FLINT, Mich., March 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson spoke out today in response to Gov. Rick Snyder's release of an email exchange between state Treasury officials last week that inaccurately characterized her as trying to keep Flint Mayor Karen Weaver from declaring a state of emergency over the city's water crisis to appease the governor.
"State officials are trying to throw Ms. Henderson under the bus with these completely baseless, politically-motivated allegations," said David Sanford of Sanford Heisler LLP, who is representing Ms. Henderson in a wrongful termination matter against Flint and the State of Michigan. "As a professional manager, it was her duty to provide the city's elected officials with a comprehensive analysis of the potential impact of an emergency declaration. She did so in a completely transparent and inclusive manner to ensure their decision-making was based on full knowledge of the facts. It's misleading to characterize her actions as resistance to an emergency declaration or as a political ploy."
According to Ms. Henderson, in addition to providing Weaver and other elected officials with information on what Flint would gain from a local emergency declaration, she also spelled out the potentially unfavorable consequences such a declaration might have, including the likelihood of negative impacts on the county's bond rating, resulting in increases to Flint's already unaffordable water rates due to the potential increased costs of Karegnondi Water Authority's bonding; declines in property values; lenders' reluctance to make commercial and residential loans; reduced enrollments in local institutions of higher education; and further blows to Flint's civic reputation and economic competitiveness.
"My responsibility was to communicate the full range of economic and social consequences known to follow local emergency declarations to ensure that Flint's decision-makers had all the facts in hand as they deliberated," said Ms. Henderson. "My actions were neither politically motivated, nor were they intended to block, dissuade or discourage any particular course of action by Mayor Weaver or the Flint City Council. My overriding concern was ensuring the wellbeing of the city of Flint and its citizens by providing a full disclosure of possible adverse outcomes, regardless of how that information might be received by Gov. Snyder or other state officials."
Appointed Flint city administrator in December 2014 by the city's then-Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, Ms. Henderson has a stellar reputation and solid track record as a straightforward public official who was willing to tackle officials head-on as necessary to represent the people of Flint with integrity. In October 2015, for example, Ms. Henderson fought for state funding to connect Flint to the Detroit Water and Sewage System Department (DWSD) in direct opposition to Gov. Snyder's position on such funding, demanding that the funding be released immediately following the appropriation, as opposed to quarterly, and she was also vocal in criticizing the governor's proposal to pay for just 65% of Flint citizens' water bills.
"As city administrator, I served the people of Flint, Michigan and if that meant that I had to go head-to-head with the Governor or any other public official to do the right thing for the people, then that's what I did," said Ms. Henderson.
Prior to being chosen from a pool of 27 qualified applicants and signing a five-year contract as Flint city administrator, Ms. Henderson served more than seven years as the city manager of Muskegon Heights, Michigan. Before that, she was the director of quality assurance and public relations and assistant to the city manager in Texarkana, Texas.
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About Sanford Heisler, LLP
Sanford Heisler, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation's top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, consumer fraud, and other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the firm also represents individuals and has achieved particular success in the representation of executives in employment disputes. For more information go to http://www.sanfordheisler.com/ or call 202 499-5200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest news visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.
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