County clerk says recall efforts likely to move forward despite Flint mayor’s challenge

FLINT, MI — Mayor Karen Weaver is challenging recall signatures submitted in hopes to remove her from office.

According to the Genesee County Clerk’s Office, Weaver is contesting at least 1,200 of 5,951 signatures certified by Flint City Clerk Inez Brown’s office.

Weaver filed paperwork challenging the signatures on July 31, 2017 – The last day she had to challenge the 5,951 signatures verified by Brown’s office.

“As Mayor of City of Flint, Michigan, who is the subject of the Recall Petition filed by Arthur Woodson…I challenge the validity and genuineness of the signatures of the petition circulators and petition signers as described herein pursuant to MCL 168.961a,” read Weaver’s challenge.

In the mayor’s challenge, she claims that the process is questionable including the review process in the City Clerk’s office.

“A review of the dates of several hundred petition signatures, even by a lay person, reveals that the dates were written by someone other than the petition signers,” said the recall challenge. “It appears that petition circulators may have requested that petition signers not date their petition signatures. This is prohibited by the statute.”

On June 30, 2017, Woodson turned in 780 petitions with 8,848 signatures. The County Clerk’s office signed off on 8,051 of those signatures before turning them over to Brown’s office for verification.

Brown’s office approved 5,951 of the signatures. She had until June 24, 2017, to verify and turn the signatures back over to County Clerk, John Gleason’s office. Brown’s office submitted the 5,951 signatures to Gleason’s office on July 21, 2017. Woodson needed 5,750 signatures to put the recall effort on the November 2017 ballot.

Gleason says he believes Brown did a thorough verification process of the signatures and the recall will likely show up on the November 2017 ballot.

“There will be no stall tactics, none,” said Gleason. “They can’t run the clock out. They don’t have the ability to keep this off the ballot. Their deadline is over. The clerk typically does a thorough job in matters like this.”

Gleason said the issue is likely to show up on the November ballot. His office has to review the 1,200 signatures Weaver is challenging. If Gleason confirms that the signatures are valid, then Weaver can still take the issue to court.

According to documents, Weaver’s legal team hired SPECKIN, a company that analyzes signatures. The forensic analyst, Robert D. Kullman reported that in his opinion, that there are discrepancies.

“My examination revealed changed/altered dates within the circulator signature block, dates on the signature lines that were after the date in the circulator signature block, information in the signature lines (addresses, zip codes, dates) that were not written by the signer.”

Kullman was asked to check to see if any signatures were dated prior to May 2, 2017, if circulator signatures were written by someone other than the circulator, if dates were changed or altered, if signature lines were dated after the date in the circulator signature block and if information in the signature lines were written by someone else other than the signer.

Woodson initially submitted recall language on Jan. 23, 2017. On January 27 he withdrew that language.

He filed his more language in February pointing at the city’s controversial trash dispute as for the reason. Woodson’s approved language was the fourth attempt to remove Weaver.

“They are using thug tactics to fight this recall,” said Woodson. “The real question is why are they trying to fight this so hard? If the people want to keep her in office she let the people decide in November. This move again shows their inability to follow the law and their blatant disrespect to the citizens of Flint. My team will continue to fight this corruption. This is why we are pushing for this recall.”

Woodson’s language read:

“Mayor Karen Weaver, on September 22, 2016, signed an emergency waste collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Service(s),” reads the language filed with the Genesee County Clerk’s Office on Feb. 24.

The trash dispute lingered for months as Flint City Council members and Weaver’s administration fought over whom would haul Flint’s garbage.

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 to not support Weaver’s recommendation.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays was the sole supporter of Weaver’s recommendation.

Ultimately, the council and Weaver’s team came to 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.

Weaver said she is focused on doing her job and declined to comment on the recall issue.

“I am going to continue doing the job I was elected to do and will not be distracted,” said Weaver in a July 21, 2017, email statement.

