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Karen Weaver

Karen Weaver is the mayor of Flint. She was elected in November 2015 as the Flint water crisis was unfolding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is moving forward with the next phase of the city’s lead service line removal program.

Damaged service lines are suspected of being a prime source for lead in Flint’s drinking water. But to date, only 33 lead service lines have been removed from Flint homes.  

However, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city is starting the process of hiring contractors to replace hundreds more. She says the requests for proposals will be posted tomorrow.  

Weaver expects the next round of her Fast Start program will begin in about a month.

karen weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has hired an attorney to investigate allegations that Flint’s mayor tried to redirect donations from a water crisis fund to another fund she controlled.

The allegation is part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed earlier this week by Flint’s former city administrator. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declines to address the allegation, but she does have a few words about the suit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s former city administrator is suing the city and Mayor Karen Weaver.

The lawsuit claims Natasha Henderson was fired after she raised questions about donations to a Flint water crisis charity being redirected to another fund created by Mayor Weaver.

Katherine Smith Kennedy is Henderson’s attorney. She claims Henderson’s job was terminated hours after she raised the issue with the city attorney.

“The timing is so suspicious,” says Kennedy, who admits she doesn’t know if there was anything illegal about redirecting donations.   

money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. senators are trying again to get $172 million in federal funding for fixing Flint’s damaged water system. 

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow announced today they have included the money in the Water Resources Development Act. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to consider this legislation this week.

Stabenow, D-Mich, says she’s glad they’ve “found a new path forward to get urgently-needed help for families in Flint and other communities across the country with serious lead and water issues.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is “not impressed” by Governor Snyder’s pledge to drink only Flint water for the next 30 days. 

The governor made the pledge to drink filtered Flint water yesterday.

“I’m going to start drinking that tonight and do that for the next 30 days … when I’m at work and at home,” Snyder told reporters on Monday. The governor says he wants to be a “role model” to show filtered Flint tap water is safe to drink.

Sub Committee chair Mike Zimmer (lower left) delivers a report on new lead/copper testing as members of the governor's special Flint water team listen, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan would have the toughest lead testing standard in the nation under a sweeping proposal unveiled today in Flint, where the drinking water is still contaminated with lead and residents remain dependent on bottled water donations.

To make sure other Michigan cities don’t suffer the same fate, Gov. Rick Snyder and a team of experts have unveiled a plan to tighten water testing regulations and lower the threshold for action.   

Flint water plant manager Jolisa McDay in red sweater in front of microphones
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is taking steps to deal with a key staffing issue in its drinking water crisis.

Federal regulators have criticized Flint officials for not hiring more people to operate the city’s water plant.  The EPA says the city needs more professionals to ensure it stays in compliance with federal regulations. 

The city’s new water plant supervisor started work this week. 

Jolisa McDay has 15 years experience.  She sees Flint’s system as a “challenge”.

“I’m diligently working to be sure that we have all that we need,” says McDay.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of the week, the city of Flint expects to finish removing water service lines from 30 homes.   The service lines are believed to be the source of high lead levels in the drinking water.

The city has been paying for the pipe removal with a $2 million reimbursement from the state.

The city’s original goal was to replace 30 lead service lines by the end of last month, but bad weather hampered progress.   

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water crisis is affecting the city’s plans for next year’s budget.

The mayor outlined the city’s financial future to the city council last night.

Flint’s water and sewer fund continues to struggle and other city revenues are flat.

Flint mayor Karen Weaver says that’s why it’s important for city leaders to diligently pursue other sources of revenue.

“We’ve had enough cuts in city services. We don’t need any more cuts in city services,” Weaver told reporters after the special city council meeting.

As if their relationship wasn’t complicated enough already, now Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is threatening to take Governor Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan to court.

Flint pipe-removal effort working through early delays

Apr 1, 2016
Flint Mayor Weaver, Lansing Mayor Bernaro, and Ret. Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel stand next to the lead pipe.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Crews working to replace Flint's lead water lines have encountered some delays.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver's goal for the first 30 days of work was to replace lead lines for 30 homes. As of Friday morning, crews had finished work on only 19.

Michael McDaniel, former National Guard Brigadier General and professor at Western Michigan University's law school, is heading the removal effort, called the Fast Start initiative.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint say they have questions they want answered at this week’s congressional hearings into the city’s water crisis.

Starting Tuesday, former emergency manager Darnell Earley, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Gov. Rick Snyder are scheduled to testify before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee.  

Current and former officials with the Environmental Protection Agency are also scheduled to appear before the committee.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she has a list of questions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s so much confusion about Flint’s water and sewer rates that the city is suspending mailing bills to the city’s residents.

During the past year, there’s been almost as much happening to Flint’s water and sewer bills as the city’s water pipes.

A judge last year ordered the city to roll back a 2011 and also ruled the current rates were OK.  

The city is trying to collect on some old delinquent accounts. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting a $25 million loan to remove its lead pipes. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the Union Labor Life Insurance Company has agreed to the low cost loans.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she’s hopeful that the U.S. Senate will soon take up a bill with tens of millions of dollars for Flint.

The legislation has more than $100 million earmarked for fixing Flint’s water system and added health care for people exposed to lead in their tap water.

