Bankole: A Christmas wish for Flint kids

Bankole Thompson

It’s been more than a year since the lead poison scandal that engulfed the lives of some 10,000 children in Flint became a full blown story and commanded headlines around the world.

The children — some as young as 4 — who were innocently exposed for 18 months to lead in the water they used for drinking and bathing, their lives are forever changed.

Whatever futures they had will now be severely impacted by the discovery of lead in their bodies.

That is the story of Flint of which we need to remind Gov. Rick Snyder, state lawmakers and bureaucrats, with continued demands for the state to step up its response.

That is why during this Christmas season we should not only think about our families and loved ones, we should also remember those young lives in Flint, and the fact that Christmas for them and their parents could mean deciphering how to deal with the lead in their bodies when they wake up every morning.

My Christmas wish for Flint’s children is to see that the state take steps to judiciously save those children from the lead poisons and move with all deliberate speed to address the corrosive pipes that contributed to the environmental saga.

By next December, Flint should be on firm footing, and the pipes in this impoverished city should all be replaced. The state was largely responsible for the crisis. It should have no issue addressing those problems.

It is very important for the state to get it right in Flint, because the level of the disaster it created and its impact on the cognitive development of the children will be felt for generations.

Imagine having to monitor each child’s development every day, watching for any troubling signs. That is a scary place to be as a parent.

And I don’t think any parent can claim to be having a wonderful Christmas or sing “Jingle Bells” when you have to deal with the fact that the intellectual capacity of your child may be severely limited because of a disaster created by state bureaucrats, as emails have shown.

The parents in Flint are busy monitoring their children’s health because state government inaction and bureaucratic incompetence have stolen their Christmas.

No parent should have to endure the kind of injury these parents are going through or have to discover that political decisions — such as when Flint switched from the Detroit water lines to the unusable Flint River water to save money — are the reasons the children’s futures have been endangered.

The health and safety of children anywhere regardless of their ZIP code must not be sacrificed for a bureaucrat’s tough talk and cost-cutting measures.

For that there needs to be accountability in Flint.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s announcement of charges on Dec. 20 against four individuals about their role in the crisis including two former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose now sets the stage for the public to know what actually transpired. The charges underscore what Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has been saying all along: that the city deserves justice.

Call the charges a Christmas gift for Flint, but those children deserve more than that. They deserve more than an uncertain future.

Twitter: @bankieT

Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910AM weekdays at noon. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.