 

 

 

Officials say Flint will have four state-run water sites “indefinitely”

FLINT, MI – Mayor Karen Weaver and state officials say Flint will have at least four state-run water distribution sites also known as Points of Distribution sites or PODs “indefinitely.”

“Flint residents have spoken out,” Weaver said during a July 26, 2017, press conference at Flint City Hall regarding the city’s water crisis. “We’ve talked about not wanting the PODs to close. We don’t want the bottled water and the filters to go away. We want those to continue to be provided and the grassroots organizations and residents have joined forces to express their concerns about the health and well being of our community.”

The move comes after a Tuesday, July 25, 2017, meeting Weaver and a group of local pastors had with Gov. Rick Snyder and state staff.

“On behalf of Gov. Snyder I want to reiterate the state’s commitment to both supporting the mayor and her leadership in serving the residents of Flint,” said Snyder’s senior adviser Richard Baird who was at both the July 25 meeting and the July 26 press conference. “The Mayor was right when she said we heard the concerns of the community loud and clear. We’re able to look at…options to continue with a plan to operate at least four pods…make no mistake about Flint’s water quality has been restored.”

A lawsuit settlement with the state, Concerned Pastors for Social Action and community activist, Melissa Mays agreed to allow the state to end PODs in Flint if the city’s water met federal standards for two consecutive six-month monitoring periods.

“Just because the settlement says you can close the pods doesn’t mean you should,” said Weaver. “I’m pleased to say state officials have heard our voices as well and they’ve agreed to keep some of the PODs open indefinitely…and that’s great news for the people of Flint.”

Weaver was also joined by Keith Creagh, former director of Michigan DEQ, Capt. Chris Kelenske who serves as deputy state director for the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division during the July 26 press conference.

“The water quality has met and has actually (fallen) below the federal level the past 12 months,” said Kelenske. “That means we can legally close the PODs as others have discussed but we are not going to do that.”

According to state and local officials, Flint’s water test at 7 parts per billion which below the federal action level of 15 ppb allowed by the EPA.

“The Flint water system, thanks to great efforts by people at the water plant and those who have responsibility for the water its made dramatic improvements,” said Creagh. “As you may have heard, Flint’s water certainly is one of the most monitored water systems in the US with respect to lead and the city’s water quality is the same as similar cities across the state and country.”

Beginning Aug. 11 the state will start closing PODs in Flint’s second and third wards.

“In no way shape or form should Flint be losing any PODs. In the midst of this crisis and Flint is still in a crisis, no POD should be closed,” said Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson. “As long as we have to use filters the PODs should be in place. Again, the council was not at the table. I did not receive any invitation to participate in a meeting with the Mayor and the Governor. We should be part of the conversation. This decision impacts our wards.” Nelson represents the third ward on Flint’s north side.

In September Flint’s fifth, seventh and eighth wards will lose state-run PODs while sites in the city’s first, fourth and sixth wards will remain open leaving at least one POD on the north, south, east and west sides of Flint.

Kelenske said a number of factors were used in the decision as to which PODs would be kept open including average number visits and ability to accommodate increased traffic. Kelenske added that Officials said various communications including fliers, radio and television advertising and website updates will be made to help residents prepare and transition from having nine PODs to having four by fall.

So far, officials say the state is spending about $2 million per month in water distribution in Flint.

There are no details as to what “indefinitely” means for Flint residents but Pastor Wallace Hill who represented the Concerned Pastors for Social Action during the press conference said the decision to keep PODs in Flint was partly because some Flint residents still have concerns and trust issues regarding the city’s water crisis and whether their water is safe to drink.

“We’re not really certain how long it will be,” Hill said. “We think that the water is okay but the trust factor of our residents is not there and we don’t want to pull the rug out (from under them). People have to grow into and accept the fact that the water is okay.”

