A sad State of the State

FLINT – OK, yes, it was nice that Gov. Snyder – after months of no or non-apologies (“I’m sorry this happened to you “) – finally said the words “I’m sorry, I’ll fix it” during the State of the State, otherwise known as The Great Half Hour Flint Apology-Fest. It was also nice there seemed to be real human emotion in his voice at times. (Nerves or regret? You decide.) But how comfortable are we, really, having the same guy in charge of fixing the problem whose lack of leadership contributed to it in the first place? I suppose there’s no choice.

– During the speech, he promised to release emails related to crisis. Which again sounds like he’s being proactive and concerned, but as Jen Strayer Eyer of MLive pointed out he’s not bound by law to release anything, so anything he does release, you can bet, shows him and his administration in the very best of lights. So, really, they’re of little value.

– Heckmuh-tee? Really, governor? You couldn’t bother to learn how to pronounce the name of the Michigan Marine released from Iran after years of imprisonment?

– He had name problems all speech long. He completely butchered Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s name, the Hurley researcher who sounded the alarm about high lead levels in Flint kids. If you’re the governor and your administration is eating major crow for botching the Flint crisis AND for belittling (early on) the people who saved Flint like Dr. Hanna-Attisha, don’t you think you should at least practice saying her name when you’re paying tribute to her? C’mon, guv, it’s not that hard. Practice in front of a mirror: “Hanna-Attisha, Hanna-Attisha, Hanna-Attisha.”

– He asked the Legislature for $28 million for Flint. It’ll be interesting to see if they grant it. It’ll be even more interesting to see how generous they are six months from now when the heat is off a bit. That’s the problem with long term crises – human beings have short-term memories.

– Was it unseemly of GOP legislators to stand and applaud the governor as often as they did? The guy was admitting blame!

– And did he really say some pipes are made of wood? I think he really said that.

– Lou, a friend of mine, said one of the smartest things I’ve heard to date about the Flint water tragedy. He said: “Flint is what happens when we attack the idea of government relentlessly for decades. As if the government isn’t us or ours.”

– Exactly.

– What the heck got into longtime GOP Michigan political analyst Bill Ballenger? He’s normally a voice of some reason but in talking about the Flint water situation on Tim Skubick’s “Off the Record” program after the State of the State he blathered on about how the problem has been overblown, in part because his personal blood test (he lives part-time in Flint) came back fine. Wow, Bill, glad for you, but little kids have tested positive, and they’re the ones affected the most. Was that overblown? How about a little compassion? (BTW, he was fired by Inside Michigan Politics shortly after making those comments. IMP owner Susan Demas, a fiery left-leaner, wrote “he is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts. And as the sole owner, editor and publisher of IMP, I alone speak for the publication and set its editorial direction. Flint is a public health catastrophe, as the meticulous research of Virginia Tech and Hurley Medical Center Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha clearly shows. I cannot have anyone associated with Inside Michigan Politics who minimizes the impact of this terrible public health disaster that will impact people’s lives for decades to come. I am truly sorry to everyone hurt by Bill’s comments at a time of already considerable anxiety and pain.”

– “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.