Demands for change, requests for information pertaining to Flint water settlement

Demands for change, requests for information pertaining to Flint water settlement
January 5, 2021 Flint Beat

By Amy Diaz, Flint Beat, through the Institute for Nonprofit News network

Flint, MI– A Flint activist and a Flint attorney are each taking action regarding the $641.25 million water lawsuit settlement the City joined two weeks ago.

Flint City Council voted to approve the city joining the settlement with $20 million of insurance funds, to the dismay of many citizens who were disappointed in the terms and amount of the settlement.

Activist Jasmine Hall started making demands to get residents more money and resources out of the settlement, and Attorney Loyst Fletcher has made requests to get residents more information.

Hall had been reading about the settlement, and seeing residents voice concerns about it on social media. She decided to organize conversations with Flint community members to discuss the settlement and determine changes that should be made.

“I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m angry, and I’m read to fight,” Hall said.

On Dec. 28, Hall shared videos of her conversations on Facebook.

“I just wanted to let the record say this settlement is wrong,” Hall said in one of the videos. “It’s unjust, it’s unfair, it’s not enough, and it’s not distributed equitably.”

She said the amount needed to be increased by at least threefold, and named healthcare, college, pipe replacement, and in-home fixture replacement as other necessities.

Former Mayor Karen Weaver, who has spoken out against the settlement, was in the video as well.

“This payment is reflective of how little they value our lives, and we’re supposed to get excited about it,” Weaver said.

After several conversations with multiple community activists, Hall pieced together a list of demands. With the help of Hall, Black Millennials 4 Flint, an environmental justice organization, created a petition that makes it easy for residents to send an automated email to Judge Judith Levy urging her not to approve the settlement.

Those demands are:

  • Clean Water. Hall said after speaking with resident and activist Arthur Woodson, she determined that having rigorous water testing would be an important demand.
  • Repair the pipes inside AND outside of homes/residences (including replacement of home appliances). Flint residents need to see a physical change to trust the water again, Hall said.
  • Free health insurance for life that follows individuals even if they relocate and leave the state of Michigan. Hall said this healthcare should not have age or income requirements.
  • $1.5 billion in reparations after lawyer fees. Hall said while she and other activists agreed there was no perfect number, this amount would be more reasonable.
  • Remove the burden of medical proof for all individuals impacted by the crisis. Hall said there are “so many flaws” with the requirement to prove exposure. She said there are issues with accessibility to testing, but also that some medical issues may be difficult or impossible to prove as being related to the water crisis.

“Doctors don’t necessarily say the cancer or kidney disease was directly caused by the water crisis,” Hall said.

Additionally, she said it’s not right that lead and Legionnaires’ disease are the only aspects of the water that are included in the settlement, since other things like, PFAS and TTHMs were issues too.

  • Access to tuition-free college/universities within the State of Michigan. Hall, an epidemiologist and Harvard graduate, said providing a college education would be extremely helpful.

“We’re going to need a work force, and a college education can change your life,” Hall said. “College education for adults and children when they grow up makes a lot of sense, and could give us structural change.”

Hall said if their petitioning and protesting of the settlement doesn’t change the total amount but gets people healthcare or access to a college education, “it would have been worth it to cause a ruckus.”

Judge Levy has said she will be providing her decision mid-January, and will be considering what citizens have to say.

Attorney Fletcher is concerned that residents don’t even have enough information to decide whether or not they want to participate in this settlement.

On Dec. 8, he sent a letter to Special Master Deborah Greenspan requesting more information.

In this letter, Fletcher requested the “estimated payout per adult claim,” and “estimation of the number of adults that will qualify to make a claim.”

Although the settlement provides a breakdown of percentages of funds allotted to each population category, estimations of the actual dollar amount each adult might get have not been provided.

Fletcher said he was told he would be getting a call in response to his letter from Dec. 8, but never did.

He sent another letter on Dec. 31, reminding the Special Master of his previous requests, and requested a copy of the original Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

“I see no reason to hide the ball,” Fletcher wrote. “…It is only fair that the adult citizen water customers be allowed to review the MSA.”

If that is not possible, Fletcher requested an explanation in writing as to “why the adult citizens cannot have this information.”

“At this stage of the settlement proposal, transparency should be paramount,” Fletcher wrote.

He said he has not yet gotten a response to this letter, and guessed that he’s “being ignored.”

Special Master Greenspan could not be reached in time for publication.

Catch up on more Flint news on Great Lakes Now:

What should justice look like for Flint after the water crisis? Residents weigh in

Officials: Flint makes progress toward ending water crisis

Michigan will borrow $600M for Flint water settlement

How does a $641 million Flint water settlement get to residents? Attorneys give answers

Flint water lawsuit settlement now totals about $641 million

Judge: Flint must check water lines in newer neighborhoods

Court: Flint class-action can proceed over lead in water

This article, first published in Flint Beat, is republished here through Great Lakes Now’s membership in the Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of more than 200 nonprofit newsrooms across the U.S., working to strengthen the sources of trusted news for thousands of diverse communities.

Featured image: Jasmine Hall (top right) hosted a video call with Flint community members to discuss the $641.25 million water settlement, and propose demands for more just reparations. (Image Credit: Flint Beat)

1 Comment

  1. Teresa 3 years ago

    As a citizen of Flint that was exposed too the water and since have had a PACEMAKER alomg with SEVERAL other’s here and most of us are or were in our 40’s with no prior heart condition. Many of us adults have lost our teeth since the exposure and have so much more going on that is all similar too each other. I now have no top teeth as of this new year and lookimg in the mirror at 46 is beyond hard on the soul. We united as a city trying to get water to all who could not get access to it because of no transportation or means too carry the weight of the bottles we needed that was still at the start DONATIONS from us spealimg up and other’s across the country helping. I personally delivered water too many home’s and was just so heart wrenching too see. We were all just left with the water in the beginning and ignored for way over a year and a half.
    The water piped are still not completely FIXED and we pay outrages prices for unsatisfactory conditions as too what is in it. They still have not compiled with the samples the EPA requires to do the tests. We are suppose to be using filters still but only home owner’s get testing results. Schools, churches, businesses, and apartment communities do not get it. We have no access to filters since COVID has shut down our DHS buildings and thecwater department that provides them to us for free.
    We also do not have a back up water supply in case of an emergency such as contamination or any other crisis. It is the law and two just that I know of for sure are not beimg followed and no one is being held accountable for it. The same person who was around atbthe beginning is still there failing us!!! When will we be cared about?? Where is our JUSTICE?? Why are we not important and so easily ignored?? So much money came into the city that is unaccounted for and then you slap a disgraceful figure at us and conditions manybof which do not help us at all with the remainder of our lives we now live daily with the scars and no faith in what is coming out if our faucets!! It cost us monthly almost $70.00 just forcservice!!!! 11% of the income of most here. Highest in the country and still not safe!!! #FLINTWATERCRISIS #FLINTLIVESMATTER # WE OURBONE # WE ARE AMERICANS2

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