I know, I know – I wrote this morning that it was time for a truce in the Flint water wars. But what the former mayor said on national TV this morning is so hypocritical and disingenuous that he must be called out.
Former Flint mayor Dayne Walling, who had spent much of the past two years as a cheerleader for Flint River tap water, went on CNN this morning and had the audacity to claim he was routinely misled into believing that the city's drinking water was safe.
Here’s what the ex-mayor told CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
“...Let’s be clear, there was a bait and switch with all of us here in Flint. We had a state-appointed emergency manager by Gov. Snyder come in and take control of the city in December 2011.
“And after city council and I expressed support for a new water supply from Lake Huron, the emergency manager went behind closed doors with the Department of Environmental Quality and decided to use the Flint River as an interim source, made the budget changes and put that in place.”
Bait and switch? Behind closed doors?
Walling surely knows that the prospect of transitioning city water from the Detroit system to the Flint River was in the discussion stages 10 months prior to the switch. After all, a story about the discussions appeared on the front page of The Flint Journal.
The so-called bait and switch that Walling put at the feet of former emergency manager Darnell Earley on CNN marks a rather dramatic turnaround from April 25, 2014, the day that the tap water conversion occurred.
At a ceremony, Walling, Earley and other city and state officials raised their glasses – filled with treated river water – in a toast to the new water system.
|In this April 2014 MLive photo, city and state|
officials toast the new Flint water system
with glasses of treated river water.
“Water is an absolute vital service that most everyone takes for granted,” Walling said at the time. “It’s a historic moment for the city of Flint to return to its roots and use our own river as our drinking water supply.”
Earley added: “This is indeed the best choice for the city of Flint going forward.” Apparently all on hand heartily agreed.
“There have been a lot of questions from our customers because this is such a major change,” the mayor added. “When the treated river water starts being pumped into the system, we move from plan to reality. The water quality speaks for itself.”
Here are a few more examples (courtesy of MLive) of the 2014-15 version of Dayne Walling vs. the Walling of 2016 -- ousted by voters in the fall, and now playing CYA politics to take the heat off of his wrong-headed policies of the past:
* June 2014 – Three months after the temporary conversion to Flint River water, Earley turned over control of the city Department of Public Works, which oversees drinking water operations, to the mayor. Walling said his priorities for the DPW were reduction of water losses through better maintenance and addressing "the neglect of our street trees."
* April 2015 – After city residents receive mandated notices in the mail warning that the city waterworks was out of compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, Walling started a campaign in defense of the river water that lasted through the November city election. "(My) family and I drink and use the Flint water every day, at home, work, and schools," he assured the public.
* August 2015 – Walling accepted petitions with 26,000 online signatures calling for the end of Flint River drinking water, but the mayor said he remained opposed to returning to Detroit water. "I have not supported going back to Detroit," Walling said after representatives of three groups handed in the petitions. "I agree that water is a basic human right," he said in a prepared statement. "Flint residents deserve water that is 100 percent safe, secure and affordable. The problems from 2014 are being addressed. We already pushed the button on the new carbon filters, and they are working."