How was Gov. Rick Snyder able to poison the residents of Flint, Mich.? It began when in 2012 the state Legislature passed a new emergency manager law. This law allowed the governor to suspend democracy for any city in Michigan by appointing an emergency manager.
The power of this emergency manager supersedes a city's duly elected mayor and city council and he reports directly to the governor. Gov. Snyder promptly appointed emergency managers in several (mostly poor, and mainly black) Michigan cities. An emergency manager was appointed to Flint in July 2013.
In January of 2014 the emergency manager of Flint decided to change the source of Flint's drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River "to save money." Residents immediately complained about the taste and clarity of their new water supply. Tests of this new source showed it to be corrosive and in need of treatment with various chemicals.
Although the mayor and city council objected, the water was not treated and the residents were told that everything was safe. General Motors stopped using the new city water in October 2014, stating that it corroded their parts. Nothing was done to correct the problem because the emergency manager, reporting directly to the governor, refused to act.
In January 2015, tests were done to Flint's drinking water, which showed that the corrosive Flint River water was leaching lead from the city's water pipes. By September 2015, blood tests of the children in Flint showed elevated amounts of lead. Lead adversely affects the brain causing irreversible damage and retardation.
The emergency manager, reporting directly to the governor, still refused to act. Snyder still refused to acknowledge that there was a problem.
Suspending democracy and ending local control of government allowed Gov. Snyder to poison the residents of Flint.