By Stateside Staff of Michigan Radio
As the aftermath of the Flint water crisis drags on, attention has now largely turned toward the repercussions for those involved. Fifteen state and local government officials now stand accused of a combined 51 criminal charges.
And this has led to a rather strange situation where the government is paying both the legal fees to prosecute the officials, as well as the legal fees to defend them. So far that has cost Michigan taxpayers $15.2 million.
Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, and Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside on Friday to discuss Flint legal proceedings.
Having taxpayers pay for both sides is a rare situation, Barnett said, and shouldn’t be happening.
“Certainly there should be some caps on legal fees,” Barnett said. “So far, nobody has passed a bill that would limit the amount of per hour charges by attorneys, and that’s very problematic.”
Sikkema lamented the situation, calling it a “costly mistake.” But paying legal fees is part of the process, he said.
“I don’t have a problem with having government officials defended by the taxpayers when they make decisions that are part of their official capacity,” Sikkema said.
Ken Sikkema and Vicki Barnett join Stateside every Friday to break down the week’s political news.