In the Flint water mess, Gov. Rick Snyder's office has said it waited so long to declare an emergency because local officials needed to act first. But an email released over the weekend makes clear Snyder could have moved months before he actually did, reports the Detroit Free Press. "As you know, the Governor can declare at any time for any reason," an official with the Michigan State Police who specializes in emergency management wrote to a member of Snyder's office on Oct. 1. The governor, however, didn't declare an emergency until Jan. 5, one day after local municipalities did. A Snyder rep said that while the MSP official is legally correct, such designations are typically reserved for events such as tornadoes when local resources will be overwhelmed. The water crisis was different in that it wasn't immediately clear how bad the problem was, he said.
As for the repeated explanations that the state needed to wait for local authorities to act, the rep attributed it to a "misunderstanding." Another email shows that some aides pushed to stop drawing water from the polluted Flint River a year before the crisis began drawing national attention, reports CNN. "As you know there have been problems with the Flint water quality since they left the (Detroit Water and Sewerage Department), which was a decision by the emergency manager there," a deputy legal counsel to Snyder wrote to top aides on Oct. 14, 2014. "I am not sure who is the best person to initiate the conversation with the (emergency manager), but I see this as an urgent matter to fix." Another Snyder legal counsel responded, "To anyone who grew up in Flint as I did, the notion that I would be getting my drinking water from the Flint River is downright scary." (Read more Flint water crisis stories.)