tv Anna Clark The Poisoned City CSPAN September 9, 2018 1:02pm-2:01pm EDT
>> alan, josh, thank you so much, thank you for joining us tonight. let's have a round of applause for our guests tonight. [applause] >> at this time if you haven't purchased the book that you would like to have signed, we will take a minute to set the statement for the signing portion of the event. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> book tv is on facebook, like us to get publishing news, scheduling updates, behind the scenes pictures and video, author information and to talk directly with authors during live programs, facebook.com/book
tv. [inaudible conversations] >> all right. hello and welcome, my name is elizabeth appleton and i want to thank you all for coming tonight, before we begin tonight i want to thank our sponsor without amazing support of her and our community our summer reading program would not be possible. i also we wanted to thank you forever books for being here tonight, if you haven't been to their store, you really have to go, it's got everything you ever want in a bookstore, great selection and a wonderful staff so thank you very much. as many of you know anna is my sister, my brother and anna grew up by library, throughout childhood our parents emphasized reading, anna not only loved to
read but she loved to write, she was 10 years' old when she pitched first book to publishing company. our mom typed it up and mailed it out and sadly it was rejected. [laughter] >> anna donated copy to lincoln elementary school library where it circulated for years. [laughter] >> throughout high school and college anna kept writing, she completed a masters in fine arts and moved to establish community of writers, literary detroit and write a house which rehabilitates houses in detroit and gives them away to a writer for free. she was a fullbright scholar and editor of detroit which was book in 2013. she continue today free lans and books start today appear in elle magazine and new york times, however, a few years ago anna dreamed bigger and pitched an
idea to publisher about writing a book about the flint water crisis and fortunately this one was picked up. released last month, the poison city, chronicles rise and flint water crisis is more complicated than water supply switching. readers understand that residents were poisoned from something so easily taken for granted, water from their faucets, i admit to be pretty bias in my review of the book which is wonderful, i'm happy to report that the new york times and usa today agree with me, everyone should read it. without further delay or potentially embarrassing childhood stories, here is anna clark. [laughter] [cheers and applause]
>> i am so happy to be here and utterly overwhelmed that i have my voice at all because this is really moving, so thank you so much for being here, i feel grateful to the library which really was a second home to us for many years and for letting us have this event here, i'm grateful for forever books to many many family and friend who are all coming here and for those i haven't even met yet i feel like we are kin because of our shared connection to this place. so thank you for giving me an opportunity to share the story with me that i have been obsessed with for the last few years. perhaps i will obsess you too. let's find out. so all water has a perfect memory, it's always trying to go back to where it was, that is a loin that the writer, morrison,
another from the great lakes and stayed with me when i came across that and for reasons that i don't think i fully understood but as i started paying attention to what was happening in flint, to a lot of our cities that are great lake cities that are communities that are struggling with water and infrastructure and access to something that we all need to be well and to live, it just -- it just seemed more resonant and it's something that i want to come back to, i know we are in the midst of one of the abundant fresh water resources on earth. the gate lakes, the five lakes, we learned in school, we learned memorize their names by the acronym homes, here ontario, michigan, eery superior and
home, -- homes, changing climate, water itself is not something that we have a problem with, right, but somehow when we deliver it to people we have problems and this happened in flint but not just flint. i'm sure many of you have a connection to the community that maybe your from there or been there, just in case if you're new to it, it is a city of about 100,000 people, seventh largest city in the state, it is a city where you'll find a very vibrant coffee called good beans, something of a neighborhood center and find distinctive city hall, mid-century modernist design, the dome that you see is where public meetings are held, you'll find another very vibrant
public library with robust programming, very sunny and airy and brings people together, on the north side of flint there's this wonderful neighborhood, athletic center, field house, pretty much any athlete you know of that came through flint has come through, including most recently olympic gold-medal boxer. on sundays it's basically a neighborhood festival, it's like softball there on the fields all day long, you can get barbecue, you know, pop-up restaurant there. there's a brand-new playground that the community worked together to build just two summers ago. it's a really lovely place. flint is also home to the long planetarium in michigan, home to farmers market right downtown and where the university of
