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Snyder meets with pastors over Flint’s water crisis

Jacob Carah
Special to The Detroit News

Flint — Gov. Rick Snyder again held a private meeting in the city to discuss the state’s response to the lead-tainted water crisis.

Snyder, with an orange mug of water and a bright Flint pin notched to his lapel, sat near the end of a table inside City Hall Thursday, facing a a row of concerned pastors gathered in a conference room. Mayor Karen Weaver also was present.

“Stopped at Station 1 this morning and talked to some folk getting their water, talked with the firemen and national guardsmen and had a good conversation with them,” Snyder said.

Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said the governor would not take questions at the meeting from the press but was happy to meet with the pastors about the water issue “and a number of other issues facing the city.”

Murray added: “The governor meets with the pastors regularly, and they raised concerns early on about the look and taste of the water.”

The press was allowed in for a brief look into the meeting, where the governor also introduced Rich Baird, a top aide and Flint native who was tasked a day earlier with leading a team focused on improving the quality of life in the city.

“Richard is a Flint native, and I’ve asked him to be in charge of our team hear in Flint,” Snyder said.

Baird will serve as the state’s transformation manager in the city and will have an office in Flint.

“The good Mayor Weaver has allowed me to come home,” Baird said.

Weaver responded: “Welcome home.”

Just outside in the atrium of the Flint City Hall on Thursday, Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and early advocate from Water You Fighting For? and Lynna Kaucheck of Food & Water Watch came to deliver 21,000 petitions from city residents “calling on state and local decision makers to issue a moratorium on drinking water bills in Flint.”

“We hear from people out of town telling us just don’t pay for the water, just don’t pay,” Mays said. “What they don’t realize is that we can’t just not pay.”

On Tuesday, Snyder also met privately with NAACP President and Chief Executive Cornell Brooks and Weaver to discuss the administration’s efforts to protect the health and welfare of Flint residents.

National and local NAACP have said one of their main priorities for the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint is the repeal of Michigan’s emergency manager law.

The state, meanwhile, has been ramping up relief efforts since confirming elevated lead levels on Oct. 1.