Mayor Weaver set to hold a press conference after meeting with Gov. Snyder about water PODS

FLINT, MI — Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will hold a press conference Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in the Flint City Hall lobby at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the future of state-run Point of Distribution Sites (PODS) used to distribute water to Flint residents.

According to July 25, 2017 media advisory, Weaver along with local pastors met with Gov. Rick Snyder today, Tuesday, July 25, 2017 to discuss the future of the PODs in Flint.

Weaver will be joined by Keith Creagh, former director of Michigan DEQ, Capt. Chris Kelenske who serves as deputy state director for the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and Snyder’s adviser Richard Baird for the July 26 press conference to discuss the future of the state-run PODs.

School supply drive kicks off for Flint students

Flint, MI — The Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association has teamed up with Leadership NOW’s 2016 cohort to collect school supplies, as part of a partnership to build community and support local students.

“Our neighborhood association provides enough supplies for at least 100 students at Brownell and Holmes STEM Academies each fall,” said Jeanette Edwards, President of the Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association. “We’re hoping to grow that number with the help of our partners.”

Fast Food and School Performance

This year, the supplies will be distributed to children who attend the grand opening of the Brownell-Holmes Community Library on Aug. 23.

If you or your business is interested donating supplies, please drop off any of the following items to the Oak Business Center, at 2712 N. Saginaw St., Suite 118, in Flint by Aug. 10:

  • Backpacks
  • Notebooks
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Washcloths

The partnership between the Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association and Leadership NOW is a result of the leadership program’s requirement to design and launch a sustainable, collaborative community project. More details about the library project will be provided in the next issue of Inside Business.

(Story Courtesy of the Flint & Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the Chamber visit their website here. For more information about Leadership Now click here.)

Nearly 6,000 signatures verified to move forward with recall efforts against Flint’s mayor

(Updated with comment from Flint Mayor Karen Weaver)

FLINT, MI — City officials have determined that 5,951 of nearly 9,000 signatures submitted to recall Flint Mayor Karen Weaver are valid.

Flint resident Arthur Woodson turned in 780 petitions with nearly 9,000 signatures in hopes of recalling Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

Arthur Woodson, the man seeking to remove Weaver from office, turned in nearly 8,848 signatures after canvassing Flint neighborhoods for nearly 60 days with volunteers supporting Weaver’s recall.

On June 30, 2017, Woodson submitted 780 petition sheets to the Genesee County Clerk’s office. County Clerk John Gleason’s signed off on about 8,100 of those signatures that had to be verified by Flint City Clerk Inez Brown’s office.

Brown had until June 24, 2017, to verify and turn the signatures back over to Gleason’s office. Her office signed off on 5,951 of the estimated 8,100 signatures.

“I don’t find any pleasure in having to recall Flint’s mayor,” Woodson said. “But I can’t support what’s going on at city hall.” Woodson had to collect 5,750 signatures to put the issue on the November ballot with Flint’s city council race where Weaver could face challengers seeking to take her seat.

The  Genesee County Clerk’s office says Weaver has until July 31, 2017, to challenge the signatures.

Weaver said she is staying focused on work despite efforts to remove her from office.

“I am going to continue doing the job I was elected to do and will not be distracted,” said Weaver in a July 21email statement.

Woodson initially submitted recall language on Jan. 23, 2017. On January 27 he withdrew that language.

He filed his more language in February pointing at the city’s controversial trash dispute as for the reason. Woodson’s approved language was the fourth attempt to remove Weaver.

Woodson’s language read:

“Mayor Karen Weaver, on September 22, 2016, signed an emergency waste collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Service(s),” reads the language filed with the Genesee County Clerk’s Office on Feb. 24.

The trash dispute lingered for months as Flint City Council members and Weaver’s administration fought over whom would haul Flint’s garbage.

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 to not support Weaver’s recommendation.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays was the sole supporter of Weaver’s recommendation.

Ultimately, the council and Weaver’s team came to 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.

