Oct. 9, 2017: Day # 1,263 of Flint’s seemingly never-ending water troubles. Here at TATM we are in fact counting because every day added is another day of destruction to the health of a people.
While it may seems incredible that the running counter for this unprecedented man-made health disaster is high, that’s only when the media’s clock began ticking. For Flint residents and others unsuspecting individuals unfortunate enough to have been exposed to Flint city water, that official date is off by months.
Last Friday, TATM reported that Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHH) Director Nick Lyon was due back in court to face charges for his role in the Flint Water Crisis.
Lyon is charged with 2 felony charges and 1 misdemeanor, including one count of Homicide/Involuntary Manslaughter.
Friday’s preliminary examination ended abruptly after Lyon testified under oath that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s timeline of Flint Water events, especially as it pertained to a deadly legionella bacteria outbreak, was suspect. It remains to be seen what next step will be taken in the Lyon case or if Snyder himself will be charged with crimes connected to the water.
Lyon remains only the first of 15 officials to face preliminary examination in the Flint Water Crisis.
Today is Eden Wells’s day in court. Wells is the state’s chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and is charged with obstructing justice and lying to a peace officer in relation to the Flint Water Crisis.
She was arraigned Thursday, June 15 in the Genesee District Court in Flint by Judge Nathaniel Perry. Today, special prosecutor Todd Flood will again argue that that negligence was caused by decisions made by Wells who failed to notify the public about suspicions that Legionnaires’ outbreaks in Genesee County were related to the Flint water. Genesee County District Judge William Crawford will listen to testimony and will need to find that there is probable cause to move forward with the case. Probable cause would mean that there is reason to believe that the crimes have been committed and that Wells is the person who committed them.
Additionally, Wells is also accused of threatening subordinate employees and threatening to withhold funding to the Flint Area Community Health and Environmental Partnership unless it ceased its investigation into the Flint area legionella cases. The Flint outbreak is unprecedented has been called “the largest healthcare associated Legionnaires’ outbreak” known in the United States.
Wells has denied all charges and plead not guilty.
Over 67 witnesses for the prosecution have been called, included such high profile names as Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley, former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Snyder, Dennis Muchmore , and former Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant.
It is unclear who will be testifying today, but after what many considered to be a dramatic turn of events last Friday, there is a higher amount of scrutiny being placed on these specific court proceedings. Key players in the water crisis are finally admitting, under oath, that there was allegedly an intentional and deliberate scheme to withhold safe water from Flint under the guise of cost-cutting measures.
While locals and activists see this as a step in the right direction, for many Flint residents this victory is bittersweet. Yes, individuals may finally be held responsible for their role in this disaster, but to date, the water is still unsafe to use (with or without a filter is still undetermined) and residents still continue to pay one of the highest water rates in the country for water they cannot safely use.
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