Flint Water Crisis Case Study

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Policy and Background
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has made national headlines throughout the country. Many citizens first heard of the ordeal in late 2015. However, the process began in March of 2013 when the Flint City Council voted to switch water service from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority (Ridley, 2016). The Karegnondi Water Authority was building a new pipe to Lake Huron slated to be completed in 2016 and the City of Flint was eager to take advantage. The city had been in dire financial straits for more than a decade (Doidge et al., 2015) (Sherwin, 2016) and viewed the opportunity to change providers as a financially prudent decision. The trouble did not start until April of 2014 when
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This has been a contentious issue that has caused numerous accusations. Governor Scott has indicated the Flint City Council ought to be blamed as they voted to switch from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority (Ridley,2016). However, fact-checkers have argued the Flint City Council only voted to switch water providers and refrained from voting to utilize the Flint River as an alternative source of water (The Center for Michigan, 2016). The financial dire straits Flight was experiencing and Michigan’s response makes the situation murkier. In 2011, Michigan’s Treasury Department recommended that the City of Flint be placed under an emergency financial management “Due to Flint’s structural deficit, increasing legacy costs, and accumulating debt. . .” (Doidge et al.,2016). Governor Snyder followed that recommendation utilizing Public Act 4 to insert an emergency financial manager that held broad authority to intervene in local government financial issues, reject, modify, or terminate labor agreements, oversee employees and elected officials, sell off local governmental assets, change staffing levels, etc. (Michigan Radio, 2013). Essentially, Public Act 4 placed the city under an emergency financial manager that held near-total control. In 2012, Michigan voters repealed Public Act 4 as critics maintained the law provided managers with too much power (Oostang, 2012). Nevertheless, less than two months after Public Act 4 was repealed, Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature enacted Public Act 436 which was analogous to Public Act 4 (Michigan Radio, 2013). Under Public Act 436, emergency managers have broad powers including the ability to “. . . amend collective bargaining agreements, make personal changes, and review and approve the city’s budget” (Doidge et al., 2016, p.13). Additionally, Public Act 436 cannot be

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