Emergency managers, city officials charged in Flint water crisis

Emergency managers, city officials charged in Flint water crisis

, Detroit Free Press

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FLINT — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis moved a step closer to the highest levels of state government Tuesday as he brought felony charges against two former emergency managers who reported to former Treasurer Andy Dillon and were appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Schuette, who also charged two former City of Flint public works employees Tuesday, would not say how far the investigation would go, only that it will follow the evidence and nothing is off the table.

“We are closer to the end than we are to the beginning,” he told reporters.

In 67th District Court in Flint, a judge authorized charges against former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose and two former city officials — Howard Croft, who was public works superintendent, and Daugherty Johnson, the utilities administrator.

The latest charges bring the total number of people charged by Schuette to 13.

Earley and Ambrose are the highest-ranking officials charged to date, as Schuette’s investigation — in three rounds of criminal charges starting in April — has moved steadily higher in the state’s chain of command.

At least one member of Snyder’s cabinet, Department of Health and Human Services Minister Nick Lyon, has already been publicly identified as a target of the investigation, though Schuette has denied there are any targets other than those who are charged and no charges were announced Tuesday against Lyon.

Schuette brought 20-year felonies — conspiracy and false pretense charges — against four defendants he alleged conspired to operate the Flint Water Treatment Plant when it wasn’t safe to do so. He said the defendants used a phony environmental order to allow Flint to borrow money to proceed with the new $285-million Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline, while tying Flint to the Flint River for its drinking water in the interim.

In bringing charges against the former emergency managers, Schuette said there was “a fixation with finances and balance sheets … at the expense of public health and safety.”

Officials pushed ahead with taking the city’s drinking water from the Flint River in April 2014, despite the fact they knew well that the Flint Water Treatment Plant was not ready to deliver safe drinking water, Schuette and his investigators alleged at a Tuesday news conference.

?New criminal charges in Flint water crisis: Who they are

“So many people knew that that plant was not ready — and yet it was done,” said Andrew Arena, the former special agent in charge of the FBI in Detroit, and now Schuette’s lead investigator. “That’s the thing that shocked me.”

Three of the newly charged defendants — Johnson, Ambrose and Croft — were arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Flint courtroom.

Not guilty pleas were entered in all of their cases and they were released on personal bonds.

Earley, who is represented by Detroit attorney Todd Perkins, has yet to be arraigned. Perkins declined immediate comment.

After Johnson was arraigned, his attorney, Edwar Zeineh of Lansing, said he’s waiting for information in the case, but described his client as diligent, astute and a “worker’s worker.”

“We will stand with Mr. Johnson and his not guilty plea throughout the proceedings,” Zeineh said.

Ambrose declined to comment.

Croft didn’t have an attorney when he came to court, but attorney Frank Manley stood in for him at the hearing, though he is not representing Croft. “(Croft) certainly believes that he is innocent of these charges, and he expects to have his day in court,” Manley said.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Tuesday she sees the charges as a broader indictment of the state’s emergency manager system for financially distressed cities, in which an appointed official from outside takes powers stripped from the elected mayor and council.

“It’s taken the voice of the people and taken our democracy,” Weaver told reporters after the charges were announced.

A task force appointed by Snyder and a special joint committee of the Legislature also have called for changes to the EM law, following separate investigations.

Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said the new criminal charges involve “serious accusations that should be moved through the legal process as soon as possible,” adding “anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty and they deserve every chance to defend themselves against any accusations.”

The governor’s office remains “steadfast in our commitment to helping the people of Flint recover, which is evident in the support the state has provided regarding water quality and resources, educational improvements, expansion of health care, and economic development,” Heaton said. “By working together with all levels of government, we will help Flint move forward.”

Jeff Seipenko, a special agent with the Attorney General’s Office, told Judge William Crawford II that the investigations showed the former emergency managers conspired with Croft and Johnson to enter a contract based on false pretenses that bound the City of Flint to utilize the Flint River as its drinking water source, “knowing that the Flint Water Treatment Plant was unable to produce safe water.”

