Almost two years ago, the city of Flint, Michigan began drawing water from the Flint River in order to save money. Local and state officials were well aware that corrosion from lead pipes might contaminate the drinking supply — but they failed to take well-established precautionary measures. For 18 months, they ignored or dismissed reports of lead levels rising in the blood of many children. Those reports turned out to be all too true. In last night’s State of the State speech, Republican Governor Rick Snyder took responsibility.
He’s refused demands for his resignation even though he admits he helped cause the problem. But local officials and the Obama Administration share the blame, pushing trust in government to an all-time low in a largely black city of 99,000 people. Is this story of cost-cutting, cover-ups and aging infrastructure a wake-up call for other American cities?