Flint, MI — A City Councilwoman is proposing a rule to put a cap on meetings that have been known to go on for several hours.
“We are known for our record marathon meetings, and just because you are there long does not mean you’re getting business done,” said Flint City Councilwoman Dr. Ladel Lewis. “And so I wanted to put a cap on that because…staying in 10 to 12-hour meetings … it’s abuse.”
Lewis proposed capping council meetings at 10 p.m. during a May 4, 2022, council committee meeting in hopes to incentivize the council to work efficiently.
In October 2021, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley announced that city officials would be allowed to leave council meetings at 9 p.m. stating that the long meetings “impede on staff members’ ability to serve residents the following day rested and fully alert.”
Lewis said that announcement was “very telling.”
“So if the administration can’t be there past (9 p.m.), then it’s like, why are we still here past (10 p.m.)?” she said.
She added that some council members also have other responsibilities outside of the meetings.
“At least two of us have families at home with small children, and we can’t afford to do that,” Lewis said. “So hopefully, this will incentivize the body to not to waste time, to go in get the business done, and go home.”
The council did not act on the proposed rule. It will be part of several rule revisions that members have been working on since late last year.
On Nov. 15, 2021, Flint City Council Vice President Allie Herkenroder and Councilwoman Judy Priestley formed an ad hoc committee to work on revising the rules, which have been a source of conflict for the council.
The council held a special meeting to discuss the revisions on April 4, 2022, but it was cut short due to a lack of a quorum.
Before the council can adopt any rule revisions, they will need to hold a public hearing, but the resolution to set a public hearing has been repeatedly postponed as council members want more time to go over the revisions. Right now, the council plans to compile all of the proposed revisions and review them together in a future meeting.
Lewis said she is confident that the council will support her proposed rule.
“The majority of us, you know, we respect our time,” she said.
When asked if she thought the time cap could lead to the addition of more meetings to get city business done, Lewis said she doesn’t think that will happen.
“It’s going to force the council people to not…play games. There will be less filibustering, less point of order-ing,” Lewis said. “So now, we’re going to have to limit those (point of orders) and really stand by that because we’ve got to get out of here by 10 p.m.”
This change is much needed and I hope it’s passed soon. Our city is mired in petty rules and unnecessary personal conflicts. Until our leaders make serious changes in negative behaviors, Flint can’t ever thrive.
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