Flint water e-mails written to stay secret

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LANSING — “In mid-October, as the massive scope of the Flint drinking water scandal and public health crisis was beginning to sink in, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality engineer Adam Rosenthal wrote an e-mail to two of his then supervisors in the department’s drinking water section.

The contents of the e-mail were purely factual: A Flint resident’s name and address, along with two lead readings for water samples taken from faucets at the home.

But typed just beneath the message were the words: “Preliminary and Deliberative not subject to FOIA.”

The Rosenthal e-mail is just one of thousands the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder has made public related to the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water after calls from the public, elected officials, advocates for open government and the media for information as to who knew what about the public health crisis and when, and what was done in response. Thousands of others have been released voluntarily by the governor, whose office is not subject to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.

Besides answers to some questions, a review of the e-mails also revealed a potentially troubling trend: Many of the e-mails display what appears to be an active effort by state employees to avoid disclosure of public records under FOIA…”