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'Michigan Matters' Focus: Water Woes In Flint And Presidential Politics

Brooks Patterson, Charlie Beckham and Cliff Russell join "Michigan Matters" Senior Producer/Host Carol Cain to talk about issues impacting our region and state

"How is Flint like Mexico?" Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson queried the "Michigan Matters" panel as they sat to discuss an array of issues including the FBI's investigating some former officials of the Education Achievement Authority and Detroit Public Schools for possible corruption charges.

"It's a nice place to visit, but don't drink the water," answered Patterson.

The moment underscored the serious situation in Flint after the city switched from transporting water from Detroit to using water from nearby Flint River as a cost saving measure. It has resulted in lead poisoning and serious concerns for area residents, The controversial measure was enacted during Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley's watch. He left that job and is now overseeing Detroit Public Schools as its EM. Earley was appointed to both positions by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The House and Senate approved $9.35 million to help the beleaguered city reconnect to the Detroit water and sewer system, as well as testing, water filters and more.

Snyder signed the quick moving legislation on Thursday.

Lead impacts every system in the human body and is known to be harmful to children's brains and nervous systems, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

One also has to wonder about long-term impact of pregnant women drinking the water, said Cliff Russell, also on panel along with Patterson, Charlie Beckham, group executive in charge of neighborhoods in Detroit, and show host Carol Cain.

Russell added the issue of looking of what happened in Flint and why, was as important as next steps to help remedy the crisis.
"If this was a wealthy suburb, this would never have happened," said Russell of Flint, which is an urban manufacturing city an hour outside of Detroit.

On other issues, the roundtable discussed the first Democratic presidential debate which saw all five candidates together for the first time, "I'd give her a "B," said Patterson of frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her performance during the CNN debate.

"I think Bernie Sanders really helped himself," added Russell, who said more people now know who he is Beckham said former Maryland Gov, Martin O'Malley appeared presidential and raised his profile with his performance,

(You can hear the conversation by watching "Michigan Matters" 11:30 am Sunday only on CBS 62).

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