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Charges against former MI Gov. Snyder dismissed in Flint water crisis case

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/charges-against-former-mi-gov-snyder-dismissed-flint-water-crisis-case

A judge dismissed criminal charges against former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the Flint water crisis, months after the state Supreme Court said indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid.

Snyder, a Republican who left office in 2019, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. He was the first person in state history to be charged for alleged crimes related to service as governor.

Snyder also is the eighth person to have a Flint water case thrown out after the Supreme Court’s unanimous June opinion.

FLINT WATER CRISIS: MICHIGAN JUDGE TOSSES CHARGES AGAINST 7 PEOPLE

Genesee County Judge F. Kay Behm signed the order Wednesday, a day after the U.S. Senate approved her nomination to become a federal judge in eastern Michigan.

“The charges against (Snyder) were not properly brought and must be dismissed at this time,” Behm wrote, sending the case to a lower court for the final step, weeks after hearing arguments.

In response, prosecutors in the Democratic-led attorney general’s office said it will add the result to other appeals.

“Rulings up to this point have been on process alone, not on the merits of the case,” prosecutors said.

“We are confident that the evidence clearly supports the criminal charges against Rick Snyder,” they added, “and we will not stop until we have exhausted all possible legal options to secure justice for the people of Flint.”

Prosecutors could try to rerun the case with new charges, but any effort might encounter a six-year statute of limitations.

“That would be one of our many arguments,” Snyder attorney Brian Lennon told The Associated Press. “This is a victory and hopefully the end to this politically motivated prosecution.”

Only one case remains pending in the water scandal, which not only exposed children to toxic lead but was blamed for deaths linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Activists who believe crimes were committed are frustrated that no one has been locked up.

The attorney general’s office has desperately tried to keep the cases alive but so far has lost at every turn. Prosecutors have argued that the indictments could simply be turned into common criminal complaints in district court, but Behm and another judge have rejected that approach.

Criminal charges against former Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder related to his role in the Flint water crisis were dismissed.

Criminal charges against former Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder related to his role in the Flint water crisis were dismissed.
(AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Flint’s water became tainted with lead after city managers appointed by Snyder began using the Flint River in 2014 to save money while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was built. The water wasn’t treated to reduce its corrosive qualities, causing lead to break off from old pipes and contaminate the system for more than a year.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission said it was the result of systemic racism, doubting that the water switch and the brush-off of complaints in the majority-Black city would have occurred in a white, prosperous community.

Flint residents complained about the water’s smell, taste and appearance, raising health concerns and reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems. Snyder didn’t acknowledge that lead was a problem until 17 months after the water switch, in fall 2015, when he pledged to take action.

He agreed that state government had botched the water switch, especially regulators who didn’t require certain treatments. But his defense team denies that Snyder’s conduct rose to the level of any crime.

WHITMER-BACKED FLINT, MICHIGAN MAYOR LIED ABOUT GRADUATING FROM UNIVERSITY

Michigan prosecutors typically file charges in a district court after a police investigation. A one-judge grand jury was rare and had mostly been used in Detroit and Flint to protect witnesses who could testify in private about violent crimes.

State prosecutors, working with Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy, chose that path in the Flint water saga to hear evidence in secret and get indictments against Snyder and others.

But the state Supreme Court unanimously said a one-judge grand jury can’t issue indictments. The process apparently had never been challenged.

Judge Elizabeth Kelly in October dismissed felony charges against seven people, including two senior health officials from Snyder’s administration, Nick Lyon and Eden Wells, who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in nine Legionnaires’ deaths.

The attorney general’s office is trying to persuade the appeals court to intervene and somehow reverse the decision, despite the findings of the Supreme Court.

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A former Flint public works official, Howard Croft, still has misdemeanors pending with a different judge.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/charges-against-former-mi-gov-snyder-dismissed-flint-water-crisis-case

Politics

West Virginia House passes bill expanding advocate’s authority

West Virginia’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to expand the authority of the state foster care advocate to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

Before the 100-member House voted in unison in favor, Deputy House Speaker Republican Matthew Rohrbach said the bill is “really going to help to make this system accountable, which I think is something that everybody in here wants.”

Foster Care Ombudsman Pamela Woodman-Kaehler’s office is located within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Inspector General. But she works independently as an advocate for foster children and parents, investigating complaints and collecting data about the state’s foster care system.

Her position was created in 2019 when the number of children under state foster care had swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015, as the state continued to be ravaged by the national opioid crisis.

WEST VIRGINIA ADVANCES PUBLIC SCHOOL MANDATE ON ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’

She is a former child protective services worker in Harrison County and was the state coordinator for a federally-mandated review panel of the state’s Bureau of Children and Families.

