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Commentary

Auchter's Art: Do right decisions matter if there’s no trust?

a cartoon of Governor Rick Snyder endorsing Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
John Auchter
/
Michigan Radio

I don't blame politicians for avoiding the "politician" label. Politician, after all, is a dirty word. They are all rotten, lying, cheating, crummy, crooked politicians, right? Well... maybe not all. In this representative form of government, we all profess to love so much, good politicians are critical to its success. Good politicians are advocates of the people. They listen, they understand, they form a consensus, and then they lead.

 

Last week the Snyder administration announced that the state would no longer supply bottled water to the people of Flint. Governor Snyder can reasonably argue that tests have shown Flint water meeting safety levels. He can tell us the state has spent a lot of money on providing bottled water over the past few years. He can talk in glowing terms of moving forward. So he tried to do the "leading" bit, but not so much with the listening, understanding, and forming a consensus with the affected community — a community he represents.

 

Politicians often make the "right" decision but fail in how they implement it. Yes, of course, at some point the bottled water program for Flint needed to be phased out. But shouldn't that wait till more than 1/3 of pipes and service lines have been replaced? Till safety is assured and a real trust is built?

 

So despite what he might say, Rick Snyder is a politician. Sure, he's a former CEO and successful businessperson and all that. But he has also been a two-term governor of Michigan, so by definition, he is a politician.

 

Just not a very good one.

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