michigan flint has its campus as well as three other colleges, flint is -- it has about 100,000 people but that population essentially triples with commuters during workdays in addition to the universities, county government, number of other large institutions including general motors founded in flint, still flint's largest employer despite having far fewer jobs than it used to. so flint like many of us drew its drinking water from the great lakes and they did this through the water system and delivered the water to the people of flint for about 50 years and the water quality was good, the water quality was, you know, well treated, worked properly, there was a number of other infrastructure challenges, though, right, like flint is a city that has lost about half of its population since the 1960's, you know, there's far fewer people there than there
used to be and it's part of why the water was so expensive, flint was paying if not the most expensive water bills in the nation definitely among the most expensive water bills in the nation and for a city that has become disproportionately poor the burden weighed more heavily. this was part of what was going on in the community at the time when the city decided it was going to switch its water source, it felt like it didn't have enough negotiating power with detroit, it felt like it wanted to have local control over water resources and this bringstous -- brings us to april 2014, had state appointed emergency manager and a number of other cities in michigan and under the state-appointed-emergency manager they sign a contract with a brand-new water system that was going serve mid-michigan that wasn't built
yet but what they were going to do switch water to detroit and they were going to reboot their city plant and they were going to treat the water themselves and this was really celebrated at this press conference that's become infamous. they brought people down to the water plant and they are holding up their glasses of water, they are toasting and they are like here is the flint, we are getting back to roots, we are reclaiming our independence and our ability to define our our own future, you see in the pictures the -- not only the play your of flint but the emergency manager, you can see the city council members, members of environmental quality, it was the local paper, ran editorial that was, you know, champion this, you know, for a number of challenges flint had, you know, people felt like maybe this -- maybe this is a really good move for us, you know, we can use our own resources, we can use our own river and this brings me to one to have first myths about the water crisis.
when i talked to people about it, when you know i hear people have conversations about flint they often rent -- referred to the toxic flint river or the polluted flint river and that is something that has grain of truth in it. the flint river like a lot of urban water ways was so terribly treated throughout 20th century, no limits on what you could dump into the water until the environmental movement took rise in the 1970's, so before then, at the peak of a lot of industry that was happening in our communities, people just threw it in there, their waste, like not just residents but those huge industrial factories including general motors in flint and the river suffered for it but because of the rise of those environmental laws, because of far fewer factories, the river had an opportunity to recover, far healthier today than it used to be, this is from
a kyakying trip that i went with volunteers, it's really beautiful, it's actually a lovely river. the problem wasn't the river itself, the problem was how it was treated or not treated. so what happened was that, you know, the city water plant, they were rebooting, it didn't get the upgrades it need today treat the water appropriately, you know, it didn't have the staffing, didn't are the resources, the technology to deal with the complexities of river water, any river water which is trickier to deal with than lake water or any other number of sources, but what didn't happen the water wasn't treated with something called corrosion control this is a violation of federal law, this is what you're supposed to add to the water to help keep water from corroding and it's important because in any community not just flint,
the drinking water infrastructure is very old, you know, we often don't maintain it appropriately, we don't up grate it appropriately, it's indivisible, we take our water for granted, a lot of communities are dealing with 50 or 60, 80 more years old that were still using, breaking down as things do, a lot of the lines are made out of lead, millions of us are drinking water out of service lines that are made out of one of the world's best known neurotoxins, we have to get rid of it, wealthier communities, poor communities, it's everywhere. but it's expensive and complicated to deal with but we have to deal with it. and it's putting corrosion control in it which makes the water safer than it would be otherwise, in flint with the water switch the rivers,
corrosive water source, they didn't add the corrosion control so what do you think would happen, corrode, right? this was what it looked like. you probable say saw images of people holding up jugs or bottles of discolored and that's corroded iron or rust, that's why it was taken on different shades, lead wasn't visible but was also present, it took a long time to fully register and full-scale emergency response to be taken up by the city come to the state and is from actually from red cross. people don't drink the water
