Flickr Creative Commons, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Then-Mayor Karen Weaver in 2018.
Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver responded to Metro Times' recent cover story about the city's water crisis, and commended reporters Jordan Chariton and Jenn Dize of independent news outlet Status Coup for helping to continue to draw awareness to the issue.
Status Coup, which reported the story co-published by Metro Times and The Intercept last month, interviewed Weaver during a visit to Flint on Thursday, where the former mayor, who served from 2015 to 2019, took aim at... well, everyone —including the media, former Governor Snyder, and even current Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.
"You know, I always talk about 'how to get away with murder?'" she said. "Ask Snyder, and ask Nessel. They're all helping him do it."
When asked about the article, Weaver said, "I wasn't surprised because this whole thing has been a cover-up from the very beginning, and that's what we have been talking about — those that those of us that have been ... yelling and screaming and trying to keep the story alive from the very beginning."
The article reported evidence that the phones of Snyder's top health officials and aides had been wiped just before a criminal investigation was launched. It also reported on a letter drafted by Schuette accusing Snyder of interfering with his office's investigation by launching "sham" investigations of his own.
Weaver said that she believed that such a massive health crisis would have to have a lot of co-conspirators.
"[It] seems like so many entities were part of this cover-up," she said. "[This] went on for 18 months before the rest of the world knew what was going on. How do you keep poisoned water covered up for 18 months? You can't do that by yourself."
Under emergency management, the city switched its water supply in 2014 without properly treating the new Flint River water, which led to an outbreak of the deadly Legionnaire's Disease and the pipes leeching poisonous lead into the drinking water.
So far, no major outlet has followed up on the story reported by Metro Times and The Intercept.
"You talk about Watergate, this is Watergate right here," Weaver said. "This is it right here in the city of Flint, and why they are not covering this, you know, I want to say is a mystery to me, but I think they're trying to help suppress this story, and keep this story from getting out."
Weaver noted that many current elected officials have not commented on the story.
"It baffles me," she said. "It makes me angry, too."
While a previous investigation under then-Attorney General Bill Schuette appeared to be headed toward involuntary manslaughter charges for Snyder, that investigation was scrapped under Nessel, and now Snyder is faced with willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor punishable by $1,000 or a year in jail.
Snyder's new charges were issued under a one-man grand jury, a rarely used secretive process. It is not known if that grand jury was presented with evidence of the wiped cell phones, which the scrapped investigation under Special Prosecutor Todd Flood was pursuing.
"That's an excellent question, because I remember when they came to talk with us one of the things they said is that 'We have all this all of this evidence, and that's why we need to start over, because things have not been considered and we have much and we want to make sure that there are not only charges but that there are convictions,'" Weaver said. "And that's when we started hearing that great cliche 'justice delayed is justice denied,' and that's what the people of Flint were going to get ... and then all of a sudden, you know, you hear challenges of criminal charges and find out it's a misdemeanor. Everybody else underneath Governor Snyder, they get charged with real criminal charges, but he gets a misdemeanor — and we knew that he knew? That was not a secret. He did know."
She added, "We want some accountability. And not just charges, we want some real convictions. You think they're going to happen? We can't even get the story out. People don't even want to talk about what's going on. They want the story to die and go away. And that's been the plan this whole time."
Weaver said she believes that Snyder and other Republicans supported Whitmer for governor over Schuette because they knew Schuette as attorney general was pursuing criminal charges.
"This was supposed to go away, and they got behind her," Weaver said.
Weaver also claims that Whitmer backed away from pursuing funds for new water pipes for Flint once elected, saying that she wouldn't be able to get the funds because people have "Flint fatigue."
"That's what I was told, is 'People have flint fatigue,'" Weaver says. "And I thought, wow, how dare you."
She added, "To just say, 'People have Flint fatigue, and I can't get that' — I thought, but this is what you said you were going to do. This is what you campaigned on. And now all of a sudden you're tired of Flint? You got what you needed?"
Weaver also called out current AG Nessel.
"She was not truthful to the people of this city," Weaver said. "She told she told us that they were going to have some criminal charges, and not just charges, but convictions, and she did not want people to get away with these crimes, and we see a misdemeanor is getting away with murder."
Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...