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Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - In Flint, Democratic candidates call for repeal of emergency manager law [Detroit Free Press] - October 20, 2017

Pharmacy News Article

 8/13/17 - In Flint, Democratic candidates call for repeal of emergency manager law [Detroit Free Press]

Aug. 13FLINT Four Democrats running for governor condemned the Flint water crisis during a forum there Saturday.

Speaking to about 250 people at the University of Michigan-Flint, they used the Flint public health debacle as a launching pad for a wide-ranging critique of state government under Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, retired Xerox executive Bill Cobbs of Farmington Hills, former Detroit health department director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, and Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar agreed on many of the issues at the forum sponsored by the Michigan People's Campaign and other Democratic organizations.

They all called for repeal of the state's emergency manager law, through which Flint had been placed under state receivership when its drinking water was contaminated by lead in April 2014.

They also called for better environmental protections, including a shutdown of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac; a halt to state government privatization and the growth of for-profit public charter schools, and expansion of publicly funded health insurance plans such as Medicaid and Medicare.

More: GOP candidates for governor attack policies of Republican-controlled Lansing

More: Flint water crisis to remain an issue through 2018 governor's race

But they were not always ready with detailed plans when Flint residents confronted them with specific problems arising from the water crisis.

In fact, the moderator, state Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, felt compelled to intervene and ask for more specifics after Reneta Richard, a Flint high school social studies teacher, told the candidates that she is already seeing the effects of lead poisoning on her high school age students, who are older than the Flint children who have been the primary focus of health outreach efforts in the wake of the water poisoning.

Richard wanted to know what the candidates would do to move her students off the "path of destruction of the so-called school to prison pipeline" that she fears some of them are on.

But most of the answers related to the need to improve education opportunities for Michigan students were not specific to Flint. After prompting from Phelps, Cobbs suggested tutoring and other support services for students who fall behind and making sure teachers are aware of the potential impact of lead on student learning so they are "adjusting expectations."

Richard said after the meeting she felt the candidates mostly stayed on their talking points, rather than truly addressing the specific issue she raised.

"I was a little bothered, because my question was not answered," she told the Free Press.

Jeffrey Raupp, a Flint real estate worker, fared somewhat better when he asked what each candidate would do to address the high cost of residential water in Flint, which is among the highest if not the highest in the nation.

Thanedar said Flint residents shouldn't have to pay for water that was poisoned because of mistakes made at the state level, and "no one should be prosecuted for not paying their water bills."

Whitmer. who slammed the Snyder administration for missing "red flag after red flag' before acknowledging the lead contamination of Flint's water, said she would make sure every resident has the right to affordable water.

Cobbs said he sees a fundamental problem with a state that allows a bottled water company to draw huge volumes of water for a nominal fee while families can't afford to pay for municipal water service.

And El-Sayed said he would assure every family receives the amount of water they need for drinking, cooking and bathing and introduce a sliding scale of charges for usage in excess of that so the resource is protected.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.


(c)2017 the Detroit Free Press

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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