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Ahead of Jan. 14 day of action, group protests water crisis settlement

A group of comprised of concerned community leaders, ministers and activists wrote a statement which Pastor John McClane from Greater Destiny Ministries read out loud on behalf of the group at a recent press conference near the Flint Water Plant. In the statement, the group addressed the fact most Flint residents and their children have not received a bone lead test.
“We are gravely concerned that the proposed allocation of settlement proceeds are egregiously unfair to the vast majority of citizens in Flint, as it will direct the bulk of the $641 million settlement to a comparatively few recipients of bone lead testing,” McClane read.
The statement points out this testing has been “hoarded” by just two law firms.
There are over 1,300 other plaintiffs.
The proposed allocation directs 79.5% of the fund to children; 64.5% to children age 6 and under at time of first exposure and the remaining 15% to children up to age 18. Within those age groups, money is allocated by category, with the highest payment generally going to those with the highest blood or bone lead test results, according to the plaintiffs’ response to joint motion.
The statement read by McClane refers to the stipulation in the proposed settlement as “oppressive” which requires children in order to qualify for categories two and three to undergo a full individual evaluation from a team that must include a board-certified pediatrician and a neuropsychologist. These categories receive the highest pay, with the exception of category one, for which blood lead level of > 10 is part of the criteria.
One thousand dollars per property is likely what will be received by the majority of adults who cannot prove they suffered a physical illness due to water exposure nor get bone lead testing. The plaintiffs’ written response said this is likely to be pro-rated even well below the $1,000 maximum since only 3% of the total of $19.2 million is available to these adults.
“Also, the property damage max of $1,000 for Flint homeowners is woefully inadequate, as this amount does not consider the exorbitant utility rate for unusable water that Flint citizens were expected to pay during the water crisis and the other costs incurred because of the tainted water,” said McClane at the press conference.
These costs include replacement of appliances, installation of water filtration systems, cost of bottled water, replacement of clothing, replacement of pipes, loss of rents for landlords, decimation of property values, loss of investment and people into Flint and surrounding areas and the necessity of lifelong medical treatment for children of the water crisis.
“We believe that the proposed settlement, as currently allocated, is just as disrespectful as the injury caused by the water crisis tragedy itself,” the statement reads. The group asks in the statement how it can be justified that just the 20-30% (if that many) of Flint citizens receive some meager form of redress, when 100% of the population was affected.
For all the categories in the proposed allocation, blood lead testing only counts if it occurred between May 16, 2014 and August 31, 2016. Bone lead testing can be done up to 90 days after the Preliminary Approval order.
However, bone lead testing by x-ray fluorescence (XRF) is only performed by three entities in the United States. Though Dr. Linda Nie and her lab at Purdue have both a stationary and a portable XRF, she is not available to provide testing on Flint residents. Mt. Sinai Hospital and Dr. Andrew Todd have a stationary XRF machine, which would require Flint residents to travel to New York City to be tested. The other doctor; Dr. Aaron Specht of Harvard, also has a portable XRF machine, but has been engaged by Liaison Counsel as an expert and has been refusing to respond to inquiries from other law firms.
“Our issue is, first of all, the majority of us do not believe the settlement is enough, but we are where we are, and the judge is about to make her final decision,” said Herbert Miller, II, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle.
“So, we want to communicate to her that feel there are too many barriers contained in the settlement that prevent a large majority of people in the city from receiving compensation,” Miller went on. “So, we want her, when she getting prepared for her final decision-we want her to take into consideration what we’re saying today; that those barriers need to be eliminated.”
The group has been in numerous discussions with different attorneys; plaintiffs and defendants to gather information and ask questions. From 1-3 p.m. on Thursday Jan. 14 the group will be outside Judge Judith E. Levy’s chambers in Ann Arbor for a day of action and will make sure she gets a copy of the statement.
Pastor Kevin Thompson of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, who is part of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, was part of the group that recently gathered near the Flint Water Plant. In 2014, a water main broke at St. Mark due to the deterioration of the main. Over 55 million gallons of water came into the church building and totally destroyed the lower level. The church had to be renovated. Members of the church also suffered illness due to the tainted water, and the church was one of the first in the city to start giving out water every week in 2014.
Bishop Bernadel Jefferson, founder of CAUTION (Citizens Advocating United Together to Inform and Organize for New Direction) was also there.
“My grandson, who was supposed to be an academic ambassador for Flint Schools in 2014-2015-he was an A/B student,” Jefferson said. “He didn’t go in 2015 because he was a D/F student. We ended up going to Washington, D.C. in February of 2017-not because he was an A/B student but because he was a D/E/F student. He went from the A/B honor roll being an academic ambassador to being a person who had been contaminated and affected by lead and could not function as a normal child; a normal student. His grades dropped. His attention span and his emotions dropped because of the lead in the water.”
Jefferson said her grandson, like many, does not have the documentation that would allow him to collect compensation for what happened to him.
“When they went to get the lead test-the blood test-it was too late,” Jefferson said. “Two and a half weeks after you stop drinking the water there’s no sign in your blood, and the test they’re asking him to get is almost impossible for children to get it and people to get it.”

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