Residents of Flint MI are victims of assault, manslaughter and extortion

Think Progress is reporting that residents of Flint, MI are being forced to pay for poisoned water and threatened with shut-offs if they do not pay, even if they only use the water to flush their toilets.

In 2011, Flint lawmakers imposed a rapid 35 percent increase in water rates, against a city law that requires utility hikes to be implemented gradually, and started issuing shutoff notices to those who were past due. A judge halted the shutoffs last summer, ordering the city to undo the increase and revise customers’ bills. But the shutoff notices resumed in November based on the prior rates, going out to about 1,800 past due households.

And while they were paused for the December holiday season, they have once again resumed this week. Finance Director Jody Lundquist could not tell Michigan Live how many notices are expected to be sent out in this round.

Even residents who aren’t behind, though, are frustrated that they’re still being billed for water they can’t even drink. “The city is still billing residents for the contaminated water being pumped to their homes and expecting immediate payment,” Sylvia Orduno of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization explained in an email to ThinkProgress.

And the amounts demanded are quite high. In 2014, the Flint Journal reported that the average water and sewer bill in Flint was $140 a month. For anyone of limited means, that couldn’t come at a harder time. “The pace at which help is getting to residents is causing them further health consequences, suffering, and debt,” Orduno said. “Bottled water is an expensive alternative and requires constant, large supplies to meet the need.”

This policy is outrageous given that,

Concerns about the safety of the city’s drinking water began nearly as soon as it switched the source form Detroit to the Flint River, with residents complaining that it was cloudy, foul smelling, and bad tasting while potentially causing health problems. Officials kept insisting it was safe, however, despite a whistleblower’s claims that they knew of problems as early as July and may have rigged water tests to cover things up. In September, public research came out that linked the water switch to a significant increase in the levels of lead found in children’s bloodstreams.

Even as the crisis became clear, government was slow to react. Weeks after city officials declared a state of emergency, the state government did the same, and even then it took several days for bottled water to start getting handed out.

Now, 10 people have died from Legionnaires’ disease, potentially related to the water crisis. And the consequences of lead poisoning, particularly for children are life long and irreversible.

Extortion is a felony crime. Wikipedia defines it as follows,

Extortion (also called shakedown, outwrestling, and exaction) is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, individual or institution, through coercion.

In addition to killing people and lead-poisoning children for life, the City of Flint is threatening to cut-off water for waste purposes, if people don’t pay their water bills. That is assault, manslaughter and extortion.

Governor Rick Snyder and the Flint Finance Director Jody Lundquist deserve to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

29 Responses to Residents of Flint MI are victims of assault, manslaughter and extortion

  1. FYI from Vox:

    It’s not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids

    Our scientific understanding of this issue is limited by the fact that it’s hard to chemically detect very low levels of lead in the blood. But to the extent that scientists have been able to study low levels of lead exposure, they have found that there is no safe point. More lead is always worse, and the level of blood lead enjoyed by the typical American child is at least somewhat hazardous.

    The main thing we know about non-catastrophic lead in the United States is that the biggest problem is inner-city soil contaminated by decades-old gasoline. Gas went unleaded in the mid-1970s, but all the old lead burned in the past was dumped into the air and then fell back to earth. The tiny lead particles don’t biodegrade. They mix in with the soil, get tracked into houses, and, most of all, end up on the hands and toys of little kids, who have a marked tendency to stick anything and everything into their mouths, leading to the ingestion of lead.

    This lead is everywhere, but it’s most heavily concentrated in places that were close to a lot of vehicle traffic during the leaded gasoline days — in other words, the centers of big cities.

  2. Democracy Now!

    Emergency for Democracy: Unelected Manager Who Caused #FlintWaterCrisis Now Runs Detroit Schools

  3. Disappointed says:

    If you or I were to poison this many people you can bet we would be sitting in jail awaiting trial. Funny how laws vary by the perp.

  4. #FlintWaterCrisis: #Flint needs #CleanWater NOW! SIGN: #Unacceptable

  5. Warning to Trump supporters: This is how the rich do the rest of us.

  6. Trained Observer says:

    Snyder and his appointees should resign in disgrace before they get run out of town ,,,

  7. The problem is Big Oil.

    Simply put, Big Oil is a bad investment fueled by irrational exuberance, chronic cronyism and an increasingly indefensible misallocation of capital. And decades of throwing good money after bad has produced a distorted economic system that socializes risk, privatizes profits, externalizes costs and misallocates capital. This continues because policy makers sustain it with taxpayer-funded subsidies, costly tax breaks and low-overhead access to publicly held resources.

    I realize this is a different problem from what we are seeing in Flint, but both are caused by rich people seeking greater power and more wealth.

  8. Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders called for Snyder to resign on Saturday, saying he has “no excuses” for the the disaster.

    “The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water,” the Vermont senator said in a statement issued by his campaign. “He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov[ernor] Snyder should resign.”

  9. The real criminals:

    Medical device maker recalls scopes linked to superbug outbreak.

    Olympus knew about the link between CRE and the device as early as 2012, but failed to warn the public or take action.

    Eleven people died.

  10. bettykath says:

    The emergency manager who was in charge when the water change was made is now in charge of Detroit schools which are in a deplorable state. Seems that the law was for the emergency manager system was to end at 18 months but it’s a scam. The emergency managers resign before their 18 months are up, the governor appoints a new emergency manager and resets the clock.

  11. girlp says:

    Due to the damage to the system they still can’t use the water for cooking or bathing. The governor knew about this and ignored it for months. The Michigan AG is opening an investigation I’m betting nothing will happen to Snyder

  12. Malisha says:

    Anybody who imagines that our local, state and federal governments are ever going to be held accountable is dreaming. Our courts will allow any kind of anti-citizen criminal conduct any of our agencies or government agencies can perpetrate.

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