After being advised to switch back to water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Earley and Ambrose failed to reconnect to the city’s former water supply, Seipenko said.

The result, he said, was that Flint residents had prolonged exposure to lead and Legionella bacteria.

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area following the water switch were tied to 12 deaths. Officials haven’t definitely linked the water switch to the disease, but Schuette and his investigators came close in public statements Tuesday and documents related to the criminal charges.

All four defendants face felony charges of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses. In addition, Earley and Ambrose were also charged with willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office.

“We’re back in Flint — the city where so many things went terribly wrong, but where those who broke the law will be held accountable, and justice will be delivered to the families of Flint,” Schuette said at a news conference in Flint this morning, where he was joined by Todd Flood, a Royal Oak attorney who is serving as Schuette’s special counsel on the case.

Arena said “there are some people out there who know they’ve done wrong and they know we’re coming after them,” adding “they’re not having a Merry Christmas.”

Schuette detailed an unusual environmental transaction with significant financial implications that allowed Flint to participate in the KWA pipeline project to Lake Huron, without Flint’s share of the associated debt counting against the city’s debt capacity, which was nonexistent.

The Free Press in May wrote about what at the time was called a “sweetheart” administrative consent order that allowed the KWA to proceed. That deal now forms the basis of the false-pretense charges against all four defendants.

“Without the funds from Flint,” the KWA “would have to be mothballed,” Schuette said in a news release. “However, as a bankrupt city, Flint needed the Michigan Department of Treasury’s approval to get loans.”

Schuette said the nearly bankrupt city had already been turned down for loans, but the defendants used the Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause, created to deal with emergencies and calamities, to borrow its share for the KWA. Flood said the cleanup of a troublesome lime sludge lagoon was used as the pretext for an environmental administrative consent order, but there was no environmental emergency. Tying the lagoon cleanup to the KWA project allowed the project to proceed and not count against Flint’s municipal debt. Charging documents called the environmental order a “sham.”

“To make the situation even worse, tucked inside the 15-page Statement of Purpose for an upgrade of Flint’s Water Treatment Plant system was a one-paragraph requirement that bound the city to use the Flint River as an interim water source,” Schuette’s news release said.

The plant wasn’t ready to start treating water in April 2014, as water plant official Michael Glasgow had warned, but “the defendants allegedly ignored warnings and test results and shut off the pipes pulling clean water from Detroit, and turned on the Flint River valves,” the news release said.

Previously, Schuette brought charges against eight current or former State of Michigan employees and one City of Flint employee —  Glasgow.

Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014 after the city switched from treated Lake Huron water supplied from Detroit to raw water from the Flint River, which was treated at the Flint Water Treatment Plant.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials have acknowledged a mistake in failing to require corrosion- control chemicals to be added to the water. As a result, lead leached from pipes, joints and fixtures into Flint households.

Though lead levels in the water have come down significantly since the state acknowledged the contamination around Oct. 1, 2015, residents are still advised not to drink tap water without a filter. Many still rely on bottled water, which can be picked up free at distribution centers in Flint.

Five of the current or former state employees charged previously are from the DEQ. Three are from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Corinne Miller, the former director of the Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention and Epidemiology at DHHS, pleaded no contest in September to willful neglect of duty by a public officer. At that time, two felonies were dismissed, including misconduct in office. As part of the agreement, Miller, who retired from the department in 2016, must cooperate with the investigation and offer truthful testimony.

In May, Glasgow, the City of Flint’s laboratory and water quality supervisor, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty with the understanding a felony charge against him, tampering with evidence, would be dismissed. He also pledged to cooperated with the investigation.

According to a warrant request released Tuesday, Glasgow “will testify … he was receiving pressure from above, specifically from defendant Johnson and defendant Croft,” to start treating Flint River water for public consumption, despite his concerns the plant was not ready.

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Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us, Danny works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org, author of ‘120 characters or less’ The guide to winning a debate in the Digtal age. Danny is also working on two documentary films, I love my country but hate what they are doing” and “30 days in Gaza” depicting what it is for Palestinians to live under Israeli occupation.

