Activism

Governor who enabled Flint’s water crisis gets hired by Harvard to ‘improve how government works’

According to an announcement from Harvard University, former Michigan governor Rick Snyder will begin a one-year fellowship with the school this Monday.

As The Detroit News points out, Snyder will be a senior research fellow at the Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government.

“Excited to have the opportunity to join the Taubman Center at the Harvard Kennedy School,” Snyder said in a social media post. “They have a great track record of important work improving how our government works.”

The fellowship granted to Snyder by Harvard has sparked a significant amount of backlash on social media due to his role in the Flint water crisis. In 2o16, Snyder came under scrutiny after he released a batch of emails that revealed he was aware of problems with the water in the city of Flint as far back as February 2015, and didn’t take the necessary actions to protect the public. According to a PBS Frontline report in April, Flint’s residents are still suffering the effects of high levels of lead in their water.

Responding the his Harvard fellowship, Twitter users launched the hashtag #NoSnyderFellowship in addition to an email campaign aimed at Jeffrey Liebman, who is the director of the school’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government.

Harvard’s announcement comes just weeks after Snyder’s state-owned cellphone was seized in a criminal probe led by Michigan authorities.

In January of 2016, The New York Times Editorial Board published a piece saying that at “every juncture when state officials could have avoided or reduced the harm in Flint, they ignored public pleas and made every effort to dismiss the truth.”

“The newly released emails show that members of Mr. Snyder’s administration consistently mocked and belittled the complaints of Flint residents and the evidence gathered by independent researchers,”  the Editorial Board stated. “Outrage is the only sensible response to this man-made disaster, in which inexcusable decisions, by the state and emergency managers appointed by Mr. Snyder to oversee the city’s finances, led to corrosion of the water pipes and high levels of lead in the water and the blood of city residents. Thousands of children were exposed to water with lead, which could cause long-term health and developmental problems.”

Either way, Snyder is excited about his new gig.

“I look forward to sharing my experiences in helping take Michigan to national leadership in job creation, improved government performance, and civility,” he said in the school’s press release.

If only he put that experience to good use back in 2015.

Featured image via screen grab/MSNBC

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