Bankole: Flint recall battle hurts recovery
Flint went through a lot during the lead-poisoned water crisis. Some wept while others shook their heads in disbelief, asking how such a thing could happen in America?
The city that was devastated by the fact that children and families were exposed to lead-contaminated water for 18 months would be expected to focus all of its efforts right now on the recovery. And that all of its leaders at city hall would hunker down and show a united front in demanding the appropriate measures from the state that would ensure the recovery continues.
But that is not what is happening. Instead, there is a movement to recall Mayor Karen Weaver, who has been a steady, compassionate and meticulous hand throughout the crisis.
The source of the funding behind this recall effort remains a mystery but the public face of it is Arthur Woodson, a Flint resident upset about a waste collection contract that Weaver signed with Rizzo Environmental Services. The mayor has not been accused of doing anything illegal relating to the contract.
Woodson has collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but questions are now being raised about the validity of some signatures.
Weaver, who is not a career politician and was a clinical psychologist before she was elected to the job three years ago, has been the face of Flint since the crisis.
Despite the mounting problems in Flint’s recovery, Weaver has maintained a calm but strong posture with an understanding that the problems won’t be solved overnight. She has ruffled feathers with Gov. Rick Snyder’s office over issues in Flint — as would be expected — but she hasn’t relinquished her city’s demand for the state not to walk away.
“My goal is, and has always been, to do what is in the best interests of the citizens and the city of Flint. I will continue to fight for the people of Flint and do my job for the people of Flint, and do my job as I have been since being elected,” Weaver said after the recall language was approved.
Recalling Weaver is equivalent to changing the captain of a ship in the middle of a stormy sea. That is not a forward-thinking approach, especially absent any egregious action by the mayor.
While residents reserve the right to recall their elected leaders, those who may be drawn to take part in this particular effort should redirect that energy to demand more aid for Flint.
The crisis like the one that took place should bring that community together under one banner, not create division.
Yes, politics is a dirty game, and Weaver is learning that it can also be a thankless job.
“This recall effort is terrible. It is the worst thing that could happen in our community right now. I think it needs to stop and some people need to allow the mayor to continue to lead us through this crisis that residents are going through no fault of their own,” said the Rev. Allen Overton, spokesman for the Concerned Pastors for Social Action in Flint.
“The garbage contract that they are talking about in this recall, the mayor helped the residents of Flint by saving them $4 million because she bid it out.”
Weaver has two more years before she is up for re-election unless the recall cuts that short. We should be looking to Flint as an example of how the city responded to the challenges of the water crisis, not as an example of political division that disadvantages the city and its residents.
The writer hosts “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at noon weekdays on Super Station 910AM. This column appears Mondays and Thursdays.