Man Sentenced To Six Months In Jail For Installing a Wind Turbine !

Jay Nygard’s decision to install a wind turbine on his own property earned him prison time. It’s the perfect example of how the US government has been criminalizing “off the grid” living and eroding the rights of private property owners in the process.

nygardturbine

The US federal government, as well as many state and city governments, have been cracking down on individual property rights and sustainable living for some time. Thanks to their incredibly misguided efforts, it is now illegal in parts of the US to have a garden in your front lawn, collect rainwater on your own property, or live “off the grid.” You can even be arrested on your own property for protesting the installation of a pipeline that you never consented to. This troublesome trend is taking place, in part, because the government, and the “system” in general, wish to prevent a significant portion of the population from being independent, empowered and self-sufficient.

Image result for wind turbine jailed

Another example of the government’s war on private landowners can be found in one Minnesota man’s six-year-long legal battle for having a wind turbine on his own property. The trouble started for Jay Nygard when he installed a 29-foot-tall wind turbine next to his home in 2010. Nygard is the owner of Go Green Energy, a company which produces miniature wind turbines as well as the turbines of the same make installed near his home. One can assume that he installed the wind turbine to take advantage of the products he sells for a living. Originally, legal issues emerged because neighbors complained to the city, saying that Nygard’s turbine was “an eyesore.” One of his neighbors, who sued him over the presence of the wind turbine, said that the turbine’s unpleasant visage took away their “freedom and enjoyment” of their property.

Nygard fought the courts, who ordered him to remove the turbine on more than one occasion, for years. Though he resisted, he eventually caved to the pressure and had the turbines removed. Yet, this was not enough for the city government who demanded that the turbines cement base also be removed. Despite the fact that three engineers said that the removal of the base would cause structural damage to Nygard’s home, the city continued to demand its removal. According to Nygard’s son, he even tried to add an easement to the house’s deed saying that when the house is demolished the pad must be removed. He managed to remove 50% of the base in order to avoid damaging his family’s home. Despite his best efforts, Nygard ultimately was given six months prison time last year for failing to remove 100% of the base.

 This egregious example of the government disrespecting the rights of private landowners, particularly those looking to live a life independent of the so-called “system,” is becoming more and more commonplace each passing year. If the Obama administration is as concerned about climate change and the environment as they claim to be, why do they allow the criminalization of those seeking to live independently from fossil fuels? Clearly, there is more to the story.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!


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Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us, Danny works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org, author of ‘120 characters or less’ The guide to winning a debate in the Digtal age. Danny is also working on two documentary films, I love my country but hate what they are doing” and “30 days in Gaza” depicting what it is for Palestinians to live under Israeli occupation.

The Largest Prison Strike in History Is Being Ignored By Major Media.

Did You Know We Are Having the Largest Prison Strike in History? Probably Not, Because Most of the Media Have Ignored It

The prison strike didn’t merit a single mention in NYT, Washington Post, NPR, CNN or MSNBC.
By Adam Johnson / AlterNet September 16, 2016

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Thousands of prisoners in over 24 states began a labor strike on September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, to demand better conditions and healthcare, the right to unionize and what one organizing group calls an “end to slavery in America.” But one would hardly know it watching major U.S. media, which has mostly ignored the largest prison labor strike in history. One week on, the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and NPR have not covered the prison strikes at all.

In the same time period since the strike began, CNN has run stories on Clinton’s “body double,” the New York Times ran a piece on women getting buzzcuts and ABC News had an “exclusive trailer” for its parent corporation Disney’s upcoming film. There was certainly enough airtime and column inches to mention that workers had coordinated a national strike of unprecedented scale, but for these outlets the coverage has been nonexistent.

A handful of national outlets have covered the strike: The Nation, City Lab,Engadget, Money Watch, Buzzfeed, and as of Thursday, the Wall Street Journal, but every other major publication, network news and cable network has thus far been silent.

