What the tragedy in Flint can teach Georgia

Flint-Water-1

Thousands of citizens have been poisoned by lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich., and children in particular may have suffered permanent, irreversible brain damage as a result. Last week, a special investigatory task force appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder concluded that Michigan officials bear primary blame for that tragedy.

“It was a mixture of ignorance, incompetence and arrogance by many decision-makers that created a toxic and tragic situation that produced the Flint water crisis,” task force co-chair Chris Kolb said in releasing the final report.

Given that states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy, the lessons of the Flint tragedy ought to be studied here in Georgia as well, because they have a lot to teach us.

Related: As Congress bickers, Flint suffers

In general, the panel found the problem was caused by a failure to invest in public infrastructure and a decision to prioritize cost-cutting over public health, compounded by incompetence and bureaucratic callousness. State agencies were more interested in finding ways to get around state and federal law than they were in enforcing those laws to protect their citizens, in part because they had been stripped of the resources to act aggressively.

The report also documents the failings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration. The EPA did not cause Flint’s problems, investigators found, but it did fail to intervene aggressively when state agencies failed to do their job. Wary of being accused of federal interference with state decisions, “EPA was hesitant and slow to insist” that environmental and public-health laws be enforced by the state.

The investigatory panel was also harshly critical of the Michigan law that allowed the city of Flint to be taken over by the state and run by a series of state-appointed “emergency managers.”

“The Flint water crisis occurred when state-appointed emergency managers replaced local representative decision-making in Flint, removing the checks and balances and public accountability that come with public decision-making,” the panel found.

“Emergency managers, not locally elected officials, made the decision to switch to the Flint River as Flint’s primary water supply source …. The emergency manager structure made it extremely difficult for Flint citizens to alter or check decision-making on preparations for use of Flint River water, or to receive responses to concerns about subsequent water-quality issues.”

That’s an important cautionary tale here in Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal wants the power to strip locally elected officials of the power and responsibility to run their schools. The theory behind Deal’s proposed “opportunity school districts” is that state bureaucrats, with no accountability to local citizens or parents and no demonstrated competence at running schools, would be empowered to take over “failing” schools and run them as the state sees fit.

In Flint, when local officials and citizens complained bitterly about the quality of the water coming out of their faucets, the unelected, state-appointed emergency managers stiff-armed critics and in effect concluded that threats to the health of Flint residents didn’t justify the additional spending needed to fix the problem.

“We believe the larger issue is one of accountability” the Flint report concluded. “Who is accountable for the decisions made by the EMs in Flint? We believe the state must assume that accountability. If the state does not assume that responsibility … then no accountability exists at all.”

In short, power without accountability is dangerous.

Reader Comments 0

301 comments
Peachs
Peachs

The Republican Party in Georgia has no accountability. It is the fault of the citizenry of this state, that refuses to demand, or even vote for their own protection and well being. If this happens in Georgia, I am almost to the point of saying, you didn't protect yourself by going to vote, and the bad guys got in the office with your permission.

RantNRave
RantNRave

"Deal is the top story on cnn.com. Please let the nation know it's dead."


@JeffreyEav


DEAL OR NO DEAL......


Nathan Deal is one of  the most stupid players in this game.


The Most Stupid Player Deal Or No Deal


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sycs7PBQvgM

ByteMe
ByteMe

@Kamchak Beat me to saying that.  Like ringing the bell at the stock exchange....

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

You knew it was gonna happen.

Jerry Springer tells Politico he should get a commision from the Republicans for 'copying my show.'


Peachs
Peachs

They actually stole it from the pro wrestling ranks. Trump used to own those casinos, and needed cheap entertainment, so he brought in the wrestling and appeared, himself, in the ring ,trash talking on the microphone.

Antoine Averill
Antoine Averill

Dude you sound like a idiot i believe you just want attention . Bernie won 3 insignificant caucus not primaries and he is still over 300 delegates behind Hillary Clinton.Bernie is opposite Trump the old fool spread hate and divisiveness he will never become president .

rimsky
rimsky

Secretary of State John Kerry said the Republican presidential primary is “an embarrassment.”

