Government Incompetence

No Chemists!

Governor Snyder Continues to Demonstrate The Finesse Which Made Gateway Great

Snyder Flint Press Conference 27 January 2016Governor Snyder announced the remaining members of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee today. No chemists. Not one person with a chemistry degree. Undoubtedly, a fine collection of worthy government officials. Four ‘field experts’, none of whom are chemists. Medical doctors are not chemists. Public health administrators are not chemists. Civil engineers are not chemists. Materials scientists are not chemists. Chemists are chemists. Chemists know things:

Thermodynamics
Kinetics
pH
Equilibrium
Redox

The lead in Flint drinking water is, at its core, an issue of water chemistry. Water chemistry was allowed to go completely berserk at the Flint Water Treatment Plant for 18 months. Flint’s distribution system has been severely damaged. Fixing that damaged distribution piping is a venture into uncharted territory. Only an inorganic chemist with a command of thermodynamics, kinetics, pH, ICP-OES analysis, and the equilibrium of redox reactions will successfully navigate this uncharted territory. Not another lying MDEQ clown, either. They had their shot and blew it. Why the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee is necessary in the first place.

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев 1834 – 1907

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev
Дми́трий Ива́нович Менделе́ев
1834 – 1907

No one will trust Flint water until its chemistry is brought under control and that will require adult supervision – a genuine chemist. Detroit Water & Sewerage water is not a magic bullet. Detroit’s water works in Detroit’s distribution system. Detroit’s distribution system has not been damaged by 18 months of reckless water chemistry.

Flint’s water chemistry needs to be fixed, yesterday. New lawsuits against the State of Michigan are being filed every day. The latest filed this morning by the ACLU and a host of liberal pressure groups takes a new tack, alleging violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Suffice it to say, Michigan has no viable legal defense against this suit.

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Bureaucratic Capture In The Flint Water Fiasco, An Echo Of Proposal 1

Snyder's Email Dump Is Most Notable for What It Doesn't Show: Management

Snyder Steudle Image 1Governor Snyder went way out on a political limb supporting Proposal 2015-01. By the time this limb broke off at the polls on May 5th, his only remaining allies were MDoT, MITA, and Michigan’s nitwit media.

MDoT’s Director, Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. received lavish, flattering coverage in our nitwit media throughout the road funding proposal campaign. The Transportation Asset Management Council, an MDoT tool, packaged an avalanche of lies in glossy pamphlets for public consumption. An entirely fictitious Washington think tank, TRIP, used inside MDoT information to issue even more incredulous lies. Governor Snyder parroted these titillating lies thoughout his Proposal 1 media campaign. He was entirely comfortable promoting the agenda of his ‘technical experts’.

Pre SB 571 campaign finance law allowed us to watch MITA spend $ 5.4 million supporting this turkey, more than half the total spent by Safe Roads Yes! The Michigan Infrastructure and Transporatation Association is ostensibly a bunch of independent, competitive contractors. Somehow a fractious bunch of competitors planned and executed a well coordinated – if entirely devious – political campaign.

How did they coordinate?

How did this presage the Flint water fiasco?

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Headlee Evasion Caused Flint’s Water Quality Fiasco

Water Has A Very Special Attribute In Southeast Michigan

Water is Money Image 6You probably think the water which comes out of the taps in your house is for drinking and washing. You would be wrong. Michigan drinking water is first and foremost a mechanism for Michigan politicians to evade limits imposed upon them by the Headlee Amendment. You probably think Michigan water systems have quality as their top concern. You would be wrong. Michigan water departments are directed to maximize revenue by their political masters. These unfortunate facts are the genesis of Flint’s sorry water quality.

Michigan’s lefties and the ignorati in our media have fabricated a popular history of the Flint water situation which begins with Governor Snyder and his emergency managers on 25 April 2014, the date Flint started drawing its drinking water from the Flint River. Craven emergency managers appointed by Governor Snyder plotted to poison Flint residents to save a few bucks. The truth is rather different.

The history of this calamity actually begins in 1978, when the Headlee Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution was passed by outraged Michigan voters.