When we spoke by phone, Azzurra Crispino, media co-chair of Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, one of the strike organizers, was hesitant to be too hard on the press out of hope the strikes would lose coverage in the future. But after some prompting, the four-year prison abolitionist veteran listed a few measured grievances at the media. Her most consistent theme was that to the extent the strikes were being covered, the focus was on spectacle over substance, and in doing so the media was making nonviolent resistance all but impossible.

“I’m a pacifist, I would like to see the strikes remain nonviolent,” Crispino told AlterNet. “Yet in terms of the mainstream press coverage when there’s blood on the ground the prisons have to fill out reports that guards were hurt so then they can’t deny strikes occurred,” she said in reference to the stonewalling of prison officials. The few reporters Crispino had spoken to said most prison spokespeople denied any strikes were taking place. “Between prisoners and TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice], who do you think reporters are going to believe?” she asked.

The power asymmetry and the media’s default position of siding with government officials over those seen as criminals creates just one more barrier to coverage. At its core, coverage of the prison strikes, as with any protest action, has an inherently perverse incentive structure that puts a premium on acts of violence and property damage and overlooks non-telegenic peaceful activity, such as hunger strikes and labor stoppages.

This dynamic was seen in the Standing Rock incident on September 3, when private security sicced dogs on Native American activists protesting an oil pipeline, and pictures of injured protesters went viral on social media. At the time, only Democracy Now, a relatively small left-wing news show, and AP and UPI filed original reports on the incident. Days after what the media called “clashes,” articles appeared with far greater frequency, including in major outlets like New York Times, CNN and NBC.

This warped incentive structure is even more pronounced in prisons, which are by definition cut off from society. The only time anyone bothers to notice prisons is when demonstrably violent action takes place.

“Which of the strikes are getting the most attention? Florida because they’re violent,” Crispino says, in reference to the September 7 uprising at Homes Correctional facility in the Florida panhandle. “They can’t deny in Florida because prisoners are setting things on fire and there’s been so much structural damage they can’t deny strikes are occurring.”

A similar dynamic is at work when prisoners are in solitary confinement or engage in body mutilation or destruction of property, often by flooding their cells or covering them with feces or blood. Similarly, Crispino contends, each time the media ignores peaceful activities, it tips the scales further in the direction of fires, property damage and rioting.

But this reason doesn’t fully explain the lack of mainstream coverage. A few outlets, as noted, have covered the strike to the extent they could, especially in the buildup to the protest, so it’s not as if there wasn’t enough information to compile a story.

One possible reason is that some of corporate media’s biggest advertisers use prison labor, so the disincentive to shine a light on the problem is high. AT&T, Bank of America, Chevron, Eli Lilly, GEICO, McDonald’s, and Walmart all use prison labor and all are sponsors of corporate media so much we can recite their commercials by heart. One corporation that uses prison labor, Verizon, even owns major media outlets Yahoo and Huffington Post.

Russia Today, a Moscow-funded media outlet, was the only cable news network to speak with Crispino, and to the best of her knowledge, the only one to cover the strikes. When Donald Trump appeared on RT last week, there was a frenzy of outrage by mainstream pundits, with some questioning why Trump would give credence to “Russian government-controlled propaganda.” RT’s position has always been that it covers stories the mainstream press doesn’t, and while some may see this as a cynical marketing ploy, in the case of the prison strikes it also happens to be true.

Another issue for IWOC is that all the coverage thus far, even in sympathetic outlets, has ignored their broader political aims, which is prison abolition, not reform.

“The IWOC is an abolitionist organization,” Crispino said. “Abolition is pretty much completely ignored. It’s interesting because people ask questions about that and they ask what would you do instead, but no one wants to hear that and they never write about it.” That the media is allergic to ideology, to having deeper discussions about our society’s core axioms and why the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population but 5% of the total population, is perhaps too knotty for a 800-word writeup but for those working in the trenches it can be frustrating.

As the strike enters its second week, perhaps major media outlets and cable news will take a cue from activist media and the Wall Street Journal (whose report is worth reading) and shine a light, if only briefly, on the largest prison strike in history. If not, Crispino feels other tactics will eventually become more commonplace.

