I’m sure that every American is aware of the lead-poisoning scandal in Flint Michigan  - at least if you haven’t been in a coma for the past few weeks – and I suspect that as a scintillating example of American of American ingenuity and Exceptionalism the right wing gushes endless about, a fairly large swath of the Earth’s  7+ billion folks are aware of it too, given Al Jazeera, ISPN, The Guardian and The Times of India have 24-7 Breaking News Headlines.    So there’s that.

But this morning, as I curled up in my fake, yet comfy, leather club chair to leisurely peruse the Sunday Washington Post, I came across this headline:



Damn, I thought.  So poisoning young kids in Flint via water laced lead isn’t the only “problem” Governor Rick Snyder and his ever vigilant conservative Republican administration missed as they governed the city of Flint and it’s residents?  And here I thought Republicans were always about accountability, you know, like IRS accountability, Benghazi accountability, Hillary Clinton accountability  and Planned Parenthood accountability?

A bit of background.   Now you might think that because Flint, Michigan’s 99,700 residents are mainly Black (37% White, 63% Minority, 40% in Poverty) that might explain why Governor Rick Snyder and his crack state EPA agency didn’t detect the lead poisoning problem for a couple of years following the cost-cutting switch of the municipality’s water supple from the Detroit Water and Sewer Authority – Flint’s long time supplier of drinking water – to the Flint River.   But of course it simply cannot be that because the city’s residents are largely poor and Black that Snyder didn’t declare a state of emergency until January, two years after the switchover,  residents had been complaining for those two years that their sludge ridden, odoriferous tap water wasn’t safe. 

One other bit of background info:  Governor Rick Snyder  appointed an “Emergency Manager,” Darnell Earley, who enforced the April 2014 decision to switch from the Detroit system to the Flint River to source water.  Earley was appointed in 2013 as Flint flirted with bankruptcy like larger Michigan city, Detroit, some 70 miles to the north of Flint.  The root of both Detroit’s and Flint’s economic decline?  - the loss of good paying automobile manufacturing jobs following a series of trade agreements in the 1980’s and 1990’s that basically swept such jobs overseas. 

But I digress.  As much as Flint’s lead poisoning crisis has grabbed headlines, there is another crisis that hasn’t received as much attention but clearly shows that the problems with Flint’s water were recognized over two years ago: spikes in the incidence of Legionnaires Disease.  This disease is a bacterial disease that thrives in dirty water, particularly during the hot summer months.  It cannot be transmitted through drinking water directly but needs to be transmitted to the lungs through water vapor like in medical procedures, cooling towers, showers, pubic fountains and hot tubs.  

Between 2010 and 2013 there were between 6 and 13 cases of Legionnaires Disease documents.  In 2014 there were 42 cases and in 2015 there were 45 cases.  Nine people have died over the past two years.  Ruth L. Berekman, an epidemiology professor at Emory University stated:  “It seems likely that the public water supply contributed to the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Flint.  The public water supply was at risk for multiplication of legionella, and the timing of the outbreak is unlikely to be coincidental.”

Yet despite the 87 confirmed cases and 9 deaths from Legionnaires, Flint’s water supply has yet to be tested for the legionella bacteria.  Without a scientifically proven match between the bacteria in the water and strains cultured from victims, it is impossible to determine whether the tainted water supply caused the deadly infections, officials have told the public.  Well, so much for timely testing, I guess.   Janet Stout, president of Special Pathogens Laboratory in Pittsburgh, PA, thinks it is still possible to connect legionella bacteria taken from victims to legionella in the water. A state lab cultured bacteria from eight victims — too few to show that city water was generally responsible for the outbreaks. But each one could be matched with bacteria found in a home, even after nearly two years, Stout said. Once it takes hold in a water heater, Stout said, legionella can remain indefinitely unless the system is disinfected.

In this sorry tale of ignoring problems so long as they affect poor, Black folks, Rick Snyder is not alone in what is apparently his reluctance to spend public funds when only minorities are impacted, the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia also didn’t think that Black folks benefited from top notch educational opportunities like at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, but would be better off at maybe third or fourth tier schools.  Here’s what he said:

“There are — there are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having slower-track school where they do well. One of — one of the briefs pointed out that — that most of the — most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas….“They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in — in classes that are too — too fast for them….

And I suppose that Governor Rick Snyder, Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, the State EPA, and all the other public officials who didn’t seem to catch onto the deadly Flint crisis even though there were plenty of warnings, fall into the same conclusion as did Antonin Scalia:  Black Lives Really Don’t Matter.  As much as White ones, that is.

And, of course, I'm only kidding when it comes to Dictator Obama putting together a firing squad to take out Rick Snyder, Darnell Earley and the rest of Michigan's public officials who stood by as Flint folks got poisoned, sick and died.

Then again...............

Here's the full article:  Contamination, Disease and Outrage

Good day!


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