Tag Archives: Michigan

U.S. works to speed up vaccinations as coronavirus deaths near 400,000

New vaccination centers are popping up as states try to get the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved communities. One Michigan doctor is doing what he can to help. Lead national correspondent David Begnaud is driving hundreds of miles twice a week to personally deliver COVID-19 vaccines to clinics.


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Protests at state capitols remain small and under heavy police presence after warnings of unrest

Demonstrations have so far remained small, as of Sunday afternoon. In Lansing, Michigan, which appeared to be one of the largest protests, an estimated 75 demonstrators and 40 counterprotesters showed up, according to the police chief. That was just a tiny fraction of the attendees who showed up for a protest that turned into a riot at the nation’s Capitol earlier this month.
The FBI has warned of indications that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration.
A joint bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and eight other agencies says domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to the inauguration, particularly those who believe the incoming administration is illegitimate.
In response, the Pentagon has authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members for Inauguration Day in Washington, DC, and much of the area surrounding the country’s iconic political buildings has been fenced off or made inaccessible.
Similarly, state leaders across the US ramped up security around their capitol grounds — pulling in National Guard members for help, erecting barriers, boarding up windows, asking residents to avoid the area and some even closing down capitol grounds altogether.
Demonstrators protest outside of the Michigan state capital building on January 17, 2021, in Lansing, Michigan.

Large police presence looms over demonstrations

As of Sunday, the heavy security efforts dwarfed the mostly small protests taking place.
In Michigan, a group of several dozen demonstrators, some of whom were armed and armored, gathered in front of the state Capitol in Lansing under a light snow. But demonstrations had remained peaceful, officials said in a news conference Sunday afternoon.
In Ohio, a small group of protesters stood in front of the statehouse in Columbus near a large police presence and metal barriers, according to CNN affiliate WSYX. And in Columbia, South Carolina, CNN affiliate WIS reported about 40 protesters gathered at the Statehouse for a protest about free speech in the wake of social media companies banning the President.
About two dozen armed protesters showed up for a demonstration outside the Texas Capitol in Austin. But they weren’t there to contest the presidential election; instead they wanted to highlight what they believed was an assault on their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Organizer Ben Hawk said the event had been planned for months, and he didn’t plan for it to be stopped after this month’s events at the Capitol, which he called “repulsive.”
“Biden won the election,” he said. “He won the popular vote, he won the Electoral College, votes have been certified. He will be inaugurated as President.”
'That's like putting gasoline on a fire.' Some states are more vulnerable to unrest than others
Meanwhile, capitols in Minnesota, Tennessee, California and Colorado, among others, had a major police presence but few if any protesters.
There were fewer than a dozen people at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul — a group that was dwarfed by journalists and law enforcement. One state official told CNN the state’s Department of Public Safety was “cautiously optimistic” about how the day progressed.
In Oregon, five armed people dressed in camo and carrying flags arrived to the state Capitol, saying they were anti-government libertarians who did not support either Biden or President Donald Trump.
In Denver, demonstrator Larry Woodall told CNN he was disappointed with the low turnout, saying he’d come out to “support Trump, let him know we still care.”
Woodall said he did not support violence or the Capitol riots this month, and he’d accepted that Biden would be president, calling it “a done deal.”
“We just have to live with that and hope that it doesn’t turn out the way that people are saying it’s going to turn out,” he told CNN, “that they’re going to take our guns, they’re going to force us to do this, force us to do that. I pray to God it’s not like that.”
After being banned from Twitter and Facebook, Trump has not promoted these gatherings. That’s a contrast from his actions before the January 6 rally in DC, when he had repeatedly called for his supporters to converge on the city.
Heading 'into a buzzsaw': Why extremism experts fear the Capitol attack is just the beginning
Still, online calls for violence have intensified recently. And experts warn the perceived success of the deadly insurrection earlier this month, when a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed police and took over the US Capitol, may be motivation for another attack.
“As somebody who worked on al Qaeda-related terrorism throughout the 2000s at the Justice Department and worked extensively on counterterrorism investigations and cases, there were several times where we were anticipating a follow-on attack to a world event,” Carrie Cordero, a CNN legal and national security analyst, said Saturday. “I have that same feeling now.”
“It feels like there is a substantial threat that exists,” Cordero added.

