A lot of water has flown under the bridge since last year’s State of the State address by Michigan governor Rick Snyder. This time last year, Snyder was riding on a high, considering getting into the presidential race while tom tomming the financial achievements on the state front. he spoke of the river of opportunity in Michigan and the opportunities it presented for the people. He visualized the administration under his leadership, sweeping people up in the possibilities that lay ahead.
Snyder runs into choppy waters
Today, a lot has changed. Snyder is no longer the valuable politician he once was. In fact, he has recently been under pressure to resign from his post following a fiasco of epic proportions. In a mistake that could run into the millions and is being called a billion dollar error by some, his state’s emergency manager chose to cut costs by using the highly polluted waters of the Flint River to meet the demand for drinking water in Flint. This led to President Obama declaring a federal emergency in the the city. In other issues plaguing him, are a public health crisis which is marred further by accusations of a possible cover up job by the government.
A challenging time for the address
The fallout has been significant with protests finding their way to the doorstep of his Ann Arbor residence, even as demonstrations outside the Capitol continued. The verdict is equally scathing on social media. According to some reports, it is likely that he turned a blind eye to the problem until as late as October of last year, a staggering 18 months after the switch of water drew complaints on the unusual taste and smell from the people.
In addition, the appalling state of the finances of Detroit Public Schools has drawn flak from many quarters. The energy policy revision and criminal justice system reforms are also on the anvil.
People want action and not just apologies
As he prepares to make his sixth State of the State address, Snyder will need to offer some clarifications on the Flint affair, according to PR specialists and crisis communication experts. Ideally, his approach should be to appreciate the efforts of those who helped uncover the issue in Flint. Marc Edwards, a research specialist on drinking water from Virginia Tech, as well as Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician from the Hurley Children's Hospital, have been credited with unearthing the problems.
While Snyder has apologized for this oversight in the past, the time for apologies seems to be over now. He may need to also discuss concrete plans to address health issues in the area and across the state. Besides this, infrastructure problems will also need to be looked at and tackled head on. What the average Michigan resident is looking for is assurance that the issues have been recognized, that there are solutions being offered and implemented. They will also want the comfort of knowing such a scenario will not arise again.