The bill advanced to the Senate Wednesday specifies that Woodman-Kaehler’s office has the authority to investigate deaths, abuse and neglect involving children in the juvenile justice system.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The bill also would protect the identities of people providing confidential information during investigations, prohibiting the ombudsman and her staff from being required to disclose information about investigations or identify informants in judicial or administrative proceedings. It makes all memoranda, work product, notes and case files developed and maintained as part of an official investigation confidential, and not subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion.

Woodman-Kaehler told a House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting that the bill would help build trust between her and people reporting abuse and neglect, and encourage more people to come forward with information during sensitive investigations.

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“This frees up the ombudsman to give them much more control,” Rohrbach said Wednesday.

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Politics

Indiana Gov. Holcomb’s public health expansion passes legislative panel

The Indiana governor’s proposal for a broad expansion of county-level public health programs won its first endorsement from state legislators on Wednesday.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 12-0 in support of a bill laying out the responsibilities that local health departments would have if county officials accept a major increase in state funding being sought by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, several medical organizations and business groups urged lawmakers to support the plan, pointing to Indiana’s poor national rankings in areas such as smoking, obesity and life expectancy.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION EXTENDS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY YET AGAIN

The governor’s plan would direct $100 million in the next state budget year and $200 million in the following year toward boosting Indiana’s county public health department funding from its 45th-place national ranking. The state now directs about $7 million a year to county health departments, which are primarily funded by local taxes.

While county officials would have the option of accepting the money and expanding services, some opponents with grievances over government-ordered COVID-19 precautions told the committee they feared the plan would result in the state health department gaining more authority.

The bill approved by the committee would establish “core public health services” to be provide by county departments. Those would include access to required childhood vaccinations, emergency preparedness, restaurant and sewage system inspections, communicable disease prevention and smoking cessation programs.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state's public health infrastructure

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state’s public health infrastructure
(AP Photo /Tom Davies)

A commission appointed by Holcomb found that all but about six of Indiana’s 92 counties are spending less than half the national median per person on public health efforts.

“Where you live in Indiana currently determines whether your local health department can provide you the full range of public health services,” Box told the committee.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have generally supported Holcomb’s proposal but have not committed to granting his full funding request. Lawmakers might not make that decision until a new state budget plan is completed in April.

Statewide organizations representing county officials told the committee Wednesday they believed local leaders would keep control by deciding whether to opt into the expansion program or maintain state funding levels.

Some county leaders, however, said they believed the expansion would eventually lead to state control of local health departments.

INDIANA AG FIGHTS COVID-19 MISINFORMATION, POINTS FINGER AT GOVERNMENT HEALTH AGENCIES

“I would prefer the state to provide grants on a topic-by-topic basis with local control on whether to accept the grant or not and how we handle that guidance, not mandates, from the state after the COVID destructive mandates,” said Brad Rogers, a Republican county commissioner from northern Indiana’s Elkhart County.

Senators cited concerns about long-term health problems across the state, while plan opponents who spoke focused on issues such as complaints over federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines and Holcomb’s executive orders early in the pandemic for business closures and a face mask mandate. One opponent argued the plan would lead to what he called more government “tyranny.”

Similar grievances were aired to Indiana lawmakers as they debated a proposal last year that failed to win passage aiming to severely limit the COVID-19 vaccine requirements that businesses could impose on employees.

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“We have high infant mortality rates,” Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville said as she voted in favor of the health plan Wednesday. “We have high obesity, lots of health issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

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Politics

President Biden’s physical delayed due to travel schedule, White House says

President Biden will receive a physical examination on Feb. 16 after weeks of delays that a spokesperson attributed to a “busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

Biden, the oldest president in history, is expected to announce his bid for re-election in the coming weeks. He would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a series of questions on Biden’s physical in the new year and promised a shared report by the end of January.

BIDEN GRABS NBC REPORTER’S HAND AS HE STEPS UNDERNEATH HER UMBRELLA TO ANSWER HER QUESTION

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.
(Screenshot/Twitter)

“He will have one before the — by the time the end of this month is out,” Jean-Pierre said in January. “We will share the information. We will have more to share about that before the month is over.”

This followed a promise from Biden himself in November to have a physical conducted by the end of December.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden said.

BIDEN’S FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGNING PLAGUED WITH GAFFES: ‘WHAT’S HIS NAME?’

The White House said President Biden's delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.

The White House said President Biden’s delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.
(Getty Images)

While the White House said the delay is due to his travel schedule in January, Biden spent time at his Delaware properties every weekend that month — 13 days in total. Other travel included Mexico for a summit, then trips to Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, California and New York to tout his policy agenda.

BIDEN DAILY GAFFE AVERAGE: THE PRESIDENT IS BATTING NEARLY A THOUSAND

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.
(Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Speculations on Biden‘s health follow the delayed physical, consistent mental gaffes and an eight-hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous skin lesions removed. The president’s last physical was reported in November 2021 and detailed his prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinner treatments.

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