from the taps or from the fountains, you to get bottled water, lead certified filters, you can probably remember, it was this full-scale somewhat chaotic and utterly overwhelming recovery response that came to its fullest form probably in january 2011 -- 2016 and that's the short story of what happened with the flint water crisis but i want to take it a few steps back and look back at 1960's so this is when the city decided to hook on the system in the first place and part of the reason they wanted to to this their city had been growing grow ing, moving to the community for the well-paying jobs offered by general motors and other industries and it was -- had about 200,000 people back then
as well as a huge industrial and commercial sector, it was proud of having one of the, you know, strongest middle classes in the country, proud of vibrant community schools movement, beautiful parks department and had trees everywhere. the city of flint had a lot to offer people and they felt that we were going to keep growing, we have to support the developing by hooking onto this larger water system that, you know, draws from the great lakes which seemed limitless and we will get back there too. so flint had a also had a mayor named floyd, i believe he's the first african-american mayor of a major american city, floyd mccree was appointed, he was -- the role of mayor at the time in flint had more of a city council president kind of role, and --
but it was a big deal that he took on the leadership role of the city. got a lot of national press, this is actually from jet magazine, he was a world war ii veteran, he worked out of buick factory and taking the lead of a city that was truly one of the most segregated in the country. it was literally the most segregated city in the north and the third most segregated city nationwide. african americans were only allow today live in two neighborhoods including floral park and st. johns, st. john is where the mayor lived and his family and you can imagine as more and more people are coming to flint and including african-americans migrants from the south and you'll only have two neighborhoods with very strict lines where they're allowed to live, you know, you can imagine how it's getting more tense, right, t getting crowded, it's getting more difficult for people to have good lives, you know, i mean, it
was like impressive segregation was oppressive system to begin with but it was being pushed closer and closer to the point of crisis, the segregation in flint was, took this form oaf a lot of ways that many of you are familiar with, there's restrictive covenants, the deeds where you're not allowed to sell your house to anybody of -- who is african american, or a person of color, took the shape of federal lending policies for homes and insurance that were -- that maintained these lines, like you literally -- again, like you literally could not integrate a neighborhood if you're going get your mortgage, you know, it was very, very literal, it wasn't an accident. and it also took the form of plain old intimidation and dirty tricks, there were some stories in flint, oral histories i was reading about, you know, african-american family worked with white ally, white friend,
you go and buy the house and then you sell it right back to us, you know, and they were sneak the way in the neighborhood we want to live and we want to raise the kids in and they would do that and then the school district would, for example, would abruptly decide to change the the shape to exile that one house from it. it was crazy and people were upset understandably, it's not fair and so this fair housing movement was really taking form in strong way in flint and mayor mccree was a leader of it. outspoken leader people should be able to live in any neighborhood they choose to live. this shouldn't be hard to understand. this brings us to july 1967, so that is the month that detroit exploded in what became one of the most infamous of urban rebellions of the 20th century, ultimately more than 40 people
were killed, thousands injured, arrested, you know, enormous property destruction, you know, fires, it was absolutely devastating and somebody who lives in detroit now i will tell you it is still recovering from many ways to this day. what we often forget is that it wasn't just detroit, very same week grand rapids, mount clemens, pontiac, flint, ben harbor, detroit was a spark with a lot of the same concerns, people are so frustrated. what happened in flint was like there was a fair housing rally going on in north flint right here where the softball stadium is now, there's a fair housing rally going on, people wanting the city commission to finally vote on a fair housing ordinance, we should be able to live wherever we would like and the -- the rally died down and a few young folks who were staying
after started get aggressive, threw rocks, you know, property, serious problem, there was state of emergency, that was declared, but ultimately what happened in flint was really different than what happened in detroit that same week just an hour away. the mayor worked with governor george romney and county prosecutor basically what they decided to do is we are going to arrested 102 people the first night, we will let them all go, no charges, what we ask that they help keep the peace the next night, we want them to patrol the streets with us, we want them to tell their friends to settle down, maybe we can cool things off that way and it worked, it actually worked. they -- flint riot died down within 2 days, no deaths, no serious injuries and some
