Crystal City, population 7,138, isn't your typical sleepy southwest Texas town. Two weeks ago, the FBI arrested every city official but one for allegedly taking bribes and agreeing to look the other way for an illegal gambling ring operator. The month before that, another councilman was arrested on charges of human trafficking.
Then, just a few days ago, mayor Ricardo Lopez, who had already been hit with bribery charges, allegedly "incit[ed] a riot" during a city council meeting recess after he got in an argument with an angry crowd. When the police hauled him to jail to charge him with hindering proceedings with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, they found a Vicodin pill—a controlled substance—on his person. He was subsequently charged with possession of a prohibited controlled substance in a penal facility. Talk about a bad couple weeks at the office.
As if shit weren't already hitting the fan in Crystal City, according to ABC KSAT 12, they're only getting worse for the small town, which now has black tar-like stuff coming out of the city water system.
— NaphiSoc (@NaphiSoc) February 19, 2016
In what's probably a sign of the end times, residents in Crystal City began posting pictures of dark, black and brownish water running from their taps. In photos, the stuff almost looks like oil.
The city—maybe the one guy left in office—said that the cause of the dark water was sediment that was being flushed into distribution lines when the city water tower was drained to be worked on. They recommend boiling the water, which may kill off any bugs but likely won't turn black sludge into crystal-clear H2O.
"We didn't get a proper warning," Crystal City resident Nora Flores-Guerrero told ABC KSAT 12. "They didn't post anything or sent out any type of message to warn the residents. It was pretty scary."
Flores-Guerrero was lucky, as her water just stank. Her neighbors had it worse.
"It looked like black sludge," she said.
The city water/wastewater superintendent Carlos Ramirez told ABC KSAT 12 that the tower hadn't been cleaned in 20 or 30 years, and they didn't anticipate all the sediment, even though they probably should have since it hadn't been cleaned in more than a generation. The city didn't warn residents about the maintenance, and they didn't make a statement explaining the problem until Thursday on the city Facebook page. But as some people noted, not everyone uses Facebook.
Schools let out early on Thursday because of the water issue, and superintendent Imelda Allen told the local news station that she didn't receive any warning from City Hall.
"It's certainly a concern, but I also knew that right now, there's not really anyone in charge to oversee and to make people aware of the condition of the water," she said. "So I wasn't going to wait for anyone to call me from city hall."
— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) February 19, 2016
Although Crystal City's water problem isn't as bad as the current crisis in Flint, Michigan—which has led to thousands of its citizens, including children, being exposed to lead poisoning—people are upset. In both cases, water quality has suffered at the hands of dysfunctional government. With Crystal City's city hall empty and unrest brewing, perhaps someone can tap into the building anger. A platform of "not in jail" should work.