Flint, Michigan: “First the water, now the trash”

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Flint trash pickup suspended

It has been two years since the water supply for Flint, Michigan was switched to the caustic Flint River; almost a year since Gov. Snyder finally admitted there was systemic lead poisoning endangering resident’s lives and ordered the reconnection to Detroit’s water system.

For a time last year, the plight of Flint’s residents had full court press. There was outrage en masse. Journalists, activists, and politicians invoked the name Flint to describe the class and racial injustice that still exists in America.

On August 14th, the state of emergency President Obama approved for Flint will have expired. One would have thought Flint’s problems were over. Then, on Friday, July 29, residents received this notice:

“There will be no trash pick-up in the city starting this Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. Until a new agreement is officially in place, we ask the residents not set [sic] their trash out at the curb to prevent animals from disturbing it and make the situation worse.”

For a better part of two weeks, citizens of Flint have had no municipal trash service.

“First the water. Now the trash,” said one Flint resident “What’s next?”

The problem came to a head in July when the city council filed suit against the office of Mayor Karen Weaver after she failed to accept the council’s decision to renew a contract with Flint’s current collector, Republic Services.

The mayor insisted that the council accept the bid of Rizzo Sanitation Services, which had come in at $2 million less than the bid provided by Republic. Flint’s city charter dictates that the council must accept the “lowest responsible” bid.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (AP)

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (AP)

The council had issues with Rizzo’s not disclosing they had previously employed former Flint Mayor Woodrow Stanley as a consultant.

“Not only did they not disclose [Stanley’s] relationship, they did not use integrity when answering the question,” said council member Kate Fields. “Lowest responsible bidder has many elements to it.”

The mayor’s office and the city council hit a stalemate. Republic Service’s contract ended July 29 and no new arrangements have been made.

There has been a temporary agreement to have Republic collect trash until August 12. However, many sections of the city have been reportedly skipped and trash has been piling in many of the low income areas.

Kevin Ditto, 24, who lives on Dupont Street on Flint's north side, is disgusted with city officials' decision to cease trash collection on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. Officials reached a temporary agreement to have trash collected through Aug. 12, starting Tuesday, Aug 2. No trash was picked up on Monday. "I've been waiting all morning for them to help them load some of this trash on the truck," said Ditto, who moved into the home last week and from Georgia one year ago. "I'm ready to head back south if I can convince my wife to move." (PHOTO: Jake May | MLive.com)

Kevin Ditto, 24, who lives on Dupont Street on Flint’s north side, is disgusted with city officials’ decision to cease trash collection on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. Officials reached a temporary agreement to have trash collected through Aug. 12, starting Tuesday, Aug 2. No trash was picked up on Monday. “I’ve been waiting all morning for them to help them load some of this trash on the truck,” said Ditto, who moved into the home last week and from Georgia one year ago. “I’m ready to head back south if I can convince my wife to move.” (PHOTO: Jake May | MLive.com)

“We are living in a third world country,” Flint resident Travis Gilbert told MLive.

The issue is due to go to court on August 11, where Genesee County Circuit Judge Joseph Farah may make the final decision on Flint’s trash collection. 

Trash piles up on Dupont Street. (Jake May | MLive.com)

Trash piles up on Dupont Street. (PHOTO: Jake May | MLive.com)

And again, on August 14, the state of emergency President Obama approved for Flint’s water crisis will expire. When that happens, the federal financial aid allotted to ensuring Flint’s water safety will also cease. The U.S. Senate went to summer recess before approving any additional aid.

Story produced with information from The Detroit News, Michigan Public Radio, MLive.com and Michigan ABC 10.