property destruction but ultimately proved effective while detroit became symbol of urban crisis of 20th century. and the city commission finally agreed to vote on the fair housing ordinance. mayor mccree made a tearful plea, he's like, look, i fought in world war ii, my brother fought in world war ii, our father was world war i veteran, we have come to the community and worked hard and we are not able to live where we like, in fact, the people we fought against in those wars can come and have more freedom to where they live than we do, you know, he's like, please, let's vote, let's have fair housing in flint and it didn't work. they voted it down and mayor mccree resigned that night, look, i cannot continue living this equal opportunity life, like it was great when i became
the face, got all the the natiol press, look how progressive flint is, i'm not doing it, he quit, and a number of other, black and white people who worked at the city they followed him in support and started getting national attention, new york times stories here, they, you know, the fair housing movement was escalating in flint with the new kind of pressures, this brings us to the sleep-in movement, mayor mccree diagnosed with exhaustion and visited by 23-year-old nephew and while they are having a conversation the nephew was like, decides, what they will do is get his friends, take their sleeping bags and go to city hall, the same place that had the dome and we are going to camp out, we are not leaving until this council votes on the fair housing ordinance and that's what they did, and this too was getting a lot of national attention including a segment on brinkley
report, more and more people started showing up on the lawn, they -- somebody was making them breakfast, nobody knows who, but somehow pancakes showed up in the morning and what the community was enacting a culture of organizing that goes back decades so flint is also, you know, the home of the sit-down strike in the 1930's. they are like we are not leaving, we are paid better, better working conditions and help determine our own future. and i don't think it's surprising that a generation later we are seeing some of those same organizing tactics
used in the civil rights context. thisthis is the unity rally, ths where, you know, the community was coming out to support those people who were sleeping on the lawn of city hall. 5,000 people showed up there including the governor george romney, you know, voicing their belief that the mayor was in the right and that we needed to take the fair housing issue seriously, this is inequality that cannot go on any longer. in october of 1967 our excuse me, yeah, october of 1967 the council did vote on the fair housing ordinance and watered down one but passed nearly but it did, hooray, right, hooray, but no, some people are like, no, we are not leaving it at that. within minutes, within minutes of that ordinance passing some people started taking up petition, we are putting this on the ballot and overturn this it
including 50 known ku kluz klan members and literally did a parade and had some name for homeowners rights, something like that and they got enough signatures that it did go on the ballot. the mayor took a leave of absence from his job at buick to join the interracial coalition that was trying to get voters in support of it and in february of 1968, 40,000 people go to the polls and it passes, it says 43, actually after recount it was 30 votes, it was razor-anyone close, this was huge news because similar votes had come up in cities like seattle, tacoma, berkeley, acron, toledo, all voted down. flint michigan was the first to pass fair housing ordinance by popular vote, before the nation had done too, there was a
national fair housing ordinance that like in flint was being delayed, delayed, nobody -- seemed like nothing was ever going to happen with it. as what history has since shown us is that a couple of months after this, martin luther king jr. was killed in and in the wake of that the national fair housing ordinance only got fast tracked but nobody knew this was coming and so flint was a pioneer here, a lot to be proud of, but it's also pretty bittersweet and this is what's going to bring us back to the water story. two years later, the u.s. census counts the first down pick in population of flint. people start leaving after the wake -- in the wake of school desegregation, fair housing laws and the rise of the suburbs like building them up, building our highway system, building the infrastructures for the outskirt communities, people, to be clear, middle-class and
upper-class white people started getting out. flint now has about the same population it had in 1920, soless than half of its population, again, and, you know, 57% of it is african american, about 40% is white and it has a smaller but robust hispanic community there. and -- and the reason this ties back to our water is because it ties literally to our drinking water infrastructure, remember that expensive water that flint had, it's expensive because you have far fewer rate payers paying into it, the infrastructure didn't shrink along with everybody else, it's like you -- you know, so you have fewer people carrying the burden of maintaining it and it was an unusually large infrastructure system because they had to support all of those industries, pipes had a wide circumference to have all of the water to support a big car plant going through it.
