The Rapidian

During the Michigan State of the State, hold the Governor accountable

In what has been a Governorship bathed in mismanagement, scandal and decisions that have disparately affected our most vulnerable residents – today the Michigan Governor will need to deliver a State of the State that reads like the apology that never happed for victims of this administration.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder answers media questions at MML Lansing Office

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder answers media questions at MML Lansing Office /Courtesy of the Michigan Municipal Leauge

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To watch the address

The Michigan State of the State address will be delivered tonight at 7 p.m. Visit this link to watch a livestream.

In what has been a Governorship bathed in mismanagement, scandal and decisions that have disparately affected our most vulnerable residents – today the Michigan Governor will need to deliver a State of the State that reads like the apology that never happed for the Michigan residents most affected by the actions of this administration. Over the last year we have seen this administration continue to make decisions that calls into question its commitment to those it is obligated to protect; particularly those whose financial vulnerabilities leave them with limited power to fight. The terrible irony is that the disaster that is the Snyder Administration looks like a tale every child learns in variation during development – the “little guy” overpowering the giant and seemingly oppressive beast. What this analogy looks like in real-time however is much different.

For Flint residents, the state of Michigan looks more and more like an enemy than a friend. The state continues to prove, in its response to the environmental disaster it orchestrated, that the people of Flint are not its first priority – cost effectiveness is. What remains a reality is that a city already grappling with economic devastation originating from massive workforce reductions continues to bathe with bottled water because the irreparable damage to the water pipes continues to leach lead into the water supply. The state has not only shown a gross apathy to the suffering of a city but also continued to show that smoke and mirrors shade true accountability from being had as a compromised Attorney General Schuette leads an investigation that fails to hold the puppet master accountable for the outcomes of the game.

However, the need for this Governor to explain the actions of this administration also extend to tens of thousands of Michiganders accused of filing false claims through the Unemployment Administration’s MIDAS computer system. While the state has discontinued use of this failed program, one is left wondering why the state has not been more proactive in returning fines to residents fined under false pretenses? In the midst of the news around the MIDAS system and the class action lawsuit currently being pursued, the legislature approved using 10 million in funds obtained specifically from fining false unemployment claims to fill in budget shortfalls. It’s also worth mentioning that the state of Michigan maintains one of the highest fines for false unemployment claims; a discussion that for the sake of brevity we will leave to another day.

Additionally, the activities of the Department of Environmental Quality (which has proven itself to be the furthest thing away from ensuring the aforementioned task) should be discussed, specifically as it relates to Nestle’s request to pump more water out of Osceola County to sale for profit. Aside from the connections to Nestle business interests within the governor’s office, the intentional lack of transparency of the DEQ that led to public outrage in December of 2016 when the agency did not properly notify the public of its intent to improve a high volume water withdrawal. In January 2016, “the Water Resource Division of DEQ authorized Nestle to boost its allowed pumping from 250 to 400 gallons-per-minute (gpm) on its well after a staff-conducted site-specific review overruled a computer model that initially flunked the application, which was not disclosed to the public by the DEQ until September 2016.” What’s fascinating is that a computer program rejected Nestle’s initial application and was immediately manually reviewed by personnel when the same remedy was not available for individuals flagged by the MIDAS system for unemployment insurance fraud, I digress.

The point is, in this moment, the people of the state of Michigan must hold their officials accountable for their actions. As the Governor reads his self-written report card, we must look at the facts. Fact: there are Michigan residents still without access to clean water. Fact: there are Michigan residents who were victims of improper accusations of fraud that generated over $100 million in additional revenue for the state from fines, assessed while they were unemployed. Fact: the environment is not being protected by this administration – it is being used to benefit corporate business interests. And all of these interest stem from the same chair. As best portrayed in chess, everyone protects the King but the game is over once you get to that piece. We have been playing a game where the most vulnerable are a means to an end; it’s time we stop playing. Our government is in need of a voter-initiated repossession.

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