FAQFAQ   SearchSearch  MemberlistMemberlistRegisterRegister  ProfileProfile   Log in[ Log in ]  Flint Talk RSSFlint Talk RSS

»Home »Open Chat »Political Talk  »Flint Journal »Political Jokes »The Bob Leonard Show  

Flint Michigan online news magazine. We have lively web forums


FlintTalk.com Forum Index > Political Talk

Topic: How the "Hottest Race" led to Flint's Crisis
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  Author    Post Post new topic Reply to topic
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

http://flinttalk.com/viewtopic.php?t=8963 This link connects Wright to Sam Riddle and the Burton investigation.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:03 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Federal Anticorruption Law in the State and Local Context
www.columbia.edu/cu/jlsp/pdf/Winter2013/Gaioni.pdf

On March 22, 2007, Charles Abbey was convicted of one count of conspiracy ... while Abbey served as a city administrator for the city of Burton,. Michigan .... Joseph, Public Corruption: The Government's Expansive View in Pursuit of Local and.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:07 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Mar 21, 2016 ... The KWA and Wright are at the center of the current Flint water disaster. .... bribery case of Sam Riddle, a convicted extortionist whose services ...
If you don't believe that water is the “new oil,” just ask Flint,...
schatziesearthproject.com/2016/02/01/if-you-dont-bel...

Feb 1, 2016 ... The Karegnondi Water Authority (or KWA) water pipeline project was the trigger for the Flint water crisis, and is absolutely not in the best ... in an FBI bribery and corruption case against Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle.
BI-PARTISAN DEAL LED TO FLINT WATER POISONING FOR ...
voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/15/bi-partisan-deal-led-to-flint-...

Feb 15, 2016 ... No Flint water crisis if no Karegnondi Water Authority ... KWA initiator Jeff Wright, a Democrat, tied to scandal-plagued Synagro, alleged .... Wright was an FBI informant against Conyers' aide Sam Riddle during the probe.
KWA & the Flint Water Crisis - Fix the mitten
www.fixthemitten.com/blog/kwa-the-flint-water-crisis
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:17 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

KWA & the Flint Water Crisis

3/24/2016



DID THE CREATION OF THE KAREGNONDI WATER AUTHORITY CONTRIBUTE TO THE FLINT WATER CRISIS?

Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):

Governor Rick Snyder’s Flint Water Advisory Task Force has released its final report, which begins with these fateful words: “The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice.” The final report places much of the blame for the Flint water crisis directly at the feet of state government, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the governor’s office itself.

However, the final report is not limited to discussing the failures of state agencies. Included among its 44 official recommendations, the report also calls for an “investigative review of the development and approval of the Karegnondi Water Authority [KWA] and of the City of Flint’s commitments to KWA water purchases.”

KWA was incorporated in 2010 to provide water from Lake Huron for Genesee, Lapeer, and Sanilac counties. Under the KWA articles of incorporation, the authority is governed by a board of five initial incorporators, consisting of the Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Lapeer County Drain Commissioner, Sanilac County Drain Commissioner, Mayor of Flint, and Mayor of Lapeer. In addition to serving as an incorporator and board member, Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright also serves as KWA’s Chief Executive Officer.

In turn, the five incorporators are required to appoint additional board members from each municipality that contracts to purchase water from KWA. Curiously, even though KWA was originally established to provide water for communities in Genesee, Lapeer, and Sanilac counties, only Genesee County and the city of Flint have ever executed contracts to purchase KWA water. It is now unclear exactly when the KWA pipeline will be completed and the authority will begin providing water to these purchasers.

As Chief Executive Officer, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner has the authority to hire and fire employees, manage KWA’s finances, and supervise and oversee the construction of the KWA pipeline. Under the KWA bylaws, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner (acting as Chief Executive Officer) also has the authority to sign all contracts on behalf of the authority—including contracts for the purchase of KWA water.

Pursuant to Michigan’s County Public Improvement Act, 1939 PA 342, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner is designated to serve as Genesee County’s “county agency,” making him responsible for managing and operating county utilities. Under the statute, the “county agency” is empowered to execute all contracts for the purchase of certain goods and services—including water—from other governmental entities and public utilities. The “county agency” is also empowered to set rates, fees, and assessments for county water service.

What does this all mean? It means that the Genesee County Drain Commissioner is responsible for both selling and purchasing KWA water. In essence, he contracts with himself for the portion of KWA water that will be sold to Genesee County. How many public utilities do you know of in which the same person signs multimillion-dollar contracts as both the seller and the buyer?

As one of the driving forces behind the establishment of KWA, and now its Chief Executive Officer, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner has created a veritable fiefdom of his own. In addition to his roles as county drain commissioner and “county agency,” he now oversees a large water-service bureaucracy with municipal borrowing power, a substantial budget, many lucrative contracts and subcontracts, and very little outside oversight. So it should come as no surprise that the Genesee County Drain Commissioner was also instrumental in convincing the city of Flint to contract for the purchase of municipal water from KWA.

Make no mistake: Flint’s decision to purchase water from the nascent KWA was entirely separate from the emergency manager’s decision to use the Flint River as an interim drinking-water source. However, the fact remains that if Flint had never decided to purchase its water from KWA, the emergency manager’s decision to use the Flint River as a primary drinking-water source would not have happened. And as we all know, if the corrosive Flint River water had never been used, the Flint water crisis would not have occurred.

In sum, the creation of KWA, followed by Flint’s decision to purchase KWA water, set in motion an unfortunate series of events that ultimately made it financially and politically expedient for a state-appointed emergency manager to draw drinking water from the Flint River. Now the people of Flint, through no fault of their own, are forced to live with the tragic consequences.

As the governor’s Flint Water Advisory Task Force has aptly concluded, the primary blame for the Flint water crisis rests with the state of Michigan, its dereliction of duty, and its unjust emergency-manager law. But it cannot be gainsaid that the decision to buy municipal water from KWA made the crisis possible.

An investigation would be helpful in answering some lingering questions. Was it financially prudent to construct KWA? Was it a good idea for Flint to contract with KWA? Was KWA really necessary? And if it was, why didn’t the emergency manager obtain Flint’s drinking water from a safer source pending KWA’s completion? These questions demand answers; I hope we learn more in the weeks and months ahead.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:20 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

VOICE OF DETROIT: The city's independent newspaper, unbossed and unbought
Local, national and world news from a people's perspective

BI-PARTISAN DEAL LED TO FLINT WATER POISONING FOR PROFIT: THE KAREGNONDI WATER AUTHORITY (KWA)
Posted on 02/15/2016 by Diane Bukowski

VIDEO ABOVE: Flint water activist collapses into coma

NBC 25’s Dave Bondy talked to an emotional Sharon Moore following the congressional hearings in Washington on February 3. Moore’s son Jerome contacted Bondy on Friday, Feb. 12 telling him that Sharon collapsed earlier in the week while protesting during Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 Budget Presentation at Lansing Capital building. Jerome Moore tells us his mother remains in a Lansing hospital after waking up from a coma. She is now conscious and talking to nurses.

********************************************************************************

Time cover FLintNo Flint water crisis if no Karegnondi Water Authority

KWA started “greatest water war in Michigan history”

GLWA widened war, taking over all of DWSD

KWA initiator Jeff Wright, a Democrat, tied to scandal-plagued Synagro, alleged money-laundering, shady campaign financing

Wright prioritized selling untreated water to DTE, other businesses over the people’s need for treated water



By Diane Bukowski

February 14, 2015

DETROIT – The mass lead poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan, a cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism, was contrived for the profit of the Wall Street bond market, corporations and politicians by both Republicans and Democrats with their own agendas
Karegnondi Water Group members get Bond Buyers' "Midwest Deal of the year award in 2014.

Karegnondi Water Group members get Bond Buyers’ “Midwest Deal of the Year” award in 2014. Without them, the poisoning of Flint would not have happened.