Security ramps up ahead of inauguration

The US Capitol is seen behind a fence topped with razor wire on Saturday in Washington.
The heightened security, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, is making for an Inauguration Day unlike any other.
In Washington, DC, fences blocked off areas once open to the public, National Guard members patrolled near the Capitol and much of the city was closed to vehicles and street traffic.
The rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony will now be delayed until Monday amid heightened security concerns, acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said. Cuccinelli cited “online chatter” about the previously scheduled rehearsal day of Sunday but said there are “no specific credible threats.”
National Guard members stand outside the US Capitol on Thursday in Washington.
Because of concern over potential protests at state capitols, security measures are in place around the country. The US Postal Service temporarily removed some mailboxes in several major cities, while the Transportation Security Administration said Friday it has “significantly increased its security posture.”
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser urged Americans to enjoy the inauguration virtually from home and has asked anyone who does not need to be out to avoid restricted areas.
An off limits sign is seen at the steps of the state Capitol on Saturday in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Across the country, local and state leaders have also indicated security will remain heightened in the days ahead following officials’ warnings of potentially more violence.
“We are concerned about the entire week,” Green, the Lansing, Michigan, police chief said in Sunday’s news conference, “not just today.”
Texas will keep its state Capitol and its grounds closed through Wednesday, officials said, adding they were aware of “violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts.”
In South Carolina, officials in Columbia advised anyone who does not need to be in the city center, near the Capitol, to stay home.
“Unless there’s a need, this weekend, and certainly on Inauguration Day, to be downtown,” Mayor Stephen Benjamin said, “I encourage you to stay home.”

Funeral home staff overwhelmed by waves of COVID-19 deaths

Dutch Nie, who runs a small funeral home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recounts the flood of calls from grieving families as the first wave of COVID-19 hit the U.S. last year. “In March and April, we saw a rise in the number of deaths right off the bat. Those were 18- and 20-hour days. It was difficult to turn off your brain.”

Since then, the startling death toll from the coronavirus has put an even greater strain on many funeral homes across the U.S., with the daily number of fatalities topping 4,000 per day in January. Roughly 390,000 Americans have died in total, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects up to 90,000 more deaths in the next three weeks alone. 

As a result, funeral homes, crematories and other “last responders” are seeing soaring demand for their services, especially in coronavirus hotspots such as Los Angeles. A National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) survey found that more funeral homes are cremating bodies instead of hosting casket burials, a quicker service amid the rising death toll. 

“All hands on deck”

The need for funeral services means “sometimes not getting home and doing 20 hours of work and three hours of sleep,” Hari Close, who owns a funeral service in Baltimore, Maryland, told CBS MoneyWatch.

That is taking a physical and emotional toll. Funeral home directors said they’ve had to put on a comforting smile in front of families while, behind the scenes, employees were scrambling to find personal protective equipment and mourning the COVID-19 deaths of colleagues.  

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Dutch Nie (center) discusses funeral service options for families with his staff members Kiki Rodgers and Meghan Reithel. The Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has seen surging demand for its services because of COVID-19 deaths.

Nie Family Funeral Home & Cremation Service


The increase in deaths has been particularly tough on family-owned funeral homes in small or rural communities because such businesses typically have fewer workers, funeral directors said.

“We’re normally doing like 250 services a year, and we did 122 cases more than we normally do in 2020,” Close said. 

Richard New of Southern Oaks Funeral Home in Somerset, Kentucky, said his staff noticed the jump in families needing funeral services last October. Southern Oaks normally serves 300 or so families, New told CBS affiliate WYMT, but the funeral home handled nearly 400 funerals last year.

Nie, 56, said the onslaught means that some members of his eight-person team have often had to work 10-hour shifts on weekends. Efforts to hire more part-time and temporary workers were foiled because people didn’t want to leave their homes due to the health risks. 

“During the pandemic, there were firms that were doing their yearly call volume in three months,” Nie said. “It’s been all hands on deck and it’s been overwhelming.”

Saying goodbye via livestream

Funeral directors also said the pandemic has forced them to embrace technology and become more creative in how they interact with grieving families.