 

Initiative aims to help Flint’s senior community connect to water crisis resources

FLINT, MI – The Valley Area Agency on Aging is hosting the second of four events this summer through their Flint Senior Lives Matter initiative aimed at helping people ages 60 and older navigate through Flint’s water crisis.

“We recognized very early on that the seniors in this community were profoundly affected by the water crisis,” said Loraine Travis, program manager for the agency, also known as VAAA. “This is an opportunity to educate the seniors who are receiving Flint water.”

This month’s event is set for Friday, July 21, 2017 at Calvary Church located at 2111 Flushing Road from 12:30 – 3 p.m.

Each Flint Seniors Lives Matter event will feature information and resource areas, updates on the water service line replacement process, presentations by local experts and cooking demonstrations.

VAAA provides answers, action and advocacy on care for seniors and disabled adults in Genesee, Lapeer and Shiawassee Counties. Travis said thanks to funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation, VAAA is able to hold the events throughout the summer.

“A lot of the seniors feel helpless with this situation,” Travis said. “The whole premise is to educate seniors.”

A number of presenters and vendors will available including Genesee Health Systems and United Way of Genesee. In addition, the first 200 participants will received a grocery store gift card, there will be information on dental care, in home stress counseling and a food giveaway from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan while supplies last.

For more information contact Pam Moore at the Valley Area Agency on Aging at (810) 239-7671.

Details

The Valley Area Agency On Aging will hold four Flint Senior Lives Matter events throughout the summer. See dates, times and locations below.

Calvary Church, 2111 Flushing Road
July 21, 2017
12:30 – 3 p.m.

Brennan Senior Center, 1301 Pingree Avenue
August 23, 2017
12:30 – 3 p.m.

Asbury Church, 1653 Davison Road
September 28, 2017
12:30 – 3p.m.

Get to know Flint – ‘Be a Tourist in Your Home Town’

FLINT, MI — Several new attractions will headline the 5th Annual “Be a Tourist in Your Home Town” on July 15.

This year’s venues include stops at the Durant-Dort Factory One, Factory Two, Ferris Wheel Building, Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center and the new Treehouse at For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum. In all, nearly three-dozen venues will participate in the one-day excursion that gives residents and non-residents alike the opportunity to experience some of the best of what the community has to offer – all for only $1.

Presented by the Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the event takes place July 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from its hub at the Chamber offices in the Mott Foundation Building, 519 S. Saginaw St.

“Tourists” purchase passports that grants access to more than two dozen venues throughout Flint. The passports are also valid for a 10-percent discount on food and soft drink purchases at a dozen restaurants in downtown Flint. Complimentary transportation between attractions is provided by co-sponsor Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) on designated MTA “Tourist” buses.

“This is a fantastic event, and a great way to get re-acclimated with Flint and Genesee County,” said CVB Director DeAndra McCain. “It’s a chance to see some of the fun things that community has to offer as well as an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the area businesses or organizations that are helping to move our region forward.”

Additional participating venues: Applewood Estate, Edible Flint Demonstration Garden, Flint Children’s Museum, Flint Farmers’ Market, Flint Handmade Summer Arts & Crafts Street Fair, Flint Public Library, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s Hunger Solution Center, For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum, Emflower, Genesee County Gospel Festival, Greater Flint Arts Council, Knob Hill Bed & Breakfast, Longway Planetarium, MTA Downtown Transportation Center, McFarlan Veterans Memorial Park, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Michigan School for the Deaf, M-W Gallery, Sloan Museum, Stockton Center at Spring Grove Museum, Superintendent’s Cottage, Totem Books, Whaley Historic House Museum, The Whiting, UAW Sit Down Strike Memorial, University of Michigan-Flint, Frances Willson Thompson Library & Genesee Historical Collections Center, and more.

Last year’s event drew a record crowd of 1,028 participants, with attendance up by more than 5 percent over 2015.

