Does Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) belong behind bars for his obvious betrayal of the people of Flint? Maybe; that’s best sorted out in the courts, but what I want to know is something even simpler than the question of whether his administration’s gross incompetence and likely willful negligence is enough to put him and others on his staff in jail. My question, is really very simple.
How the hell is Rick Snyder still in office?
There have been a lot of fingers pointed at Snyder’s office, and he’s pointed a lot of fingers back others, but the simple fact remains that staffers within his office was warned of the dangers that faced the people of Flint — namely led poisoning — and he chose to do nothing. Per a recent report from The Huffington Post, Snyder knew as far back as March 2015.
In a March 2015 email obtained by the liberal watchdog group Progress Michigan, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s spokesman told Snyder aide Harvey Hollins that more than 40 cases of Legionnaires’ had been reported since the previous April, when Snyder’s administration oversaw Flint’s switch to the Flint River as its water source. (source)
In a Facebook post to his official page, Governor Snyder repeated what he’s said before — that he personally wasn’t made aware of the problem until last month.
For now, let’s just take Snyder at his word, that his office knew of the problem, but no one apparently told him one word about it until last month. That’s incompetence of a systemic variety, right there. Aren’t Republicans the personal responsibility people? Somehow I have a hard time believing that if this were a Democratic governor that conservatives across the country would be using it not only as an example of Democratic evil, but of government ineptitude. They’d be shouting from the rafters that the governor should be removed from office.
Sometimes, heads just have to roll, and sometimes the biggest head has to roll. At this point, it’s obvious that once Snyder’s head is extricated from his posterior, that his should be the biggest one to roll. So why is he still in office today? Because these things take time, of course.
In one report from the Detroit Free Press that I found, twelve separate recall petitions have been filed, but to date Snyder has been able to rely on technical issues with the petitions to save himself. The Michigan State Board of Canvassers, who decide what recall petitions will be adopted in the state, will meet on a new slew of petitions — many submitted by the same man — in the next couple of weeks. If the petitions are approved, then plans for a recall election can begin.
On a related note, the same Free Press story made me aware of the fact that in 2012, hot on the heels of the recall efforts in Wisconsin to unseat fellow-Republican Scott Walker, legislators in Michigan wrote laws that made it harder to recall elected officials. It must be nice to be able to write laws to give yourself the kind of job security we all wish we had. If elected officials can’t be fired for gross negligence that leads to the poisoning and death of its citizens, then, um, what the hell is the point of an election? Sure, we don’t want people recalling politicians a day after they were elected because of voter’s remorse, but there has to be a mechanism in every state that lets abusive, corrupt, or inept officials be let go sooner rather than later.
I guess, then, that the answer to my question is that Snyder’s still in office because the proper channels haven’t been followed yet, or are still in the process of being followed. I can only hope that the laws Republicans put in place in 2012 don’t prevent Snyder’s removal. Nobody should get to keep their job when their actions — or even inaction — leads to people’s health being put in mortal danger. You can get really upset and angry over things like this, when there’s an urgent need to unseat someone in power, but the wheels of democratic republicanism have to grind slowly. It makes you wish for a more expedient method of ejection from office.
I’m not saying I yearn for the tar, feather, and rail days. I’m just saying that it’s time like these — when kids are getting lead poisoning because old, rich dudes in their state couldn’t find enough shits to give about them for a few months — that you can find yourself sympathizing with those that used to do just that. Here’s hoping the petitions get the signatures they need, and sooner, rather than later, Governor Rick Snyder is answering to someone, anyone, for his incompetency that sure does look like malicious and willful negligence.
But as always, I won’t be holding my breath and I’d recommend you keep right on inhaling and exhaling with me.