Daily Briefs . . .

State ‘fundamentally accountable’ for Flint crisis, inquiry finds


FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan is “fundamentally accountable” for Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis because of decisions made by its environmental regulators and state-appointed emergency managers who controlled the city, an investigatory task force concluded Wednesday.

The panel, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to review the disaster, said in a withering report that what happened in Flint is “a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice.”

“One of the biggest lessons we hope to impart in our report is the need for government leaders to listen to their constituents; in Flint that didn’t happen,” said Chris Kolb, co-chairman of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

Flint’s 2014 switch in drinking water sources led the supply to become contaminated when lead leached from old pipes into some homes.

While the investigators primarily blamed the state Department of Environmental Quality for the disaster — it initially did so in preliminary findings that led the agency’s director to resign in December — it also faulted a host of other government offices and officials for contributing to the fiasco or delaying action to fix it.

Those include the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Genesee County Health Department, the city of Flint and financial managers that Snyder named to run the city of nearly 100,000 people.

The five-member task force interviewed 66 people during its months-long investigation and made a number of recommendations, including considering alternatives to the emergency manager system.

 

Inmates protest food quality at northern Michigan prison
 

KINCHELOE, Mich. (AP) — About 1,000 inmates at a prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have participated in a peaceful protest over the quality of food provided by a state contractor, an official says.
Prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility left the prison yard Sunday about 20 minutes early in silent protest. The next day, most of the facility’s nearly 1,300 inmates didn’t get meals as usual, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said.

The protest related to complaints about the quality of food provided by Oldsmar, Florida-based Trinity Services Group, which replaced Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services as Michigan’s prison food contractor last year.

“This is the first issue that I’ve seen related to food in months,” Gautz said, adding that Trinity has “been very responsive whenever there are issues.”

The Associated Press sent an email Wednesday seeking comment from a Trinity spokesman.

The warden met with Trinity officials Monday, who brought in extra staff and said they were addressing some issues about the way some recently added menu items were being prepared, Gautz said.

Trinity’s three-year, $158 million prison food contract was approved in July after Gov. Rick Snyder announced that Michigan and Aramark had mutually agreed to end their troubled three-year, $145 million contract early. Aramark and the state cut ties after company-initiated talks about a possible billing increase and other issues.

Michigan had fined Aramark $200,000 for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues.

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