there's almost none of the car plants anymore and far fewer people and this means that it's extremely difficult to maybe taken let alone upgrade the water system and it also meant that the water was literally worse because, this is why, you'll see a lot of neighborhoods where there's beautiful historic homes, dense neighborhoods, folks who have been there for a long time, they are caring for them and love them and are quite gorgeous but, of course, you'll also see remains of the people who left, there's a lot of vacancies in flint, right, and in the neighborhoods that had more vacancy, more likely to see the discolored water and the reason is because when the waters passing through a long stretch of land and there's not many people turning on taps there the water sits still longer so it has more time for the corrosion to saturate it. another bacteria, another thing.
so what we are seeing legacy of infrastructure inequality that we set up very intentionally, very intentional so-called separate but equal way of designing our cities, it's still having effect today, right, because we haven't quite reckon with its implications and our drinking water that inequality became especially acute, visible and dangerous. so one of the -- one of the recovery efforts, you know, both during and after the sort of recognition of the larger city wide water challenges was trying to flush the water, right, so the city would turn on hydrants, pour water out trying to get it moving through the neighborhoods, kind of clear up some of the contaminants, there was a widely publicized. turn on your taps 5 minutes, let
it run, especially when the water crisis progressed fewer people are trusting and using it so this is like kind of disaster that gets worse the longer we don't pay attention to it. and today there's a number of things going on, when people say the flint water crisis isn't over, they mean a lot of different kinds of things, one is there's this ongoing version about can you trust the water, there's the state topped providing distributed bottle water in april citing a couple of rounds of lead tests that showed lead levels were much safer but corroded lines being replaced. the city wide infrastructure was damaged enough that there's -- that they need to be changed and that's the process that won't be done for another year or two, a lot of people are still relying on filters at the tap and bottled water. and another myth i want to address about the water crisis is the idea that flint wasn't
being vocal about frit the very beginning. there were, you know, even before people really knew what was going on and then also it wasn't just lead, there were a number of other issues, there was disease outbreak, there was e kholy contamination, there was contamination by a disinfection by-product that can cause cancer, there's a number of issues and while they're still seeking answers, this is a community that had without the power of local government still found ways to make themselves visible and showing up to public meetings, having demonstrations, they are calling city, state and federal authorities, they are making themselves heard. this is something that's happening today, delivering bottle water to neighbors and
making sure that people especially who have compromised immune systems, children, schools, day care centers, a community that has learn today take care of itself especially over these past -- i was going to say years but really decades where it has been -- had to endure one harm after another. and i want to pan out to think again about how we are in the midst of the great lakes, you u -- you know, those of us here literally in st. joseph and ben harbor we have the great honor of being the stewards of one of the most incredible resources on earth, you know, and it's like -- i feel like for a place that, you know, brands itself as great lakes state and pure michigan and the third coast we have to get the drinking water right, you know, and that's true in flint and that's true in communities all over the country that have lead service lines,
have infrastructure that's breaking down, that has unaffordable water, that people cannot access or some communities including my own detroit struggling with mass shutoffs, so many people can't afford water bills that's resulting in enough shut offs that rises to public health crisis in terms of sanitation and human dignity. on a cheerful note, i want to -- you know, thank everybody for coming here and having the conversation, i don't know, i think this is one of the things that when i think back to tony morrison wrote about water trying to go back home and when i think about the role that rivers and another river in michigan, it's like the river, like, the water reminds us of what the rules are. we -- the water like connects us even when we try to keep
ourselves separate. the water is something that is -- that we might take for granted but can overpower us if we are not treating it with respect and well and it's something that, i think, i feel very proud of somebody from michigan to have this connection to such abundant water resources and something that i hope we can do right by in the future for the stake of national environment and for the cities and for each other, thank you, everyone. [applause] >> i'd love to take questions for a little bit, i don't know how much time we have, but, yes, sir. yeah. >> thank you for your justice issues in the history of civil rights, i'm from alaska, we have
unique relationship with water, but the fresh water is really important for me because i'm a biologist as well. a lot of species that come through here so i applaud and it's important for me. but my question is this is a really important issue on the nation, so are you seeing any solutions coming out of your work as well as like your research and are you looking at the next step? that's my question. >> what is the next step? what can we do? what are solutions? we have ideally we would never have built our drinking water infrastructure or any other part of our cities out of lead, we shouldn't have done that, what do we do now, what do we do with damaged infrastructure, shrinking cities where public services are at risk?
one thing that's promising about what happened in flint is how it has, you know, woken a lot of people up that this is something worth taking seriously and we can't forget about it because it's underground and i think, you know, there's also a powerful template for what we can -- what we can do. some of the things that are interesting communities that have found ways to upgrade their infrastructure despite all odds, when i began working on this book, the -- there are only two communities in america that had taken it upon themselves to get rid of all their lead-base infrastructure, drinking water infrastructure and they were madison, wisconsin, and lansing, michigan, that's what i said. there's a whole chapter. and it wasn't because they had a water crisis per se, they knew it was the right thing to do, they saw some, you know, there's some red flags going on in other cities around the country especially washington, d.c. which also had a major lead and
water crisis before flint and -- and they figured out a way to do it. it's complex and expensive, you get into a lot of property rights issues, we own that, we don't own that, it gets tricky and people don't want to deal with it. it can make people mad and you try to improve, work crews closing streets, you make people mad, it's not a popular issue guy there are communities who have figured out ways to do it and more have taken this on. so more communities of flint have been taking this on and i think that's powerful and promising, you know. also, you know, i'm really interested and what i try to talk about more at length and i can do in the book is how the role of democracy, like making sure that, you know, people have, you know, a voice in their communities, that people have access to information. i'm a journalist, i'm
straight-up bias on this one but journalists are essentially for democracy working. i think part of what horrifies me of flint story is how being in a relative news vacuum it took longer, i think, than it would have otherwise to really register what was going on and that's true in local news ecosystem and not national news ecosystem. it's not a coincidence and national guards delivering bottled waters and entire generation of children exposed to lead and didn't happen until it became national news january january 2016. ic we need to reconsider -- i think we need to consider management system and reforming
michigan's transparency and that's another thing and one of only two states in the country where both are in legislature are exempt from open records law , one of the reforms that came up in post flint, among legislators and it has not proven popular and, but that is -- that's left where it is. it hasn't been changed since flint. that's starters. yeah, we can talk about it more. >> i don't know if you heard anything about this, but someone told me i think it was past week that some problems showed up in -- [inaudible] >> yes. people are following this.
