Guns heading to online auction in hopes of bringing more money to Flint
FLINT, MI – A number of guns are heading to an online auction after Flint City Council members said yes to a request from Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson to sell a stockpile of firearm inventory.

A number of guns confiscated by the Flint Police Department from efforts early 2017. (Photo Courtesy of City of Flint)

Johnson said he didn’t have details as to exactly how many guns but did say it could be thousands and he was told the inventory was worth an estimated $500,000 including collector’s pieces like a Sterling sub machine gun.

“It’s a fully automatic weapon,” Johnson said. “It reminds you of the Bonnie and Clyde days.”

The council voted on April 24, 2017 approving a resolution from Johnson to sell the gun inventory using a Lapeer based online auctioneer.

Johnson said their inventory room is full firearms the police department has acquired by a number of means including confiscation from at least 20 to 30 years.

“The room is filled to capacity,” Johnson said. “Gun cabinets are full to the top, guns are sitting in the floor area and there are guns in roll around garbage cans.”

On April 19, 2017, Johnson’s resolution came before committee where some council members said they were against the move including Eric Mays and Jackie Poplar. Both said during an April 24, 2017 city council meeting that they changed their minds after talking to Johnson about their concerns.

“If we don’t do what is on the table then the guns go to the (Michigan State Police) and they may not be as diligent as we are…this is a one time only,” said Poplar. “We are not getting into selling guns online each week. There’s an inventory. The city needs money. The crooks are always going to have guns. They are selling them illegally everyday. You can basically go to any 12-year-old child in the city of Flint and they can tell you where to buy a gun. That’s another story within itself. I’m doing it for the one time.”

The resolution passed with a 6 to 3 vote.

Council President Kerry Nelson, Vice President Vicki VanBuren and council members Scott Kincaid, Herbert Winfrey, Mays and Popular voted in favor of selling the gun inventory. Council members Wantwaz Davis, Monica Galloway and Kate Fields said no.

“I respect the fact that we could earn $500,000 that would go into the general fund,” said Galloway. “But I have some reservations…If one of these guns that the city places on the internet to be auctioned off ended up in the wrong hands and somebody’s child is taken you can’t put a value on that.”

Under the agreement with Cole Auction House the city would receive 92 percent of the sales of the guns and the auction house would get 8 percent. Johnson asked that the money be put in Flint’s general fund.

Flint City Council appoints residents to Community Block Grant funds advisory council
FLINT, MI — The Flint City Council appointed community members to the advisory council that oversees  recommendations for the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds.

The council voted 8 to 1 to appoint seven residents to the City Wide Advisory Council, the group that makes recommendations to the Flint City Council regarding Community Development Block Grant funds.

Councilman Eric Mays was the sole no vote on April 24, 2017 for the seven appointees after the council moved to vote on all of the appointees in one resolution.

“These are in fact political appointments,” Mays said. “If you bunch them up I don’t know if I want to vote yes on all of them…I’m not (voting) for them grouped together.”

The City Wide Advisory Committee was eliminated under Emergency Manager Mike Brown in 2012. The council reestablished the committee as the City Wide Advisory Council in 2016.

Each councilperson gets to appoint one person to the City Wide Advisory Council while Mayor Karen Weaver’s office appoints two people to the advisory council. On April 24, 2017 Weaver’s office had not submitted appointments saying they had not had enough time to review the information.

Council members Scott Kincaid and Wantwaz Davis also had not submitted appointees.

Appointees

Ward 1: Shawn Harrison

Ward 2: Arthur Woodson

Ward 3: Gary Byas

Ward 4: Aurora Sauceda

Ward 6: Billie Dantzler

Ward 7: Lee Black

Ward 8: Braun Daly

Council and mayor at odds over Flint’s damage claim policy
FLINT, MI — Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson says he is set to call a special meeting after Mayor Karen Weaver vetoed a resolution to have damage claims $2,500 or more come before council for approval.