Traditional in-person funeral services, in which family members gather to mourn, have been mostly stopped due to social-distancing mandates. That also means loved ones cannot visit a funeral home office to make arrangements.  

Funeral homes that were once hesitant to go virtual are now offering video-conference meetings and virtual tours of their showrooms. More funeral homes are posting prices on their website and taking payments over the phone. Almost half of NFDA members began live-streaming funeral services in 2020, the industry survey said. 

“I’ve never been a real advocate for high-tech, but last year my staff finally convinced me so we do livestreaming now,” Close said. “We can do it from our phones and at different locations.”

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Scott McBrayer of Jones-Wynn Funeral Home in Georgia walks clients through funeral service specifics while sitting on the family’s front porch. Jones-Wynn started meeting families on their porch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jones-Wynn Funeral Home & Crematory


Jones-Wynn Funeral Homes and Crematory in Douglasville, Georgia, installed webcams for live-streaming last year, said its president, Ellen Wynn McBrayer. But the staff also continued to meet families at their homes, often on the front porch to lower risks of catching the virus.

“It has been an emotional journey to figure out how to care for families and their broken hearts,” McBrayer said. “It’s even harder during the pandemic because there are so many restrictions, and people can’t come together like they used to.”

Jones-Wynn’s busiest period came last year. While the long days have been exhausting, “No matter how hard this is, no matter how many extra hours, no matter how many extra details, it’s still not as hard as having to say goodbye to a loved one,” she said. 

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and 8 others charged in 2014 Flint water crisis

Nine current and former Michigan city and state officials have been charged in connection with the Flint water crisis. They have all been arraigned and are waiting for their day in court. Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud joined CBSN to explain the charges and give insight into why it took nearly 7 years to bring these charges to the defendants.


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Flint water charges escalate debate over officials’ failures

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — When a former Michigan public health director was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis, the man who previously held the job says a chilling thought crossed his mind: It could have been me.

“I spent 14 years in that chair,” said Jim Haveman, who served under two Republican governors — including Rick Snyder, another target of indictments released Thursday. “I dealt with anthrax outbreaks, measles, hepatitis, Legionella. … The list is a mile long. We had to make tough decisions all the time.”

He contends Snyder, former health chief Nick Lyon and seven others charged with various counts in one of the worst human-made environmental disasters in U.S. history are victims of Monday-morning quarterbacking that makes criminals of government officials guilty of nothing worse than honest mistakes. Prosecutors, however, say this is no ordinary matter of well-meant decisions that backfired.

“Pure and simple, this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole, and simply giving a damn about all of humanity,” said Kym Worthy, a leader of the team that investigated a catastrophe that has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

Few would dispute that a tangle of miscalculations, neglect and hubris led to pollution of the impoverished, majority-Black city’s drinking water with lead. Some experts believe it contributed to a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. But the charges have escalated a debate over whether state and local officials crossed a line between incompetence and illegality.

Those who support prosecution say conviction and punishment of those most responsible are essential steps toward making the victims whole — even after a $641 million civil settlement reached last year — and deterring similar misconduct.

To opponents, the charges are vengeful overreach that could do more harm than good, discouraging talented people from working in government and making those already there excessively cautious — just as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for boldness and creativity.

Underscoring the high stakes is the precedent-setting nature of the case.

Snyder is the first governor in Michigan’s 184-year history charged with crimes involving job performance. Ron Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor, said he knew of no such cases in other states.

Governors have been accused of taking bribes, violating campaign finance laws and personal misconduct. Sullivan helped prosecute a former Missouri governor on an invasion-of-privacy charge involving a sex scandal. But the Michigan matter, he said, is “odd” and he thinks the bar for a conviction will be high.

Snyder, who held office from 2011 through 2018, faces two counts of willful neglect of duty. The indictment says only that he failed to monitor the “performance, condition and administration” of his appointees and protect Flint’s nearly 100,000 residents despite knowing the threat.

The Rev. Ezra L. Tillman Jr., pastor at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint, said it’s disappointing that Snyder was charged only with misdemeanors.

“It gives a mirage that … finally there is going to be some justice for all these kids’ lives that have been destroyed, all these elderly people whose lives have been destroyed,” said Tillman, whose church is a distribution site for residents who still need clean water. “It’s a joke.”

