave Food and Water Watch



—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Ellen Heinitz <>” <>
Cc: Alice Jennings <>; Clyde Edwards <>; Candice Mushatt <>; Stephanie Chang <>; Joseph Sullivan <>; ‘D Hayes’ <>; Shaquila Myers <>; Myles Miller <>; Stephanie Chang <>; Christopher McClain <>; Eli S Gaugush <>; “” <>
Sent: Friday, December 4, 2015 1:54 PM
Subject: Human Rights Day December 10th Plan/Agenda

Good Afternoon Lila and Alice,  – and feel free to forward this to any other event organizers from Flint or other parts of the state!

It was nice talking to you this morning, Lila.  As I said, most of the water bills (except the Decrim ones that went to CJ) were referred to the committee on Local Government, chaired by Rep. Chatfield.  As an FYI, Rep. Neeley is on that committee too.  Here is the committee roster:  Chatfield (C), Price (Maj. VC), Heise, Maturen, Runestad, Sheppard, Theis, Moss (Min. VC), Brunner, Rutledge, Neeley

Rep. Neeley’s bill about notifying residents about water violations went to Government Ops.  Jacobsen (C), Webber (Maj. VC), LaFontaine, Greimel (Min. VC), Singh

Also…the Senate versions of the bills haven’t been referred to committees yet.  But Senator Young did drop the Water as a Human Right bill and it will be referred to a committee on Tuesday. Senators Johnson and Ananich will be dropping Water Affordability and Shutoff Protection next week too.  When we know which committees get the bills we will pass along.

If you’re going to try to meet with Reps about the bills you’ll want to focus on members of the committees first to ask them to push for a hearing early next year.  I did a quick glance at each bill’s cosponsors and it appears that while most of them have some bipartisan support,  no Republican members of either Local Government or Government Ops co-sponsored any of them.  So I would focus on meeting with members of Local Government and asking them to hold a hearing next year.  Here is a website that lists all the Reps and their contact info, to assist with scheduling:


You can go here: to look up the bills to see who co-sponsored them.  Here’s a quick list of the bill numbers:


HB 5093 – 97

HB 5101

HB 5110

HB 5120

HB 5122


I looked online but did not see that anyone has reserved the Capitol lawn for next Thursday.  However, Capitol Facilities won’t divulge and the weekly schedule for next week isn’t published yet.  You can call and ask, and potentially book the lawn or a portion yourself:  Barbra Thumudo

Capitol Events Coordinator

Michigan State Capitol Commission

Phone: (517) 373-9617

Fax: (517) 373-8040




As for your day’s itinerary, my suggestion is this:


8:30 amarrive in Lansing – meet in a central location for a quick orientation

9:00 am – 10:00 amMeetings with Senators before they go into Session – Drop off an information sheet (one pager) about your groups and their goals to ALL Senate offices

10:00amSenate Session begins – either begin your rally in front of the Capitol, OR line the sidewalk between the Farnum Building and the Capitol with activists.  I STRONGLY suggest that in addition to holding signs, you hand out flyers about your concerns for the Senators to review.  Even a half sheet flyer would be good, listing the bill numbers in the water package.

10:am – 12noonMeet with House members on relevant committees about the water package – drop off informational one-pager to all the offices

NoonHouse Session begins – consider lining the walkway between the House Office Building and the Capitol with activists and handing out a flyer

12:30 pmPress Conference and Delivery of Water as a Human Right postcards to Governor Snyder’s office


I’ve copied staffers from the offices of Reps Neeley, Garrett and Plawecki, along with Chris McClain and Eli Gaugush from Policy, as well as staffers from the offices of Senators Young, Johnson and Ananich who are all dropping water bills in the Senate.


Hope this was helpful, let me know how we can help next week.




Ellen Heinitz

Legislative Director

Office of State Representative Stephanie Chang

(517) 373-5537





Boggs Center – In Memory of Ron Scott, Spiritual Warrior


In Memory of Ron Scott, Spiritual Warrior
James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

Lifelong community activist Ron Scott died on Sunday, November 29, 2015 after a difficult battle with cancer.  We mourn his passing and will greatly miss his voice and insights.


Ron was a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. He first met Grace and James Boggs when he was 16 years old and exploring the ideas of Black Power and Community Control. A founding member of the Detroit Chapter of the Black Panther Party, Ron remained a comrade and friend of the Boggs’ for the rest of their lives. Since the early 1970s he worked with members of the Boggs Center in organizing Detroiters For Dignity, We Pros, SOSAD, and Detroit Summer.

A gifted television personality, his love of young people lead him to Project BAIT, where he helped develop a generation of young people in video production. He was an independent film-maker, writer, speaker, radio host, and organizer. He was a media pioneer, hosting Detroit Black Journal, often bringing the voices of radical thinkers and activists to larger audiences.

Over the last 20 years, Ron has been a primary spokesmen and intellectual force for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. Through the Coalition he was a tireless advocate for peace in our communities.

Richard Feldman of the Boggs Center said, “Ron was honored that he came from a family of teachers, ministers and working folks with many varied ideas.  He was loved by Diane Reeder, dearly respected by Congressman John Conyers, and by hundreds of young people whose lives he protected and whose dignity he fought for. He reminded us to respect elders who were engaged in the “struggle” and to understand that we all build on the work of earlier generations.  Ron had enormous faith in people and believed “everyone could change”.

Myrtle Thompson-Curtis of the Boggs Center and Feedom Freedom Growers said, “I am truly glad to have worked along side Ron Scott. He was always a teacher and healer.”

“Ron was a spiritual warrior who clearly acknowledged the media wars and the war between moving forward and being “stuck” in old ideas of revolution.  He believed every institution in our country needs to change. Changing ourselves and becoming more human, human beings, thinking dialectically, not biologically were essential to his efforts of uniting the long haul with the urgency of now,” Richard Feldman said.

Ron always asked, “Who is not at the table?  Which youth are we talking about and trying to reach?” He believed in community as the foundation of safety and argued that the only purpose of the police is to serve the people. He never doubted that it was our responsibility to create Peace Makers and turn War Zones into Peace Zones.”

Over the last several months, while dealing with illness, Ron felt a responsibility to speak to the young activists emerging in the Black Lives Matters Movements. His recently finished a book, Guide to Ending Police Brutality published in the fall of this year. It is available at the BC website.

We will miss Ron’s leadership and passion, his commitment, and continual probing of what it means to be more human.

Ron was committed to his beliefs, his journey towards transformation, and his desire to contribute to young people, our city, our region, and our nation.  He truly believed, “A Community That excludes even One of its members is No Community at All.”

We join his family, friends, and many comrades in acknowledging his life of commitment to creating a more just and peaceful world.