LeDuff: In violent, flooded Detroit, in confused Lansing, the incompetence spreads

July 14, 2021, 10:00 PM by  Charlie LeDuff

There is an intelligent man who earns his money in the municipal water racket. His house, too, was flooded last month during the heavy rains that submerged much of Detroit and Grosse Pointe.

What went wrong here? Everything. (Photo: Michigan State Police)

Surprisingly, even he believes the government's line that his home was destroyed due to an historic rainfall not seen in 1,500 years. The problem is, there was no one around 1,500 years ago to measure rainfall.

The hydrologist also believes the government's story that the massive pumps at the Conner Creek Pump Station, located on Detroit's east side, were indeed working. He believes the government when it says – through the media – that the floods were caused by ancient pipes that simply couldn't handle the deluge caused by global warming.

An act of God caused by human activity, so to speak. But it's a half-truth at best.

As it happens, two of the six pumps were working at Conner Creek when the heavy rains began to fall. One of those pumps blew a seal and sprayed water on a circuit breaker, which disabled four other pumps. This according to Sue McCormick, CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority.

There was an electrician on duty, McCormick insisted, except the electrician wasn't at Conner Creek at that pivotal moment. He had been dispatched early to another substation that had also gone dark, that had disabled power to different pumping station in the city. And wouldn't you know it? The electrician was delayed getting back to the Conner Creek facility because the streets were flooded.

It's basically the same thing that happened during the last great flood of the century, way back in 2104. Remember? Poor power sourcing. Poor staffing. Poor maintenance.

FEMA will send money to Michigan for cleanup and repair under a presidential declaration today. That's welcome news, finally, for the beleaguered people of Detroit who are still waiting – three weeks later -- for the city to come collect the mounds of moldering garbage from their basements. 

Flood, then blood

A curb on Detroit's east side (Photo: Mike McBride)

Meanwhile, a banquet hall on Chalmers that was shut eight years ago was the scene of another mass shooting in Detroit this week. Six people were shot, one fatally. Lorenzo Gaines, 30, died in his wheelchair.

This is the same speakeasy where six people were shot six years ago, one fatally. This came two years after the joint lost its license to operate. Police cannot say why it was allowed to continue to operate. Everybody in the neighborhood has known it's been operating as an after-hours for years. So why not the Detroit police?

City leaders now promise to use building and health codes to crack down on these “nuisance” operations like the Chalmers Banquet Hall. But that's what they promised six years ago.

In Lansing, the incompetence continues at the state Unemployment Insurance Agency. Billions in fraudulent payments. Hush money for its former director. Tens of thousands of Michigan citizens still waiting for their pandemic unemployment money. Maybe that's a good thing. Because now the state may demand that 650,000 struggling workers return the federal unemployment benefits they received, because the state incorrectly added extra Covid categories not approved by the federal Department of Labor. The state, as has become its custom, blames the feds for lack of guidance.

“The UIA is a disaster,” said Steve Johnson, (R-Wayland) chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who  promises a full investigation.

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