Residents upset tax dollars being used for legal support in wate - WNEM TV 5

Residents upset tax dollars being used for legal support in water crisis

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

As if contaminated drinking water wasn't enough to anger Flint taxpayers, many residents are also upset their taxpayer dollars are being used for legal representation for the officials being investigated.

That includes Michael Glasgow and the city of Flint.

"That is ridiculous. You know it. How are they asking for money from us still," said Tony Palladeno, Flint resident.

Palladeno is like a lot of Flint residents. He's upset his tax dollars will be used to help defend one of the city employees facing criminal charges in connection to the water crisis.

On April 20, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced those charges against Glasgow.

"The truth of the matter is there's some fall guys there. There's a bigger piece of the pie they need to get to," Palladeno said.

TV5 took the tough questions to the city attorney to find out what she had to say about employees being defended in court on the public's dime.

"I believe most city residents understand that the accused is innocent until they're proven guilty. And we're not saying we have to go through the entire process, but we are saying that due process is important," said Stacey Erwin Oakes, chief legal council for Flint.

Oakes said the investigation into Glasgow continues. She said the results of that investigation could determine how much money Flint pours into his defense.

Oakes also wants to see more money flowing into Flint to end the crisis.

"We need to be replacing the pipes and getting the residents back to a quality of life," Oakes said.

As for Palladeno, he said he wants to see those responsible for the crisis face justice.

"We're dying here. They're still killing us. We're still screaming. That's where we're at," Palladeno said.

Maegan Wilson doesn't think the state workers should get taxpayer-funded legal counsel.

"I think that's a waste of money. I think that they should be liable for their own. They made the decisions on their own and they should stand up for their own," Wilson said.

According to the Michigan Civil Service Commission, a state employee named in any civil claim, or action alleging negligence or other actionable conduct, arising out of employment may request an attorney at state expense.

Wilson that is just wrong.

"I think that justice needs to be served, but I think they also need to provide their own attorney for that," Wilson said.

Larry Roehrig sees the issue differently. He believes the state employees should have representation.

"If they were acting in the official capacity that they were directed to do, then whoever told them to do it better pay for it and that's the way it comes down," Roehrig said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirmed legal counsel has been hired based on the approval of Director Keith Creagh. The statement said Creagh will review the decision when a state police investigation involving the accused wraps up.

"They're being made the targets and the scapegoats. We don't condone any of that," Roehrig said.

As for Wilson, she wants people to know, no matter what happens in a courtroom, her city is still suffering.

"We're not playing. We're not backing down. We're still here and every day we are going through this," Wilson said.

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