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MDEQ suspends two employees "involved in Flint water testing"

Jan 22, 2016

Credit gophouse.com

Two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees have been suspended for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

In a statement issued late Friday, Gov. Snyder’s office only identified the employees as “DEQ officials involved in Flint water testing.”

“Michiganders need to be able to depend on state government to do what’s best for them, and in the case of the DEQ that means ensuring their drinking water is safe,” Snyder said. “Some DEQ actions lacked common sense and that resulted in this terrible tragedy in Flint.”

State communications manager Kurt Weiss said that one is a “senior executive in water quality,” while the other is an “environmental manager.”

The exact allegations against them weren’t made clear.

For now, they’re suspended without pay while an investigation goes forward per state civil service rules.

However, Weiss says that under those same rules, they must be put back on the payroll after seven days.

Depending on the outcome of their specific investigations, the employees face potential disciplinary action up to losing their jobs.

Former DEQ director Dan Wyant and spokesman Brad Wurfel have already resigned over the Flint water contamination disaster.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” early Friday, Gov. Snyder laid most of the blame on DEQ bureaucrats:

“The department people, the heads, were not being given the right information by the quote-unquote experts, and I use that word with great trial and tribulation because they were considered experts in terms of their background, these are career civil servants that had strong science, medical backgrounds in terms of their research. But as a practical matter, when you look at it today and you look at their conclusions, I wouldn’t call them experts anymore.”

A Dec. 28 email from Gov. Snyder’s chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, spoke of pending personnel changes in light of a scathing letter from the governor’s Flint Water Task Force, which harshly criticized the DEQ for failing to prevent and then respond to the crisis.

Agen said it “likely meant accepting Dan’s [Wyant] resignation. It also means moving up the termination of the 3 DEQ” employees to an earlier date.

The DEQ has not publicly identified those three employees, or whether they were in fact terminated.

But Weiss said the two suspended Friday “are the only other two” facing possible job loss. Other DEQ water quality staffers have already been “reassigned.”