Flint, MI — Flint City Council made it through just 75 percent of its agenda in a nearly five-hour Special Affairs committee meeting on Monday, May 8, 2023, and failed to hold its regular meeting entirely.
The committee meeting ended a little before 9:30 p.m., when the Genesee County Administration Building, where city council meetings have been temporarily relocated, closed.
As council was meant to hold its regular meeting following the committee meeting, City Clerk Davina Donahue suggested councilmembers pick up the meeting where they left off on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in the Dome Auditorium at City Hall.
Donahue has since confirmed to Flint Beat that instead of hosting a new meeting, the council will stick to its regular schedule and “all agenda items will be moved” to the body’s next committee meetings on May 17 or its next regular council meeting on May 22, as appropriate from last night’s votes.
Here’s what else happened over the course of the Special Affairs committee meeting:
A resolution for damage claims from Pump Station #5
While the city already has a damage claim fund, Mays’ proposed resolution would allocate $250,000 more to that fund and increase residents’ ability to submit damage claims from 45 days after an incident to 60 days after an incident.
It also amends current claims procedure “insofar as it relates to claims for sewage backup” by authorizing that only damage claim awards in excess of $6,000 need to be approved by City Council. The current procedure requires the council’s approval at $2,500, according to the resolution’s language.
Further, Mays’ proposed resolution states that a grant letter must be sent from the Department of Law to the claimant within seven days of the claimant’s submission date, and payment must be issued within seven days of the claimant’s acceptance of the letter.
After the resolution’s introduction, Council Vice President Ladel Lewis, who chairs the Special Affairs committee, asked City Attorney William Kim if there was anything in the resolution that would put the city in legal jeopardy. Kim said there was.
“There are a number of, a number of provisions in the resolution that either violate the city charter, violate the Uniform Budget and Accounting Act, violate the state constitution and violate some other provisions of state law,” he said.
Mays asked Kim to specify which parts of the resolution he was referring to, and Kim responded that he would prefer to give that analysis in writing.
Ultimately, the council voted 5-1-1 to send the resolution to its regular meeting.
Mays voted yes along with Councilmembers Quincy Murphy, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, Tonya Burns and Dennis Pfeiffer. Councilwoman Judy Priestley voted no, and Lewis abstained. Council President Allie Herkenroder and Councilwoman Eva Worthing had left the meeting by the time of the vote.
Bargaining agreements, a change order, and an honorary street sign
Through a consent agenda vote, City Council otherwise approved sending resolutions regarding bargaining agreements with the Flint Firefighters Union and the Flint Police Officers Labor Council to its regular meeting.
Council also voted on the following:
- Council voted to send a $373,000 change order for new manhole covers, additional sidewalks and temporary milling for driveways to its regular meeting.
- Council voted to send a resolution approving the exempt compensation schedule for city employees to its Finance committee.
- Council voted to send a resolution recognizing Reverend A.J. Pointer with an honorary street sign on East Myrtle Avenue to its regular meeting.
- Council voted a send a resolution establishing an Ad-Hoc Housing Committee for fair housing issues to the government operations committee.
Council failed to vote on the following appointments due to the county building closing:
- Bishop Roger L. Jones Sr. to the Hurley Board of Hospital Managers until April 30, 2028
- Dr. Khalid M. Ahmed to the Hurley Board of Hospital Mangers until April 30, 2028
- Leon El-Alamin to the Flint Housing Commission until August 31, 2028
- Trachelle C. Young to the Ethics and Accountability Board until June 25, 2024
A ‘clown’ and a ‘circus’
Much of Monday’s meeting length came from time spent talking over matters not on the council’s original committee agenda.
Public speaking began nearly two hours into the meeting following a lengthy discussion in response to a request by Burns to have a 15-minute discussion about “unfinished business” from committee meetings on May 3.
The body’s back-to-back Finance, Government Operations, and Legislative committee meetings had ended that day due to lack of quorum following an argument between Burns and Worthing.
During public speaking on May 10, Flint resident Arthur Woodson brought up that argument, which had happened while Priestley was chairing the finance committee meeting.
“Judy Priestley, you should be ashamed for allowing Eva Worthing to stand up and be disorderly,” he said.
Priestley did not respond to Woodson during council response time, but Worthing did.
“I just have one thing to say to Mr. Woodson,” she said. “I see why you’re always aggressive towards women. Because I’ve heard it doesn’t turn out so well when you use that energy towards men. Thank you.”
Mays and Winfrey-Carter immediately requested that Lewis give Worthing a warning for her statement, and members of the public then began yelling and clapping.
“Let’s be clear, so we will not conduct ourselves as we’re in the circus here,” Lewis said.
Woodson then called Lewis a “clown” from the audience, to which Lewis responded by issuing Woodson a warning that led to another lengthy discussion and a recess.
After the recess, Mays, Winfrey-Carter, Burns and Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer voted to overturn the chair’s warning to Woodson, while Lewis voted in favor of her decision and Murphy abstained. Priestley, Worthing and Herkenroder were not present for the vote.
Lewis did not end up issuing Worthing a warning.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to incorporate City Clerk Davina Donahue’s confirmation of when agenda items from City Council’s May 8 Special Affairs committee meeting will next appear before the council.