Flint, Michigan, will go down in history as an example of municipal corruption and malfeasance. Finally, some of the culprits are getting their comeuppance.
On Monday, a special prosecutor charged several individuals with involuntary manslaughter relating to the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-2015, according to CBS News. One of those charged includes Darnell Earley, the former emergency manager of Flint, who once served as director of research and public policy for the House Democratic Caucus in Michigan.
Others charged in the matter include Howard Croft, Liane Shekter Smith, Nick Lyon, and Stephen Busch.
Attorney Todd Flood accused all of the named individuals of intentionally keeping certain health information away from the eyes and ears of the public. Namely, months after a Legionnaires’ outbreak in Flint caused by the city using water taken from the Flint River, these city officials finally warned the public about their tap water, even though they knew about the dangers and the disease outbreak far in advance.
In Genesee County (the home of Flint), there were at least one hundred cases of Legionnaires’ disease and twelve deaths.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, the head of the Henry Ford Hospital’s Infectious Diseases division, said in court testimony that the death toll is likely much higher.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a pneumonia-like bacterial infection that is most often transmuted through contaminated water droplets people breathe in. The city’s decision to begin tying its tap water supply to the Flint River undoubtedly caused the disease to spread, especially since no purification process seems to have been in place.
Dr. Zervos admitted that Flint’s water supply led to the outbreak in court, saying: “My opinion is the most plausible, most likely explanation, is that the change in the water was responsible for an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases.”
Of all those accused, Earley was the man who became famous, or rather infamous for his disastrous handling of the situation. Although court records show that Earley was the state-appointed emergency manager of Flint when the city decided to switch its water supply in 2014, he has maintained his innocence in the whole affair.
“It did not fall to me to second-guess or to invalidate the actions that were taken prior to my appointment,” Earley said.
Other findings showed that Earley’s team used a fake environmental order to start borrowing money in order to build the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline. In the interim, Flint’s citizens were forced to contend with tainted tap water.
In December, Earley and others were arraigned on felony charges of false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office, and willful neglect of duty. Now, all are facing involuntary manslaughter charges that, if convicted, could put them behind bars for years.
A special prosecutor charged several individuals with involuntary manslaughter relating to the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-2015. Do you agree with the criminal charges?
Prior to the water crisis in Flint, the city was in rough shape. Like its bigger neighbor Detroit, the city of Flint has a barely functioning economy, a high rate of drug addiction, and a soaring crime rate. Between 2010 and 2012, Flint’s was named as America’s most dangerous city. It took the number two spot years later.
In a city already struggling just to survive, Democrat municipal authorities, such as Earley, decided to keep information about the contaminated water and the Legionnaires’ outbreak to themselves, thus guaranteeing more deaths.
Now, those who were infected with the disease and the families of those who died will hopefully see justice served.