Yet even those charges will be hard to prove, Sullivan said. Prosecutors will have to show intentional wrongdoing, not just sloppy management.

“Negligence, even gross negligence, is not enough,” he said.

But Noah Hall, a Wayne State University environmental law professor who took part in a previous investigation of the case and saw evidence including emails between top officials, said: “These were not innocent mistakes.”

Flint was under the control of a Snyder-appointed emergency manager when it switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. Lead from aging pipes contaminated tap water because the city followed state regulators’ advice not to apply anti-corrosive treatments.

Despite residents’ complaints of rashes, hair loss and other ailments, Snyder’s administration waited 18 months to acknowledge a problem — after a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children.

Lyon and ex-chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2015 deaths of nine people with Legionnaires’. Authorities said they failed to alert the public about a regional spike in the disease when the water system might have lacked enough chlorine to combat bacteria.

Counts against others include perjury, obstruction of justice and extortion.

Lyon and Wells were among those charged in the previous investigation, which Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office disbanded in 2019. She appointed a new team that produced this week’s indictments.

During the initial Flint probe, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials — a nonprofit representing public health agencies — warned against “criminalizing our exercise of professional judgment.”

The community has a right to know about health threats, the group acknowledged in a court filing. But notifying the public too soon could lead to panic and rumors, it said, causing people to avoid places such as hospitals.

If the prosecution were successful, the group said, health officials “would face enormous pressure to shift their focus away from scientific analysis and toward reducing liability.”

Hall said such “slippery slope” arguments ignore the Flint situation’s uniqueness. Publicly available documents show Snyder administration officials appeared more concerned with “media responses and public relations” than “public health and carrying out their statutory duties,” he said.

Sullivan, the Harvard professor, agreed the case probably wouldn’t produce many imitators. Prosecuting a governor or other high-ranking officials for what amounts to poor job performance — even if intentional — is an “extraordinarily aggressive” approach, he said.

It’s rare for public officials, let alone industry, to be held accountable for environmental contamination that disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities, said Sarah Hughes, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan who studies urban environmental justice issues.

“It just kind of underscores how serious the crisis was,” said Hughes, adding that the charges are important to help heal a struggling city whose residents have been through so much.

“It was hard for me to imagine how the community was going to move forward, how they were going to be able to trust government again,” she said.

———

Flesher reported from Traverse City, Michigan.


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Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley backs charging ex-Michigan governor over water crisis

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in connection to the 2014 Flint water crisis. Snyder faces up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley joins CBSN to discuss the charges and efforts to help residents in his city.


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Flint looks for justice as ex-governor charged in water crisis

Flint, Mich.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a top state health official have been charged regarding their roles in the deadly water crisis that gripped Flint, Michigan, for years starting in 2014.

Michigan’s former health director was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who contracted Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis as prosecutors are revisiting how Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead during one of worst human-made environmental disasters in United States history.

Nick Lyon pleaded not guilty during an appearance in a Genesee County court. Moments later, his old boss, Mr. Snyder, also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty in Flint.

They were among several people summoned to court to face charges, the result of a renewed 19-month investigation launched by the attorney general’s office after Dana Nessel, a Democrat, was elected.

Families in Flint welcomed the news after learning on Tuesday that the former governor and others in his administration will be charged in a water crisis blamed with causing learning disabilities in scores of children and other medical problems among adults in the majority Black city about 60 miles northwest of Detroit.

“I literally could have cried,” said Ariana Hawk. She noticed something wasn’t right with the family’s tap water when her son, Sincere Smith, was 2 years old. Sometimes the water they drank and used for cooking and bathing was discolored. More concerning was when it gushed out brown.

It wasn’t just her home, but all across the former manufacturing hub that for decades had turned out some of the best cars and trucks produced by U.S. automakers.

Residents had been complaining about the discolored discharge as early as 2014 after the financially strapped city – while under state oversight – switched from water pumped from Detroit to the Flint River to save money.

State and some city officials insisted the water was safe to use – until a group of doctors in September 2015 urged Flint to change its water source after finding high levels of lead in children’s blood.