The two parties are battling the matter out in electoral debates, with Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder justifiably though hypocritically castigated by Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton for his role in this unspeakable catastrophe.

“The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” Clinton said during the NBC News debate in Charleston, S.C. “If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.” Clinton’s Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders simply asked Snyder to resign.

In the most cynically exploitative campaign move so far, Clinton just published the video below. It calls for donations to a Flint non-profit, rather than pledging billions from the U.S. Treasury to save Flint, just as the U.S. Treasury bailed out General Motors, which left Flint, taking with it 72,000 jobs.

No politician has expressed any intention of locking Snyder and cronies up for life without parole, the only sentence appropriate under Michigan law, or of providing the billions of dollars necessary to rebuild not only Flint’s water infrastructure, but the city itself, devastated for decades by its abandonment by General Motors and other corporations.

Ten Flint residents have already died from Legionnaire’s disease linked to contamination of the city’s water. Tens of thousands more, especially children and babies, face irreversible life-time damage due to the neurological and behavioral effects of lead, according to the World Health Organization.

GMFlintboxA petition to recall Snyder has finally been approved by the notoriously recalcitrant State Elections Board and will no doubt receive mass support, as it should.

But make no mistake—getting rid of Snyder will not cut out the cancer of racism and profiteering that has devastated Flint, Detroit, and cities across the U.S. for years.

The most blatant example of the bi-partisan midwifery of the Flint water catastrophe is the creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), in what a Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) spokesman called “the greatest water war in Michigan’s history.”

He was quoted before the creation of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), which has since robbed the people of Detroit, the largest Black majority city in the U.S., of the entire DWSD, the country’s third largest water and sewerage system, founded in 1836, which had been serving 40 percent of Michigan’s population.

The poisoning of the city of Flint, which is also a majority Black, would not have happened without the creation of the KWA at the instigation of Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright, a white Democrat who has been Drain Commissioner since 2001 and spent 23 years prior to that in the department under former Drain Commissioner Anthony Ragnone.

According to U.S. Census figures, Genesee County is 75.2 percent white, and 20.6 percent Black, with a 21 percent poverty level. Flint is 37.4 percent white, and 56.6 percent Black, with a 41.5 percent poverty level.

In 2013, the KWA began building a 63-mile pipeline to Lake Huron that runs parallel to DWSD’s pipeline for the region. While boasting it will lower water rates, the Authority admits the pipeline will only deliver raw water, unlike the DWSD, which delivers fully treated water. Communities which sign on to it will have to treat their own water, creating ways to do so at additional costs to customers and profits to contractors. Wright said in 2011 that he wanted to bring raw water in for the benefit of businesses in the area.

The pipeline was supposed to have been up for operation by 2015.


The KWA now includes the “Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Lapeer County Drain Commissioner, Lapeer City, Sanilac County Drain Commissioner and the City of Flint,” according to its website. St. Clair County is reportedly also considering membership as Wright courts more regional customers.

Wright, who has a history of shady dealings with water contractors, began the push to create the KWA in 2006. Snyder’s appointee, Flint Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz, later endorsed it as well. In 2013, Wright got the Democratic City Council of Flint to agree to disconnect the city from the DWSD, which had supplied high-quality water to Flint residents since 1967, and connect with the KWA instead.

Due to KWA construction delays, however, Snyder and Kurtz ordered the ultimately disastrous long-term use of the polluted Flint River in the interim, falsely claiming that Detroit had refused to negotiate better rates for its Genesee County customers. While the Flint Water Treatment Plant, using the Flint River, has always been a back-up water supply to DWSD, which gets its water from Lake Huron, the plant was never outfitted to operate with river water for more than 20 days, on an emergency basis.
DTE's Greenwood Energy Center

DTE’s Greenwood Energy Center in Avoca, MI is on the proposed Karegnondi line.

VOD reader Peter Bernard wrote, “DTE has been involved in the formation of KWA since the beginning. DTE didn’t need treated water to run its turbines. Was it the demand of DTE for untreated water as soon as Flint withdrew from DWSD that caused Flint to pump untreated water into its supply system? I worked for Detroit Edison as a summer intern 60 years ago and they always thought pure water was an extra expense since super-heated stem automatically purified the water driving the steam turbines.”

In 2011, Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal reported that DTE told the KWA board it was interested in purchasing up to three million gallons of untreated water per day from the Authority for its Greenwood Energy Plant.

“Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright called the news ‘very encouraging’ during a meeting of the KWA Board of Directors today, and said others could follow ‘as more businesses are made aware of (what we are doing and) the lower cost of untreated water,'” Fonger wrote, adding that Wright said KWA would work with DTE.
Map shows KWA pipeline in red, DWSD pipelines in blue.

Map shows KWA pipeline in red, DWSD pipelines in blue.

In 2014, the Bond Buyer magazine gave KWA the Midwest Bond Buyer of the Year award during an elaborate ceremony in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, for its second sale of $220 million in bonds to finance the pipeline, an intake facility, and two pumping stations.

It earlier sold $35 billion in bonds despite Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.

“Long before Detroit filed its Chapter 9 bankruptcy case in the summer of 2013, Flint and Genesee County, Michigan saw the need to break away from their dependence on the Detroit water system,” the narrator of a video shown at the ceremony said in a disingenuous, factually inaccurate introduction.

“In 2010 they formed the Karegnondi Water Authority, the two governments’ long-term strategy to deliver a more reliable water supply at more reasonable rates. After years of planning and crafting a bond structure with dual backstops to protect investors, the Authority hit the market in early April with its inaugural issue for $220 million in bonds. . . .The governments expect to cover the debt repayments with system revenues, and both put their limited tax GBO payments behind the bonds.”

The narrator said that Genesee County also pledged to cover Flint’s portions of the bonds if it is not able to do so under state emergency management.

Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick receive Bond Buyer award in 2004 for disastrous $1.5 billion COPS deal.

“Entering a market where local governments across Michigan faced heightened penalties, the authorities sold the bonds to more than 30 investors and achieved borrowing costs below projections,” the narrator said. “The deal paves the way for the County to trade in annual rate increases of about 11.5 percent for ones closer to five.”

The presentation recalled a similar Bond Buyer award given to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his then-CFO Sean Werdlow in 2004, for the disastrous sale of $1.5 billion in “Certificates of Participation,” or “Pension Obligation Bonds,” an amount that ballooned to $2.8 billion with default penalties and interest swaps. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr cited the deal as one reason for his improperly authorized 2013 Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, but never followed through on a lawsuit he filed calling it “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.”

Below is the video presented at the Bond Buyer 2014 awards ceremony, on the Karegnondi Water Authority and the bonds involved.

In 2013, Tucker, Young, Jackson and Tull (TYJT), a Detroit-based engineering and consulting company, was contracted by the Michigan Department of Treasury to provide a study of the proposed KWA, contrasting it with the advantages of Flint remaining with the DWSD. The study strongly contradicted claims the Bond Buyer made at the 2014 awards ceremony, and other made in a study contracted by the community of Swartz Creek. (See full TYJT study at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/FLINT-KWA-TYJT-water_report.pdf,)
DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson

DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson

“The Flint City Council’s approval of the Genesee County Drain Commission-backed idea to link Flint and a proposed multi-county connector effectively launched the greatest water war in Michigan’s history, “ Bill Johnson, communications head for the DWSD, said in a press release. “The action ignores a credible state-sponsored study that came out against the ill-advised Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) project. And the vote makes no connection to Flint’s fiscal reality. All things considered, the City of Flint is best served by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).” (See full release at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/water_war_undermines_flint-dwsd_relations-2013-14.pdf.)

The study concluded that the cheapest and safest option out of eight through 2042 for Flint’s water supply was to provide it directly through an adaptation of DWSD’s Imlay City pumping station, which is closer to Flint. DWSD has always provided water for the area through its Lake Huron Water Treatment Plant at Ft. Gratiot, Michigan, which sends it to the Imlay City station to go to Flint. Flint then supplies it to other regional customers. (See graph below.)

