Bernero to Snyder: ‘Fix Flint or resign’

Detroit News staff

Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to Rick Snyder, has a message for the second-term Republican governor: Fix Flint or resign.

Bernero on Wednesday joined a protest outside the state Capitol, calling on the state to fund full replacement of all lead water pipes in Flint. Lansing spent a decade replacing its own lead pipes and is providing Flint with technical assistance during its water contamination crisis.

“He’s made a mess,” Bernero said of Snyder. “If I were there, I’d like to fix it. He says he does, too, well then do it. What are you waiting for? I guess I would say fix it or get out. Fix it or resign. We’ve proven here it can be done.”

While Snyder and legislators have approved $67 million in funding for Flint since October, just $2.5 million of that has been sent to the city for an infrastructure study and a pilot pipe replacement project.

The governor has proposed another $25 million in supplemental spending on Flint infrastructure needs, but Speaker Kevin Cotter has said the House will not consider additional funding for Flint outside of the budget for next fiscal year, which begins in October.

“Get on with it and get the lead out,” Bernero said. “(Flint Mayor Karen Weaver) has her Fast Start Plan, and they’re not funding it. It’s completely inexcusable.”

Jeff-Jack replaced by Legacy

The Michigan Democratic Party has abolished an annual fundraiser named after two slave-owning presidents from the 19th century.

The annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner — known as Jeff-Jack among Democratic Party insiders — has been replaced with a new fundraiser called the Legacy Dinner.

“We thought it better to have a dinner that’s more reflective of where the Democratic Party is now,” said Brandon Dillon, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

Democrats in Connecticut, Georgia and Missouri also have dropped the Jefferson-Jackson name from their annual fundraising dinners because of concerns about former President Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson owning slaves and Jackson’s removal of Native Americans from their land and pushing them westward.

The Legacy Dinner will be held April 30 at Cobo Center in Detroit and will feature a keynote speech by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

“I don’t think there’s anyone out there who’s more associated with the civil rights movement and the continuing fight for equality than John Lewis,” Dillon said Wednesday.

NAACP: ‘Get serious’

The NAACP said last month that it would invite “civil disobedience” if Snyder did not release a comprehensive plan and timeline to replace Flint pipes within 30 days. But Wednesday’s protest, the first since that deadline passed, was muted.

About 40 people gathered in the rain outside the state Capitol in an apparent attempt to block the street. But state and city police did the job for them, blocking off Capitol Avenue and allowing the protesters time to stage their demonstration.

“We will escalate the response depending on the degree of inaction,” said national NAACP President Cornell William Brooks. “The weather will get warmer, and I would just simply say that there are lots of people across the country who would have no problem coming to Lansing or to Flint by the thousands, so it’s time to get serious.”

Contributors: Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting