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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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Democratic leadership should get the blame


If what happened in Flint isn’t a crime, it ought to be. The criminals are government officials at the local, state and federal levels.

Michigan Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, so far has received the brunt of the criticism about the state’s response to the crisis. The state was slow to act, it’s true. But Scott did declare a state of emergency, and he did order the National Guard to truck in bottled water for residents. Scott also asked the Michigan Legislature for $28 million in emergency funds to address the crisis.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Keith Creagh told the U.S. House Oversight Committee last week that the EPA kept his agency waiting for months for an opinion. Turns out, the Obama administration knew of Flint’s problem for at least a year and barely lifted a finger.

Flint is poor, broke and crime-ridden. And Democrats have run the place for decades. Flint’s Democrats did what Democrats often do: obliterated the tax base and spent the city into oblivion.

About 10 years ago, Flint went into state receivership and has had a series of emergency managers ever since. As it happened, Scott appointed the emergency manager — another Democrat — who, along with the city’s Democratic mayor and Democratic city council, made the fateful decision to switch Flint’s water supply from Detroit to Lake Huron as a cost-cutting measure.

The city tapped into the Flint River as a stopgap after the Democrats in Detroit cut off Flint’s water before a new pipeline from Huron was finished. (It’s scheduled for completion this year.) The party of big government failed in Flint, just as it has failed in Detroit and other cities with one-party rule. It will keep failing. 

— Ben Boychuk is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Reach him at .