(Posted June 2) “President Obama’s sip of water from a sparkling clean glass at Northwestern High School during his May 4 visit was nothing less than a show-stopper … The President of the United States wants some water! In Flint! … How could that moment not be electrifying? For Flint residents, how could it not mean something monumental? … Emotion in the crowd, (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church rector Dan) Scheid said, like emotions roiling our community as a whole these days, ran hot. By now we know, of course, that Obama’s portentous drink followed a loud and long booing of our clueless governor. I booed, too. He deserved it: the unfiltered, untempered disdain of the people, at long last face to face with the man who I believe should be held responsible. I’ve watched that clip again and again. Scheid, a man of avid advocacy for social justice, said, ‘I had the strangest feeling when Gov. Snyder was introduced and met with non-stop booing. What came to mind in the most surprisingly counterintuitive way was a passionate narrative in the Gospels, when Pilate introduced Jesus to a chorus of “crucify him!” In no way, shape or form do I conflate the governor with Jesus, please! But the crowd turned in an instant from good feelings after the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem, and in eager anticipation of President Obama, to one of utter contempt and disrespect. I wasn’t surprised by the crowd’s reaction. I was surprised by my immediate comparison’ ” … — Jan Worth-Nelson, editor of East Village Magazine (EVM), in a May 2016 issue under the headline “President Obama’s drink of water, boos for Snyder, and a primal scream.”
“There was a sense that people at the highest levels are watching out for Flint and that the city will once again rewrite the narrative of what its future will be. Even though no major new funding announcements were made, I saw that the president deeply cares about the citizens of Flint, that he understands our anger, grief and guilt. His message back to the city is that during the slow road to recovery we need to focus that energy in productive ways toward supporting our children’s aspirations and, now more than ever, we need to believe in the audacity of hope.” — Nic Custer, EVM managing editor, in an article entitled “The power of words and a presidential visit,” same issue.
“TWO LEADERS GIVE FLINT SAME WATER MESSAGE (headline in Lansing State Journal) Despite reports about snubs and conflict, President Barack Obama visited Flint on Wednesday (May 4) and delivered messages remarkably similar to those Gov. Rick Snyder has promoted — drink filtered water, flush your pipes, and while the replacement of pipes is important, be patient for a process that will likely take years … The test now is whether the messages will resonate more strongly coming from Obama than they have coming from Snyder … Obama repeatedly referred to the governor as ‘Schneider’ ” … — Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan, whose article on the day’s events was reprinted in the Freep’s sister Gannett publication.
“We find our own comforts, our own ways to cope. I am one of the privileged ones. — no children to worry about, enough money, health care all my life. I’m okay. Still, I snuck out last night — and the night before — to fill my bird bath, using one of the big bottles. For some reason I didn’t want anyone to see me doing it, as if it was an indulgence, a waste of the good water we’re all getting “free” these days. But the birds … are one of the reasons waking up in the morning makes me happy. I don’t want the birds to be harmed by this disaster any more than than any of the other imperiled creatures. The people who’ve done this don’t get to ruin my birds… And then the governor pulled that dreadfully cartoonish stunt, carting filtered water from a kitchen on Brookside and leaving for Europe the next week. And the (former emergency manager) Darnell Earley charged the city for his legal fees, the latest outrage, the latest shameful repudiation of responsibility. Then the president waited there, in the bright lights, for a drink of water. And we watched it on national TV, over and over …”— Worth-Nelson again, same issue.
“(EPA Region 5 Acting Administrator Robert Kaplan) showed test results from a home where the amount of lead was 4,000 ppb (parts of lead per billion) but (a water) filter was able to reduce that amount to 1 ppb. He said 1 percent of Flint homes are testing above 150 ppb. He said the average for houses in Flint is 47.1 ppb (sic) and filters reduce that to 0.23 ppb. By comparison, the standard for bottled water is 5 ppb. (George) Krisztian of the MDEQ said there have been three types of testing used so far, including residential, schools and a bi-weekly “sentinel” program in which water in 600 homes are being regularly measured. So far 19,000 residential samples have been analyzed. He said a city Flint’s size is only required to analyze 60 samples over six months… The “sentinel” program has accomplished five rounds of testing so far. Of 19,000 residential samples taken so far, 92 percent were at or below 15 ppb (sic), the action level required by the federal Lead and Cooper Rule …” — Custer again, in another article entitled “May ‘flushing’ process and costs explained, results awaited” (as of June 1, this process is not close to being completed and never will be).
“Then there’s the media and conflicting information. Water Defense (Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo’s group denigrated by Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards) hasn’t shared their data on why not to bathe in the water with the EPA. The EPA stance remains the same: except for young children, bathing is okay … Back to the media and how to hold them responsible for accuracy? Corrections after the fact are useless. What about a press conference with media? … Sometimes the headline is inflammatory while the whole article body is not. Local radio does the same. Media expand the context of misinformation while the real news is that there is conflicting information … “— EVM columnist Teddy Robertson, a retired Mott Community College professor, after a meeting of the Communications Workshop of Community Partners that she attended, same issue.
“FLINT: A TRIBUTE
“… I have set my face like a flint;
… I shall not be put to shame”
When old Isaiah’s eyes
foresaw a servant hanging
on the cross of shame — be it the
Christ — or man or woman
boy or girl — he set his face,
and yet he knew that pain,
the suffering men impose
on men would come to him,
would come to all, again, again —
would even come to Flint.
stiff as any stone can be
but even when it’s shattered, flaked,
and shards are struck,
— Grayce Scholt, retired nonagenarian college professor whose poetry books are available at www.friesenpress.com and on Amazon as well as at firstname.lastname@example.org