DWSD v KWA chart

TYJT noted that the KWA proposal did not account for cost overruns on construction contracts, an almost inevitable occurrence, or provide a back-up water supply as does the DWSD for all its customers in the event of failure of the primary supply.

Why did Wright ignore this study? His connections with shady contractors during his tenure as Genesee County Drain Commissioner beginning in 2001, and earlier in his 23 years serving under former Drain Commissioner Anthony Ragnone, are well-known.
Southwest community organizer Denise Hearn leads protest against Synagro boondoogle outside the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant July 31, 2008.

Southwest community organizer Denise Hearn leads protest against Synagro’s Detroit boondoogle outside the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant July 31, 2008.

Wright himself formerly owned a water consulting business called Tara/Aqua Management. During his term as Commissioner, he has signed multiple contracts with Synagro Technologies, Inc. for sewage sludge removal, dewatering, and land application at the county’s Linden and Ragnone treatment plants, from 2002 through 2009, according to a 2010 Flint Journal expose by reporter Ron Fonger.

At least two of the Genesee Drain Commission Synagro contracts, in 2003 and 2005, were signed by James Rosendall, former Synagro vice-president of development who went to prison for 11 months, in connection with the Synagro/Carlyle bribery scandal that brought down former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, DWSD head Victor Mercado, and former City Council President Monica Conyers, among other Black city officials.
Synagro VP James Rosendall.

Synagro VP James Rosendall.

Rosendall was the only white who was jailed, while Black officials who refused to act as FBI informants received terms as long as five years. Judge Avern Cohn barred the defense from asking why Synagro and the Carlyle Group were not charged in the RICO indictment.

Wright was an FBI informant against Conyers’ aide Sam Riddle during the probe. Many officials involved in the probe acted as informants rather than being charged as well.

Synagro was purchased by the insidious Carlyle Group in 2007, one of the largest private equity and alternative investment firms in the world which has extensive ties to the global defense industry.

The Carlyle Group’s board has included politicians from around the world, including former U.S. Presidents George H. W Bush and George W. Bush, and their former cabinet members U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, also former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Arthur Levitt, who served under Pres. Bill Clinton. It is connected to the Bin Laden family and to former Phillippines dictator Fidel Ramos, among numerous others. Synagro went bankrupt in 2013 and was sold.

carlyleconnectionsThe KWA’s current major contractors include the omnipresent L D’Agostini & Sons, based in Macomb, at a starting cost $24.6 million for the pipeline and $11.06 million for the intake station on Lake Huron. D’Agostini earlier sued the DWSD because it was barred from further contracting with the department after its involvement in the RICO indictment of Kilpatrick et. al. was exposed. D’Agostini previously did 70 percent of its business with the Department.

The Alabama-based American Cast Iron Pipe Company, which operates one of the largest ductile iron pipe casting plants in the world, has a contract with a starting cost of $84.1 million, while the Flint-based E & L Construction’s contract for the Imlay City pump station has a starting cost of $11.78 million. All this work duplicates DWSD pipelines and intake and pumping stations already servicing the area.
.

Recently, Channel 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff interviewed Jeff Wright in a story focusing on the profits made by contractors on the Flint water switch. They included Kurtz campaign contributors AECOM, with $18 billion in revenues in 2015, and the engineering firm hired to ensure that the switch to Flint River water would be safe, LAN (Lockwood, Andrews and Norman). LeDuff reports that firm’s original contract began at $140,000 and ballooned later to $4 million, despite the fact that it did NOTHING to ensure the safety of the city’s water.

(VOD takes issue with LeDuff’s initial contention that Flint ratepayers decided to opt for the KWA because they were paying “outrageous” rates to Detroit. That is a claim that has been made by DWSD’s wholesale customers in six counties for decades, never with an addendum that the communities involved add their own surcharges to the wholesale rates. LeDuff also appears to conclude at the end that water flowing through Flint’s pipes now from DWSD is safe, which it will not be until complete replacement of the corroded infrastructure. )

Some related stories from other media:

http://www.bondbuyer.com/video/doty-2014-midwest-deal-of-the-year-1069549-1.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/03/kwa_officials_think_credit_rat.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2011/05/dte_energy_tells_regional_wate.html

Related articles from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/24/maddow-snyders-new-mdeq-chief-opposes-feds-flint-water-order-flint-town-hall-jan-27-9-pm/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/20/boycott-michigan-jail-snyder-cronies-for-flint-lead-poisoning-domestic-terrorism-racism/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/12/21/rachel-maddow-slams-gov-rick-snyder-for-poisoning-flints-water-emergency-manager-act/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/11/08/layoffs-flood-detroit-water-dept-risk-public-health-rising-debt-higher-rates-more-shut-offs/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/10/16/flint-water-and-the-no-blame-game-true-files-fed-complaint-re-disparate-impact/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/10/13/will-regional-takeover-of-detroit-water-make-residents-of-6-counties-drink-flint-water/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/08/18/judge-signs-order-to-lower-flint-water-rates-35-stop-shut-offs-tax-liens/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/07/10/regional-water-czars-plan-permanent-shut-offs-to-large-parts-of-detroit-while-increasing-rates/

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2010/06/synagro_contract_provides_new.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2005/09/fbi_seizes_wrights_campaign_le.html

http://transmissionsmedia.com/carlyle-group-and-bushs-crusades/
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:35 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Great Lakes Law
A Blog on All Things Wet and Legal in the Great Lakes Region by Professor Noah Hall
.

About Noah Hall, author of Great Lakes Law blog
Great Lakes Environmental Law Center Homepage
Publications by Noah Hall


Great Lakes Law Blog

Great Lakes Law blog on all things wet and legal in the Great Lakes region by Professor Noah Hall, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center's Executive Director

« Standing on the public trust doctrine | Main | Attorney General Bill Schuette on behalf of the People of the State of Michigan v. Veolia North America, Inc. et al. – Pleadings »
July 27, 2016
The Flint Water Crisis, KWA and Strategic-Structural Racism – Guest post by Professor Peter Hammer

The following guest post is by my colleague Professor Peter Hammer, Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law. In his testimony before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission last week, Professor Hammer offers an explanation of the causes and methods behind the Flint water crisis that goes far deeper than the standard account. (The Flint Water Crisis, KWA and Strategic-Structural Racism is also available on SSRN.) He explains why and how the people of Flint stopped getting pre-treated water from Lake Huron (via the safe and reliable Detroit pipeline system) to getting corrosive water from the Flint River (via a dangerously underfunded and ill-equipped water treatment plant), all while borrowing and paying millions of dollars for a new, suburban-controlled competing pipeline (built and run by KWA, the Karegnondi Water Authority). While I have not been involved in his work on Flint, I have seen first-hand the detailed and thorough research that supports his critical analyses and conclusions. I highly recommend his paper (along with the State Task Force Report) to help understand how and why the Flint water crisis happened. (For more coverage of Professor Hammer’s testimony, see Curt Guyette’s ACLU Democracy Watch.)

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is holding hearings on the Flint Water Crisis from a perspective of civil rights and racial justice. Framing Flint in terms of race fundamentally changes our understanding of what took place and why. It changes how we think about the underlying problem of municipal distress, the tool of Emergency Management, decisions relating to Flint’s participation in the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), how the project was funded, the financially driven decision to use the Flint River as a source of drinking water, and the political environment that failed to recognize and respond to the mounting crisis.

I have submitted written testimony to the Commission. The testimony is newsworthy in that it provides some of the most comprehensive analysis to date as to 1) the decision to approve Flint’s participation in the KWA pipeline and 2) the financially driven decision to use the Flint River as an interim source of drinking water.

