News has emerged this week that Flint, MI is experiencing a water crisis due to lead contamination of the local water supply. Of course, this is a tragic situation and an example of local governmental incompetence and potential corruption. Last night’s Democratic Presidential debate saw Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sanctimoniously denounce Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder for “not doing enough” to respond to this crisis. Leftist race and publicity hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore have rushed to the scene to show their “solidarity.”
However, we need to take a closer look at this situation and recognize the prevalence of local government malfeasance carried out by an overwhelming Democratic city and county as National Review’s Kevin Williamson recently pointed out. Genesee County, where Flint is located is a heavily Democratic county. It went for Michigan’s U.S. Senate Gary Peters in the 2014 U.S Senate race by a margin of 65% and it went for the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate that year by over 60% as well. The Flint municipal government’s city council is also chock full of characters with scandalous pasts. 5th Ward Councilman Wantaz Davis served 19 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder in 1991. 1st Ward Councilman Eric Mays pleaded guilty to felonious assault in 1987 and served a year of probation. 2nd Ward councilwoman Jackie Poplar has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and 7th Ward councilwoman Monica Galloway also filed for bankruptcy in 1999. This is a photo of the current members of this council.
Flint is a classic rustbelt city which was heavily dependent on the auto industry and traditional manufacturing and has failed to adapt to the post-industrial economy. Its population peaked in 1960 at 196,940 and been on a steady and precipitous fall since then according to decennial Census Bureau statistics reaching 193,317 in 1970; 159,611 in 1980; 140,761 in 1990; 124,943 in 2000, 102,434 in 2010; and an estimated population of 99,002 in 2014 according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Interestingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that Flint’s unemployment rate has fallen from 14% in January 2009 to a projected 4.8% rate in November 2015. You would think that this positive workforce improvement would result in more tax dollars to pay for infrastructure repairs. Unfortunately, it looks like Flint’s politicos have also fallen hook, line, and sinker for the politics of leftist racial victimization. It’s local governance situation was so bad that Governor Snyder’s administration had to temporarily take over running Flint in 2011-2015 in an attempt to straighten out its problems. Flint had previously been under Michigan State Government control from 2002-2004. Talk about local government recidivism.
An essential part of the job of local governments is maintaining public health and safety. Part of this multifaceted responsibility involves upgrading and maintaining your local government physical infrastructure including the safety of water and sewer systems as well as roads and lighting. This problem makes it manifestly clear that Flint’s government has for decades failed to meet this elemental responsibility of city government. No public outcry about insensitivity or “racism” by the state or even federal government, and demagogic appeals by opportunistic leftist politicians, can escape this reality. Numerous studies by civil engineering organizations and other government policymakers have documented the high costs to maintain, repair, and replace our crumbling civic, star, and national infrastructures. It appears that Flint’s problems are the classic example of an incompetent and corrupt Democratic Party governmental apparatus which we see in cities as varied as Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and many others. Bipartisan involvement in local government is imperative for communities desiring local growth and success and the greater likelihood of avoiding scandals such as Flint’s water being filled with lead.