The debate over the need for government can sometimes reach a fever pitch over the slightest things. Other times, however, it is clear to (nearly) everyone when it fails. The Flint, Mich. water catastrophe is one of those times.
City resident and elected officials for months badgered Michigan authorities about the foul odor and taste of the water, as well as its brownish tint and the odd way it made some people feel after drinking it. All were promptly ignored or dismissed out of hand by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration as protests being registered by cranks.
Until, of course, it couldn’t anymore. As the New York Times reported:
“It was not until late in 2015, after months of complaints, that state officials finally conceded what critics had been contending: that Flint was in the midst of a major public health emergency, as tap water pouring into families’ homes contained enough lead to show up in the blood of dozens of people in the city.”
The parents of Flint’s 8,000 young children have real reason for concern. Even trace amounts of lead can have health effects that could last a lifetime. That includes lower IQ scores, developmental delays, and behavioral issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Government failed the residents of Flint. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said it time for Gov. Snyder and other state officials to own up to their role.
“Despite a community uniting together to demand a clean and safe water supply, government officials ignored and dismissed the concerns,” he said. “However, it took less than six months for General Motors in Flint to be granted a change of water source after complaining that the river water was rusting its parts. What does that say about our government when car parts are put ahead of public safety?”
The Teamsters aren’t standing idly by while finger pointing by Michigan officials escalates. Instead, union members are lending a hand to help a community at risk. Members of Local 135 in Indianapolis today made a special delivery to its northern neighbor, bringing more than 1,000 cases of bottle water to Flint’s residents.
Finding solutions is what good leaders do. It’s a lesson the Snyder administration could stand to learn after this Flint fiasco.