Despite 'Blood on His Hands,' Snyder Says He's Very, Very Sorry
Ignoring calls to resign, Michigan governor said he will release emails related to water crisis
During Tuesday evening's State of the State address, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologized repeatedly for the poisoning of Flint's water and vowed to tell "the truth" behind how the crisis came to be.
But residents say that it's too late for such regrets, and that the best way to ensure this "never happens again" is for Snyder to swiftly resign, as protesters have called for in recent weeks.
"I’m sorry, most of all, that I let you down. You deserve better, you deserve accountability, you deserve the know that the buck stops here with me," Snyder said in his speech.
"I know apologies won’t make up for the mistakes that were made, but I take full responsibility to fix the problem so it never happens again," he added.
The governor's mea culpa comes months after Flint's water problems were first publicized—when researchers discovered heightened levels of lead in local children's blood—and nearly a year after government scientists identified potential problems in the water supply.
"I want Gov. Snyder to solve the problem and basically get up out of office," longtime Flint resident Tomeko Hornaday said after the address. "We shouldn't have to be going through this; we shouldn't have to do this. This is an embarrassment to the city of Flint, first of all, and an embarrassment to our government and to our residents."
That sentiment is shared widely by Flint residents who protested outside the state Capitol Tuesday evening, chanting: "Snyder must go." Earlier this week, demonstrators picketed outside Snyder's Ann Arbor residence.
To underscore his new commitment to transparency, Snyder said he will release his emails on Wednesday related to the crisis and request a $28 million appropriation from the legislature to help aid the city’s residents. His office also released a timeline (pdf) to address questions on who knew what and when.
"You deserve the know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth—the truth about what we’ve done and the truth about what we’ll do to overcome this challenge," Snyder said Tuesday.
But critics say the problem started back when Snyder and his Republican colleagues slashed the budget for the state's water protection agency and forced the city to switch its water supply to the Flint River.
A new online advertisement being circulated by the Agenda Project Action Fund, charges that those cost-saving measures "have directly caused countless residents in Flint to be poisoned with lead and enabled the spread of a dangerous form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease—the latter of which has already cost the lives of at least 10 people."
"Governor Snyder must resign immediately, there is innocent blood on his hands," said Erik Altieri, president of the public accountability group. "This tragic situation is just another example of Republican priorities and the devastation that occurs when those priorities are implemented."
"We will be taking this message to all corners of the state so that voters know exactly what they are getting when they elect Republican politicians: lead poisoning and a potential death sentence," Altieri said of the new ad, which can be viewed below.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has ignored calls for him to visit the embattled city during his Wednesday trip to Detroit, during which he will attend the 2016 North American International Auto Show to celebrate the success of the automobile industry bailout that he oversaw during his first year in office.
The White House has answered my request that President Obama visit Flint & its tragedy tomorrow while he is at the Detroit Auto Show: "No."
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 19, 2016
According to the White House, Obama met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver early Tuesday and has appointed Nicole Laurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to coordinate the federal response to the Flint water crisis.