The water, it turned out, had not been treated to reduce corrosion – causing the toxic metal to leach from old pipes and spoil the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents. The water also was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, where authorities counted at least 90 cases, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in Flint’s water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

In the Hawk household, rashes had started to spread over Sincere’s body. The boy’s pediatrician pointed to the city’s water as the cause.

Sincere would become the face of the Flint water crisis when a photo of him was selected in 2016 for the cover of Time magazine.

Flint has since returned to water from Detroit’s system and has replaced more than 9,700 lead service lines, but scars remain – some visible, others psychological.

For Sincere, now 7, and his siblings, water from taps can elicit fear similar to the boogeyman or dark closets.

While visiting their grandmother’s home in Florida, Sincere was hesitant about the water, Ms. Hawk told The Associated Press.

“I told him ‘It’s not Flint. Y’all can drink it,’” Ms. Hawk said. “But they’ve been normalized to drinking bottled water because they can’t drink our water. Flint kids are traumatized.”

The charges against Mr. Snyder carry up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction. No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist.

“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said Wednesday night, adding that prosecutors still hadn’t provided him with any details.

Mr. Snyder, a Republican, was governor from 2011 through 2018. The former computer executive pitched himself as a problem-solving “nerd” who eschewed partisan politics and favored online dashboards to show performance in government. Flint turned out to be the worst chapter of his two terms due to a series of catastrophic decisions that will affect residents for years.

The date of Mr. Snyder’s alleged crimes in Flint is listed as April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early, who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

Prosecutors also charged Mr. Earley with two felony counts of misconduct in office Thursday. He pleaded not guilty.

“They poisoned the whole city,” Roy Fields Sr. said of officials elected and appointed to make sure residents were safe. “At first, we thought all we had to do was boil the water and be OK,” Mr. Fields said Wednesday. “We cooked with it, drank it, and when we heard about the problems with it, we stopped in 2014, but it was too late.”

He wants someone brought to justice.

“They talk about jail time,” Mr. Fields said. “But that does no good. Let them come back in here and work to help educate and do what they can to make this community whole. I was hostile. I had to forgive them in order to move forward.”

The news of charges “is a salve, but it isn’t the end of the story,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who helped call attention to childhood health risks from Flint’s water.

“Without justice, it’s impossible to heal the scars of the crisis,” Ms. Hanna-Attisha said Wednesday in a statement. “Healing wounds and restoring trust will take decades and long-term resources.”

Ms. Hawk is skeptical that charges will lead to accountability. Even if there are convictions, who will repair the emotional trauma?

“I don’t want to give up on the young people who don’t have a voice,” she said. “And Sincere, I want him to know that he did something good, that he was brave putting his story out there. I don’t want him to feel like a victim. I tell him now that when he gets older to say, ‘Yeah, I’m the little boy that was on Time magazine that opened the eyes to America to what was happening in the city of Flint.’”

Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital, and an engineering firm have agreed to a $641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, with $600 million coming from Michigan. A judge said she hopes to decide by Jan. 21 whether to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are pending.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. Stafford, an investigative reporter on AP’s Race and Ethnicity team, and White reported from Detroit. David Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan. Corey Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan. AP writer Ed White in Detroit also contributed.

Ex-governor, 8 former Michigan officials charged in Flint water crisis

Nine former Michigan officials, including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, were charged Thursday for their roles in the Flint water crisis in a case one prosecutor said was about “finally, finally, finally holding people accountable.”

Snyder, 62, and eight others who worked under him face a host of charges stemming from a water supply switch in 2014 that exposed Flint residents to dangerous levels of lead and Legionnaires’ disease.

“Let me start by saying the Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud told reporters. “At this very moment the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”

State Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to investigate the case, throwing out earlier charges brought by her predecessor, Bill Schuette.

Nessel is a Democrat and Schuette, a Republican like Snyder, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2016.

“This case has nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship,” Worthy said. “It has to do with human decency, the complete abandonment of the people of Flint and finally, finally, finally holding people accountable.”

“Pure and simple,” she added, “this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole and simply giving a damn about all of humanity.”

Earlier Thursday, during a virtual appearance before Genesee County Judge Christopher Odette, Snyder pleaded not guilty to the two misdemeanor chargers.

