Reporting the new indictments in Flint!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2016

In search of explanations and facts:
New indictments were announced this week in Flint.

On Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow devoted more than half her program to the general topic. (Huge chunks of time were burned.) On Wednesday morning, the new indictments were reported in the New York Times.

The reports were instructive and not so instructive. Let's start with the Times.

Below, you see the start of Monica Davey's news report, which got prominent placement in the hard-copy Times. So far, we'd call this instructive and not so instructive. Hard-copy banner included:
DAVEY (12/21/16): 2 Former Flint Emergency Managers Are Charged Over Tainted Water

A criminal investigation into this city’s water crisis reached into the top ranks of supervision over Flint on Tuesday as Michigan officials announced felony charges against two former state-appointed emergency managers, accusing them of fixating on saving money rather than on the safety of residents.

The managers, who were appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to lead Flint out of fiscal distress, were charged over their roles in the public health crisis prompted by the city’s switch to a new water source, as well as the delays in responding to residents’ complaints as they suffered the devastating effects.

Announcing the charges at a banquet center not far from the Flint River, Bill Schuette, the state’s attorney general, described “a fixation on finances and balance sheets” as at the root of what happened in Flint, where the water has been tied to the lead poisoning of children and the deaths of 12 people from Legionnaires’ disease.

“All too prevalent in this Flint water investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” said Mr. Schuette, a Republican who is seen as a possible candidate for governor in 2018.
Here's what we've seen so far:

Two former emergency managers have been "accus[ed] of fixating on saving money rather than on the safety of residents."

That sounds like a bad thing to do. On its face, that isn't a crime.

We note that prosecutor Bill Schuette is "seen as a possible candidate for governor in 2018." Might this explain the political assessments which seem to dominate his first quoted remarks?

Please note: We don't know who did what in the case of Flint. We don't know who may or may not have engaged in criminal conduct—but as Davey began explaining the charges, we weren't even sure we knew what's being alleged.

In Davey's next graf, she reported that the two emergency managers face "charges of false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty." So far, we found this unclear.

That said, the two emergency managers seem to be joining a cast of thousands. In paragraph 10, Davey began calling the roll of the indicted:
DAVEY: The state criminal investigation into Flint’s water crisis, opened in January, previously had led to charges against one employee of Flint’s water plant and eight state officials, including a state epidemiologist and the former leader of Michigan’s municipal drinking water office.

Of those nine, two have accepted plea deals. The rest are awaiting trial, and some have sought the dismissal of the charges against them.

On Tuesday, two additional Flint officials were also charged with crimes. Howard Croft, a former director of the city’s Public Works Department, and Daugherty Johnson, a former utilities director for the department, were accused of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses.
By our count, this means that thirteen city and state officials have now been charged with criminal conduct. Needless to say, Maddow's show was dominated by the prayer that Governor Snyder might be added to the list.

Did thirteen different officials (and counting) actually commit crimes? We have no way of knowing. Beyond that, we have no real idea what a charge of "false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses" actually consists in.

At this point, Davey began detailing the charges against emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose. For ourselves, we were struck by the lack of clarity at the end of this passage:
DAVEY (continuing directly): Mr. Earley oversaw Flint as its emergency manager from late 2013 until early 2015...Mr. Ambrose worked as a finance director under Flint’s emergency managers and then was appointed in 2015 to become the emergency manager. The state charges allege that they used a false story to secure an unusual bond deal so Flint could take part in a regional water pipeline plan.

Since it was in financial distress, Mr. Schuette said, Flint was not permitted to borrow money unless it could prove a significant emergency. To get a state waiver, the city claimed it needed the money for an emergency cleanup of a retention pond. But Mr. Schuette said the money was actually intended for the long-term water project.

Mr. Schuette said they also agreed, as part of that project, to switch temporarily to Flint River water, even though they knew the city’s treatment plant was not ready to handle the treatment necessary to prevent contamination.

In the end, officials failed to properly treat the new water with chemicals
that would prevent materials from corroding and leaching metals like lead.
In the first two paragraphs, the managers stand accused of seeking money for one purpose, using it for another.

We'll assume that this may happen fairly often. On its face, such conduct is illegal, of course. That said, depending on what you think of the projects at issue, you may not find this kind of conduct so awful.

In the last two paragraphs, the rubber starts hitting the road. Or does it? We were struck by something resembling a contradiction of sorts:

In the third paragraph, we're told that the emergency managers switched Flint over to river water "even though they knew the city’s treatment plant was not ready to handle the treatment necessary to prevent contamination."

That sounds like a bad thing to do. On the other hand, we're immediately told that "officials"—we aren't told which officials—"failed to treat the water with chemicals" which would have prevented the leaching of lead.

Here's our question:

If those chemicals had been used "in the end," would everything have been OK? Do you mind if we suspect that Davey may not exactly know?

Years later, can anyone explain the basics of what happened here? If we're talking about journalists, we'll guess the answer is no.

