By Robert. R. Thomas
Mayor Karen Weaver held a press conference this morning in City Hall to address issues surrounding the suspension of state water credits for Flint residents.
Referencing a letter she received from Governor Rick Snyder’s office last week, the mayor said she made contact with the governor to set up a meeting with him at the end of this week or early next week to voice concerns caused by the letter.
The mayor opened her remarks by passing out copies of the letter and reiterating her chagrin at the short notice of the letter. Her understanding with the state, she said, was that a final decision on the fate of the water credits would not be made until March 31, at which time she was hopeful the water credits would be extended.
The letter, signed by Richard Baird, the governor’s senior advisor, is addressed to David Sabuda, the CFO of the City of Flint. “No water credits,” the letter states, “should be applied to meter readings conducted after February 28.”
Sabuda took the podium to back up the mayor’s understanding of the March 31 deadline by referencing Public Act 268 2016, then again under Public Act 340 2016 in which the State of Michigan awarded water credits to the City of Flint to run through March 31, 2017 subject to the state treasurer.
Weaver introduced several key members of her water team and praised the progress they are making in assuring Flint will have safe water. She said her concern is that what Flint has been doing to take care of its water over the past year is going very well.
“My goal has always been we want the state out,” she said. “People thought Flint couldn’t recover, Flint couldn’t come back—that we couldn’t take care of ourselves. But we are proving them wrong.”
The Flint Water Treatment Plant supervisor, JoLisa McDay, offered “some very encouraging water quality numbers that are coming forward.”
Weaver rhetorically asked if she thinks the state should have given the city more time: “They sure should have. They sure should have….We’ll be having that conversation with the governor at the meeting to address our concerns….That is information I would love to have had if that was the plan,” she said.
In response to a question from the press about when the water will be safe, Weaver said, “We went in with that, and this is what we have gotten thus far. So we’re going to continue pushing that because we know we deserve more.”
To another question regarding a reported billion dollar surplus in state coffers, Weaver said “And that’s why we are pushing so hard because we know there is money there, there’s a great rainy day fund. And that’s why I said we deserve more. It’s not like there is no money.”
Asked for her take on why the state made this move, Weaver said, “It’s really a question to ask the governor. And that’s what we are going to ask him. Why now, when we weren’t expecting this at this point in time? So that is going to be part of the conversation. But the more important part of the conversation is, how do we change this? Can we change this and move this date up? Because, as I said, our goal is to be self-sufficient. Our goal is to get the state out. Our goal is to show them that Flint is strong and that we can take care of ourselves; we are worth the investment. We want to be strong because they doubt us. And I think we have a great opportunity to show them that we can do this. We can put people in place and make things happen.”
Weaver stated the date and location of the meeting with governor will be made public as soon as it is determined.
She also announced she plans to hold a town hall meeting, with details to be announced shortly.
Occasional EVM staff writer Robert R. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.