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Video: Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in flint water crisis

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Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in Flint water crisis

The Michigan solicitor general has announced criminal charges against Rick Snyder, the former governor, for “willful neglect of his duty,” saying he failed to protect residents during the water crisis in Flint.

“The water crisis in Flint is not a relic of the past. At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of officials at all levels of government. Richard Snyder, former Governor of the State of Michigan, is charged with two counts of willful negligence, each of a one-year misdemeanor, for willfully neglecting his mandatory legal obligations under the Michigan Constitution and of the Emergency Management Act, failing to protect the health and safety of Flint residents. No one, no matter how powerful or connected, is above responsibility when committing a crime. “This case has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with human decency, resuscitating the complete abandonment of the people of Flint, and finally, holding people to account for their alleged unspeakable atrocities that happened in Flint all those years ago.

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Former Michigan governor indicted for negligence over Flint water disaster

FLINT, Michigan – Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor, was arraigned Thursday on a misdemeanor charge relating to his role in the Flint water crisis.

Mr Snyder, appearing on video at the Genesee County Courthouse in Flint, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of his duty. If found guilty, the charges carry a maximum jail term of one year or a fine of up to $ 1,000.

Dressed in a dark jacket and face mask, Mr. Snyder said little during the brief arraignment, responding “Yes, Your Honor”, when the judge asked if he still lived in Michigan. Brian Lennon, an attorney for Mr Snyder, said the former governor was not guilty of the charges.

Mr. Snyder was released on bail and ordered not to leave Michigan without the judge’s permission. Mr Snyder did not speak to reporters when he left the courthouse.

In a statement, Mr Lennon said the charges were “completely unfounded” and that he expected the former governor to be exonerated. “Today’s charges do nothing to do justice to the people of Flint,” he said. “These unwarranted allegations do nothing to resolve a painful chapter in our state’s history. Today’s actions only perpetrate scandalous political persecution.

Several other officials were also recently charged with crimes related to the water crisis in Flint. They included Nick Lyon, the former director of public health; Howard Croft, former director of public works; and Darnell Earley, former city emergency manager.

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Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in flint water crisis

Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor who oversaw the state when a water crisis devastated the town of Flint, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of his duties, court records show .

The charges are felony punishable by imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to $ 1,000.

Michigan prosecutors will report their findings in a broad investigation into the water crisis on Thursday, officials said, a long-awaited announcement that is also expected to include charges against several other officials and senior advisers to Mr Snyder. .

Results will be announced by Dana Nessel of Michigan the Attorney General, Fadwa Hammoud, the state solicitor general, and Kym L. Worthy, the senior district attorney for Wayne County.

Charges had previously been filed in connection with the crisis, which began in 2014, but in June 2019 prosecutors stunned Flint by dropping all outstanding charges.

Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency officials who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been charged by state prosecutors with crimes as serious as manslaughter. Seven had already entered into plea agreements. Eight others, including most of the top officials, were awaiting trial.

Brian Lennon, an attorney for Mr Snyder, said Wednesday evening: “We believe there is no evidence to support criminal charges against Governor Snyder.”

He added that lawyers for the former governor had requested a confirmation of charges – or a copy of them – but had not yet received them from prosecutors.

Randall Levine, a lawyer for Richard L. Baird, a former senior adviser to Mr Snyder, said on Tuesday he was informed this week that Mr Baird would be among those facing charges related to the water crisis .

“At this time, we have not been made aware of the nature of the charges, nor how they relate to his position in the administration of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder,” said Mr. Levine. “Rich’s relationship with the Flint community has always been strong. When Flint’s water crisis hit, Governor Snyder didn’t ask him to come to Flint, but instead raised his hand and volunteered.

In 2016, Mr Snyder apologized for what had happened, but for many residents of Flint it didn’t go far enough.

“He pushed it all to the side, and he pushed people to the side,” said Floyd Bell, a Flint resident whose two small grandchildren were poisoned with lead when they were babies and still have. developmental difficulties. “If he was truly aware of what was going on, he should be held accountable.”

Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Flint who has warned officials about lead in the drinking water supply, said the prospect of new charges is a reminder that “accountability and justice are essential to health and upon recovery ”.

“This news is a balm, but it’s not the end of the story,” she said in an email. “Healing wounds and rebuilding confidence will take decades and long term resources.”

Melissa Mays, one of the first people in Flint to bring attention to the city’s water problems, said that given the attorney general’s office remained silent for more than 18 months, she was concerned that the accusations don’t go far enough.

“In Flint, we have been living in prison for almost 7 years and are forced to pay for water which still circulates in corroded and damaged infrastructure on the streets and in our homes while those responsible walk freely”, a- she writes. in an email. “We at Flint deserve TRUE justice and that means rich white politicians and agency heads are going to jail for their actions and inaction that have caused us so much damage and loss.”

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Former governor’s lawyer says accusations in Flint crisis are ‘groundless’

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich .– Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor, said he took no criminal responsibility for the Flint water crisis, issuing a statement on Tuesday amid reports that the charges linked to the crisis were imminent.

The Associated Press reported that Mr Snyder, a Republican who has been out of office for two years, will be charged by the state attorney general’s office, along with several others, including his former health director Nick Lyon.

“It is scandalous to think that criminal charges would be laid against Governor Snyder,” Brian Lennon, an attorney for Mr. Snyder, said in an email. “Any accusation would be unfounded. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation guiding impeachment decisions.

Mr Snyder’s administration was in charge during the Flint water crisis, which left thousands of town residents sickened, angry and suspicious of the government.

Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, did not return phone calls.

The water crisis began in 2014, when authorities replaced Flint’s water source with the Flint River, a cost-saving measure intended to help a city in financial difficulty. But the necessary corrosion controls were not added to the river water, causing lead to leach from Flint’s aging pipes into the drinking water supply. Locals protested when the water in their taps was brown and smelly – often holding jugs of discolored water outside Flint’s town hall – but local and state officials fired them.

Months later, doctors in Flint noticed alarming levels of lead in the blood of many residents, and at the same time, a Legionellosis outbreak sickened at least 87 people in the Flint area, killing nine of them. they. The outcry at Flint prompted the city to return water to its previous source, Lake Huron, and to undertake an effort to replace the dangerous lead pipes – a project that is nearing completion.

Many of Flint’s 100,000 residents say they haven’t trusted the water yet.

Charges had previously been filed in connection with the crisis, but in June 2019 prosecutors stunned Flint by dropping all outstanding charges.

Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency officials who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been charged by state prosecutors with crimes as serious as manslaughter. Seven had already entered into plea agreements. Eight others, including most of the top officials, were awaiting trial.

When the Michigan attorney general’s office, which had recently changed from Republican to Democrat, abruptly dropped the remaining eight cases, prosecutors left open the possibility of reloading some of those same people, and possibly others as well. Mr Snyder had not been charged in the previous case, although members of his administration were.

Mr Snyder, a former businessman, ran into the governor’s office ten years ago, promising fiscal responsibility and a data-driven approach to work.

Mr Snyder left the governor’s office in 2019, barred by term limits from running for a third term.

Last week, Mr. Snyder and Ms. Whitmer, in a rare bipartisan move, issued a joint statement condemning the violence in Washington.