On Jan. 21, 2015, almost exactly a year ago, officials from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's (R) administration attended an event in Flint City Hall in which they assured local residents there was no crisis with the city's water system. The people of Flint, officials said at the time, should consider their tap water safe.
Those officials were wrong. It's of great interest to know whether or not they knew it was wrong.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, the Detroit Free Press published an important report late yesterday that puts the developments in a new light.
In January of 2015, when state officials were telling worried Flint residents their water was safe to drink, they also were arranging for coolers of purified water in Flint's State Office Building so employees wouldn't have to drink from the taps, according to state government e-mails released Thursday by the liberal group Progress Michigan. A Jan. 7, 2015, notice from the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which oversees state office buildings, references a notice about a violation of drinking water standards that had recently been sent out by the City of Flint.
Specifically, the note said it was providing coolers of purified water to employees of the state office building in Flint in order to provide them with an option. "The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements," the notice said.
So, let me get this straight. In January of last year, the Snyder administration told Flint residents their water was safe to drink. Two weeks earlier, the Snyder administration told its own employees in Flint -- in writing -- that "the public water does not meet treatment requirements."
Rachel asked on the show, "If you lived in Flint, would you trust the state government to fix the problem there?"
As for the national focus on the crisis, Flint came up in a Republican presidential debate for the first time last night, when one of the moderators asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), "Your colleague, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is under fire -- he and his administration -- for the Flint, Michigan water crisis and the botched response to it. How would you have handled that?"
The GOP candidate responded, "Well, you've got to be on top of it right away. And, you know, I don't know all the details of what Rick Snyder has done." His answer went on to talk about problem-solving in general, without mentioning any Flint-related specifics.
Kasich isn't alone, of course. Marco Rubio recently seemed to have no idea that the Flint story even existed.
The Washington Post's Janell Ross suggested this morning it's time for the GOP field to "read up on" developments in Flint. That seems like excellent advice.