Ex-Flint emergency manager bills city taxpayers for growing legal tab over water crisis

Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.
Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, who is under investigation for his handling of the drinking water crisis, wants city taxpayers to pick up his growing legal tab – $75,000.

Earley has paid an attorney up to $750 an hour to guide him through a congressional hearing last month and to represent him in several investigations into the water crisis, according to records obtained by the Detroit Free PressIn March alone, Earley spent $64,000 in legal fees and billed the city of Flint.

Former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley
Former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.

Earley was the state-appointed emergency manager when the cash-starved city switched to the Flint River for drinking water in April 2014 to save money.

Record obtained by Motor City Muckraker show that Earley rejected numerous opportunities to stay with Detroit’s historically safe water for a dramatically discounted price. On March 7, 2014, Earley wrote in an e-mail to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) that he was not interested in a short-term contract to avoid using the Flint River, despite serious concerns raised by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2012.

“There will be no need for Flint to continue purchasing water (from DWSD) to serve its residents and businesses after April 17, 2014,” Earley wrote to DWSD Director Sue McCormick.

But months later, after studies began to show dangerously elevated levels of lead from Flint River water, Earley and Gov. Rick Snyder claimed the city was forced to use the river because DWSD would not provide a short-term contract.

Earley, who previously refused to testify before Congress, was slammed for his handling of the crisis at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last month.

Rep. Elijah Cummings said he “almost vomited” when Earley tried to dismiss responsibility.

“It is sickening – all of it,” Cummings said. “You don’t have to be a water treatment expert. A 5-year-old could figure out” there were problems with the water.

 

Earley’s attorney is A. Scott Bolden of Washington, D.C., who has charged between $500 and $750 an hour.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told the Free Press that “it’s extremely unfortunate and disappointing that given everything the city and residents of Flint have suffered and are still suffering from, we are also on the hook for thousands of dollars in legal fees for the former emergency manager to defend his actions concerning his role in the water crisis.

“This is yet another expense that the city doesn’t deserve,” Weaver said. “As a result of this man-made water disaster, we are already struggling financially and could certainly use this money for something much more productive, like replacing lead-tainted pipes.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Why would be any different than any other goverment employee. There are teachers we send home and they collect pay for two years at 90k, with 30k in bennies, the union will spend a half million defending them, the other side spends a bunch to get rid of them, then they are “fired ” and that means they collect full pay, healthcare, pension, and no longer have to work. Sometimes the cut tgem a big check when they fire them, and still collect a pension.

    So why would this guy be any different, you should not even flinch if they spent 2-3 million in his defense, then paid him 180k for the rest of his life.

    • Dongald Trumpenis

      You are so full of shit it’s amazing you don’t accidentally flush yourself down the crapper twice a day.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Why would be any different than any other goverment employee. There are teachers we send home and they collect pay for two years at 90k, with 30k in bennies, the union will spend a half million defending them, the other side spends a bunch to get rid of them, then they are “fired ” and that means they collect full pay, healthcare, pension, and no longer have to work. Sometimes the cut tgem a big check when they fire them, and still collect a pension.

    So why would this guy be any different, you should not even flinch if they spent 2-3 million in his defense, then paid him 180k for the rest of his life.

  • Dongald Trumpenis

    Appalling that criminal incompetents are overpaid and produce nothing but disaster-THEN get to bill their victims for their overpriced lawyers.

    String ’em up, I say!

    • javierjuanmanuel

      yeah you would love to string up a black guy. Racist.

      • Dongald Trumpenis

        That’s better trolling than your usual!

  • Trexinmichigan

    I only hope that these clowns end up unemployable based on their current and recent job performances.

  • Third World Detroit

    Financial considerations fall by the wayside when it comes to purchasing legal representation for the ruling class. Austerity is only for the masses. Flintstones are free to stop paying at any time.