Three Officials Not Named 'Rick Snyder' Charged For Turning Flint's Water To Poison

I love the taste of deadly neurotoxins in the morning

Looks like there's finally going to be some justice for the people of Flint, Michigan, following the lead poisoning of its water: three officials have been charged with crimes, although so far the Emergency Managers who approved the switch to corrosive Flint River water, and Gov. Rick Snyder, who appointed the idiots who made the switch, continue to walk free. But at least this is a start:

The man who ran Flint's water treatment plant and two state environmental officials were hit with criminal charges Wednesday for allegedly misleading regulators about the lead crisis.

Warrants filed in court show Mike Glasgow was charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect while Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby are charged with misconduct, evidence tampering and violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act, according to NBC News affiliate WDIV.

The Detroit News has the charging details, as announced Wednesday at a press conference by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (pronounced "shooty"):

For Prysby, the charges against him include: two counts of misconduct in office; one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence; tampering with evidence; and separate violations of water treatment and monitoring laws.

Busch faces one charge of misconduct in office, one charge of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and separate violations of water treatment and monitoring under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act he was charged with enforcing.

Glasgow is charged with one count of tampering with evidence for changing lead water testing results and one count of willful neglect of duty as a public servant.

None of the three has yet been arraigned, although a burning in effigy would certainly be a nice touch. If convicted on all charges, Glasgow, who ran Flint's water plant, faces a one-year sentence for willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor, plus a felony charge of tampering with evidence that could get him up to four years of prison. Presby and Busch, employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), also could get four years on the evidence-tampering charges, plus five years on the misconduct in office charges. Or maybe once the process moves farther along, they'll all sing like canaries and implicate higher-ups in exchange for a plea bargain. A guy can dream.

Schuette's office said the MDEQ employees knowingly misled the federal Environmental Protection Agency, claiming the city was treating Flint River water with anti-corrosive agents when it wasn't. They're also accused of allegedly slowing down a county investigation into a Legionnaire's Disease outbreak and of manipulating lead test results. Oh, and then there was the bit where one of the MDEQ guys told the water plant manager not to worry about treating the corrosive water:

Prysby, then a district engineer with the state's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, allegedly told Glasgow that phosphate wasn't required when Flint switched to a local river for water in 2014, Glasgow said during testimony at a legislative hearing last month.

Oops, turns out that could have kept lead from leaching into the drinking water. But it saved some money!

According to MLive, Glasgow also tampered with lead samples -- since the city was having difficulty collecting enough water samples for a state investigation, he simply fudged the samples a little bit:

Water samples sent to state labs for testing in the first six months of this year were all marked as having come from homes with lead service lines, but actually almost always came from homes at less risk of lead leaching – houses with underground plumbing made of copper, galvanized steel or materials that could not be identified, according to the city's own documents

Water pipes are water pipes, whatever, even though the federal EPA required that the samples come from "high risk" locations, particularly homes with lead pipes leading to them. Instead, Glasgow's crew simply took samples wherever they could and called it a day. That's one way to resist overbearing government regulation!

Mlive also notes that Glasgow sent emails warning the water plant wasn't ready for the switch to Flint River water:

"I was reluctant before, but after looking at the monitoring schedule and our current staffing, I do not anticipate giving the OK to begin sending water out anytime soon," Glasgow's email says. "If water is distributed from this plant in the next couple weeks, it will be against my direction.

"I need time to adequately train additional staff and to update our monitoring plans before I will feel we are ready. I will reiterate this to management above me, but they seem to have their own agenda."

That's the best kind of public servant: Sends a CYA memo saying the city's not ready, but then also certifies that samples were from "high risk" areas when they weren't.

[wonkbar]a href=""[/wonkbar]At his press conference, Schuette said, "These charges are only the beginning and there will be more to come -- that I can guarantee you." He also said his investigation would follow wherever the facts take it, "and in this case, wherever the emails take us." That could get interesting, since press reports have already found documents suggesting the Flint water mess extends all the way to the Governor's office. During the Q & A, Schuette declined to say whether Gov. Snyder has been interviewed, saying he wouldn't go into specifics, but added "We've ruled nobody out."

Not to worry, though: to show he's convinced that Flint's water is perfectly safe now, if used with a proper filter, at least, Gov. Snyder announced Tuesday he'll drink filtered Flint tap water for the next month. That ought to put everyone's mind at ease. And in the meantime, Flint still has all the old corroded lead pipes that it had in December, when the news became a national story.

[NBC News / MLive / NPR / Mlive / Detroit News]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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