i don't know how to say that out loud. so, right, this is a completely different kind of water contamination story, right, this is one -- it's a compound of chemicals that are dangerous to communities and not a lot of testing on it too, this is one of the uncertainties of kind of that's tricky for people to navigate used by wolverine, fire fighting foam, what happened is contaminated ground water and it's been spreading like in plumes, you know, which is why communities are like can i trust my water, can i trust my well, and i think coopertownship like they just -- they realized it was high enough levels they needed to cut off so literally in the next week bottled waters distribution like flint and it's
scary, it's a wake-up call there too about how we need to look at how we test our drinking water for safety. there's a lot of loopholes and that's one of the other parts of stories, things that are legal and maybe shouldn't be, we need to tighten up some restrictions there, we definitely need more study on the -- on chemicals but, you know, we also need to have media public health response for folks who are affected and are just scared, you don't want to be scared of your drinking water. there's one mother i remember talking to in flint, i'm trying to be a good mom, i don't want to give my kids juice or soda, kids, drink the water and suddenly you realize that you might have given them something that's toxic, that's horrifying, so, yeah. >> yes, i did. >> okay. >> i witnessed flint river boiling back -- my question with
flint is i want to go back to the source which is the river and i heard some -- i don't know if i read it or heard that the river itself, the bed of the river, there were some contaminants in there that weren't able to be cleaned through process at all, i wonder if that's a rumor or -- and then where that came from i also heard that the attorney general actually brought charges against some of the people who were kind of involved in this. i wonder if you can expand on that a little bit. >> yes, he has two questions, he's got, you know, talking about how important the environment it is to the health of a community and the river boiling sounds terrifying, reminder of how we treated the water in the past, we had to learn we were wrong and we got better at it and we are in another era where we are having
a wake-up call and so one of your questions -- about the -- yeah, one of the problems was, yeah, the treatment plant didn't -- it didn't have the staffing or the technology or training to filter the water appropriately, that's true. i mean, i think one of the things that was going on and i'm speculating here or the flint river, the flint treatment plant thought they were going to be treating till new system was going to get read you but i think they didn't want to put more upgrades than they were going to need for the lake and the river is much more complex to treat than just is, it's shallow, more organisms in it, you have to have really good filters, you have to, you know, have a different kind of technology for it and it didn't have that and that proved a problem. and i think -- but i think it's worthying about in other communities too how well funded
the city plant that serves this community. i don't know, you know, i hope you don't know, is it able to have the technology that makes water safe as possible, you know, these things -- it's tricky too, one thing that i learned about doing this book is having reveran cre, -- things can change on a dime, suddenly the chemistry is different. it's hard work. the people who do this deserve to be well paid and heros. >> and the people -- >> right. there's been a number of -- the legal part of it, the attorney general general in 2016 announced criminal and civil investigation into what happened in flint that resulted in charges so far against 15 people, a few of them city workers, a couple of emergency managers and the rest of them
employees of the michigan department of environmental quality and the michigan department of health and human services. they are a range of charges, the most serious of them is involuntary manslaughter related to the outbreak and others, you know, smaller crimes and the people have been going through preliminary examinations for the past, yeah, like a long time. we do have a lawyer, not to call you out that's part of the case in the room. he might be able to have more questions about that directly. [laughter] [inaudible] >> we will come back to it. >> okay. >> but does anybody else have a question?
yeah. [inaudible] >> what's fascinating is the back story, inequality and all of that stuff. when we reached that point, it just feels like the -- [inaudible] >> what was it like for you -- [inaudible] >> it's not going to address the core issue which to me feel like it's alive in our communities here. >> yeah. >> so -- and is if that's the
case, why is this going to happen somewhere else in other form. what was it like for you -- [inaudible] >> what was it like to rangel with how deep racial issues -- i'm still in it. i totally don't know how to answer the question. i think -- yeah. >> how is the community? how people in the community realizing that they are responsible -- >> how is the community dealing with it? i think for many in flint, a lot of what has been revealed is not necessarily news to them. i think it's questions they've been asking themselves and reflecting on for a long time now and what this is is a
different kind of wakening of people outside to see how it took this particular shape. so basically, i mean, what this is revealing is how structural racism works. this is what people say when it's a system, perpetuates no matter what the intentions are of any individual contactor. it was designed a certain way, it's designed so we created infrastructure inequality by saying, people of color, you can only live here and here and, you know, white people you can live over here and you're setting it up so that those homes are worth less, you know, homes, like you're setting so homes that worth less and you're going to e specially as it accumulates over time likely be served by weaker public services and, you know, you are going to get downward spiral, right, and -- and it has -- in flint nationallyia great triumph that a lot of way that
was enacted it's no longer illegal. you cannot have -- you can't have the policies that you used to have before. that's great, but we can just look around us and we can see that we are still living in a separate unequal society. segregation is still here, in fact, it's worse, when people have measured it. it just is, how did that happen? , you know, well, it's because we never -- we never approached integration with as much vigor as segregation was created. we never -- we go over to untangling it. as time passes on, neglect become force of anything else and we are getting into this -- we are getting into, you know, encountering again and again and again.
