Primary Source Report – MC

Source 1: “Important Information About Lead in Your Drinking Water”- Public Booklet Notice Distributed Oct 22, 2018

City of Newark. Important Information About Lead in Your Drinking Water. Newark: City of Newark, 2018.

This primary source is a copy of the public notice packet (in multiple languages) that the Newark City government distributed to Newark residents regarding the lead found in the public drinking water. The booklet declares that the city will provide water filters in an effort to protect residents who live in homes with lead service lines and lead plumbing elements. The booklet also describes how the water treatment at the Pequannock water service area is no longer effectively remove lead from the water. Thus distributing water filters is the city’s reaction as a solution. The booklet also explains in detail how dangerous lead can be for humans, especially for children under 6 years of age. There is also a specific paragraph, in bold lettering, essentially saying that lead dissolving from water lines is a nationwide problems and that the City does not own the service line pipes (and perhaps is not directly responsible for the lead leaching into the system). I plan to use the booklet to see how the city government is communicating to residents about their role or lack of role in the issue. It is interesting to note that before the distribution of water filters, the City was vehemently denying that the lead problem was severe. The tone and language throughout this notice, however, is anything but urgent and cautionary. Furthermore, this source will be used to see where the blame the City is putting on for the lead crisis and how the language and tone they use reflects that shift in responsibility.

Source 2: Complaint For Injunctive and Declaratory Relief (Legal Document)

Newark Education Workers Caucus and Natural Resources Defense Council, INC., v City of Newark.Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief. June 26, 2018.

This source is a legal document filed by the Newark Education Workers Caucus and Natural Resources Defense Council against the City of Newark on June 26, 2018. This specific type of legal document means that the plaintiffs are asking the court to make an “official declaration of the status of a matter in controversy.” The document presents the lead problem in a stepwise manner, from when lead was first found to be elevated in Newark public high schools to the  Mayor’s response in which he assured residents that the lead was not a city wide problem. The document accuses the City of not monitoring lead levels, corrosion control treatments and for encouraging citizens to drink water during this lead crisis. This source will be used to figure out how environmental and grassroots teachers groups have fought back against the city for not doing its job in protecting the interests of the problem, by using the power of the legal system. The specific legal argument will be used in my project to frame the ways in which the city is failing to respond effectively and subsequent court documents will show if the lawsuit will be successful or not.

Source 3: “In Echo of Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Now Hits Newark” by Liz Leyden (NYTimes Article)

Leyden, Liz. “In Echo of Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Now Hits Newark.” The New York Times, October 30, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2019.

This source is a newspaper article which draws parallels between the lead crisis in Flint to that of in Newark. The main similarity with Flint highlights the role of the city government. Just as in Flint, the Newark City government denied that lead was a problem (despite mounting pressures and evidence to the contrary). As the article describes, the City is still not taking full responsibility for how it handled the issue and maintains that the water is safe. The article cites a wide range of entities, the city, plaintiffs filing a lawsuit against the city and residents of Newark. This source will be used to see how the media is drawing parallels between Flint’s water problem and Newark’s. I will also use the source to evaluate the city’s response and the response of the people to that of the city’s. I will also consider the pictures in the article for my image analysis.