Uproar over email released during water crisis that Flint city leaders call insulting

(WXYZ) - The Flint water crisis is far from over. People still can’t drink their water and new information in the ongoing political crisis is embarrassing actions by the lieutenant governor. 

The Flint water crisis put the governor and Michigan onto the world stage.

We all know why:

Flint residents drank water poisoned with lead and other serious health problems for a year and a half, with devastating consequences, especially for kids under 6.

City, state and federal officials failed to issue warnings and stop it.

What congressional committee members did not have during an earlier hearing on the matter, but what we’re showing you tonight is what some say is another culture of the Rick Snyder administration.

It’s an embarrassing email written by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley in January. The target was Flint State Representative Sheldon Neeley.

Most state reps in the minority party (meaning the Democrats) spend 6 years in pure irrelevance. So this is just his way of mattering.

It was because of an embarrassing story and event where Representative Neeley said the governor needed to do more to help Flint.

Just 2 days later, Governor Snyder would declare a state of emergency in Flint.

“It speaks to a mindset,” says Neeley. “It speaks to a culture of individuals and their arrogance and their elitism when they talk about people being irrelevant.  We’re talking about safeguarding lives.”

In the same January email, which was released by the governor’s office and buried in thousands of others, goes further, about Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, just elected because of the water crisis:

We need a friend on the ground and at this point the mayor is our best bet.  We should bend over backwards to say yes to her as much as we can and make sure she is out front taking credit for delivering things from the governor, not the state rep or senator who are actually hindering progress at this point.

Was she being played? The mayor declined to comment on camera.

Raw politics behind the scenes can be blunt.

“Sometimes you have a conversation with somebody you don’t expect its ever going to be broadcast out,” says Calley. “So it was inappropriate and I apologized for it.”

Earlier this week, we spoke with the governor about the situation.

“No we don’t play people,” said Snyder. “This is all about working together in terms of partnership. And we each have a role to play.  Karen Weaver is the Mayor of Flint.  She should be running the City of Flint.”

“I would say they were playing, using a tactic to play everybody to play the public,” said Neeley.

“I believe we should do everything that we can to help the mayor be successful, period,” said Calley. “What I’m saying is I want to help her as much as I possibly can.”

The representative accepts the apology he got from the lieutenant governor, but takes this seriously and personally.

“They don’t want the public eye to review their poor conduct,” said Neeley. “People in this community are relevant. People matter.  Lives matter.”

And in Flint, it is still not known when people can drink their water.

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