In recorded conversations with an advocacy journalist last month, a public official in Flint, Mich., blamed the city’s ongoing water crisis on black people who “don’t pay their bills.”
Phil Stair, the sales manager for a county agency that manages tax-foreclosed homes, used the racial slur “n‑‑‑‑‑,” according to the recordings published to an online blog on Sunday. “Believe me,” Stair, who is white, said. “I deal with them.”
The next day, Stair resigned from the Genesee County Land Bank, where he was a longtime employee.
“I feel that I cannot carry out nor be effective in my position at the Land Bank with the social media [recording] of my private opinion on the Flint water crisis and the insensitive language used,” Stair’s resignation letter said, according to a copy obtained by MLive. “I am deeply sorry for what I said and those I offended. I do not know how I can face my friends and co-workers.”
Environmental activist Chelsea Lyons told MLive she and another woman secretly recorded the conversations over two days last month, the local newspaper reported. Lyons said the women received a tip that Stair was at a local bar and went there to speak with him.
Lyons is a self-described “activist, water protector and citizen journalist” who has traveled the county advocating for clean water. Her recordings were first published on June 4 by Truth Against The Machine, a blog that brands itself as the antithesis to “corporate media.”
Lyons told MLive that she wanted to speak with Stair because she has concerns that the Land Bank is pushing people out of their Flint neighborhoods. She called the Land Bank, which acquires, develops and resells tax-foreclosed properties, a “disaster.”
“I had no idea he was going to say the things that he said,” Lyons told MLive. “That was not exactly what I was going for.”
SOURCE: Katie Mettler
The Washington Post