“She has been pushing to keep it at $10,000,” Nelson said. “At the end of the day all we’re saying is we are doing our job. I am hoping my colleagues are on board with this. I am going to vote to override her veto…It’s nothing more than being responsible. I have no idea why the mayor would veto this.””

For nearly a month some Flint City Council members have been in talks with Flint’s legal department regarding the city’s damage claim policy.

The council submitted a resolution asking that damage claims $2,500 or more come before council while Weaver’s administration submitted a resolution asking that the limit be set at $10,000 or more.

Council members voted 8 to 1on April 24, 2017 in a city council meeting in favor of the $2,500 or more resolution while Weaver’s resolution never made it past committee.

“I anticipate that the resolution will pass by my colleagues…I call it the Eric Mays (rule),” said Mays of the council’s damage claim resolution. “I don’t think that’s how you should make legislation. I think you should make rules based on what needs to happen.”

Mays, the sole no vote, said he feels the move was made because council members did not support a $4,500 damage claim payout he received last year after being handcuffed and removed from an August 2016 special city council meeting. He received payment in September 2016  for the claim, minus $534.02 he owed in Flint property taxes and a water and sewer debt of $654.47. According to settlement documents the payment was approved by former City Attorney Stacy Erwin Oakes.

Council members did not find out about the settlement until after it was paid.

Nelson said he expects the issue to resurface at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting on May 8, 2017 at Flint City Hall.

According to city charter if the council overrides the mayor’s veto the $2,500 damage claim resolution approved by council members on April 24 should move forward.

 

 

 

Flint officials issue a water scam alert

Flint, MI — Flint city officials are looking into a report of an alleged scammer posing as a representative of the City’s Customer Service department seeking to collect payment on a water bill. The incident appears to be isolated. However, as a precaution officials want to alert residents to be aware of the issue.

A Flint water customer reported getting a call from a person who claimed to be a City of Flint employee. The customer says they were asked to provide their credit card number to make a payment over the phone and avoid having their water service shut off.  

Residents should know that legitimate Flint Customer Service Center and Water Service employees do not ask for or collect payments, credit card or bank information over the phone, or via email. If someone claiming to be a City employee asks for this information hang up and report the call to authorities.    

Other Suggested Tips for Customers to Avoid being Scammed: 
– Never give out personal information, credit card numbers, or wire money as a result of an unsolicited call or email if you cannot validate the authenticity.
– Be suspicious if the caller insists on the use of cash or a pre-paid debit card to make an immediate payment. Utilities provide many options for payment.

Any citizen who suspects they may have been contacted by a scammer is urged to contact the City of Flint Customer Service Center at 766-7470 to report the incident. 

(Article courtesy of the City of Flint.)                                                               

Flint & Genesee Job Fair to Provide Access to Employers, Community Resources

FLINT, MI –  More than 20 employers looking to fill entry-level positions will meet with job seekers during the Flint & Genesee Job Fair, to be held Friday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Baker College of Flint. Check-in will be located at the student center.

In addition to on-site interviews, the job fair – open to adults 18 and older – will offer access to a variety of community resources, including career preparation, financial and health services.

“This event aims to be a one-stop shop for job seekers,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “Not only will it offer participants the opportunity to interview with multiple employers, it will put them in front of agencies that can assist in advancing their careers.”

For example, Michigan Secretary of State will provide information about securing a state-issued ID card, change-of-address forms and more. Additionally, barbers and stylists from Park Place Studio in Flint will provide on-site haircuts and other hair services to job applicants.

Other participating agencies include:

Confirmed employers thus far include:

Job seekers should dress professionally and bring several copies of their resumes to the job fair. Walk-ins are welcome, although applicants are encouraged to register by Friday, April 21 at www.flintandgenesee.org/jobfair.

People who would like to attend pre-employment training prior to the job fair are encouraged to check out Career Edge. The free workshop series will be held this week at Southwestern Classical Academy and GST Michigan Works. For more information, visit www.flintandgenesee.org/career-edge.