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Legionella Pneumophila

Legionella Pneumophila Image 1aDo you remember reading any stories about a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Genesee County during 2014 or 2015, or this year before last Wednesday? I don’t, and neither does Google. Nor do companies which specialize in tracking Legionnaires’ Disease. It was a real shock when Governor Snyder announced Wednesday that Genesee County had recently experienced 87 cases of this disease, 10 of which were fatal.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services quickly put up a ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’ web page describing two sequential Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks. A first outbreak from June 2014 to March 2015, followed by a second from May 2015 to November 2015. This web page provides a dead link to a June 2015 preliminary report and a live link to a May 29, 2015 dated summary of the report created by Susan Bohm of the MDHHS Communicable Disease Division on June 4 2015. The Bohm summary was then modified by someone on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 3:21:26 PM. The Bohm summary only covers the first, June 2014 to March 2015 outbreak, not the subsequent May 2015 to November 2015 outbreak which was developing as her summary was being written.

Governor Snyder said on Wednesday that he had just become aware of this outbreak. You are expected to believe that functionaries deep in the bowels of MDHHS were not communicating with either the Governor or their own superiors, for six months. The Bohm summary specifically and painstakingly categorizes those victims of the first Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak who were exposed to Flint water. Flint water quality was a blazing issue at the beginning of June 2015. This report and the Bohm summary didn’t make it to the Governor’s office at the speed of light? No one in the Michigan government would lie to the public, would they?

The fundamental question here is whether the Genesee County Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks are related to the coincidental Flint drinking water quality – or lack thereof. Governor Snyder and MDHHS say such a connection has yet to be made scientifically, but they are investigating. Marc Edwards, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech said “that it’s not 100% sure” that the outbreak of Legionnaires’ is tied to the change to Flint River water, but the association “looks very strong.”

Professor Edwards agrees with Governor Snyder and MDHHS that, even if the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak is associated with Flint River water sourcing, the risk is over now that Flint has returned to Detroit water. However Ms. Bohm’s summary declared the first June 2014 to March 2015 outbreak over, just as the subsequent May 2015 to November 2015 outbreak was developing.

Are outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease in Genesee County now history?

Did Flint’s October switch to Detroit water end the possibility of another outbreak?

Will corrosion control measures really suppress Legionella pneumophila in Flint water?

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Chemistry, The Problem is C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y

Flint Water Quality is Now a Presidential Campaign Issue

Lab Rat Image 4Governor Snyder’s many attempts to deflect responsibility and and tamp down adverse media coverage of the Flint water situation are failing miserably. Snyder cannot make a public appearance without getting peppered with antagonistic questions about the circumstances behind the Flint water sourcing change. National International media are now all over this story, and their coverage is ugly. Democrats are having a field day promoting the ‘uncaring Republican’ meme. This story is going to really hurt the Republican Party’s 2016 Presidential nominee unless it is spiked quickly. Hillary Clinton is already using it.

Snyder’s ineptitude at handling the Flint situation, plunging from a deep hole into the abyss, also creates great risks for taxpayers across Michigan. We have already pointed out that skilled, predatory legal vultures are circling the Michigan Treasury. The torrent of adverse publicity will predispose any jury they impanel to hammer the State of Michigan financially. Now a variety of self-interested parties within and without Flint are proposing an avalanche of new, State-paid goodies for the citizens of Flint. These acts of contrition will be paid for by Michigan taxpayers who played no role in the Flint water situation and will not receive any benefit from a lavish expenditure of their hard earned dollars.

Snyder’s political career is over, but he will enjoy his remaining days living in well earned obscurity akin to his mentor Bill Milliken. You can safely bet that our accountant-in-chief will use his single real world skill to avoid paying the penance for his decisions. Michigan taxpayers, Republicans, and conservatives will take the big hit here.

