Snyder’s office scuttled lead poisoning proclamation

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder’s office quietly rejected a routine request for a Lead Poisoning Awareness and Prevention Week proclamation as Flint’s lead contamination crisis began to make national news.

Snyder issued lead prevention proclamations in 2012 and 2014, but emails released Friday by the governor show his office declined a 2015 request from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Please regret this proclamation,” Snyder’s manager of constituent relations Laura Stoken said in an Oct. 16 email to staffer Beata Kica, who had asked about the health department’s Sept. 18 request.

“Given recent events I am not sure that this is something we want to be issuing,” Kica told special projects manager Ari Adler in a separate email that same day. “... I am going to decline the proclamation unless you think this is something we should be doing.”

Adler responded with a single word email, using all capital letters: “NO.”

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Snyder never did issue a 2015 proclamation for Lead Awareness and Prevention Week, recognized nationally Oct. 25-31 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The decision to reject the proclamation request came two weeks after the state health department confirmed Flint-based Hurley Medical Center’s findings of elevated blood-lead levels in Flint children who had been exposed to contaminated drinking water.

Snyder on Oct. 2 outlined a 10-point action plan to address the water crisis and on Oct. 8 announced plans to help the city return to Detroit’s Lake Huron water source, which it had used until an April 2014 switch to the Flint River.

The governor’s 2014 awareness week proclamation called lead poisoning “the number one environmental health hazard for Michigan children” and urged all citizens to become aware of sources and actions to prevent exposure.

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