Leftist film-maker and gadfly Michael Moore, a Flint native who lives in New York City and near Traverse City MI, appeared to have had an epiphany of sorts before the March 6 Democratic presidential debate. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders held forth at Flint's Whiting Auditorium, where one of the main topics of course was the ongoing water crisis in the stricken city. Government mismanagement at all levels has been blamed for the crisis, in which the city's drinking water was contaminated with bacteria and toxic levels of lead. 

At the debate, Clinton for the first time called for the resignation of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. Sanders had already done so months ago. Outside the debate venue, about 350 of Sanders' supporters rallied and demanded entry to the debate. Snyder was condemned, while petitions for his removal were circulated. None of Clinton's supporters were seen in the crowd.

During the debate, Clinton called for the elimination of lead from "everywhere" over a period of five years in order to safeguard children throughout the United States. Activist Lee-Ann Walters, a whistle-blower who called attention to lead contamination in Flint's drinking water who has testified before Congress, was displeased by Clinton's avowals of concern. While she was unhappy with Sanders too, Walter said "I hated Hillary Clinton's answer." She added, in an interview with the Huffington Post, "It actually made me vomit in my mouth."


Walters had asked the two top Democrats whether they would promise to require all public water systems to remove lead pipes. Neither candidate gave a direct answer. Clinton said shw ould eliminate all lead sources, including paint and dust, within five years. She vowed, "We will commit to a priority to change the water systems and we will commit within five years to remove lead from everywhere." Critics have pointed out that this would come at an exorbitant cost to the Treasury.




Michael Moore watched the proceedings and was similarly disenchanted by the Democrats. In a series of tweets, he revealed his disgust. In a series of tweets, he said that Flint has supported Democrats for 84 years. As a matter of fact, Flint has had a series of city mayors and council mayors from the Democratic party throughout the water crisis. The city council is unanimously Democratic, for instance. Even the city managers imposed by the state government have been Democrats.


In calling for the Army Corps of Engineers to help Flint, Moore was effectively pointing the finger at President Barack Obama who has been largely silent and immune from criticism. The only federal official so far to fall afoul of the crisis was a regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency. The focus of activists' ire has been on Governor Snyder, rather than local Democratcs such as U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee.



The cost of government mismanagement in Flint will be expensive. So far, for instance, Obama has released some $80 million for repairs. However, newly minted Mayor Karen Weaver says the cost may exceed $1.5 billion to replace the water system and the approximately 800 miles of pipe.





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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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