For starters, no one actually cares about what happened here. That's fairly obvious, especially if you've watched the Maddow Show.

Don't get us wrong—Maddow seems to exude concern. That said, her intermittent "reporting" on Flint turns on one obvious burning passion—her desire to see Governor Snyder thrown head-first into jail.

Because it's so clear that this is her interest, we would say that her treatment of this topic has tended toward repulsive. We'll cover this in more detail in tomorrow's "Year(s) in Review."

On Tuesday night, Maddow prayed for Snyder's scalp. She dreamed of lengthy prison terms for the emergency managers. She demonstrated her lack of interest in the key word "alleged."

She let us see how much she loves the deeply upsetting word "poisoned." She actually said what's shown below. It's why she should be off the air:
MADDOW (12/20/16): And, of course, famously, there was the mass lead poisoning of the entire city of Flint, including thousands of kids who will live for the rest of their lives with the consequences of having been poisoned by lead, having lead exposure in their drink water when they are kids. It is something you don`t grow out of. It is something for which there is no magic anecdote.
"The mass lead poisoning of the entire city of Flint?" Maddow, AKA The Nun, lives for such thrilling descriptions. The key word "poisoned" does lots of work when she sells us this car.

It's time to tell the truth about Maddow. She turns out to be a bit unhinged. In the absence of supervision, she shouldn't be on the air.

Over the past few years, Kevin Drum has been cast in the role of Gallant, playing opposite Maddow's Goofus, on the subject of Flint. Maddow dreams of locking them up. Drum has supplied basic facts.

More tomorrow as we finish our award-winning Year(s) in Review reports.

14 comments:

  1. Something bad happened in Flint. Focusing on Maddow for the real story seems silly to me.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm not sure what else you would call being affected by a chemical that is harmful to your body. They call it lead poisoning for a reason, because lead is a poison, it has nothing to do with the intention of whoever was putting that lead in your body. This is not area where your obtuse schtick is of any benefit, Mr. Somerby--we get that you hate Ms. Maddow, but you are way out in the weeds here, get with the program.

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  2. False presences: Putting on airs or lying like a sack? You decide.

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    ReplyDelete
  4. You are unbelievably weird, Bob. I actually enjoy your critiques of Rachel Maddow, they're often accurate and true. But in this case, the people of Flint really DID have their water poisoned. You shriek that Maddow is out for Gov. Snyder's head, but you never explain why she shouldn't. Where does the buck stop, Bob? Why shouldn't Snyder be held responsible for this disaster? God, you get weirder and snider, you're losing it, man.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  6. Maddow is not unhinged. Bob is the unhinged one. His jealousy and envy for Maddow has destroyed him.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi everyone!
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    ReplyDelete
  10. My ex and I were together for 5 years. We lived together and were engaged. We went on a trip with friends and his family and had a nasty fight and broke up. We both moved out of our home and with our parents. We decided to go no contact for a month and 2 weeks in he started dating a girl and took her on a trip to California ( where we’ve gone the last 2 years on my bday) on my birthday weekend! After battling it out thru emails and a few meetings we finally came to see each other all of last week, i love him so much and i was so desperate to have him back coz i new that girl was not the right person for him so i have to save my relationship and reunite with me ex again so i try all i could to bring him back but all to avail i have be in contact with so many spell caster who only too my money and still nothing good work out of it, i ws so confuse and devastated one day trying to search on facebook, i come across a wonderful testimony of a lady on how a spell caster who she contacted also for love spell help her and bring her husband back to her with-in less day 2 days after the spell i was so fill with joy coz this lady meant my day and i regain my hope back so i directly and desperately email http://happyspelltemple.webs.com/ coz i love my ex so much and i want him back all to my self so with-in 5 min,Dr happy email me back with hope and told me that i have found solution in him that i should worried no more so i did all he ask of me and he gave me assured and guarantee that my ex will come back so i believed and was so gifted all to my surprise after the spell my ex call, come to my working beg and apology for his mistake,and he said sorry for the nasty break up that he was inconsiderate of my feelings nt in tend to hurt me. i can testify with the power love spell of Dr happy me and my ex are happily married now thank you Dr i will for ever be grateful to you and keep sharing your testimony if you need help or love spell fine it difficult to get back with your ex, email happylovespell2@gmail.com or call his mobile number on +2348133873774

