Weaver explores legal action after Snyder ‘callousness’
Flint — A visibly irate Mayor Karen Weaver said her city is exploring legal options against Gov. Rick Snyder and the state after he told her “to get over” the ending of water distribution in the city — a characterization the governor’s office disputed as inaccurate.
In a hastily called news conference in her mayor’s suite, Weaver said she met with Snyder Monday morning in Lansing hoping to change his mind over the governor’s move earlier this month to stop providing bottled water to the various “pods” across Flint.
The city declared a lead contamination state of emergency in December 2015, but Snyder on April 6 cited nearly two years of test results showing lead levels in city tap water below federal standards.
“We did not get very far in the conversation because one of the things the governor basically said was we need to get over it,” Weaver said of the meeting with Snyder.
The mayor said providing water to the residents of Flint is a “moral issue” since the state’s emergency managers and environmental regulators were responsible for Flint’s lead-in-water crisis. The state government needs to re-establish trust in Flint, she said.
“They gave us their word that they would see us through this lead and galvanized service line replacement and that we would have pods stay open until then,” Weaver said. “And they backed out on what they said.”
But Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton disagreed with the mayor’s description of the meeting.
“It was a good discussion about the city and state’s continued partnership, and an offer for economic development help, since the mayor brought the city’s new economic development official with her to the meeting,” Heaton said.
“State taxpayers could have ceased funding the PODs last September, but after a request from the city the governor opted to keep them open. ... They remained open a full seven months past when the state could have ceased funding them. This was done in order to help with the continued partnership with the city, and to foster trust with residents as the water quality continued to improve.”
In his earlier announcement, Snyder said the state has “worked diligently to restore the water quality and the scientific data now proves the water system is stable and the need for bottled water has ended.”
Weaver said the governor in the 35-minute meeting wanted to discuss economic development, but she told him the bottled water issue wasn’t going away.
Angela Wheeler, the legal counsel for Flint, said “we do have to explore all possibilities” regarding whether they intend to sue the state. Heaton said the governor’s office doesn’t discuss litigation or potential litigation.
Weaver has contended that the state should wait until all of the city’s lead service lines are replaced, which would invariably end when Snyder leaves office early next year.
The governor disagreed, she said. Snyder “showed an extra layer of callousness today” toward her and Flint, Weaver said.