Important conclusions are:

1) The decision to approve the KWA pipeline was driven by politics, not economics, and was made without consideration of how the financially distressed city would pay for a) the $85 million construction project or b) the estimated $60 million needed to upgrade its Water Treatment Plant (WTP). KWA, the Emergency Managers, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and State Treasury were all complicit in this process.

2) In order to finance construction of the KWA pipeline, KWA, the Emergency Managers, DEQ, and State Treasury worked to manipulate bond finance rules and manufacture an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) that committed Flint to use the Flint River as an interim drinking water source and created a loophole permitting the financially distressed city to sell $85 million in new bonds for KWA pipeline construction.

3) State Treasury, DEQ and the Emergency Managers made no similar efforts to ensure Flint’s ability to finance upgrades to the WTP that would be needed to switch from treated water to untreated water from a new source. Estimates of necessary WTP improvements ranged from $25 million to $69 million. In the end, the Emergency Manager spent only $8 million in upgrades before starting to use the Flint River as the full-time source of drinking water. These funds were “self-financed” out of money previously paid to Detroit for clean drinking water (via a Lake Huron pipeline). Flint could not afford both to buy safe water from Detroit and finance the improvements to the WTP needed to switch to KWA.

4) Treasury contrived the end of Flint’s Emergency Management in April 2015 to avoid continued responsibility for the growing public health crisis. If the $12 million necessary to pay for clean Detroit drinking water had been put back on the books, Flint’s debt in April 2015 would have been larger than when the financial emergency was first declared in 2011.

5) The end of Emergency Management did not end Flint’s legal obligation to continue using the Flint River. The Emergency Loan Agreement entered into with the State to finance Flint’s continued $8 million deficit, prohibited Flint from unilaterally returning to Detroit for drinking water or ending its participation in KWA (or reducing water rates) without State approval.

This testimony centers the analysis of the Flint Water Crisis in the context of Strategic-Structural Racism and argues that the Flint tragedy should serve as a morality play about the dangers of structural racism and fiscal austerity, just as the Tuskegee experiments forever shame medical science.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:50 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Schatzie's Earth Project


February 1, 2016
If you don’t believe that water is the “new oil,” just ask Flint, Michigan

This is a cautionary tale for not only those in Michigan, but also for all Americans, and many citizens of countries around the world. We are running out of fresh, drinkable water. This may, or may not, be news to the general “prison population” (which is most of us). Your government and the corporations that control your government were aware of this many years ago. It’s high time for the rest of us to catch up, or else we will, quite soon, also be held hostage to those who control the Earth’s water supply.

Flint, Michigan’s toxic water situation is an unintended consequence of the silent movement around the world to control who controls our water supply. And make no mistake about it…the only thing “unintended” was that Flint’s plight became a media frenzy. Those who are in charge of the decision making and control of our water are only pissed off that they got put under the media spotlight; however, the vast majority of the current investigations, Freedom of Information Act requests, and subpoenas aren’t looking in the right places. Subpoenas for information and past communications from Governor Rick Snyder’s office which only date back to 2011 are far too narrow and won’t cut it. They may be getting (slightly) “warm,” but they’re not even close to being “hot.”

By choosing to rob his state of Michigan blind (until he yanks on the Golden Parachute which awaits his impending downfall), Governor Rick Snyder simply falls into lock step with the Koch brothers (who are his benefactors) and multinational corporations who actively seek to embed themselves within the fabric of public works projects that most of us take for granted. And we’re all in their crosshairs. Snyder’s brutish and methodical break up of long-standing public systems in Michigan was done fairly quickly, however, in his case, there were such horrific consequences that alarm bells have been rung. Even if you’ve never been to Michigan (I have not, personally), you should be very, very concerned because chances are that the key players in this “game” of gutting and privatizing public works and snatching up key resources is happening under your nose as I write this.

Rick Snyder cemented his control over democratic processes in several Michigan cities through legislation which super imposed emergency managers where and when he saw fit. Writer Connor Coyne, who is also a Flint resident says it best in Vox:

“The stage was set on March 16, 2011, when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 4. This measure broadened an earlier law that provided an “emergency financial manager” for financially distressed cities and school districts. Under the new law, “emergency financial managers” became “emergency managers” with the power to cancel or renegotiate city contracts, liquidate assets, suspend local government, unilaterally draft policy, and even disincorporate. (It is worth noting that Michigan emergency managers have done all of these things except disincorporate, which was entertained by a manager in the city of Pontiac.)

The need for an emergency manager was determined by a series of highly subjective criteria. Almost every city that got one was a poor, African-American-majority city devastated by a shrinking industrial sector: Flint, Pontiac, Detroit, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, and so on.

Flint was one of the first cities to be assigned an emergency manager in 2011, and over the course of four years had four such managers. One of the first manager’s first acts was to suspend local government, and this remained essentially in force until the departure of the last emergency manager in 2015.”

The imposition, and then, when repealed by referendum, re-imposition of emergency managers by the Snyder administration, who reported only to the Governor, are also squarely to blame for the lead poisoned water in Flint; however, there are two seemingly disparate pieces to this puzzle that need to be factored in to truly understand what’s going on. The first one involves systemic assaults on the very structure of Michigan’s public utilities.

The Karegnondi Water Authority (or KWA) water pipeline project was the trigger for the Flint water crisis, and is absolutely not in the best interest of the public. It’s a blatant fleecing of the County of Genesee and, particularly, the City of Flint.
After years of attempts to launch an alternative to Detroit’s water system, in fall of 2010 (just weeks before Rick Snyder began his tenure as Governor), the Karegnondi Water Authority (or KWA) was formally created. The native Huron-Petun people referred to Lake Huron (which is where the water already did, and eventually will, come from) as Karegnondi, which means “big lake.” But don’t let that nod to the natives lull you into feeling good about the KWA. You should think of it as something that Satan would hatch and nurture like a litter of bastard, rabid, mutant dogs ready to control the huddled masses trapped within the fiery Gates of Hell. Okay. Maybe that’s a little verbose, but you get my point.

According to KWA’s 2010 Articles of Incorporation, this municipal corporation was established to build a new pipeline and water treatment facility from Lake Huron to serve customers in the City of Flint, the City of Lapeer, the County of Genesee, the County of Lapeer, and the County of Sanilac. These future (and hopeful) customers are referred to as Constituent Municipalities. Keep in mind that the City of Flint is within Genesee County and the City of Lapeer is within Lapeer County, so we start out with a few onion layers of stupid right from the start.

The big surprise, for me at least, was that this Water Authority and pipeline project, which led to Flint having to temporarily switch its water sourcing to the Flint River, was NEVER, ever about cost cutting, despite what was being said at the time. And conflicts of interest are scattered like fairy dust throughout this mess. In the end, before Flint was forced to sever its ties to the Detroit Water and Sewerage System (DWSD) which it had used since 1966, DWSD offered the City of Flint savings on future water purchases which would have amounted to $800 million dollars over the long term, and which was at least 20% less than their cost to build the KWA pipeline from Lake Huron. Of course, it should go without saying that if Snyder and his emergency managers (who are now busy destroying the Detroit public school system) had made the obvious and correct choice, Flint would never have had their water poisoned in the first place and the whole issue would be moot.

In examining KWA’s Articles of Incorporation (which read like a megalomaniac’s wet dream), it’s easy to see how this wasn’t going to end well for Flint. You can be read the Article of Incorporation below. If the image is too small, just click on it to enlarge. I’ve highlighted some salient parts.

Notice the language used to describe what KWA’s “scope” includes, which is about as wide and all-encompassing as the Grand Canyon. This was my first clue that there was something rotten in Denmark.

The current flurry of subpoenas and requests for further information directed at the Governor Snyder’s office (which have been prompted by the situation in Flint) must focus further back in time to at least 2006, and should close in on the people and organizations involved in this KWA deal, particularly on the Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Jeffrey Wright, who also served as KWA’s first CEO.

