Will Puerto Rico get the Flint treatment and receive underwhelming help in its hour of need?
When it was discovered in 2014 that Flint was being poisoned by its own water, it took the state months to swing into action. (Just so you’re sure, the quotes are intended to imply that “take action” is the opposite of what the governor and state Legislature did.)
And here we are, years later, and the problem still isn’t fixed. Even though the water was finally declared lead-free this week, people are still being advised to continue using filters, in part because many lead service lines into homes haven’t been replaced and won’t be for years. (According to the Associated Press, only 3,000 of 18,000 replacements have been completed. No hurry, guys.)
Insult to injury, Gov. Snyder this week whined at a GOP conference on Mackinac Island (where the water is just fine, thank you) that criminal charges brought in the Flint water crisis are having “a major impact on state employee morale. I’ve actually had people tell me they took retirement or people didn’t want to take a job because of this environment.”
Gosh, sounds awful.
I’ve written for years now that the state’s slow-roll response would never, ever have happened or been tolerated if, God forbid, the water crisis had happened in wealthier, whiter and more Republican towns like Birmingham, Grosse Pointe or Grand Rapids. The problem would have been fixed within months – spare no expense – and while it was being fixed, fleets of tanker trucks carrying Evian would have been parked on city streets.
But Flint is Flint, and there’s no Evian in sight. Not then, not now, not ever.
And now there’s poor Puerto Rico, which is still without power after Hurricane Maria’s lashing last week. The island – an American territory – has been positively devastated, and yet the federal government hasn’t exactly overwhelmed the island’s people with its response yet. Nor does the president seem all that concerned, and many of his critics have noticed.
“What do millions of people facing disaster in Puerto Rico need to do to get Pres. Trump’s attention: take a knee,” tweeted Paul Begala, a former Clintonite. (The reference is about the whole, silly National Anthem debate.)
“Number of POTUS tweets today attacking black athletes: 3 Number of tweets today abt US citizens in Puerto Rico w/out water, electricity: 0,” tweeted a Daily Kos writer.
“Is Trump in WHSR drafting better ways to help US citizens in Puerto Rico or devising smart strategy for NK? Nope — tweeting about football,” tweeted Michael McFaul, a Stanford professor and a former ambassador to Russia.
Yes, these are all tweets from, ick, liberals. But they may just have a point. As the media watchdog group Media Matters tweeted today, “Sunday political talk shows spend less than a minute total covering Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico ”