Top Legal Aides Urged Gov. Snyder's Cabinet to Fix Flint's Water a Year Before Public Disclosure


New information about the Flint disaster keeps coming: the Detroit Free Press reports that two top legal aides to Governor Rick Snyder issued a warning in October 2014—a full year before Snyder’s public disclosure of the public health crisis—that Flint’s water supply needed to be switched back Detroit’s source before the damage got “too far out of control.”

In October 2014, Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to Snyder, and Michael Gadola, then the governor’s legal counsel, both wrote emails to Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and other aides noting the danger of Flint’s water supply coming from their local river. Brader said that it was economically and environmentally prudent to return to Detroit’s Lake Huron and that it was an “urgent matter to fix,” according to the Detroit Free Press, and noted that the “bacterial contamination and reduced water quality” had made General Motors leave “due to rusted parts.”

Gadola, who was raised in Flint, responded to Brader in agreement and called using the water switch “downright scary.”

“Too bad (former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley) didn’t ask me what I thought, though I’m sure he heard it from plenty of others,” Gadola wrote to Brader, Muchmore, then-communications director Jarrod Agen and Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Clement. “My Mom is a City resident. Nice to know she’s drinking water with elevated chlorine levels and fecal coliform.”

In a recent interview, Brader said that her concerns were met with an assurance by Earley that the “problems with Flint’s water were expected to dissipate and were unlikely to reoccur.” But, as Muchmore notes, the finances of Flint wouldn’t lead anyone to optimism:

“There’s a failure to cover the financial situation in Flint and the fact they were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and they really didn’t have any resources or assets to rely on,” said Muchmore, who departed as the chief of staff last month to become chairman of the government relations and regulatory practice group for the Detroit-based Honigman law firm. “The whole idea of having an emergency manager was to help the city survive. When you’re talking about helping a city survive, that’s pretty important.”

It wasn’t important enough, apparently.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via AP.

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