Jeffrey Wright is one shady character.
In 2005, Jeffrey Wright, who is as corrupt and as corruptible as they come, came under an FBI investigation for money laundering and corruption related to one of his campaigns to be the Genesee County Drain Commissioner. The allegations and subsequent investigation remain clouded in secrecy, with convictions of Wright’s associates and Wright himself being “flipped” by the FBI and serving as a Confidential Informant against one of his associates in an FBI bribery and corruption case against Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle. When speculation arose about why Wright would choose to be a CI, former Genesee County prosecutor, Arthur Busch said, “I’m sure of one thing. Jeff Wright didn’t do it out of civic duty.”

Very early on in the process, the KWA project is courting other suitors to buy its water.
KWA went through several early structural changes (via Resolutions, Agreements, and Amendments) laying the groundwork to alter its basic intent (which was initially “supposed” to be about selling water to Michigan communities) to, ultimately, being able to sell water to anyone it chooses, not just to constituents or municipalities. The legal jargon in one of the KWA’s earliest Agreements, which I have included in the iFrame below, is odd. It implicitly defines these outside water Buyers (they capitalize the word Buyer) as more than just components or customers of the whole project (which is what they should be). Instead, the Buyers are more like partners, or “drivers,” of the entire project, even pegged to pay for the up front environmental studies, permits, consultants…everything.

To be sorting out other water Buyers who KWA wants to sell water to (and in insanely huge amounts which are sometimes not going to be counted in total water sold), and who they are planning to charge for the early paperwork, studies, and permitting is very odd. Remember that at the time this outside Buyer Agreement was drafted (February 2011), there weren’t even any actual cities or counties attached to the project, and yet, hundreds of millions of both dollars and gallons of water are being decided upon already.

Exhibit E at the very end of this potential Agreement is of particular interest:

Again, look at the dates and timing here. KWA was incorporated on October 26, 2010 with no actual municipalities committed to using it yet. Meanwhile, across the state, Snyder was actively breaking up public utilities projects. The water company that HAD supplied water to Flint and many other cities and towns, which was the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, was being split apart with an eye to privatization. The formation of the KWA, which ended up severing Flint and Genesee County from DWSD, and which at least initially claimed the support of other cities and counties, dealt the final blow to DWSD, making way for its demise and probable privatization.

Moreover, in reading through KWA’s outside Buyer Agreement, I can’t tell if the Buyer (or Buyers) are perhaps the French company Veolia Water, which is the world’s largest private water company, or if they’re also referring to the fossil fuel industry (possibly for fracking by companies like DTE Energy). I suspect they’re making accommodations for both, but only time will tell. The KWA documents outline both the bottling of Lake Huron’s water for resale, and an enormous amount of “exempted” water usage for other industrial purposes, like fracking or power plant cooling. I would like to tie in another impending issue which makes corporate control over water and other natural resources extremely timely. If the Trans Pacific Partnership is approved here in the US, multinational corporations such as Veolia (who have used trade agreements to sue other countries before) will not only control our precious natural resources, but they will sue us and they will win if we try to change the agreement or if we limit, in any way, their profitability. That’s how the Investor State Tribunals “work,” as in work for the corporations, and not for the people.

It’s really strange that the outside Buyer (or Buyers) of Lake Huron’s water are seemingly slated to pay for all the environmental studies, designs, permits, etc. for the pipeline project. All of it. Like it was being done for them. Right from the start.

Jeffrey Wright takes his show on the road, desperately trying to sell the KWA pipeline’s water, using the same Snyder/emergency manager tactics of attacking dissenters.
Jeffrey Wright ends up spending the next few years after KWA is incorporated in 2010 trying to sell KWA’s pipeline project to cities and municipalities. It’s almost as if his life depends on it, which it might. Despite the fact that the KWA project is not in the best interest of Flint or the County of Genesee (where Wright also serves as its Drain Commissioner), emergency managers and Snyder cronies end up being the only ones signed up to be a part of this thing and purchase the pipeline’s water. Hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds are issued, leaving Flint, with its dwindling population of largely poor citizens, responsible for an insane portion of the eventual price tag. This is, by the way, well before the decision was made to temporarily switch to the Flint River for water until the KWA pipeline is complete. By now we all know how THAT bad decision turned out.

The City of Flint and the County of Genesee have little control over the KWA project.
The City of Flint, with its population of only around 99,000 people, then became responsible for 34% of the entire KWA pipeline project, which will end up costing roughly $450-500 million dollars. While many people are now blaming Flint’s City Council (who voted in favor of buying water from KWA by a 7-1 vote in March 2013), in fact, their approval meant nothing. It was Snyder’s emergency managers who were responsible for both the commitment to KWA and the temporary switch away from Detroit’s water which led to the corrosion of Flint’s pipes and the leaching of lead into their drinking water. It’s like they did it on purpose or something. I’m left to think that because the simple end of a contract to purchase water from DWSD did not mean that they were being, literally, “cut off” from their water source. Other cities and municipalities continued to receive water from Detroit without an active contract. In the end, Snyder’s emergency managers, and by extension, Rick Snyder, decided to purchase 18 million gallons of water per day from the KWA’s future pipeline and this is what prompted the temporary switch to the Flint River. It was a criminal decision made by hand picked emergency managers reporting only to Rick Snyder, and not a decision or choice made by democratically elected officials.

The County of Genesee, which Flint is part of and which is the only other entity committed to the KWA project (financially or otherwise) has also been signed up, thanks again to Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Wright (who you will recall also helped create the Karegnondi Water Authority). Genesee County will purchase 42 million gallons of water per day. The KWA pipeline project and water treatment facilities were designed to provide a total of 85 million gallons per day of water. 60 million gallons per day will now be the responsibility of Flint (18 million gallons per day) and Genesee County (42 million gallons per day), which is probably a gross over-commitment as those populations are decreasing. And they are being stuck with the financing and down payments with nothing to show for it except, in the case of Flint, toxic water from the Flint River.

Moreover, and consistent with the raping and pillaging of that city, Flint has virtually no “voice” on the KWA Board even though they’re now responsible for a third of the project.

According to KWA’s Articles of Incorporation, the KWA’s five Incorporating Board members must consist of:

1) the Genesee County Drain Commissioner (representing the County of Genesee):

2) the Lapeer County Drain Commissioner (representing the County of Lapeer);

3) the Sanilac County Drain Commissioner (representing the County of Sanilac);

4) the Mayor of the City of Flint;

5) the Mayor of the City of Lapeer (who doesn’t need to be here).

PLUS, 10 other hand-chosen Board members, referred to as Additional Board Members. The way that KWA was created means that Flint, Michigan can, and may, have only one Board member. Voting is by majority rule. Keep in mind that this means that Flint has 34% of the financial responsibility with only 6.7% of the actual “voice.” They should have, at the very least, 5 Board members out of 15 (total), although, with a simple majority necessary, even 5 voting members may not be enough. Genesee County also has only one dedicated Board member and they have 66% of the financial burden. These are not insignificant details. The KWA project and the financial commitments it created, will endure for decades, further crippling an already decimated county.

Flint’s immensely disproportionate amount of financial “burden” comes with absolutely none of the potential short or long-term “gain.” With insufficient representation on the KWA Board of 15 members (remember that the City of Flint has only one definite Board member) and with only a simple majority needed to pass resolutions and approve spending, the people actually paying for the project have very, very limited “say” or control. This is, of course, consistent with Governor Snyder’s rule by brute force and attempt to destroy the City of Flint, if it hasn’t already happened.