Odette set bond at $10,000 and ordered Snyder not to travel outside Michigan until at least his next court date, set for Tuesday.

The former two-term governor spoke to the judge from a booth inside the county jail, where he wore a mask and sat next to his defense lawyer, Brian Lennon.

Lennon called the case against Snyder “flimsy,” and said that “this entire situation is puzzling.”

“It would be a travesty to waste additional taxpayer dollars pursuing these bogus misdemeanor charges,” he said in a statement.

Michigan’s former health director, Nick Lyon, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who got Legionnaires’ disease. He also pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

The other state officials charged were:

  • Former Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr.Eden Wells, also charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, along with two counts of misconduct in office and one for willful neglect of duty.

  • Richard Baird, who worked as a senior advisor to Gov. Snyder, charged with perjury, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and extortion.

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former communications director, accused of perjury connected to his testimony to state prosecutors.

  • Darnell Earley, charged with two counts of misconduct in office based on his work as a state-appointed emergency manager in Flint.

  • Another former emergency manager, Gerald Ambrose, charged with multiple counts of misconduct in office.

  • Howard Croft, Flint’s former director of public works, charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

  • Nancy Peeler, once the manager for early childhood section within Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, charged with two counts of misconduct in office and one for willful neglect of duty.

Residents of the majority-Black city of Flint have struggled for years to recover as they relied on bottled water as their primary source of clean water and their property values suffered.

Today, tests show that Flint’s water is safe to drink but many residents, skeptical of government officials, say they still don’t trust the city’s water.

The Snyder administration in 2014 switched Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. That move proved disastrous, exposing Flint residents to lead contamination from the new supply’s untreated river water.

Michigan agreed to a $600 million settlement in August in a class-action lawsuit with Flint residents whose health was affected, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.


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8 former Michigan officials criminally charged along with ex-governor in Flint water crisis

Nine former Michigan officials, including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, were criminally charged in what prosecutors on Thursday called “finally holding people accountable” for the Flint water crisis.

Snyder, 62, and eight others who worked under him are now facing a host of charges stemming from a water supply switch in 2014 that exposed Flint residents to dangerous levels of lead and Legionnaires’ disease.

“Let me start by saying the Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud told reporters.

“At this very moment the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy to investigate the case, throwing out earlier charges brought by her predecessor, Bill Schuette.

Nessel is a Democrat and Schuette, a Republican like Snyder, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2016.

“This case has nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship, it has to do with human decency, the complete abandonment of the people of Flint and finally, finally, finally holding people accountable,” said Worthy.

“Pure and simple, this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole and simply giving a damn about all of humanity.”

Earlier Thursday, during a virtual appearance before Genesee County Judge Christopher Odette, Snyder pleaded not guilty to the two misdemeanor chargers.

Odette set bond at $10,000 and ordered Snyder not to travel outside Michigan until at least his next court date, set for Tuesday.

The former two-term governor spoke to the judge from a booth inside the Genesee County jail, where he wore a mask and sat next to his defense lawyer, Brian Lennon.

The five-minute-long arraignment was highly procedural as Snyder acknowledged the charges against him and agreed to terms of his release.

“The two misdemeanor charges filed today against former Gov. Rick Snyder are wholly without merit and this entire situation is puzzling,” said Snyder’s defense lawyer Brian Lennon said in a statement.

“It would be a travesty to waste additional taxpayer dollars pursuing these bogus misdemeanor charges. We are confident Gov. Snyder will be fully exonerated if this flimsy case goes to trial.”

Michigan’s former health director, Nick Lyon, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who got Legionnaires’ disease. He pleaded not guilty during an appearance in a Genesee County court on Thursday, ahead of Gov. Snyder’s appearance.

Residents of the majority-Black city of Flint have struggled for years to recover from the crisis as they relied for on bottled water as their primary source of clean water and their property values suffered.

Today, tests show that Flint’s water is safe to drink but many residents, skeptical of government officials, say they still don’t trust the city’s water.

The Snyder administration in 2014 switched Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. That move proved disastrous, exposing Flint residents to lead contamination from the new supply’s untreated river water.

Michigan agreed to a $600 million settlement in August in a class-action lawsuit with Flint residents whose health was affected, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

This is a developing story, please check here for updates.


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