Passports for 2017 can be purchased online HERE. The passports can be picked at the Chamber office on the day of the event, where tourists will also receive their maps and catch the MTA shuttle.

Flint playwright says he plans to inspire the city one play at a time

FLINT, MI — Laughter and inspiration is needed in this city, says one Flint area man – And he plans to bring it one play at a time.

Local playwright, Andrew L. Aikins, is set to debut his latest work “God Kissed It, The Devil Missed” it at the University of Michigan-Flint Theatre on July 7, 2017 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Andrew L. Aikins (Courtesy Photo)

Aikins, 45, grew up in Flint and describes his play as inspirational yet comedic.

“All of my plays are inspirational,” said Aikins. “With the Flint Water Crisis and all of the negative attention the city has received it’s good to give people something to laugh at.”

Aikins launched his company, Andrew Aikins Productions, nearly six years ago but says he started writing plays in elementary school.

“When I was in elementary school I would write plays and give my cousins parts and they would act them out,” Aikins said. “ I have written church production and school productions. As I got older my writing went into me doing music. I always wrote.”

He has collaborated with other playwrights, producers and promoters throughout the years but only produces plays written by him under his production company.

In 2015, he collaborated with promoter Eballer Smith to bring play, “Nothin’ But Love – Forgiveness,” to The Whiting Auditorium. Aikins is also a 2014 and 2015 Fli-City Award.

“God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It” is a story of relationship challenges that young couples face as they try to find love and follow God’s will.

“My plays are based on real life experiences,” Aikins said. “My own experience. A lot of the meat of my stories is things that I’ve already been through and experienced and how I overcame them because I wasn’t always saved.”

He will introduce the audience to confusion and love nearly lost and a character that he knows all to well.

“JP is a big part of my past,” said Aikins of the character that has been labeled the player. “When you see him you are going to hate him. That was me for a number of years before I settle down and decided to get married…Marriage kind of evens you out… Especially when you have a successful marriage. Every marriage has its problems but when you find that combination and works, and it’s a God-fearing union and it’s ordained by God, when you get that match up it evens you out. I think clearer. I think faster. I make decisions and I have so much confidence in my decisions because of that.”

Aikins wife of 13 years, Sherida Aikins, 43, said it’s a family business.

“We step in wherever he needs help, she said. “There is never a dull moment with him. It’s not always easy but we get it done.” During productions you can find Sherida along with the couple’s five children helping out whether its reading lines, ticket sales or setting up the stage.

Most of his talent is drawn from word of mouth, connections and social media. But Aikins says Flint isn’t short of talent.

“We’ve got so much talent in Flint it’s ridiculous,” said Aikins. “You can throw a rock and hit somebody with talent in Flint. “We’ve got some of the best chefs, some of the best athletes, some of the best writers and some of the best actors and actresses. But the fear holds them back.”Aikins typically has a Flint-area cast giving local talent an opportunity to showcase their talents

“I have to give that boost of confidence then they fall in love with it,” Aikins said. “Once you fall in love with it, it becomes easy. Then I can groom you and you get you exactly where I need you.”

For more information about “God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It” click here or view details below.

Details

Stage play: “God Kissed It, The Devil Missed It”

When: Friday, July 7, 2017, doors open at 6: 30 p.m. with the play set to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: University of Michigan-Flint Theatre, 303 East Kearsley Street, Flint MI 48502
Cost: Tickets can be purchased at the door for $25

Genesee County Sheriff’s deputy rides RipStik ‘like a boss’

FLINT, MI — Kids in a Flint neighborhood put a Genesee County Sheriff Office deputy’s RipStik skills to the test on June 30, 2017 – And he did it like a “boss.”

“He saw the kids in the neighborhood riding and stopped and (asked) the kids would they laugh at him iif he fell,” said Flint resident Rob Williams who shot the video. “He got out of his patrol car and rode that board like a boss. As my daughter would say, ‘he killed it.'”

Williams said the deput’ skills surprised both him and his daughter.