Interesting that we have not heard anything about possible corruption regarding Flint choosing lead pipe replacement companies.
I could not find any articles written in a Michigan newspaper concerning a company chosen by the city of Flint to replace some of the lead pipes, which caused the Flint water crises. It took an article in a national news site the Daily Caller to find out that there may be corruption within the city of Flint.
The Daily Caller is reporting that the city of Flint has given $22 million dollars to a company that had zero experience in replacing lead water pipes. The company in question is named WT Stevens. The contractor is a general construction company and has a very basic website which shows a picture of a home being built.
In the article a Flint Councilwoman, Eva Worthing, told The Daily Caller News Foundation:
The city ignored a model showing where lead pipes are and paid to dig up every yard, the vast majority of which had copper pipes, according to meeting minutes. The city also prohibited contractors from using an efficient method of digging holes known as hydrovac excavation.
That leveled the playing field for a contractor, WT Stevens, with no experience or the appropriate equipment — and let it bill far more to taxpayers, she says. All of these factors, she adds, needlessly led to more waiting for anyone who actually has lead pipes.
She went on to tell the Daily Caller:
The city “chose to dig up yards that they knew were copper, and they decided to hand dig instead of hydrovac…That was because WT Stevens didn’t have the ability, and you get more money [digging by hand]. It costs $250 [to hydrovac] versus thousands” to dig a large hole without the equipment.
What I believe adds to the concern of corruption is on April 27, Councilman Eric Mays said:
“We’ve taken in over $647 million. This is where the money is at. We’ve received about $167 million for pipe replacement.” He added that he’s “proud” that Flint “broke records for giving black folks money” through contracts, naming WT Stevens. The company is owned by Rhonda Grayer, a black woman and wife of a former NBA player.
What does it matter that this Councilman is so proud that “black folks” were given these contracts? The contracts should go to the companies that have experience in the work and bid the contract at a reasonable price. If it comes down to two companies with similar experience and cost then they can decide using other factors in choosing which company receives the taxpayer funded contracts.
In fact the Daily Caller is reporting that a Flint-based company named Goyette Mechanical, whom already performs water main work throughout the state and actually has a division called “municipal utilities,” did do a portion of the pipe replacement in the city of Flint initially, but was ultimately passed over for the latest round of water contracts. The Daily Caller reported:
Goyette provided the lowest bid, but a city official said there was a problem with it and started the process over, according to The Flint Journal.
Sounds like there may be more to the smell in the city of Flint besides the lead in the water. Could that odor also be the smell of corruption?
Why aren’t Michigan newspapers and other media reporting on this?
THE COST TO MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS WHEN YOU OVERCHARGE SOMEONE
Getty Images by: Alex Wong
I just read that the cost to Michigan taxpayers for the defense of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon’s manslaughter charge over the Flint water issue cost more than what Genesee County spent on court-appointed attorneys for every indigent defendant in the county in the last fiscal year.
Now that is outrageous and I believe shows us who ultimately pays for a government employee when they are over-charged with a crime.
The Flint Journal reported that the Attorneys for DHHS Director Nick Lyon have billed the state of Michigan taxpayers $1.6 million to date. They then reported that the Genesee Circuit Court Administrator Barbara Menear has said that Genesee County as a whole spent $1.5 million in the last fiscal year on public defenders.
I certainly am a person who believes that we should charge someone, either a private citizen or government employee what they rightfully should be charged with but when a prosecutors overcharge someone in government we are the ones who pay for it. This is especially true when the charges appear to be nothing more than a political move to show the citizens that they “care”.
Think about what happens to a private citizen when they have to defend themselves from outrageous charges by a prosecutor and the cost to them personally.
From the perspective of the state, Anna Heaton, press secretary for Gov. Rick Snyder, has stated that the decision on how much to spend on attorneys for employees accused of Flint water crimes is made by each department in state government.
We then have State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, quoted in the article stating:
I don’t know why they are spending so much money…It’s very troubling. It makes (me question) what the real motive is.
