It’s no secret Milwaukee has a lead problem but is it a bigger water catastrophe than the crisis that hit Flint, Michigan and raised alarms in 2014?
PolitiFact Wisconsin looks at a claim that compared Milwaukee to Flint.
“State Senator Lena Taylor, one of several candidates from Milwaukee Mayor in the Spring election, says Milwaukee has a clean water catastrophe with lead levels higher than Flint, Michigan,” said Greg Borowski with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
PolitiFact Wisconsin looked at a couple of key metrics to break down Senator Taylor’s comparison – water tested in homes and lead levels in the blood of children.
“By the numbers Senator Taylor is generally correct, levels of lead in the water is found through EPA mandated tests in Milwaukee are slightly higher than in Flint,” said Borowski.
But there is one key difference and PolitiFact Wisconsin says it’s a critical point.
Milwaukee’s lead problems have to do with lead in the laterals or service pipes that go into homes and from lead-based paint in older homes.
That’s different than Flint – where the lead problem was in the water supply.
“… she goes majorly awry, with her catastrophe claim especially in linking the two and making it seem as if the water is the only reason that there are problems with lead poisoning in the city of Milwaukee,” said Borowski
PolitiFact Wisconsin rated his claim Half True.
Where’s the money? Accounting for $389 million from Flint water crisis is hazy
FLINT (WJRT) (1/7/2020) – Mayor Karen Weaver’s plea to the governor on Jan. 5, 2016, was granted.
“We’re looking for cash, we’re looking for resources, we’re looking for services, whatever we can get,” Weaver said at the time.
Former Gov. Rick Snyder declared the water crisis is an emergency and freed up hundreds of millions of dollars in state resources for the city of Flint.
“We need to get financial resources so that we can fund that nutritional support, early childhood education, repairing and replacing those lead service lines,” said Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Flint. “And, I hope that this declaration of emergency opens the door for those resources.”
Money did come flowing in from the state and federal governments, even celebrities and organizations from across the country. But four years later, the Weaver administration says it don’t know where it all went.
“The state has the cash. They decided who to give the cash to. Not the city of Flint,” said former Flint City Administrator Steve Branch.
ABC12 sat down with Branch before Mayor Weaver left office to ask about the state’s website’s summary of Flint Water Expenditure Tracking. It breaks down what state departments did with the taxpayer money that was set aside for Flint by the Legislature.
The Flint Emergency Appropriations and Expenditures spreadsheet shows a total of $389.6 million dedicated for Flint. A majority of that has already been spent.
“My first reaction was, it’s kind of overwhelming when you look at the pages and pages and pages of this spreadsheet,” Branch said.
He told ABC12 the city of Flint only received $75 million of that $398 million that they could allocate.
The spreadsheet shows how the money was spent. About $6 million went to change the drinking water source, another $25 million went to replacing lead service lines and another $42.7 million created water credits.
Water credits went to people who live in Flint and paid their water bill even when they couldn’t drink or use the water.
FLINT, Mich. – A judge dismissed a misdemeanor charge Wednesday and closed a criminal case against a state official who was fired as head of Michigan’s drinking water office during the Flint water scandal.
Liane Shekter Smith’s 2019 deal with a special prosecutor called for her no-contest plea to be erased after a year if she cooperated with investigators.
Fadwa Hammoud of the attorney general’s office, who took over the Flint water investigation after Shekter Smith’s deal, said she had to honor it.
“This plea deal like others given by the previous special counsel allows the defendant to walk away without a blemish, without anything on her record,” Hammoud said.
Flint’s water was contaminated with lead when the city switched sources in 2014 and didn’t treat water to reduce corrosion. State regulators were accused of ignoring residents’ complaints and evidence of lead.
Shekter Smith had pleaded no contest to an obscure misdemeanor: disturbance of a lawful meeting. Earlier she had been charged with misconduct in office and neglect of duty and threatened with involuntary manslaughter. But those counts were dropped by Hammoud’s predecessor, Todd Flood.
Shekter Smith declined to comment. Her attorney, Brian Morley, has said criminal charges against her didn’t fit.
“I understand the frustration. I understand what happened here,” he said Wednesday. “But you have to make sure that it’s the right people who are punished for it.”