Judge set to rule on language to recall Flint mayor
FLINT, MI – A Genesee County judge is set to rule on whether or not recall efforts to remove Flint Mayor Karen Weaver from office can move forward.

Genesee County 7th Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey Neithercut will hold a hearing April 24, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. to review an appeal filed by Weaver against language to remove her from office over the city’s controversial trash contract.

The language, filed by Flint resident Arthur Woodson, was approved by the Genesee County Election Commission on March 8, and then appealed on March 17 by Weaver’s attorney Kendall Williams.

Weaver had 10 days from the approval to file an appeal.

Woodson’s language read, “Mayor Karen Weaver, on September 22, 2016 signed an emergency waste collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Service(s).”

In June 2016, Weaver’s administration asked the council to approve a $17.9-million contract with Rizzo Environmental Services but council members questioned the company’s integrity and later voted 8 to 1 not to support Weaver’s recommendation.

Flint City Council members and Weaver’s team finally reached an agreement to continue using Republic Waste Services to haul Flint’s trash shortly after October 2016 reports that Rizzo was at the center of a federal corruption investigation in Macomb County.

Woodson’s approved language represents the fourth attempt to remove Weaver.

Woodson initially submitted recall language on January 23, 2017.  On January 27 he withdrew that language saying he met with Weaver to address his concerns.

He submitted the Feb. 24 language after he said that Weaver did not keep promises made at the meeting.  Weaver has not confirmed that she met with Woodson and FlintBeat.com could not immediately reach the mayor for comment.

If the language makes it through court, Woodson will have 60 days to collect signatures in hopes of getting the recall put on the November ballot along with Flint’s city council race. He would need to collect equal to or more than 25 percent of the city’s last governor’s election turnout.

Health officials warn of third bacterium since Flint’s water crisis
FLINT, MI – One Flint woman says she hasn’t been able to safely go into her home since December 2016 after researchers found a rare bacterium in her water.

“I’ve been screaming about it on and off on my Facebook page since November,” said Florlisa Stebbins. “My doctors say they will never be able to completely remove this bacteria from my lung.”

The Genesee County Health Department issued a media release April 19, 2017 warning residents of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia – the rare bacteria found in one of Stebbins’ lungs.

In November she said she was recovering from bout of Pneumonia when she found herself coughing violently.

“I was standing at the sink washing dishes when I started coughing so bad that I couldn’t catch my breath,” said Stebbins, 39. “My family had to rush me to the hospital. I couldn’t breathe.”

According lab reports dated Nov. 29, 2016, doctors found Stenotrophomonas maltophilia also known as Steno in one of Stebbins’ lungs.

She blames the water.

Stebbins says researchers found Steno in her water late last year.

She lives in a culdesac on Flint’s north side near the dead end of her block next to one of two vacant homes on the street.

On Monday, April 10, 2017 city officials installed a hydrant flusher on Stebbins’ street.

According to an April 20, 2017 email from Flint’s spokeswoman Kristin Moore, officials installed the hydrant flusher to make sure the residents had good chlorine levels.

“I contacted the supervisor of the Water Service Center who says…a hydrant flusher was installed at the end of (the street) to ensure good chlorine residual,” Moore wrote. “He says at time of installation the chlorine residual was .77 ppm which is excellent and it will continue to increase with the hydrant flusher running.”

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays said he spoke with Stebbins about her issues and had talked to other city officials about the problems residents have on Stebbins’ street.

“I paid attention to her because she is in my ward,” Mays said. “I talked to her and neighbors and found out she had to go to Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and had to move out of her house. I take that seriously…I believe people aren’t just sick. I believe people have died too. I’m not naïve.”

Mays said he has talked to city officials about Stebbins’ issues. He said he believes that people throughout the city have been plagued with bacteria, rashes and respiratory issues since the city’s water crisis.

