Flint, MI– In the second half of her first meeting as the new Flint city council president, Kate Fields removed one council member and gave another member a warning.
Councilman Eric Mays was given a warning and then removed within the first hour of the recessed meeting Thursday night. Councilwoman Monica Galloway received a warning shortly after Mays was removed.
Mays, who recently filed a lawsuit against the city for similar actions taken against him, said he thought his warning was premature, and that Fields was setting him up to kick him out, and he expects it to happen again.
“I do expect her to continue to try to disenfranchise, discriminate, and treat me differently,” Mays said.
He received his first warning because, according to Fields, he began discussing an item on the agenda before there was a motion on the floor. She later added that he got the warning because he was also “being rude.”
The council had just gotten to the appointments section of the agenda, when Mays was granted the floor and started to speak.
“This Robert Kittel, the reappointment to the Downtown Development Authority,” Mays started to say.
Fields interrupted him to tell him there must be a motion on the floor before he starts discussion, and then asked if he was making a motion.
Mays responded by telling her to “be quiet and listen,” which resulted in Fields giving him the warning.
Mays appealed her ruling and said she “must give latitude to hear what a person’s gonna say rather than assume they’re not gonna make a motion.”
“You’re being dictatorial. You’re being unreasonable. You’re not giving latitude,” he said. “A warning is a step right before removal.”
Galloway supported his appeal, and said she didn’t think Fields “gave him a fair chance” to get to what he was going to say.
“I just think it was premature the way he was ruled out of order,” she said.
Councilman Maurice Davis supported Fields saying the council needs to “stick closer to the rules,” and Councilwoman Eva Worthing said she thought Mays’ response to Fields was “adversarial.”
Fields stood by her ruling.
“It has been clear. We’ve talked about it, we’ve actually acted on it, there’s evidence,” she said. “We always have a motion on the floor before we go into appointments, resolutions, and a couple other things.”
The council voted 5-4 to uphold the chair’s ruling, and give Mays his first warning.
Once a motion was on the floor, the discussion of the appointment of Kittel continued, and Mays requested the floor again.
Because the council was to vote on multiple appointments, Mays said he wanted to ask questions about the other candidate, Mr. Hawkins, before casting his vote one way or the other on Kittel.
Fields ruled him out of order again, stating that the council was not on the appointment of Mr. Hawkins, but the appointment of Mr. Kittel.
“That’s the only discussion that’s germaine at this point in time,” she said.
Mays disagreed, and said he could not make a decision on Kittel until he could “hear the compelling reasons on the other ones.”
“If I can appoint three people from outside the city and there’s four of them, it is relevant for me in a timely manner, with no committee meetings, to find out what I have to do to make a decision on one versus two, three or four,” he said. “So I say you’re wrong.”
Once again, he appealed her ruling that he was out of order. Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter supported his appeal.
“You be interrupting us when we got the floor. It’s frivolous, it’s premature, it’s irrational,” Mays started to say.
But Fields interrupted him to inform him he was being removed from the meeting for making “derogatory remarks to the chair,” before his appeal could come to a vote.
Councilwoman Galloway tried to stop it, and said, “Wait a minute. We are in an appeal.”
Galloway requested the floor and asked Fields to say what derogatory thing Mays said that got him removed from the meeting, to which Fields replied, “I’m not going to respond to you.”
Galloway attempted to take the floor back, but she and Fields both kept talking at the same time, telling the other to stop talking, prompting Fields to give Galloway her first warning “for being argumentative.”
Galloway appealed her ruling, stating that she had been trying to get the floor back because Fields said she wasn’t going to respond. Fields denied saying that.
With Mays removed from the meeting, the vote was 4-4. A tie upholds the chair’s ruling.
At one point later in the meeting, Galloway asked Fields how she should go about asking questions regarding an agenda item because she didn’t want to make a motion, but also wanted to make sure she was not out of order.
Mays said after the meeting that he would not be extra careful, or change the way he behaves in future council meetings.
“I’m not gonna change my voice because God gave it to me. I’m not gonna change my voice because the residents of Flint’s first ward gave it to me,” he said. “I’m not gonna be extra careful or walk on eggshells.”
Mays said when his voice is silenced, so are the voices of the people he represents.
“They’re really disenfranchising 8-10,000 people. We don’t have a voice to ask the right questions,” he said.
Mays said he would have liked to speak on his special order regarding the assisted living facility located at 1702 Kenwood, the Goyette Mechanical Co. change order, and liquor store hours.
“I see her trying to kick me out before we get to the important business. She’s boasting that she’s saving time. You can’t save time illegally,” he said.