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Gordie Howe Bridge On A Slow Roll to Oblivion

Canadian Economic Collapse and Extravagant Liberal Party Campaign Promises Doom Governor Snyder's Bridge

The estimated cost of constructing the NITC DRIC Gordie Howe Bridge between Detroit and Windsor has now more than tripled since the Canada agreed to fund the entire cost back in June 2012. Its total cost, including interest payments, is now over four times the 2012 estimate. The recent, sharp collapse in the value of the Loonie – the Canadian currency – is being blamed. But it appears that deliberate lying cost underestimation in 2012 and project creep over the last 30 months play a much bigger role in the eyepopping new cost estimates.USDCAD

Financial markets trade the U.S. Dollar and the Canadian Dollar back and forth as ‘USDCAD‘, which is the equal value ratio of Loonies per greenback. The higher USDCAD is, the weaker the Loonie. USDCAD is now quoted around 1.40 (1.4 Loonies per greenback). The Loonie was 37% stronger back in June 2012 when Governor Snyder and then Canadian Prime Minister Harper worked out their agreement; USDCAD was then about 1.02.

Direct construction costs are now estimated to be C$ 2 billion ($ 1.43 billion USD) higher than the C$ 973 million ($ 950 million USD) estimate touted back in 2012. A 37% increase due to currency adjustments would be only $ 360 million (USD), so we know the 2012 deliberate lie underestimation was in the vicinity of $ 1.64 billion (USD). Additionally, the collapse of the Loonie now requires the establishment of a C$ 1.5 billion ($ 1.07 billion USD) reserve to offset the expected rise in Canadian dollar denominated bond interest rates. The Canadian government bond yield curve has doubled at its short end since the middle of September 2015 in response to the collapse of the Loonie. The Gordie Howe Bridge will be financed at those higher Canadian bond interest rates. The total Canadian government cost estimate is now C$ 4.8 billion ($ 3.43 billion USD).Snyder Harper Image

Harper’s Conservative government was defeated in October of last year after NDP voters abandoned their own party for the elysian promises of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party. Virtually the same promises our Dear Leader made in 2008 – ‘Hope and Change’ recycled for a northern audience. Harsh reality is already wrecking the promises Trudeau made to win the October election, so will the Canadian government continue to throw money at an unneeded bridge?

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Vultures Over Michigan

Senate Joint Resolution M: Paying for Michigan's Role in the Flint Water Disaster with Roads Funding?

Vulture Image 1Four Republican Michigan State Senators introduced Senate Joint Resolution M on December 15th to abrogate the just enacted PA 179 (HB 4370) deal which will eventually apply $ 600 million from State General Fund to roads repairs.  SJR M replaces this funding by raising the Michigan sales tax from 6% to 7%. The four Republican Senators are:

Ken Horn, District 32
Rick Jones, District 24
Darwin Booher, District 35
Mike Green, District 31

Senator Ken Horn

Senator Ken Horn

All four of these Republican Senators voted for every bill in the PA 174 – 180 road funding deal on November 3rd. But now, less than two months later, they want a different – all tax – funding arrangement for additional road work. Legislators’ remorse? Maybe not. Or perhaps remorse over a different situation?

First term Senator Horn was interviewed by Jake Neher of Michigan Radio on Senate Joint Resolution M:

Horn thinks the current plan relies too heavily on shifting money from other areas of the budget – especially with some big expenses on the horizon.
“That has me a little bit nervous,” he said. “If we tie our hands with $600 million out of the general fund, how do we ever manage new expenses?”

What “big….new expenses” cropped up in Senator Horn’s mind over the last 60 days?

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2015: Year Of The Big Lie

The Etiquette of Lying Evolved in Michigan This Year

hcedhbcaThomas Sowell just dismissed 2015 as the “Year of the Big Lie”. His view is national, but his observation certainly applies to Michigan politics this year as well.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant resigned yesterday in an act of contrition over his department’s prevarications about Flint water processing and quality.  The Flint Water Advisory Task Force found the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality failed to ensure safe drinking water in the City of Flint.  He was followed out the door yesterday evening by his mouthpiece, MDEQ Communications Director Brad Wurfel. The really egregious MDEQ lies were actually formulated by Stephen Busch, a civil service classified ‘engineer’ in the MDEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Office. No word on his fate, but don’t hold your breath; he is a classified civil servant.

