Flint, MI– The same group of people who have been protesting about the city’s water for nearly a decade, gathered outside of City Hall Friday morning to protest the $641.25 million water lawsuit settlement.
They called it a slap in the face, an added insult to injury, a disrespect of human life, and an abomination.
Former Mayor Karen Weaver urged councilmembers to vote no on the city’s $20 million contribution to the settlement at next Monday’s city council meeting on Dec. 14.
“We really need to stop saying $600 million because we recognize that attorneys normally get paid a third…let’s talk about $400 million,” Weaver said. “We got $200 million for pipes, so now they’re talking about $400 million for our lives. I think this is absolutely awful.”
Weaver said with this settlement, the State just wants to “make this money and go home.”
“And we’re supposed to be quiet and be satisfied? Well that’s not going to happen,” she said.
She said the settlement was reflective of systemic racism, and urged councilmembers to call the judge and voice their concerns about the settlement amount.
Water Warriors Claudia Perkins and Laura MacIntyre were there.
Perkins was sporting a “power to the people” face mask and MacIntyre wore a “five years and counting” Flint water crisis t-shirt that she said was two years old.
“I want somebody to go to jail, and we can start with Snyder,” Perkins said. “Give him the rest of his life, because he took life. It’s ridiculous. Something needs to be done.”
MacIntyre said it was wrong that the council is being asked to accept a settlement without being given all of the details.
“We do not have the details of something that we’re being coerced into giving an answer for, and that is absolutely wrong,” she said. “And it’s indicative of…how we’ve been treated this whole time.”
So what’s their plan of action?
Councilman Eric Mays, who called a special meeting last night to discuss the water settlement further, said he would be urging his fellow councilmembers to vote no or abstain on the acceptance of the city’s contribution to the settlement.
He said the lawyers were being “deceptive” when they said all adults are covered in the settlement.
“All adults are in it, but they might fall in the 3% category,” he said. “If they’re in the 15% category, that category talks about personal injury documentation which has been like pulling hen’s teeth around here since 2014.
He gave some estimates of how much people in each category could get.
Property owners fall under the 3% category, and Mays said that with 31,000 water customers, that leaves those adults with $536 each. He added that there is only one name on the water bill, but there could be two adults in the household, which means the amount of money could go down even further.
He estimated children ages 13-17 could get about $1,600 per child if all payments were dispersed equally, although he said they will not be “because children with documentation will get higher figures.”
He said children ages 7-12 might get around $3,300 per child and children ages 6 and under during the water crisis could get $20,000.
Mays said the attorneys are saying they’ve worked hard for years and want us to settle, and while he thinks they’ve done a good job, “it ain’t time to settle because we gotta tweak some things.”
He said the legal way to go about getting changes made would be to file objections at both the individual level, and the professional level with attorneys.
He said he had been talking to attorneys in Indiana who might help with their objection, and that the group of “ambassadors” at the press conference would be working to develop better numbers for the formula.
Attorneys representing the city have been arguing that the council should accept the $20 million contribution to increase the size of the pot, and then express their dissatisfaction with the settlement to the judge later.
Mays said it would be sending the wrong message to accept the $20 million and then come back and object to the settlement.
He said he wasn’t sure if the council would have the votes to reject the contribution, but that he would be “hoping and praying” that they do.