But a Republican senator is holding up the bill. Utah Senator Mike Lee says the state of Michigan should first spend its own money to fix Flint’s water issues, before the federal government should get involved. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (right) stands next to the lead drinking water line that was pulled from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It was a symbolic day in Flint on Friday as the city removed its first lead water service line under Mayor Karen Weaver’s “FAST Start” program.

The Mayor wants to remove all the lead water lines in the city under the program. She’s seeking $55 million to fund the program. Right now, they’ve started the program with $2 million from the state. That money was reimbursed to the city after it spent it last fall as part of the payment to reconnect Flint’s water supply to Detroit’s system. Weaver says the state could pay for the rest using its "rainy day" fund.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With the Democratic Presidential Debate taking place Sunday in Flint, Michigan, the national spotlight is once again focusing on the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Some people in Flint are getting tired of being in the glare of the national spotlight.

The whirl of electric clippers mixes with ESPN’s Sports Center on the TV and music from the radio as six men wait for one of two barber chairs to open up in the Consolidated Tattoo and Barbershop in downtown Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to start digging up lead service lines tomorrow. But today, a contractor paid by a private group got to work doing the same thing on the city’s north side.

Brittani Felton watched from her driveway as workers dug a deep trench in front of her home on Flint’s Alma Avenue. At the bottom of the muddy hole lay the service line connecting Felton’s home to the city water main.

She’s had her water tested, but the results aren’t back yet. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor believes a U.S. Senate deal could free up federal money to pay to remove the city’s lead service lines.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.,  Gary Peters, D-Mich and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., hammered out the deal.  

The proposal would authorize $100 million in emergency aid to fix and replace the city's lead-contaminated pipes, as well as $70 million in loans to improve its water infrastructure.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A divided Flint city council approved Mayor Karen Weaver’s picks for the city’s new police and fire chiefs during a raucous meeting tonight. 

Earlier this month, Weaver fired the city’s police and fire chiefs, who were both hired by the city’s former emergency managers.    

An overflow crowd jammed Monday night’s city council meeting. The audience cheered council members who talked of voting for Tim Johnson for police chief and Raymond Barton for fire chief. The crowd booed the council members who spoke out against the picks or the process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s team at city hall is taking shape. 

Weaver fired the city’s police and fire chiefs, as well as the city administrator earlier this month. The three department heads were all appointed by Flint’s former emergency managers.

The city council will consider their proposed replacements tonight.

Weaver has tapped Timothy Johnson to be Flint’s next chief of police, Raymond Burton as the next fire chief and Sylvester Jones as city administrator.

Weaver says her appointments will bring needed change.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a step closer to getting money from the state to replace lead service lines.

Governor Snyder says the state has approved a grant request from the city.

“That frees up $2 million that could be … several hundred lead service line replacements,” says Snyder.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says this is a “positive step.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, crews will start digging up lead pipes in Flint.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says a training exercise will take place next week for city crews to learn how to remove lead service lines. 

It’s a step in a process that may end with replacing thousands of lead pipes. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she didn’t think Friday was “a bad time” to fire three top city officials.

Some have questioned the timing of Weaver’s decision to let go of Flint Police Chief James Tolbert, Fire Chief David Cox and City Administrator Natasha Henderson last week.

This comes as the city struggles with its drinking water crisis.

“I can’t wait for the water crisis to be ended because we don’t know when that will happen,” says Weaver. 

The three officials were hired by Flint’s former emergency managers.

James Tolbert
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The heads of Flint's police and fire departments are out of those jobs.

Mayor Karen Weaver said Friday in a press release she's restructuring city operations and has accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. She's also fired City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do," says Weaver, "My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Marc Edwards is coming back to Flint.

Edwards’ team was the first to discover high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water last summer. Earlier this month, Edwards announced his team was ending its probe of Flint's lead-tainted water.

Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that Edwards will oversee all water testing by the state and federal governments.

“He is fully independent. He will be reporting to me,” says Weaver.

Weaver adds that Edwards’ work will be paid for with “private donations.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met behind closed doors with the national president of the NAACP in Flint Tuesday night. 

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said he, Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “frank” discussions about Flint’s drinking water crisis. 

He called his closed-door meeting with the governor and the mayor a “robust conversation about specific reforms.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is getting more “authority” at city hall.

A state oversight board today approved a resolution giving the mayor the ability to hire and fire city department directors. That’s more authority than Flint’s mayor’s has had since the 2011 state takeover.    

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver was unable to attend Friday’s meeting. She hasn't been able to catch a flight from snowstorm-crippled Washington D.C.

Speaking over a phone during the meeting, Weaver thanked members of the Receivership Transition Advisory Board for supporting the resolution.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Residents of Flint, Michigan have been dealing with a water crisis for more than a year now.

The number of children with higher lead levels has doubled since 2014, when the government switched drinking water sources. For almost four months, people have been told not to drink the tap water because there’s too much lead in it.

But it was just Saturday that President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“I just want to say the president has granted our request for an emergency declaration,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver smiled broadly as she told a crowded news conference at city hall Saturday afternoon.

The declaration will mean federal assistance in getting bottled water and filters to help the city deal with its lead tainted water supply. A switch to the Flint River as the city's drinking water source created toxic levels of lead in the tap water. 

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