FLINT 2.0? Gretchen Whitmer’s Cronyism Creates Another Inner-City Lead Poisoning Crisis in Michigan
The state of Michigan is undergoing yet another crisis related to the lead poisoning of its citizens, this time in the city of Detroit where children have been poisoned due to government malfeasance.
The Detroit News reported last year that CLEARCorps/Detroit, a non-profit tasked with lead abatement services in Detroit homes, had done an insufficient job of removing lead from these homes. The problem was discovered after a child became sick in a home that was supposedly treated.
“There was an investigation to find where the exposure was and it led back to the house,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the state government. “We are actively reviewing the homes that they did.”
CLEARCorps/Detroit received a stop work order after their malfeasance was realized but the damage was already done. Nearly 600 Detroit homes contained dangerous levels of lead for a sustained period of time following the supposed repairs. The health ramifications are still being felt by the community years later with little if any repercussions for the parties responsible.
In one Detroit area code (48206), it was discovered that a shocking 19.2 percent of children had high blood lead levels as of 2017. This crisis was not caused merely due to corruption in the city of Detroit, but the problem begins at the state level deep within the bureaucracy of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
CLEARCorps had received a contract to perform lead abatement in homes since 2007 through the Lead Safe Homes Program. Whitmer bureaucrat Sonya Frick serves as manager of that program. The program is defined as being created to “improve the health and wellbeing of Michigan citizens by promoting safe and healthy home environments through comprehensive home-based intervention programs, lead certifications and regulations, public education and outreach, and statewide partnerships.”
Frick’s husband, Jared, owns Frontier Building and Remodeling, a Grand Blanc-based firm. It has been widely alleged that Frontier receives many of these lead abatement contracts in the state when other more qualified competitors are willing to do the job. The contracting process that is run through Frick raises serious questions about possible ethics violations.
Public Act 196 of 1973 in the Michigan Criminal Code states in part:
A public officer or employee shall not engage in a business transaction in which the public officer or employee may profit from his or her official position or authority or benefit financially from confidential information which the public officer or employee has obtained or may obtain by reason of that position or authority. Instruction which is not done during regularly scheduled working hours except for annual leave or vacation time shall not be considered a business transaction pursuant to this subsection if the instructor does not have any direct dealing with or influence on the employing or contracting facility associated with his or her course of employment with this state.
Frontier has been accused of completely disregarding rules and regulations that are on the books. They have allegedly used insider connections to undercut the state’s bidding process, giving them an unfair advantage in the contracting process. The money is then allegedly pocketed with a wholly inadequate amount being put toward the state-mandated renovations.
The state addressed what occurred in a 2018 press release that attempted to minimize the damage that occurred.
“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today that they are reviewing previously completed lead-abatement work by an agency offering lead-based paint hazard identification and abatement services,” the press release stated.
“MDHHS will abate any remaining lead-based paint hazards in homes previously serviced by the contractor. The Detroit Health Department is working with MDHHS to connect directly to families at every address in the city serviced by the company, with an in-person outreach team, education and lead cleaning kits for the home, as well as testing of children in the home,” they added.
Despite the MDHHS admitting the failure, Frick has not been removed from her position. There has seemingly been no accountability within Whitmer’s government after these inner-city families were poisoned.
The state of Michigan, since 1998, has maintained the power to monitor and remove lead-based paint in homes to ensure that they are at levels deemed safe.
“A person shall not engage or offer to engage in a lead-based paint activity unless certified in the appropriate discipline under this part. A person conducting a lead-based paint activity shall comply with the standards for performing lead-based paint activities contained in this part and the rules promulgated,” the Act states.
“The department shall certify a person applying for certification under this part if that person demonstrates to the department that he or she is licensed, certified, or registered in another state and the standards for obtaining that license, certification, or registration are substantially similar to those imposed under this part,” the law continues.
Big League Politics will continue to report on this situation as it develops.