FLINT, Mich. — Officials stripped Flint’s ability to sue the state just days after the city served notice that it might file a lawsuit against Michigan over the city’s lead-tainted water crisis.
Flint hasn’t been under a state-appointed emergency manager since April 2015, but the state still exerts partial control over the city through a five-member Receivership Transition Advisory Board. The board’s members are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/2coBuG6 ) on Monday that the board moved quickly following the notice in late March to change the rules under which Flint is governed so that the city couldn’t sue without first getting approval from that board.
At the time, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and others said they had no plans to sue the state but had to take the action if they might want to sue in the future.
Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said the main purpose of the March 31 change was to more fully involve the mayor, the City Council and other top city officials, not just the city administrator, in decisions about initiating and settling litigation.
The board “also clarified that its approval was required before the settlement or initiation of litigation,” Heaton said in an email to the Free Press.
In a statement Sunday, Weaver said she was “disappointed to learn of the timing” of the board’s action “and the overall implications.”
“I will continue to do everything within my power to safeguard the city,” she said.
Flint, a financially struggling city of 100,000 people, switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money while under state control in 2014. But tests later showed that the river water was improperly treated and coursed through aging pipes and fixtures, releasing toxic lead.
Stacy Erwin Oakes, Flint’s chief legal officer, said “the city cannot know” what motivated the board’s decision, but that “the timing of the amendment speaks for itself.”
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com