So Senator Ananich did it ever “trouble” you when they charged Nick Lyon’s with manslaughter in the case. We do know the answer was no, you should have known then that the costs to the taxpayers to defend him against this charge was going to be astronomical. Wish you would have thought of us taxpayers then.
WHY IS FLINT NOT PAYING THEIR LEAD PIPELINE REPLACEMENT CONTRACTORS FULLY?
Getty Images by: Bill Pugliano
It appears that the city of Flint is not taking advantage of all them money available to them to pay the contractors who are replacing the lead pipelines in the city.
The Detroit News is reporting about a letter sent from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality which is stating that the city of Flint has drawn only $27.2 million of the $167 million in state and federal funds that have been available to Flint since early 2017.
That means they have only drawn on approximately 16% of the money available. What is even more perplexing is the fact that even though there is this large pool of taxpayer money to draw from to pay their contractors they are telling their contractors that they can only make partial payments on their invoices.
In the article it is being reported that DEQ Administration Deputy Director Amy Epkey wrote in the letter:
Recently the state was notified that the city is issuing partial contracts to SLR (service line replacement) contractors under the premise that the state is withholding funds from the city. This not accurate
What is going on here, is there some other reason other than incompetence?
The DEQ Administration Deputy Director Amy Epkey also stated that even after eighteen months after the federal government authorized the money for Flint, the state still:
continues to remain concerned by the slow rate of reimbursement requests
Flint’s chief finance officer Hughey Newsome said in a statement that:
the delays are due to staffing shortages within the city, ones that have existed “since emergency managers slashed positions
Also in that DEQ letter to the city they stated that approximately $1.26 million of a $5 million advance given to the city in 2016 for service line replacement is “unsupported by proper documentation”. The letter also went on to question whether Flint is “pricing its service line replacement correctly so it complies with a $5,000 limit per household”.
We really must ask the question what is going on in the city of flint.
There are an estimated 18,000 lead service lines in the city to be replaced and approximately 6,630 pipes, which is approximately 37% have been replaced in Flint through June 21.
If this information is correct and there are no reasonable reasons why they are not drawing on all the funds available to them and there are many claims that are “unsupported by proper documentation”, we can now see why the city needed an Emergency Manager in the first place.
Is that fair to say?
FLINT STILL NOT FIXING THEIR WATER SYSTEM ISSUES
Getty Images by: Bill Pugliano
Yesterday I reported to my listening audience that the State of Michigan has a ‘significant concern’ with some of Flint’s pipe replacements. Why, because Flint paid contractors to dig up 124 service lines that didn’t need replacement this year alone. That left a 124 homes that could have had their pipes replaced still waiting to have their pipes replace, not to mention the wasted tax dollars by Mayor Karen Weaver.
Now Mlive is reporting that the city of Flint, their city council and Mayor Karen Weaver were all notified back in August of 2017 of:
15 recommendations for and deficiencies in the water system, including “significant deficiencies” in the water distribution system and its management and operations staff
The City of Flint and Mayor Karen Weaver have yet to correct those deficiencies. Now the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has informed Mayor Karen Weaver and the City of Flint they will receive a proposed administrative consent order and must agree on a schedule to fix these water issues they apparently have been dismissing.
Eric Oswald, director of the DEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division, wrote in a May 31 letter to Mayor Karen Weaver:
The city has not resolved all of the identified deficiencies at this time…develop realistic dates the city can achieve to bring your drinking water system back into compliance…The MDEQ commits to assisting the city in resolving these issues; however the city is primarily responsible for the operation of its system in compliance with applicable laws.
We wonder why there were such big problems in the Flint water system, could a contributing factor be the city administration and the Mayor themselves.
The spokeswoman for the city, Kristin Moore, response was that many of the items on the list were:
items noted for improvement have been long standing in Flint’s water system and were inherited by the current administration.
Oh so that means you can just dismiss them and not address these issues in a timely matter or at least contact Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and discuss with them the time table in which to correct them? There would need to be some sort of prioritization of which issues should be corrected immediately and others addressed at a later date.
The city of Flint did not even bother addressing any of these issues with the State of Michigan, perhaps they were waiting for something to go wrong so they blame the state and collect more of our tax dollars.