The outside audit of KWA’s first full fiscal year is also telling. It was completed in March 2015 and it covers the period from KWA’s formal inception (October 2010) to the end of its first fiscal year (September 30, 2014). I think it speaks volumes. You can read it below. Again, I’ve highlighted some important points. Keep in mind that Flint and Genesee committed to this project just before KWA’s first fiscal year ended which is what triggered this audit and the beginning of pipeline contracts and construction:

The Karegnondi Water Authority was never a good idea, on any level, for the City of Flint or Genesee County and it is what led to Flint’s lead water crisis.
KWA’s pipeline is, at its core, not about cost cutting or about providing water for the citizens of Michigan. It’s a blatant resource “grab” ultimately for private interests. Let me restate that: there is zero doubt that KWA is not cost effective, not a well-conceived or efficient project, and, most important, not in Flint or the County of Genesee’s best interest. It is being built to service some entirely different purpose, or “client,” which is perhaps the fossil fuel industry or Veolia Water (more on them later).

The creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority manages to kill at least two birds with one stone. In addition to hobbling the financial infrastructure of the City of Flint for decades to come, it also managed to deal a mortal wound to Detroit’s DWSD by depriving it of an important customer base. This resulted in it being cleaved into two entities, the Great Lakes Water Authority and DWSD’s newest incarnation as a smaller provider to the City of Detroit. Running throughout this narrative are blatantly discriminatory practices and egregious abuse of power. But most of us had that icky feeling all along, didn’t we?

There is a very deliberate and methodical genocide and overt class warfare taking place throughout Michigan at the hands of Governor Rick Snyder. It’s clustered around vulnerable cities like Detroit and Flint, but they are not alone. It’s being perpetrated by an unconstitutional, unnecessary, and undemocratically institutionalized system of emergency management which the citizens of Michigan do not want, nor do they need since it does not serve their best interests. It’s also a blueprint for other regions where a push for the privatization of basic services are being attempted with potentially similar disastrous results. Now is the time for all of us to join together, regardless of our zip code or our country code, and put a stop to the ultimately non-partisan concept of privatizing profits while socializing risks.



NEXT: The 2nd piece of this puzzle involves powerful corporations now having a clear path to control dwindling fresh water supplies. What’s happening in Flint may already be happening where you live.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:58 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Schatzie's Earth Project


Facebook


February 3, 2016
Water, water, everywhere. For the right price

There is some kind of very, very bad cover-up here, folks. And it goes to the very top of pile here in the US. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s serious.

One thing I do know is that there is a stampede to acquire water rights around the world, the thing that we all need to keep in mind is that profits trump people. In other words, we should never, ever assume that the environment, the health of humans and other species, or laws and regulations are being respected. Corporations have one thing they’re focused on: profits. Okay, two things. They also prioritize self preservation, and it’s within that second part that meaningless drivel is circulated like “corporate responsibility,” “respect of human rights,” “prioritizing local economic growth and development,” and “encouraging meaningful dialogue with investors.” Not to be cynical, but really, folks, those things mean absolutely nothing to a corporation. They do, however, tend to trip up and confuse normal and well-intentioned people who try to see the good in, and the best of, everything. A line must be drawn in our own non-corporate “brains” which classifies corporations, and those who speak on their behalf, as decidedly “other.” Not human, not caring, not nurturing and definitely not truthful. This may seem harsh and ugly but, without exception, this is the reality.

And by the way, can someone – anyone please tell me two things:

1) Why hasn’t Rick Snyder even been SUBPOENAED to speak before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington, D.C.? Who better to know why this happened than the person who made everyone accountable to only him, only answerable to him by circumventing the democratic process?

2) Why didn’t the federal government step in and help Flint when they knew they were being poisoned? It still isn’t happening. Keep in mind that every day, week and month of being exposed to lead in your water is very, very dangerous. And yet – nothing?

[The portion of this post in dark green is an update to the original post] According to an Op Ed in the Chicago Sun Times from Shikha Dalmia, the federal aid for Flint is actually something that they’ve already bought into. It’s not one cent more than they were already entitled to receive. Dalmia says:

“The federal 2016 omnibus spending bill put $1.4 billion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that Uncle Sam created decades ago to help states defray the cost of federal clean water mandates. It was clear from the start that the president was drawing from this fund. But what was less clear was that Michigan is getting only the money it was entitled to – not a penny extra.

As per the law, every state gets a piece of the revolving fund pie based on a statutory formula that takes into account the state’s geographical area, population and the like. Michigan’s share under this formula works out to 4.75 percent – or $66 million of the $1.4 billion. But to get this money Michigan has to put up matching funds of 20 percent, or around $14 million. Add that together and you get the $80 million that Obama is taking credit for.”

Michigan is getting gutted, from the inside ~ out. And why not? They are sitting atop that new liquid gold I wrote about the other day, which is fresh water. It’s not for nothing that the real-life brilliant guy who Christian Bale portrayed in “The Big Short” (his name is Michael Burry) is now in the water business. And much like inviting Charles Manson into your house to use your phone when he says his car broke down, it is NOT going to end well for Michigan if corporations are allowed to control its water.It already isn’t working out well, right? But let’s move on to further proof of how badly this can end. We have a good, and very tragic example quite handy at this moment in Flint, Michigan, which I wrote about here.

But, wait. Wasn’t that just because of Rick Snyder’s stupid emergency managers? No, it was not entirely because of them. Those emergency managers, who look about as diabolical and dangerous as sell-out Brandon Nuttall, are pawns in a big game and they had very, very professional help to arrive at their conclusions, which does not make them innocent, by the way. Their professional help was truly the best in the business. So any reasonable person would have to wonder a) if it was deliberate, and b) who should pay the price, criminal and civil, for what happened to Flint’s water, which was left untreated in what can only be called, at the very least, the biggest “oversight” in history, and which then corroded pipes, leaching toxic lead into their drinking water. Which the people of Flint were left to drink for (going on) 2 YEARS. Two years. In April 2016, it will be two years, or 730 days, more or less. Flint has no grocery store, so it’s not like people can easily pop out to Wal Mart and pick up a tanker truck of bottled water. They’ve had to settle for toxic, leaded water for two years, so that’s boiling pasta in it, brushing your teeth with it, doing dishes with it, feeding it to your plants, your cat, your dog. You get the picture. It’s ugly and rotted out, much like the black heart of a corporation, if it had a heart. Which it doesn’t because “it” doesn’t give a shit about you, me, your kitten, your fern, your grandma, your baby, or your pregnant cousin. Not even a little bit of a shit. People need to accept this fact, and process it for a moment, and then move on with eyes wide open…in the future.

I’m going to focus on two big time, wealthy, and professional corporations involved in poisoning Flint because, chances are, many of those reading these words have contact with one or both of them right now. Remember. Keep your eyes open, because Flint’s cautionary tale may also be yours.

In that time honored phrase, “follow the money,” I traced back steps from Flint’s current poison water to where it started, more or less. And for the attorneys, investigators and those who wish to really get to the bottom of this, I’ve previously written about a corrupt, bad decision to commit Flint and Genesee county to a new water pipeline, essentially breaking up the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), cleaving it off into the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and a smaller entity serving just Detroit. Along the way, perhaps running parallel, is the creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) which is the reason behind Flint’s water being altered in the first place. I can honestly say that in looking through some of the documents related to a) Detroit’s bankruptcy, b) the Michigan water situation, and c) the lunatic notion that Snyder via his emergency managers should run anything bigger than a dollhouse, the only winners are lawyers and corporations. The only losers are the people of Michigan, en masse, but particularly those that live in cities with emergency managers.

In addition to the finger pointing and assigning of blame in my previous piece on Flint, I’d like to throw in 2 other corporations which must be looped into this mess. Both of them impact a large swath of this country through their extensive business dealings, and both have thoroughly embedded themselves, with the help of Rick Snyder, into far too many aspects of Michigan public policy.

First up is Veolia Water
For all I know, the whole damn thing can be traced back to them. Veolia Water is the biggest private water company in the world. They’ve got their fingers in everybody’s dikes, so to speak. Breaking news reports indicate that Veolia has just purchased a nuclear waste clean up company called Kurion – a booming business with infinite need, as I wrote in a three part series which begins here. Lots of radioactive waste with no solutions about where it should go (Michigan?).