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Kerry said foreign leaders are “shocked” by the rhetoric used in the race, particularly anti-Muslim statements./////

World welcome to our new and improved Republicans.  LOL

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@rimsky And they are shocked by President Obama's incompetence as well.  But they don't get a vote.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Nick_Danger @xxxzzz @rimsky So you are saying John Kerry is a liar just like Hillary?  If Rimsky read something other than liberal echo chambers, he would see all the articles from abroad talking about how disgusted they were with Obama.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@xxxzzz @Nick_Danger @rimsky 

*sigh* 

No, where did I refer to John Kerry. 

Son, you just keep reading stuff that was only written in your own brain. 

Maybe you oughta get that checked...

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Nick_Danger @xxxzzz @rimsky I see you only believe that which supports your own point of view and insult those with other opinions.  Very liberal of you.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The freedom to discriminate is not a Christian value.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

In other news, Guardian headline:  "Bison to Return to Montana after 140 Years in Canadian Wilderness".


That's one old bison.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Wouldn't cities have Republican representation if more Republicans lived there?

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Deal is the top story on cnn.com. Please let the nation know it's dead.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

Conclusions:  1) big government is bad for your health; 2) government bureaucracies whether in Lansing or DC don't care; 3) Democrats shouldn't be allowed unaccountable control over cities in order to line their pockets and run them into the ground.  The inescapable conclusion is that the country needs smaller, more localized government and more Republicans.  Cities desperately need a true 2 party system instead of Democratic control, looting and destruction.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@rimsky @xxxzzz I take it you didn't read Jay's column.  He said all those things (except for admitting how bad the Democrats were).

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@JayBook @xxxzzz @rimsky "compounded by bureaucratic incompetence,"  "other than locally elected officials," "We believe the larger issue is one of accountability."  These are your words.  Maybe you failed to understand your own wisdom when you condemned the government bureaucracies and centralized government that Democrats espouse.

rimsky
rimsky

@xxxzzz Did you come up with that by yourself or did you get some help?  

You spat out a mouth full of nonsense my friend.

JayBook
JayBook moderator

@xxxzzz @rimsky No. Jay did NOT. You should take responsibility for your own foolishness rather than foist it off on others.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Gov Deal: "The measure “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people,” the governor said Monday in prepared remarks."

Three cheers for Deal.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Thanks, Jam.  That's Cheer #1.  Who will give two more cheers??  td??  How about a cheer for Deal??

Bruno2
Bruno2

Thanks, Jeff.

td, want to be Cheer #3??

breckenridge
breckenridge

@Bruno2 

The Georgia Baptist Convention, which represents Georgia's 1.3 million Baptists?

Actually, that 1.3 million is just 12.7% of the Georgia population.

honested
honested

@Bruno2 @honested 

"maybe he's not the one-dimensional cretin you make him out to be".....

Maybe, but where is the evidence?

Bruno2
Bruno2

Awww, ed beat you to it.  : > {

Bruno2
Bruno2

@honested @Bruno2 Kind of a left-handed compliment there.  Maybe he's not the one-dimensional cretin you make him out to be.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@honested @Bruno2 He didn't have to take a strong moral stance as he did.  He could have simply said "It's bad for business".

Bruno2
Bruno2

@King_of_Kolob @Bruno2 I gotta admit that McKoon is an embarrassment to Columbus.  Maybe he'll focus on Gluttony next go round.

King_of_Kolob
King_of_Kolob

@Bruno2 "The measure “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.” "It's like a sauna in here as my pants are on fire."


This perfectly reflects the character that's why it passed the house and senate. It's what we call pandering.

honested
honested

@Bruno2 

Today, my fellow Georgians, our often confused and always ethically challenged Governor passed the "even a blind hog occasionally finds an acorn rule".

Thanks shady, for finally doing the right thing even if it was by accident.