    ReplyDelete

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    HIV HAS BEEN ONGOING IN MY FAMILY, I LOST BOTH PARENTS TO HIV. AND IT IS SO MUCH PAIN I'VE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET OVER..
    AS WE ALL KNOW MEDICALLY THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO IT..AND MEDICATION IS VERY EXPENSIVE..SO SOMEONE INTRODUCED ME TO A HERBAL PRACTITIONER IN AFRICA..
    I HAD A JOB THERE TO EXECUTE SO I TOOK TIME TO CHECK OUT ON HIM.I SHOWED HIM ALL MY TESTS AND RESULTS..
    I WAS ALREADY DISORGANIZED WITH HIV AND IT WAS ALREADY TAKING ITS TOWL ON ME..
    I HAD SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS SO I DECIDED TO TRY HIM OUT ALTHOUGH I DID'NT BELIEVE IN IT,
    I WAS JUST TRYING IT OUT OF FRUSTRATION? AND AFTER 14 DAYS, HE TOLD ME TO GO FOR A MEDICAL TEST.
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    AM A LIVING WITNESS..I DON'T KNOW HOW TO THANK THIS MAN? I JUST WANT TO HELP OTHERS IN ANY WAY I CAN..
    I HAVE JOINED MANY FORUMS AND HAVE POSTED THIS TESTIMONIES AND ALOT OF PEOPLE HAS MAIL AND CALLED THIS MAN ON PHONE AND AFTER 14 DAYS THEY ALL CONFIRMED NEGATIVE..
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    IF YOU WISH TAKE IT OR NOT..GOD KNOWS I HAVE TRIED MY BEST. ABOUT 28 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED NEGATIVE THROUGH THE HERBAL CURE OF DR Osagie
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    1. HIV/AIDS

    2. HERPES
    3. CANCER
    4. ALS
    5. Hepatitis B
    6. Diabetes
    Thanks Moderators

    ReplyDelete

  12. Medical scientists have discovered a new way to battle HIV AIDS by using a man called Dr osagieherbalist@yahoo.com
    MY NAME IS sent kay.I SAW A COMMENT ON POSITIVE BLOGS AND I WILL LOVE TO TELL EVERY BODY HOW MY STATUS CHANGES TO NEGATIVE and i got cured,
    AND AM NOW A LIVING WITNESS OF IT AND I THINK ITS A SHAME ON ME IF I DON'T SHARE THIS LOVELY STORY WITH OTHER PEOPLE INFECTED WITH THIS DEADLY VIRUS.
    HIV HAS BEEN ONGOING IN MY FAMILY, I LOST BOTH PARENTS TO HIV. AND IT IS SO MUCH PAIN I'VE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET OVER..
    AS WE ALL KNOW MEDICALLY THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO IT..AND MEDICATION IS VERY EXPENSIVE..SO SOMEONE INTRODUCED ME TO A HERBAL PRACTITIONER IN AFRICA..
    I HAD A JOB THERE TO EXECUTE SO I TOOK TIME TO CHECK OUT ON HIM.I SHOWED HIM ALL MY TESTS AND RESULTS..
    I WAS ALREADY DISORGANIZED WITH HIV AND IT WAS ALREADY TAKING ITS TOWL ON ME..
    I HAD SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS SO I DECIDED TO TRY HIM OUT ALTHOUGH I DID'NT BELIEVE IN IT,
    I WAS JUST TRYING IT OUT OF FRUSTRATION? AND AFTER 14 DAYS, HE TOLD ME TO GO FOR A MEDICAL TEST.
    AND YOU WON'T BELIEVE THAT 5 DIFFERENT DOCTORS CONFIRMED IT THAT AM NEGATIVE..IT WAS LIKE A DREAM,,I NEVER BELIEVE HIV HAS CURE..AM NOW NEGATIVE,,
    AM A LIVING WITNESS..I DON'T KNOW HOW TO THANK THIS MAN? I JUST WANT TO HELP OTHERS IN ANY WAY I CAN..
    I HAVE JOINED MANY FORUMS AND HAVE POSTED THIS TESTIMONIES AND ALOT OF PEOPLE HAS MAIL AND CALLED THIS MAN ON PHONE AND AFTER 14 DAYS THEY ALL CONFIRMED NEGATIVE..
    BBC NEWS TOOK IT LIVE AND EVERY EVERYBODY SAW IT AND ITS NOW OUT IN PAPERS AND MAGAZINES THAT THERE IS A HERBAL CURE FOR HIV AND ALL WITH THE HELP OF THIS MAN,,
    IF YOU WISH TAKE IT OR NOT..GOD KNOWS I HAVE TRIED MY BEST. ABOUT 28 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED NEGATIVE THROUGH THE HERBAL CURE OF DR Osagie
    AND THEY SEND MAILS TO THANKS ME AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED NEGATIVE,,THIS MAN IS REAL..DON'T MISS THIS CHANCE,,HIV IS A DEADLY VIRUS,,GET RID OF IT NOW..
    If there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out, his email still remains osagieherbalist@yahoo.com
    DOCTOR CAN AS WELL CURE THE FOLLOWING DISEASE:-
    1. HIV/AIDS

    2. HERPES
    3. CANCER
    4. ALS
    5. Hepatitis B
    6. Diabetes
    Thanks Moderators

    ReplyDelete
  13. How I Got My Ex Husband Back...........

    I am Shannon by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address Makospelltemple@yahoo.com , have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband. Thanks for Dr.Mako. His email: Makospelltemple@yahoo.com OR. his phone number: +2348108737816.

    ReplyDelete