Pure or Impure Michigan?

Score another victory for those businesses wanting to locate in Michigan, but now won’t consider it. The reason this time is not labor or the climate. This time it’s the water. Yes, Flint’s crisis of tainted water would turn businesses away from locating here.
It exemplifies on a national and global scale lack of respect for our citizens, the denial of information and inability of state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality and the Governor’s Office to respond, disrespect for our precious water resources and a lack of transparency in government. Would a potential employer like to engage in this mix and do business in Michigan?

While we could go on about how deplorable this is, we have to move it forward. We—the citizens-—are in charge, not the state agencies or public officials. As voters and taxpayers, we hire and elect them, pay them and fire them. They serve us—let’s not forget that.
This is how we move this forward. Here are three points to seize an opportunity to change for the better:

  1. Fix the aging public utility infrastructure. We should not have to worry about our drinking water. Period. Our region of freshwater abundance is a drawing point for businesses, tourism, sports and far-reaching economic growth – and should remain so. (Living in Detroit, I am one of those people getting water from lead supply pipes. Now I want my water tested and really enjoy those chemicals that keep the lead out.)
  2. Our water is our most precious resource. As noted in earlier Corp! editorials and stories, the Great Lakes region holds 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. So while the citizens of Flint have become the poster child for polluted drinking water, it makes me increasingly disgusted that we continue to drain pollutants into our rivers and Great Lakes. Our not-so-pure water will be in demand more and more in decades to come. Count on it. We have a responsibility to preserve and improve it and develop water technologies that can help the world. We should make this a No. 1 priority.
  3.  This fiasco with Flint just illustrates again our lack of transparency in government. It is no wonder public officials and state and city agencies are distrusted. Fox News reported that Michigan ranked last in a study this past November from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative organization that measured governmental transparency. Why? One reason may be that Michigan is one of only three in the nation that exempts the governor, lieutenant governor and their offices, and state legislators from the Freedom of Information Act. The Michigan Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 1977, is designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Michigan. I guess this is not the case. We need to change this.

So let’s grab the spotlight while we have it — again — and show how a reinvented Michigan can make the right changes and show the nation how to get it done. We want to continue to have a “Pure Michigan”—not an “Impure Michigan.”