Flint, MI – Eric Mays’ lawyer allegedly sent cease-and-desist letters to five Flint City Council members.
Councilmembers Ladel Lewis and Dennis Pfeiffer said they had not received the letters as of Thursday afternoon. Councilwomen Allie Herkenroder and Eva Worthing said they had not received the letters as of Wednesday night. Councilwoman Judy Priestley said she got a copy of the letter Thursday afternoon.
All of the above councilmembers who were sent letters are chairs of different city council committees. Herkenroder is council president, Lewis is chair of the Special Affairs Committee, Pfeiffer is chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, Priestley is chair of the Finance Committee and Worthing is chair of the Legislative Committee.
Wayne Pollock, a media representative for Mays’ attorney, said the letters were sent via email between 5:05 and 5:21 p.m. Wednesday night, during council’s finance committee meeting where Mays left early after receiving a warning from Priestley.
Mays said lawyers from the Lento Law Group approached him after watching videos of council meetings.
“They started out with a cease-and-desist letter and you know, we very well might end up in federal court,” Mays said.
The letters allege the councilmembers have “repeatedly and flagrantly violated the constitutional rights” of Mays.
Specifically, it says they have allegedly censored, stifled and suppressed Councilman Mays during open meetings, violating his first amendment rights and council rules.
The letters also allege that they “have, on more than one occasion, obstructed Councilman Mays in the fulfillment of his duties as Councilmember, refusing to let him meaningfully participate, and even going so far as to refuse his entry into the Council’s meeting chamber.”
The letters request that councilmembers permit Mays to participate freely in city council meetings, or else they will pursue further legal action like a lawsuit or injunctive relief.
“I think it’s discriminatory, it’s a different treatment,” Mays said. “I shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable going to council meetings to represent folks.”
In an emailed statement from John Fernandez, Mays’ lawyer, he said, “To silence Councilman Mays is to silence the citizens of the 1st Ward who elected him to represent them and to advocate on their behalf. Disagreement among politicians is a sign of a healthy democratic process. But politicians cross the line when their disagreement with a colleague turns into outright censorship, which is what we allege is happening here.”