Two of the most outspoken activists in the Flint water crisis have seen no effort by government authorities to replace their allegedly lead-tainted pipes under Mayor Karen Weaver’s “Fast Start” program.
Melissa Mays and LeeAnne Walters have testified repeatedly at various public forums over the past two years, claiming their families have been exposed to extremely high levels of lead and have experienced brain development injuries, cognitive deficits and other problems.
Yet Mays, who lives on the west side of Flint in the shadow of McLaren Hospital, and Walters, who resides a stone’s throw from Diplomat Pharmacy’s world headquarters across South Saginaw Street, have seen no activity in their neighborhoods to replace water lines. Ironically, “Fast Start” claims it has completed repairs on more than 700 homes in other parts of the beleaguered city, many of them in residences where the owners were unaware they had a problem — and perhaps didn’t — and hadn’t asked for help.
Moreover, news media have failed to document how “Fast Start” determines which homes and businesses have been adversely affected by the city’s tainted water, where they are located, or whether there is a geographical pattern. In nearly a year, fewer than 5% of the city’s pipes have been replaced; at this pace, it will be at least a decade before Flint’s water infrastructure is rehabilitated, at a cost to taxpayers from elsewhere in the state of hundreds of millions of dollars.
One of the messages of last year’s Academy Award-winning motion picture, “Spotlight,” was that the news media invariably tries to make up for lack of QUALITY coverage early in a crisis — when it really counts — by a voluminous QUANTITY of coverage later on, after the damage has been done. Much of such coverage, when it finally occurs, focuses on finger-pointing, law suits, and politicians maneuvering for partisan advantage. That’s what has happened all over again in Flint, where the real stories that Genesee County readers, listeners and viewers need to learn about the water crisis are ignored.
Meanwhile, numerous other issues are being given scant attention by the media in Flint, where major problems that have festered for years such as crime, incompetent local officials, and a bankrupt city government (which led to the water crisis in the first place) have been put on the back burner.
That means more accidents are waiting to happen in Flint — and they will, because the media and local politicians haven’t shown they know how to operate “ahead of the curve.”
Instead, they’re making the same mistakes they always have.