This may be a bit of a short cut, but I’d suggest that people get a notion of how big they are via this innocuous Wikipedia page. But don’t just look at the page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page (where it says Contract Violations) to see just some of what Veolia has been up to. That’s the tip of the proverbial and literal iceberg when it comes to how they’ve screwed up the most valuable resource on Earth…something that none of us can survive without (unlike fossil fuels). I’ve taken a bit of a short cut by just using Wikipedia here simply because of time constraints and also because if I didn’t, this post would be the length of War and Peace.

For the ambulance chasers and others who think that somebody had better pay for this crime scene in Flint, Michigan, I’d suggest that Veolia has been up to its ears in malfeasance. And they’ve been paid well for it all over Michigan.

But when it comes to being so lousy that it should be criminal, I’ll throw this out there. The March 2015 report I’ve put in the iFrame below is by Veolia, and it was paid for by Flint. It’s supposed to explain why their water is so wonky that everyone is getting sick, but it’s so incredibly bad that I’m left to conclude it’s criminal. Even a high school chemistry teacher who just started a job in a rural school district operating out of an old schoolhouse, who only took the job to pay off his student loans, could do better than this. I don’t even know what the very point of it was, to be honest, except to provide cover for someone or some thing.

My own personal non-scientific radar goes up when I see the color of Flint’s water (Veolia says its old pipes, air in the lines, whatever), coupled with the metal-ness and hardness of the water, and then throw in the smell and taste, all of which the residents of Flint complained about from the very beginning. One of the first things, THE VERY FIRST THINGS, anyone who knows anything about drinking water should be doing is lead testing. Hell, even the tiniest amounts of lead are too much, so a test for lead coming out of the taps should be the first, primary thing checked off the list. Veolia is a water company. There is a good chance that they are, or will be, involved in YOUR water, regardless of where you live. This company is worth billions of dollars. They want to own the world’s water. They even say it outright. So who in hell, except for THEM (and their lawyers), thinks this is a good idea? And, by the way, if Veolia hauls the US government, or an American town, or a US state, or anyone that wants to break an agreement with them, before an Investor State Tribunal, as they’ve done in Egypt, we are screwed because, a la the Trans Pacific Partnership or NAFTA, they will win.

Their egregious, lame, utterly basic analysis of Flint’s water is like a pediatrician having a two year old kid (who goes to daycare) come in for an exam, presenting with bright red cheeks, a fever, they’re also tugging at their ears, crying at night, and complaining of pain in their head; however, that same kid stubbed their toe in the waiting room on their way into the exam room. That hypothetical lousy pediatrician, if they were as lame as Veolia, would only examine the kid’s toe and suggest taping it up and giving them a few Motrin…never checking for strep or an ear infection, and then send them on their way. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy for some people, but for me, it works (I have 4 kids).

Anyway, here is Veolia’s ridiculous report on Flint’s water. My only hope is that this costs them millions of dollars, in the end, at the hands of some class action lawsuit or Attorney General:

Whatever Flint paid for that piece of garbage above needs to be refunded with the highest interest possible tacked on, and the money should, first of all, go to the residents of Flint and then a chunk should go to those plumbers who are fixing pipes on their own time.

Veolia has been paid MILLIONS by the State of Michigan. They’ve piddled the City of Detroit, DWSD, the Great Lakes Water Authority, and they’ll probably royally screw the rest of Michigan. If the KWA pipeline project is/was ultimately for, or about, them, then millions of other people are going to be really sorry.

Southeastern Connecticut recently expressed concern that Veolia screwed up in Flint and they also happen to have a contract with Veolia for their water. They are right to be worried. If this multibillion dollar group of supposed experts cannot even figure out that lead poisoning has been happening right under their French noses (which I find unbelievable), then they should be banned from touching water, in any way, except when they flush a toilet. In reading through their website a few weeks ago, and then comparing it to what’s there now, I can see that some of it got scrubbed. But they’re not the only crooks covering their Brooks Brother’s clothed arses….

Meet Lockwood Andrews & Newnam
This 80 year old engineering firm, which is a subsidiary of the much larger Leo A Daly Company, has municipal and public works projects all over the place. I read through their website a few weeks ago and, funny enough, there was a mention of the City of Flint amongst their projects. but I can’t find it now. They still trumpet their involvement in Michigan’s KWA project, though. For now.

If I were an ambulance-chasing attorney, I’d go after these people first. They may not be as filthy rich as Veolia, but they’re easier to catch since they’re headquartered in the US. If you look through LAN’s website, chances are that you’ll find that either your city or state works with this group. People might want to rethink that.

So Lockwood Andrews & Newnam (LAN) began working with the City of Flint and other cities and states in Michigan years ago. They’ve managed to embed themselves in quite a few projects, such as the Karegnondi Water Authority (starting at least back to 2009 which is before it was even formally incorporated, which seems dodgy given the rest of the story), and which they’re still heavily involved in, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) which was a by-product of the gutting of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), among others, but what is really going to cramp their style is that, in my opinion, they were the ones who let Flint emergency managers switch to the Flint River without treating the water for corrosiveness first. Sure, Veolia piled on and went along with their findings, but Lockwood Andrews & Newnam was specifically hired to oversee the temporary usage of Flint River water until their other lousy project, the KWA pipeline, was completed.

And now, in what will surely be a sight to behold, anyone who had a hand in the lead poisoning of thousands of people in Flint is flipping, being flipped, and eating their own in an attempt to prove how a) innocent, b) stupid, c) misguided, or d) all of the above, they are. It’s literally a race to the bottom. There’s probably a line forming outside the FBI’s Detroit office with people trying to save their own asses and throw someone else under the bus. THIS is what emergency management will get you, which is nothing but trouble, and a lack of accountability. Just ask people who’ve survived through a dictatorship what they feel about it. Short answer: they didn’t want it, nor like it.

So Lockwood Andrews & Newnam got paid $171,000 initially, to oversee the switch to the Flint River and then apparently decided they needed more, so another $244,900 got added on. Then they needed a lot more. Nobody in Flint appears happy that they had to pony up an additional $962,800 for Lockwood Andrews & Newnam to oversee their water being poisoned. Imagine that? The last total I saw for their “services” was $1,378,700 for the privilege of being poisoned and potentially impaired for life. So there were meetings and reports although I can’t find most of them online. The one in the iFrame (below), which was commissioned and published (I assume it cost Flint extra) in November 2014, which was 7 months after LAN helped Flint start poisoning their own water, is chock full of so many onion layers of stupidity and which Veolia’s report (which I’ve put above) just builds upon and refers to, is almost painful to read, but here it is:

Then there’s the big meeting which took place in Flint with all kinds of report-loving people which I can’t find more records on. I’ll put $20 down on some scrappy paralegal finding some documentation about what took place at THIS whopper because finding the minutes of such a meeting is definitely going to be very expensive damning for someone. I’ve put a screenshot reference to it below, which I found mention of on the City of Flint website:

LAN Flint meeting

And if I were being paid (which I’m not, sadly) to uncover a bunch of dirt and corruption and wrongdoing in Michigan, first of all, I’d aim pretty high, because there is plenty of wrongdoing to go around, and unless investigators go for the very beating heart of this proverbial beast, this type of thing will just keep happening. Secondly, I’d try to figure out why I keep seeing these names pop up, more often than not, together, again and again, all over Michigan whenever things have gone wrong:

Veolia Water
Lockwood Andrews & Newnam
Miller and Canfield lawfirm
Jeffrey Wright/the Genesee County Drain Commission
Karegnondi Water Authority
UBS
JP Morgan Chase
Goldman Sachs
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch

Why the cities of Flint and Detroit, and the state of Michigan should be a cautionary tale
The same president, Barack Obama, who has made the US Department of Energy’s “all of the above” energy policy a free-for-all for the fossil fuel industry, has managed to open the flood gates to privatization of our water system. Much like how “all of the above” doesn’t sound that (overtly) dangerous, the nifty term adopted here is P3 (as in Public Private Partnership) and it’s now been embedded in legislation by our president, stripping away safeguards within the Clean Water Act. In June 2014, President Obama signed legislation, which, not surpassingly, passed both houses of Congress, called the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. This was not a good thing.

