Do Flint Lives Matter? $600 Million Settlement Says Not So Much
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer poke their chests out, announcing the compensation settlement for the disastrous Flint Water Crisis. While the court battle continues with suits against two engineering firms (Veolia along with Lockwood, Andrews & Newman) hired as consultants, the city of Flint, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a local hospital, thus far only the State of Michigan has settled.
The $600 million package (before lawyers’ fees) is touted as the biggest settlement in state history, but it fails to remind the public that it was also the biggest man-made disaster in the nation’s history.
The settlement, its details a work in progress, sends the bulk of the funds to Flint children who were 18 and under when the crisis began in April of 2014. Even so, residents don’t see how it will compensate all when many of the 8000 children under six were left with lifelong traumas. “Who will care for my child when I’m gone?” pleaded one parent. Furthermore, will those on cash assistance and Medicaid be thrown off the rolls because of the compensation they receive for being poisoned? And oh, by the way, where are the criminal charges against former Governor Snyder and his regime?
The announcement has underscored the trauma that Flint families continue to suffer, forcing us to relive all our wounds, including the memories of lost loved ones. The onset of COVID-19 resurrected the nightmare of Flint’s water disaster with eerie similarities. Calling the virus a hoax, offering only inadequate healthcare, and causing a disproportionate impact on minorities who make up 14 percent of the state population and suffered 40 percent of the deaths, corporate and banking interests bagged the lion’s share of the Federal subsidies, with accountability non-existent. It’s been straight out of the ruling class’s Flint water disaster playbook.
We have not forgotten that the capitalist scheme to privatize water produced the water disaster. As was reported about Flint’s water struggle in the article “Flint is Still Broken Six Years Later”: “The capitalist class, and in particular, the mega-banks and bondholder interests, are turning to the seizure of public assets to save themselves.” (http://rallycomrades.lrna.org/2020/05/flint-is-still-broken-six-years-later/)
The financial companies JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Stifel are all the beneficiaries of the scandal. At the same time, Flint residents are presented with crumbs for pain and suffering while paying exorbitant water bills to finance the bond debt. Our demands for clean water, water rights, and comprehensive healthcare, along with an end to the emergency manager system, are still on the table. In our legendary leader General Baker Jr’s voice, we declare that the struggle continues in the courts, in the legislature, and the streets!!
Note: Emergency Manager (EM) leadership has ended in Flint, but it is still on the books. We are demanding an end to the EM system, which threatens to dismantle local democracy and destroy assets in even more cities. For more on the EM system, see the Rally Comrades! article, “What Happens in Michigan Won’t Stay in Michigan”: “In March of 2011, less than three months after taking office, the now infamous Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation (PA4) that its sponsor, State Representative (now U.S Congressman) Al Pacholka, dubbed ‘fiscal martial law.’ It allows the governor to dispatch ‘Emergency Managers’ to municipalities and/or school districts, replacing the locally elected mayor, city councils, and/or duly elected school boards. These managers are empowered to void or modify local contracts (outsource union work), hire and/or fire local employees, set aside local charters, initiate bankruptcy, dissolve or merge local municipalities, and most famously, sell assets.” (http://rallycomrades.lrna.org/2016/09/what-happens-in-michigan-wont-stay-in-michigan/)
Published: September 14, 2020
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