Attempts to Hide Bad Water: How Many Times Must We Live (Maybe) Through This

The story of the Flint, Michigan unfolded as follows:
April 2014 – Switch from Detroit to Flint system; no corrosion control testing
May 2014 – complaints from residents about the water
August 2014 – E.coli and coliform bacteria found in the water
October 2014 – GM says it won’t use Flint water because it corrodes its machines (what was it doing to the innards of Flint residents?)_
January 2015 – EPA finds that the water violates federal law
February 2015 – high lead levels– 104 ppb vs. EPA maximum of 15 pbb
April 2015 – Corrosion controls still not added
July 13, 2015 – Flint residents told to relax
August 20, 2015 – Tests excluded lead levels from the sample
September 2015 – Virginia Tech study finds high lead levels
September 24 2015 – High lead levels found in children’s’ blood tests
September 25 2015 – Residents of Flint told to use bottled water
October 16, 2015 – Returned to Detroit system
May 2016 — eight officials charged as part of the investigation into the water switch
September 14, 2016. — Former Michigan official (epidemiologist) enters a no-contest plea to charges of willful neglect of duty by not disclosing dozens of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area at the time of the water switch

Now, enter Newark. As it turns out, Senator Cory Booker (Spartacus and former mayor of Newark) was part of the water problem there. In 2013, Mr. Booker staffed the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, a private-public agency. A 2014 investigative report found that there was “rampant abuse of public funds and scant oversight.” Nick Corasanti, Corey Kilgannon, and John Schwartz, “Newark Idled As Lead Crept Into Its Water,” New York Times, August 25, 2019, p. A1.

Eight people with the agency faced federal charges, and the head of the agency is currently in federal prison. Not to worry, the new mayor of Newark replaced her with a non-engineer (experts deem this type of appointment to be a dangerous mistake because an engineering degree is necessary to understand regulations and system oeprations) with a man who had served four years for selling cocaine. Not to worry though — he had been released from prison when he got the job.

Sure enough, there were problems. By 2016, tests revealed elevated lead levels. So, Newark switched water-testing firms in 2017. No change — same lead levels. The ex-felon head of the agency said the press reports about the lead levels were false, and he won re-election. In June 2018, Newark received its third consecutive notice that its lead level had been above federal limits for 18 months. In December 2018, Newark officials spent $225,000 to hire a public relations firm to manage the water issue.
Might be better to spend the money on reducing the lead.

Here are some safety tips for city and water officials: Do not try to hide water test results. Do withhold water test results. Do not falsify test results. Do not hire alternative testing companies to try for different results. When the state sends a warning on lead levels, good time for action.

One final tip: Read the news about what is happening in other cities — the problems and issues that arise. Then check internally to see if you might have the same problems. When you read about corruption, deception, and falsification by city and state officials, make a note. Do not go down the same path.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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