A Flint, Michigan official has resigned after an audio recording surfaced of him blaming residents for their undrinkable water. On the recording, which was posted online, official Phil Stair can be heard bemoaning “n—-ers [who] don’t pay their bills.”
According to NBC News, Stair worked as a sales manager at Genesee County Land Bank. He managed tax foreclosed houses for Genesee County (Flint sits within its borders). Thousands of Flint residents are currently in danger of losing their homes due to unpaid water bills—but even now, a year and a half after the crisis was brought to light, that water remains unsuitable for drinking.
Water activist Chelsea Lyons recorded Stair after she and a colleague met him at a local bar. After two days of recording, she posted his remarks to Truth Against the Machine.
“Flint has the same problems as Detroit,” Stair claimed, “fucking n—-ers don’t pay their bills, believe me, I deal with them.”
He continued, “They just don’t pay their bills. Well, Detroit didn’t collect on their bills, so they charged everybody else, but—Flint—Flint had to pay their bill to Detroit.”
Lyons is especially concerned with the ruthlessness of Land Bank as they deprive Flint residents of shelter without regard for the state of emergency that has imperiled them.
“The Land Bank is taking up all of the properties in Flint,” Lyons told MLive.com. “They are pushing people out of the neighborhood.”
On Monday, Michele Wildman, the executive director of Genesee Land Bank, issued a statement regarding Stair’s resignation and the virulent racism behind his comments.
“We are deeply troubled by the offensive and inexcusable comments,” Wildman said. “This individual does not represent our values as a company, and we are engaging with the community to restore and regain public trust.”
Demographically, Flint, Michigan is over 56 percent black. In December 2016, Republicans in Congress surreptitiously concluded the investigation into the city’s water crisis although the water remained unsafe and numerous city officials had been charged with criminal mismanagement.