Morning Briefing Jan. 14, 2021: Flint water crisis prosecution team to announce findings from investigation; Snyder faces charges

Here are this morning’s top stories

The Flint Water Plant tower is shown in Flint, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Some Flint residents impacted by months of lead-tainted water are looking past expected charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others in his administration to healing physical and emotional damages left by the crisis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

What to know today 🌅

11:30 a.m. -- Flint water crisis prosecution team to announce findings from investigation

Findings from an investigation into the Flint water crisis are expected to be revealed along with charging decisions during a news conference Thursday morning.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will be joined by Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy, of the Flint water crisis prosecution team.

The news conference will announce the outcome of the state’s criminal investigation, they said in a statement Wednesday.

On Wednesday it was announced former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing charges of willful neglect in connection with the Flint water crisis. The Michigan Legislature defines willful neglect of duty as follows:

“When any duty is or shall be enjoined by law upon any public officer, or upon any person holding any public trust or employment, every willful neglect to perform such duty, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.”

Local 4′s Hank Winchester did some digging into what may be ahead for Snyder. The evidence reportedly includes potential email evidence of Snyder allegedly being warned about the danger a year before the city moved from using water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to water from the Flint River, and a Legionnaire’s disease cover-up.

Brian Lennon, Snyder’s attorney, said criminal prosecution would be “outrageous.”

“It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder,” Lennon said. “Any charges would be meritless. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation driving charging decisions.”

Read more: A look at the evidence collected against Gov. Snyder in the Flint water crisis

Besides Snyder, a Republican who served until 2019, charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served as state health director, Michigan’s chief medical executive, Snyder’s communications chief and a senior adviser.

Flint water crisis

Flint was in financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction. The corrosive water, however, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Despite pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later.

“I’m sorry and I will fix it,” Snyder promised during his 2016 State of the State speech.

Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there wasn’t enough chlorine in the water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

In August 2020, a settlement of a lawsuit filed was reached on behalf of residents of Flint who were harmed by lead-tainted water. As of November it totaled about $641 million.

McConnell open to convicting Trump in impeachment trial (AP)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly did not rule out that he might eventually vote to convict the now twice-impeached President Donald Trump, but he also blocked a quick Senate impeachment trial.

Minutes after the House voted 232-197 on Wednesday to impeach Trump, McConnell said in a letter to his GOP colleagues that he’s not determined whether Trump should be convicted in the Senate’s upcoming proceedings. The House impeachment articles charge that Trump incited insurrection by exhorting supporters who violently attacked the Capitol last week, resulting in five deaths and a disruption of Congress.

“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote. Read more here.

$1 million Powerball lottery tickets sold in Michigan

The Powerball jackpot is growing after no winning ticket was sold for Wednesday night’s drawing.

Three $1 million tickets were sold in Michigan, however.

A ticket must match all 5 white balls to qualify.

The winning numbers are: 4, 19, 23, 25, 49, Powerball 14.

The $1 million tickets in Michigan were sold at the below locations:

  • Food Max Supermarket, 27333 Cherry Hill, Inkster
  • Kroger #680, 1100 W Argyle St, Jackson
  • Joe Hall Quick Stop Inc, 244 Joe Hall Dr, Ypsilanti

The next Powerball drawing is Saturday.

Coronavirus in Michigan 🦠

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 528,306 as of Wednesday, including 13,533 deaths, state officials report.

Wednesday’s update includes 2,694 new cases and 32 additional deaths. On Tuesday, the state reported a total of 525,612 cases and 13,501 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases have plateaued but deaths remain high in Michigan. Testing has been steady with more than 37,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, with the 7-day positive rate average around 9%. Hospitalizations continue to decline over the last several weeks.

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 3,029 on Tuesday. The 7-day death average was 103 on Monday. The state’s fatality rate is 2.6%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 97,100 on Monday -- near the lowest it’s been since November.

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 22.9 million cases have been reported in the U.S., with more than 382,100 deaths reported from the virus.

Worldwide, more than 92 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 1.9 million have died. More than 50 million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Here’s a look at more of the data:

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.