By contrast, MDoT Director Kirk Steudle gets to spend a gusher of new taxpayer dollars gulled from our State Legislature, after his blizzard of lies supporting Proposal 2015-01 failed to impress Michigan voters. Our legislators were far less discerning than their constituents. Director Steudle was all over Michigan in the first quarter poor mouthing MDoT’s resources. He relentlessly promoted an entirely bogus assessment methodology to portray Michigan road conditions in the worst possible light. All the while, the Michigan Auditor General was having a field day revealing MDoT nonfeasance, misfeasance, and waste.

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Fast and Loose in the Michigan Senate

Switch Subsidy Bill Passage Was A Senate Rules Violation

David Knezek ImageIn their slobbering rush to deliver tax breaks for one very specific data center last Thursday, the Michigan Senate violated its own rules regarding the consideration of appropriations bills. The Knezek amendment to SB 616, S-1:

Enacting section 1. The legislature shall annually appropriate sufficient funds from the state general fund to the state school aid fund created in section 11 of article IX of the state constitution of 1963 to fully compensate for any loss of revenue to the state school aid fund resulting from the enactment of this amendatory act.

converted SB 616 into an appropriations bill according to the definition in Michigan’s 1963 Constitution, in its Article IV, Section 31.

Michigan Senate Rule 3.602 requires:

“Any bill requiring an appropriation to carry out its intended purpose shall be considered an appropriation bill (See Constitution Article IV, Section 31). Appropriations bills, when reported back to the Senate favorably by a committee other than the Committee on Appropriations, shall, together with amendments proposed by that committee, be referred to the Committee on Appropriations for consideration.

Michael Kowall Image 2Senator Kowall moved a suspension of the Senate Rules after the noon recess on Thursday to bring nine bills on to Third Reading, including SB 616. From Senate Journal 106, page 1910: “be placed on their immediate passage at the head of the Third Reading of the Bills calendar.” was his motion. Senate Journal 106 indicates that his request was passed by a majority. This allowed final action and passage on SB 616 in the Senate that day.

Reading the record, it would appear that Senator Kowall was suspending Rule 3.207 to consider SB 616 and the eight other bills which had been placed on to ‘General Orders’ that morning for final passage under ‘Third Reading’, out of normal order. Senate Rule 3.207 requires a one day delay between the ‘Second Reading’ (‘General Orders’), and the ‘Third Reading’ (‘Final Action’). Suspending this prescribed one day delay is a common practice when time is of the essence.

Senator Kowall had already moved that morning, before recess, to place SB 616 and the same eight other bills then under ‘Committee Reports’ (‘First Reading’) under ‘General Orders’ (‘Second Reading’), so they could be on that day’s calendar. Also out of normal order, but again a common practice when time is of the essence.

But did either of Senator Kowall’s two suspension motions suspend Michigan Senate Rule 3.602?

Is Michigan Senate Rule 3.602 a fundamental rule as defined by Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure? Mason’s is the underlying body of rules adopted by the Michigan Senate when their own rules are mute on an issue.  Fundamental rules cannot be suspended according to Mason’s and all the other accepted bodies of parliamentary rules.

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Lie of the Month: “We’re talking about introducing an entirely new industry to Michigan”

Pandora's Box Has Been Opened

Pandoras Box Image 2Actually, no. There are at least 28 third party data centers already up and operating in Michigan. The House Fiscal Agency thinks there are 40, but didn’t specify them. None of these 28+ existing data centers required the tax breaks just reported out of the Michigan House Committee on Tax Policy to get up and running.  But Switch SuperNAP does? Why?

The promoters of Switch SuperNAP’s tax break package launched their campaign back in November with a heavy emphasis on the ‘new industry’ angle. This whopper seems to have been originated by Switch’s spokesman Roger Martin:

“It is a tough issue,” Switch spokesman Roger Martin said. “There’s no question about it. We’re talking about introducing an entirely new industry to Michigan, something that is the future of this country and of this world. It’s a good, vigorous debate.”

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