Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan has come under heavy criticism over the course of January in the wake of new reports that the water supply in the city of Flint has been contaminated with lead since April 2014. The city's water pipes were corroded by lead after the city switched from using higher-priced water from Detroit to using water from the Flint River.
While calls for the governor to resign have become increasingly frequent in the wake of several high-profile resignations of officials connected to the change in the water supply, he should not heed calls to resign until the crisis is dealt with. He has already -- admittedly belatedly -- shown that he intends to deal with the problem, and on Jan. 19, he unveiled a $28 million plan to combat the city's water crisis, MLive reports.
Filmmaker Michael Moore, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and actor Matt Damon have all called for Snyder to step down.
Damon said Snyder should resign "at the very least."
"Listen, everybody's entitled to a fair trial in the United States of America, but that man should get one," Damon told The Daily Beast, according to MLive. "And soon. That's just my personal opinion."
Flint has seen many protests against city officials as public knowledge about the crisis has increased, the most recent one being a demonstration from arms-bearing, camouflage-clad members of the Genesee County Volunteer Militia, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“We’re here to defend this community," said militia executive Matthew Krol, speaking to a crowd outside of Flint City Hall on Jan. 24, according to the Free Press. “We’re not going to allow (the government) to step on the people of Flint any longer.”
While sentiments of anger towards Snyder and his administration are understandable and justified, given the severity of the crisis, he should only be forced to step down if federal investigations into the Flint crisis discover misconduct in his actions.
In the midst of the ongoing crisis in Flint, there are now troubling reports from around the U.S. that Flint's problems with water contamination are far from a rarity.
The water treatment operator in Sebring, Ohio, is facing a criminal investigation after elevated levels of copper and lead were discovered in the small town's tap water, CBS reports. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency believes the source of contamination in Sebring comes from old water distribution lines and older homes with lead piping.
If the problems with municipal water management are regional, or national, then Snyder's role shrinks somewhat by comparison. This should not, however, minimize the role played by his appointees in mishandling the Flint crisis. If the Justice Department finds wrongdoing on his part, then he should at least resign. But until this occurs, he should be allowed to remain in office in order to get the crisis under control and help provide Flint with much-needed water resources.