“You will be a fool to believe that people have not been affected by certain aspects of the water,” Mays said. “It’s some bacteria issues based off just the people’s system.”

This is at least the third bacterium warning since Flint stopped using Detroit for its water source and switched to the Flint River in 2014.

In 2016 health officials announced that Genesee County had an influx of Legionnaires’ disease cases that left at least 12 people dead. They also later that year warned people of another bacteria called Shigellosis, which caused bloody diarrhea and fever.

Genesee County Health Officer Mark Valacak said Steno is not a reportable bacteria and he did not have information on the number of cases and if there had been any reported deaths from Flint’s latest bacteria.

“Steno is something you typically find in hospitals,” Valack said during an April 18, 2017 interview just a day before the Health Department released their warning. “We would have to contact hospitals to see if there were any cases in Genesee County.”

“Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a multidrug-resistant organism that is most commonly associated with respiratory tract infections,” says the April 19 warning. “While Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a rare cause of infection, it is becoming more common among hospitalized individuals with weakened immune systems. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is generally not considered dangerous for healthy individuals and usually infects those who are critically ill or immunocompromised.”

As it stands, Stebbins is living with her boyfriend and said she does not allow her children to go into their home at all.

She keeps a mask in her car just in case she has to go into the home but typically only stops to pick up mail.

“Look,” Stebbins said as she held up her mask while standing in her driveway. “I need a mask to go into my house. I refuse to believe that it’s safe to go in there without it.”

For more information review the Genesee County Health Department warning below.

 

Stenotrophomonas-4-19-17-1 by Jiquanda Johnson on Scribd

Fanny’s Journey

What: Jewish Film Festival Preview

Fanny’s Journey (France, 2016) Directed by Lola Doillon, 94 min., subtitled, not rated

A resourceful girl leads a band of orphans through Nazi-occupied France. This free screening at 7:00p is a preview of the annual Karen Schneider Jewish Film Festival of Flint, to be presented by the Flint Jewish Federation and the FIA April 30 through May 4.

When: Thursday, April 20, 2017 

Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm (2h)

Where: FIA Theater

 

Public Invited to ‘Meet the Masters’ During 2017 ArtQuest Exhibition

FLINT, MI – Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and Dale Chihuly are just some of the master artists that YouthQuest students have been studying in preparation for ArtQuest, an annual art exhibition hosted by the afterschool and summer enrichment program.

As part of this year’s theme, “Meet the Masters,” YouthQuest students have learned about the history of a different artist each month, and then applied that artist’s techniques to projects of their own. More than 1,000 of the resulting pieces will be on display during ArtQuest, which will be held at Diplomat’s Corporate Headquarters, at 4100 Saginaw St., Flint.

“If we want to foster creativity, critical thinking and inventiveness among our children and teens, then teaching the arts is a must,” said LaKeitha Givens, Program Director for YouthQuest, which serves more than 2,000 students in Flint and Genesee County each year. “Considering the important role art has on a child’s development, we are committed to providing students with quality, hands-on art projects, music lessons and clubs that promote dance and other enrichment activities.”

In addition to art and enrichment activities, YouthQuest also places emphasis on academic support, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), physical fitness, nutrition, youth development and leadership, and family and community engagement.

Over the course of ArtQuest, more than 1,500 students will visit Diplomat to see their art on display. They will also participate in a variety of make-and-take activities and watch and/or perform in live performances of African drumming, violin and more.

The program will also bring in “local masters” – including Jordan Barnett, Kate Costea, Ryan Gregory and Lavarne Ross – for live demonstrations of their work.

“ArtQuest presents a great opportunity for students to engage and connect with the community as they show off their hard work,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which manages YouthQuest. “We encourage the public to ask questions like, ‘Who was your favorite artist to learn about, and why?’”

The exhibition will be open to the public from 4-6 p.m. each day. Admission is free. For more information, click here.

(Article courtesy of the Flint & Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the Chamber click here.)