The US EPA, which is, of course, the same group who knew about lead poisoning in Flint and decided not to mention it to anyone, will be overseeing a pilot hand out program to encourage the looting privatizing of American water systems. What could possibly go wrong?
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:04 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Company Sam Riddle admitted taking bribes from also had contracts with Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright
Print Email
Ron Fonger | rfonger1@mlive.com By Ron Fonger | rfonger1@mlive.com
on June 20, 2010 at 2:00 AM, updated June 20, 2010 at 10:07 AM

GENESEE COUNTY — The sludge-hauling company and a Flint native at the heart of a public corruption scandal in Detroit were also both working for county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright as the wrongdoing unfolded.

Documents obtained by The Flint Journal through the Freedom of Information Act show that Sam Riddle and the waste company Synagro Technologies were working with Wright for the bulk of 2007 — at the same time federal prosecutors have said they were funneling bribes to Detroit City Hall.



Synagro’s presence in Detroit and here is the latest parallel in the saga involving the now-imprisoned Riddle and Wright, who served as an FBI informant in the case against him.

Riddle, a Flint native, was at the heart of the sweeping public corruption case in Detroit, where several officials have been convicted of bribery and extortion.

The sludge-hauling company Synagro was one of the key businesses connected by federal prosecutors to bribes Riddle collected for former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, who is appealing her sentence of 37 months in prison, according to court records.

Documents obtained by The Journal show that two months after Riddle took cash from a Synagro representative outside Detroit Metro Airport in 2007 for Conyers’ support of a waste disposal contract there, Synagro penned a new contract here with Wright for disposal of sludge from the Anthony Ragnone Treatment Plant in Montrose Township.

Earlier contracts in 2000, 2003 and 2005 between Genesee County and Synagro were signed by James Rosendall, former vice president of development for Synagro who now is serving 11 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in January 2009 to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with the Riddle case.



Both Wright and a spokeswoman for Synagro said Riddle never had contact with the company on behalf of Genesee County, and the federal prosecution of Riddle made no allegations about wrongdoing tied to his work here.

“We were unaware of any relationship between (Riddle) and Synagro,” Wright said in a written statement. “Contracts between the Water and Waste Services Division and the various land application companies are handled through a competitive bid process.”

Riddle was hired as a consultant to the drain commissioner for $2,000 per month for 22 months, starting in March 2007 and ending in December 2008.

Wright has said Riddle was hired “to facilitate direct meetings with Detroit officials, recommend strategies and assist with negotiations” on a future water contract and other water issues.

County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said he would like to discuss the situation further with Wright, but that the lack of an indictment related to Riddle’s work here makes him believe the Wright-Riddle-Synagro connection amounts to a fluke.

“It looks coincidental to me,” Curtis said. “If there was (something illegal) going on, they (the FBI) would have popped him.”

In response to a previous FOIA request from The Journal, the Drain Commissioner’s Office has said it has no records of any kind — no reports, e-mails or any other documents — directly showing the results of Riddle’s 22 months of work here.

Officials in the office have credited Riddle with opening doors and securing key meetings inside Detroit city government.

The drain commissioner emerged as a player in the federal investigation of Riddle in May, when court filings claimed he acted as a confidential FBI source, making a secretly recorded phone call to Riddle — which Wright later confirmed.

Riddle has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion and to filing false tax returns.

Wright declined to comment further on how he became involved in the case or how he helped investigators.

“(I do) not know how and to what extent law enforcement is (still) using the information I assisted in acquiring,” Wright’s statement said. “Therefore it would be inappropriate for me to say anything more than I have already stated.”

Wright said he continued to keep Riddle on the payroll for some 17 months after having been contacted by law enforcement about its investigation because the consultant was “performing his contract satisfactorily.”

“Mere speculation that he may have been involved in something totally unrelated to this office was not a valid basis for termination of his contract,” the drain commissioner said.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, in Flint on Thursday to announce federal charges against 27 Flint residents for drug trafficking and gun violations, would not comment on how the FBI came to ask for Wright’s help in its investigation of Riddle.

“It’s the policy of the Department of Justice to neither confirm nor deny details of an investigation,” McQuade said.

It was McQuade who announced the guilty plea of Riddle on May 20 in Detroit, saying in a news release: “People who engage in public corruption will be held accountable. It is reprehensible when people cheat the taxpayers of cities that are already struggling financially.”

Wright has defended the hiring of Riddle, saying he previously worked for a congressman, governors and at least two Flint mayors.



The chain of events

• March 30, 1998: Former Genesee County Drain Commissioner Ken Hardin signs a contract with National Resource Recovery, which later becomes Synagro, for transport and disposal of sludge from the county’s Ragnone Treatment Plant.

• Feb. 1, 2000: Hardin extends the contract to Jan. 31, 2003, before losing his position to Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright in the Democratic primary election later that year.

• March 8, 2002: Wright’s office signs a contract with Synagro for the mobile dewatering of liquid biosolids and the disposal of dewatered biosolid cake from the Linden Waterwater Treatment Plant.

• Feb. 1, 2005: John O’Brien, Wright’s director of the Division of Water and Waste Services, signs another two-year extension with Synagro for transporting, disposal and land application of sludge from the Ragnone plant. The contract extends the bond between the county and the company for two years, not including provisions for extensions.

• Dec. 22, 2005: O’Brien signs an amendment to the county’s contract with Synagro.

• Jan. 3, 2006: Sam Riddle signs a six-month personal services contract with the city of Detroit to serve as a legislative assistant to City Council member Monica Conyers.

• March 2006: The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Riddle began to conspire with Conyers to commit extortion by attempting to obtain consulting contracts from people who dealt with or sought to deal with the Detroit City Council.

• July 1, 2006: Riddle starts work on a one-year contract to be Conyers’ legislative assistant.

• March 23, 2007: The county Drain Commissioner’s Office and Riddle sign a consulting agreement that pays Riddle $2,000 per month.

• May 24, 2007: Riddle signs a second one-year personal services contract to continue work in Detroit for July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008.

• June 22, 2007: Wright works with the FBI to record a phone call to Riddle asking about a man named Glen Blanton, who was promoting himself as a consultant.

• Summer 2007: U.S. attorneys allege a courier handed a package to Riddle in front of the City-County Building in Detroit at the direction of Rayford Jackson, a representative of Synagro, for delivery to Conyers.

• Oct. 17, 2007: U.S. attorneys alleged Jackson handed Riddle cash for delivery to Conyers outside the Northwest terminal of Detroit Metro Airport.

• December 2007: U.S. attorneys alleged Riddle ended his conspiring with Conyers to commit extortion by attempting to obtain consulting contracts from people who dealt with or sought to deal with the Detroit City Council.

• Aug. 22, 2008: O’Brien wrote to Riddle, giving him a 90-day termination notice, saying his consulting contract is ending because of “cost-cutting measures.”

• Dec. 18, 2008: Wright signs a new contract with Synagro to dispose of sludge from the Anthony Ragnone Treatment Plant.

• Nov. 6, 2009: O’Brien signs a contract for Synagro for confined space cleaning and removal of sludge from a secondary digester at the Linden wastewater treatment plant.

Sources: Genesee County Drain Commissioner’s Office documents, U.S. District Court documents.
Post Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:10 am 
 View user's profile Send private message  Reply with quote  
  Display posts from previous:      
Post new topic Reply to topic

Jump to:  
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Last Topic | Next Topic  >

Forum Rules:
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

 

Flint Michigan online news magazine. We have lively web forums

Website Copyright © 2010 Flint Talk.com
Contact Webmaster - FlintTalk.com >