The Flint water saga continues
The vast majority of those who play the political game are control freaks. They figure if you can avoid unforeseen issues and just deal with the ones you want to resolve, life would be relatively simple.
While every modern day governor has hoped for total control, they soon learn, as Gov. Rick Snyder did, stuff happens that is outside their control.
The testimony from Harvey Hollins the other day was just another example of how stuff just happens to this governor and the real story is not only the stuff itself, but how his team reacts to it. That’s where the headaches often emerge.
Mr. Hollins is the governor’s long-time urban affairs adviser and on the witness stand the other day regarding the Flint water crisis, Mr. Hollins reported that he told Mr. Snyder about the Legionnaires outbreak in December 2015.
Only problem is the governor is on the record saying he learned about it in January 2016. In fact, under oath, he said exactly that before a congressional hearing in March 2016.
It didn’t take long for Flint Congressman Dan Kildee to raise a red flag and it took even less time for the news hounds to get their arms around a potentially juicy “he said, he said” conflict.
The story was “Who is telling the truth?” Or if you like a messy headline: “Who was lying?”
Democrat Kildee immediately asked his buds in D.C. to ask the governor to reconcile this seemingly unreconcilable disagreement to find out if the governor lied to Congress.
The front office, when asked for a response, offered up this not-so-reassuring retort. It does not comment on pending investigations or court proceedings.
End of story?
It only fed into the speculation that somebody had something to hide.
Political consultants from both sides were quick with their advice. Tom Shields from the MRG consulting firm suggested the governor should explain his side of the story sooner than later otherwise, “this will drip, drip, drip until it is like the monsoon we saw at the U of M and MSU football game recently.”
T.J. Bucholz from the Vanguard P.R. firm suggested the longer this story dragged on “the weaker the Snyder administration would get” and it wasn’t that hot to begin with.
But the former media secretary for Gov. John Engler chimed in with two points: (1) Hollins was never crossed examined on his “bombshell” statement as the media described it and (2) when all the facts are in, “this story will end in a thud.”
With the story quickly becoming the talk of the town, the front office chucked it’s “no comment” strategy and offered this:“the governor stands by his congressional testimony.”
Yeah, but could they explain why the boss is right and his underling is wrong?
There was none.
“I think the statement raises more questions than it answers,” observed lawyer and Democratic State Sen. Steve Bieda.
“Somebody is lying,” Democratic Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. cut to the nob of the governor’s dilemma
Within days the congressional committee fired off a letter giving the governor until Oct. 25 to “resolve this discrepancy in recollection.” Or to be more blunt, tell us why we should not hold you in contempt of Congress.
He says he stands by what he said but while he might get away with that one liner in this town, the folks who play the game in the nation’s capitol will not buy that for a second.
Can the Snyder control team keep this from spiraling out of control?
We’re about to find out.