“I almost want to say, the mainstream media is complicit if there’s violence. The message they are sending to striking workers is, we will only give you coverage if things turn ugly.”

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

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Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us, Danny works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org, author of ‘120 characters or less’ The guide to winning a debate in the Digtal age. Danny is also working on two documentary films, I love my country but hate what they are doing” and “30 days in Gaza” depicting what it is for Palestinians to live under Israeli occupation.

Black Pigeon Caught Smuggling Drugs into a Costa Rica Prison

A drug-smuggling pigeon was detained by Costa Rican police after it was caught with cocaine and marijuana in a prison courtyard.

The drugs had a reported street value of around $281 USD

A homing pigeon smuggling 14g of cocaine and 14g marijuana into #LaReforma prison in Costa Rica was intercepted by police and taken into custody, reports The Telegraph.

The pigeon, dubbed as “narcopaloma,” caught the attention of a prison guard when it landed on the courtyard of La Reforma prison in San Rafael de Alajuela, a city near the Nicaraguan border, Fox News Latino reported.

The nickname #Narcopaloma means #NarcoPigeon, the drug trafficking avifauna was allegedly seen by a prison guard while landing in the courtyard of the medium-security facility with a small zipped up pouch tied to its body.
Authorities believe that the pigeon may have been trained to act as a courier by an inmate at Le Reforma, which is Costa Rica’s biggest prison, according to Sky News.

Prison authorities said that the bird may have been fed by an inmate in La Reforma’s medium-security wing, and that someone brought it out in order to attach the drugs to it and let it fly back to it. This was reportedly the first time that a pigeon was caught smuggling drugs into La Reforma, although many other similar instances have happened elsewhere in the country.

Prison police chief Pablo Bertozzi told reporters that the pigeon flew specificially to the medium-security wing, indicating that the drugs “weren’t for delivery to just anyone,” according to The Register.

 “The real problem is that there is a lot of [drug] consumption. If there weren’t consumers, the drugs wouldn’t be arriving,” Bertozzi said, The Telegraph reported.

The Costa Rican Ministry of Peace and Justice posted the incident on Facebook and Twitter, which quickly became viral. Memes about the #NarcoPaloma flooded social media, with some even joking that pigeons in the country are threatening to take over if their “comrade” is not released, according to Tico Times.

pigeion guide

The Narco-Pigeon was “arrested” and later taken to a zoo where it will remain caged.

“They are Most likely going to deny him bail” Said his lawyer, “The Judge believes him to be a flight risk” 

Shortly after the incident The hash tag #FreePigeon has began to circle on South American social network pages.

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Danny F. Quest is a official 9/11 Truther, anti-war activist, humanitarian,  Blogger, and writer/contributer  for WeareChange.org  Follow him on Social Media.


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Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us, Danny works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org, author of ‘120 characters or less’ The guide to winning a debate in the Digtal age. Danny is also working on two documentary films, I love my country but hate what they are doing” and “30 days in Gaza” depicting what it is for Palestinians to live under Israeli occupation.

Could this Finally Lead To Hillary Clinton Going to Jail !

In this video Luke Rudkowski covers the breaking news of the Hillary Clinton email scandal and hack on the DNC. This new information reads like it was out of a spy novel but the reality of the facts show a grim political reality for the presumptive democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Don’t forget to invest and donate on http://wearechange.org/donate/ so we can continue and expand our operations.

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HILLARY TO BE INDICTED ONE WAY OR THE OTHER ITS OVER

Sources

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/16/politic…

http://thefederalist.com/2016/06/13/h…

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/…

https://www.rt.com/usa/346534-wikilea…

http://www.truthdig.com/eartothegroun…

https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/…

https://guccifer2.wordpress.com/2016/…

http://nypost.com/2016/06/14/russian-…

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroder…

http://observer.com/2016/06/vladimir-…

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/0…

http://www.investors.com/politics/edi…

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