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'Flint Town': Netflix Chronicles Liberalism’s Tragic Disaster

In the 2016 campaign, Democrats decided Flint, Michigan, was going to be the centerpiece evidence of uncaring Republicanism. To Michigan residents, it seemed an odd choice. Even in Flint’s surrounding suburbs, blaming anyone but Flint for Flint’s problems fell on deaf ears.

But this crisis seemed too good to go to waste. So Bernie and Hillary trooped over and joined the chorus that Republicans had poisoned Flint. It was a little like blaming the chaos in Somalia on the U.S. troops who came to feed people.

Flint’s descent into anarchy was decades in the making.  Leadership in the city and county was made up of a toxic combination of union and ethnic politics that drove away business and hindered law enforcement. Local Democrats were in charge every step of the way -- except when governors, both Republican and Democrat, sent financial managers to restore some fiscal guidelines to prevent total collapse.

The Netflix documentary Flint Town chronicles the results. It is not primarily a political history, but an incredibly candid look at trying to bring law and order to a city where the last shred of trust in institutions has broken down, and the police force is woefully undermanned.

The focus is on an old-school cop, Tim “Two Guns” Johnson, brought out of retirement to try to stem the tide in a city where the bad guys knew they had little to fear from a police force overwhelmed by numbers.

In the late 1980s, when Flint had nearly three times the sworn officers they have now, I used to do third-shift ride-alongs with a patrol officer buddy of mine. One night, several people called in sick and the shift was extremely short-handed -- only two officers showed up.

One was Tim Johnson.

The plan was to show a lot of presence, so the bad guys wouldn’t know. At the time, I didn’t know Tim Johnson, but I remember his name, because I heard it on the radio. All night long.

My buddy would occasionally chuckle and say: “There goes Supercop.”

Flint Town viewers meet Johnson as he becomes Flint’s new chief of police. By the time of his appointment, his department is as short-handed as that one-third shift patrol was 30 years ago.

But now, the bad guys know it. Everyone knows it.

As Flint Town opens, we meet Officer Bridgette Balasko, as she responds to days-old 911 calls. Victims complain as much about the FPD as they do the person who broke into their house. Balasko tells us she came to Flint for the action, figuring it’s a fast track to a federal job because of all the experience she will get.

She’s working third-shift patrol. Responding to calls for help. Alone.