DETROIT (WWJ) — Giants of industry and politicians alike filed into Cobo Center for the North American International Auto Show’s annual Charity Preview on Friday.
Despite the glitz and glamour, the water crisis in Flint was a topic of conversation among Michigan’s leaders. Governor Rick Snyder is now asking for federal funds to help the city that has seen its water supply contaminated by lead.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: The Political Road Ahead
The White House said it is considering Snyder’s request for $41 million in aid. Snyder spoke with WWJ Newsradio 950 at Cobo and said that he was in Flint Friday morning talking to residents at a fire station who were picking up water.
“This is about people partnering together to deal with a very difficult situation where there is damage done,” Snyder said. “There’s higher lead levels that never should have happened that we’re working hard to address, mitigate and work together on.”
President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Auto Show on January 20, but Snyder said that he says he has “major commitments” on the west side of the state and won’t be able to meet with the president.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke out about what he thinks should be done in the Flint situation.
“We aren’t going to know for years what the significance of the impact is,” Duggan said live on WWJ. “If it were me, I would be putting in the most comprehensive early childhood education, I’d be putting in extra instructors in the elementary schools, I would wrap my arms around the children of Flint with every bit of development services that I could.”READ MORE: 'My Name Is Sara' Film On Holocaust Survivor Premieres In Metro Detroit
The water situation in Flint wasn’t the only hot topic brought up Friday. Duggan also addressed the current issues with Detroit Public Schools and what the next steps should be to end recent teacher “sickouts.”
“We need to have a Detroit education commission that would be appointed by the mayor, but you’ve got 100 public schools and 100 charter schools in Detroit,” Duggan said. “Plus you have a number of kids who are going to school in neighboring districts. Nobody is keeping track of the children.
“There’s no central entity at all that’s making sure these children are going somewhere,” Duggan said.
Duggan said he thinks Snyder has a plan and money to fix the problem, along with the debt that the state has run up. This comes after deplorable conditions in some of the city’s schools prompted teachers to leave DPS schools throughout the week, shutting many down and leaving children at home.
Talk wasn’t all politics, however. Snyder and Duggan also spoke about the night’s intended talking point — the automobile industry.
“[We’re] doing lots of meetings with companies interested in expanding or doing more in Michigan, or coming to Michigan,” Snyder said. “The response was overwhelmingly positive because look around you now — with respect to what’s going on here at Cobo, what’s going on with the city and the state as a place to invest.”MORE NEWS: Dearborn Homecoming Festival Kicks Off This Weekend
More than 13,000 people attended this year’s event, raising $5.2 million for eight local charities.