what was going on in flint was an emergency even before the crisis. why did we need something that exploded in national news the way it did to start feeling uncomfortable with it. to be clear, there's questions about why didn't the state do anything sooner, epa, the government, why didn't they hear what the residents were saying sooner, the question goes to journalists like myself, environmental groups, universities, like there's a lot of us that i think have learned to tune out what makes us uncomfortable but until we really reckon with this stuff, you know, we learned this in the 60's and something reckon with what creates urban crisis we will not get through the other side, that's why we are dealing with the other problem, all i can do as a journalist is trying to tell the story, try to record it, you know, try to be as
truthful as i can, try to, you know, convey with integrity, i hope it's something that connects to people and makes us think about how we participate in our own communities and questions that we ask public officials and my sister really wants me to stop so i'm going to wrap this up. [laughter] >> i will tie this in a bow and we can continue this conversation elsewhere but thank you so much for being here. [applause] >> thank you. [laughter] >> all right, thank you so much for coming this evening. we will have book sales and signings if you want to stay thank you all for coming out tonight we really appreciate it. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching book tv on
c-span2. here is tonight's prime time line up, former secretary of state madeline albright discusses her latest book fascism a warning. president of the foundation of individual rights and education and professor john argue social trends have led to weakening of viewpoints on college campuses, on book tv after words, obama administration education secretary arnie duncan discusses successes and failures of schools in america. at 10:00 lawrence jackson live of author. wrap up at 11:00 p.m. eastern with republican political strategists rick on the trump administration. that all happens tonight on book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. a reminder the weekend's full schedule is available on our
website, booktv.org. >> i just cringe every time the secret service gets bad publicity and sometimes, you know, somebody screws up and they deserve it but 99% of the time they get up every day and they go about their business and i watch them and, you know, i'm not as high-value target as i used to be. [laughter] >> i watch these men and women day in and day out when i follow my routines and try to stay busy and try to do things, work themselves, force themselves to concentrate and imagine what they have to be on the alert for, what they might have to do if something bad goes wrong and when i was president i remember when bin laden put out on me and
there was a serious threat that there would be attack in pakistan or bangladesh, it was awful and i said, you know, we went in unmarked plane to bangladesh, i don't want anybody with young children going with me but the sad thing was there were people even younger going. i mean, it's not -- you take it for granted that nobody is going to try to kill the president or nothing terrible is going to happen but this is -- it is kind of a love letter of the secret service and anybody like you that was ever around them i think pretty much feel the way i do. >> they are remarkable, i think it's terrific that you shine a light on that in this book and yet it's not perfect, but the president is at some risk, jim, and i have to say ridden around in those convoys, it's in my
mind highly plausible, it can actually happen and i think it's a real tribute -- >> yeah, anything that happens in the book as i said, you know, whether it's this very dramatic potential for cyber-attack or an attack on a motorcade, if it happened, this is the way it could happen which i think makes everything particularly interesting and i think that's why the reviews and authors who we have sent it to and it's interesting because we talked to a couple of the authors, we had lee last night and he gave us -- he's a wonderful guy, came all the way from wyoming to see us last night but he said when he got the book, when he sent it to him, jesus, what if i don't like it -- [laughter] >> he liked, he liked it, thank god. [laughter] >> so let's talk about the threat. in many ways the character is
phenomenal, the plot is eye-popping and, mr. president, i know you worked very hard to get the terrorist threat right and if you could, what's the threat, why did you choose it and how did you make it so realistic? >> first of all, it's a cyber threat. as i said for reasons, the most sweeping keeper attacked ever launched in the united states that would basically take down everything and the backup systems and i wanted to do it because first this is a matter of plot, it would be hard if you read it -- it would be hard to justify the president going missing except under the circumstances in which he boots the secret service altogether for a few hours which drives them nuts as you'll see for good reasons. .. ..