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Flint, MI– After nearly five hours, the Flint City Council committee meetings ended after too many members left, making it illegal to continue.
The council had not yet voted on any of the agenda items, which included resolutions regarding premium pay for police officers and essential workers, marijuana licenses for multiple companies, grants for the city’s parks, a new vaccination policy for city employees, and more.
What the council did vote on multiple times was whether or not Council President Eric Mays was “out of order.”
During the meeting on Jan. 19, Mays repeatedly brought up the voting records of his colleagues and referred to them in his statements on various topics.
This prompted Councilman Quincy Murphy to repeatedly call a “point of order,” and urge the chairperson to rule Mays out of order for not being germane to the topic at hand.
“He can’t speak for me, that’s what I’m saying. He needs to speak on the issue and on the subject matter,” Murphy said after Mays mentioned him in his comments during a special order to discuss Marijuana ordinances.
Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer, who was chairing the meeting, said he thought Mays wasn’t out of order, but the cycle continued.
“I know I’m not out of order. See the problem you got, Mr. Murphy, since you came on this council, is trying to check me,” Mays said.
Murphy called another “point of order,” saying he was not being germane to the subject. Pfeiffer asked Mays to stay on topic, but again Mays mentioned Murphy, and the fact that he didn’t vote for him for president. Murphy tried to call Mays out of order again, but Pfeiffer ruled that Mays was in order.
Councilwoman Allie Herkenroder appealed the ruling.
“The discussion at hand is in fact, a special order regarding marijuana ordinances, and it somehow has gotten turned into the history of people’s voting record,” she said.
Mays argued that he was indeed going to be getting to the topic, saying, “whether I take the long road, or the short road, as long as it gets me to the destination.”
Pfeiffer said he wasn’t going to tell his colleagues how to speak within their allotted time.
“If you want to talk about how your favorite color is yellow, so be it. That’s your God-given right,” Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer’s decision was affirmed by the vote, which came to 5 yes and 3 no. Murphy, Herkenroder, and Councilwoman Eva Worthing voted no, against Pfeiffer’s ruling. Pfeiffer, Mays, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, Councilwoman Tonya Burns, and Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter voted yes, in favor of Pfeiffer’s ruling.
Not long after, the issue came up again. Herkenroder called a “point of order,” stating that Mays was speaking off-topic.
This time, five council members, Herkenroder, Murphy, Pfeiffer, Worthing, and Councilwoman Judy Priestley, voted that he was out of order.
“I shouldn’t be letting knuckleheads who don’t understand the rules talk,” Mays started to say, before Burns issued him a warning for using a derogatory remark.
Mays appealed his warning.
“I’m (going to) call folks knuckleheads, call them Democrats, Republicans. I will refer to folks as Black, white, young, and old,” he said.
Pfeiffer, who acknowledged he was one of the “knuckleheads,” defended Mays, telling his colleagues that if they all get offended by that word, then they “are in the wrong seats.”
But again, five council members, Herkenroder, Murphy, Winfrey-Carter, Burns, and Priestley voted to affirm the warning. Pfeiffer voted against the warning. Mays was out of his seat during the vote, and Worthing had left the meeting.
Soon after, Mays and Murphy began arguing again, yelling at each other until they both left the meeting, along with Winfrey-Carter. With Councilwoman Ladel Lewis, Worthing, Mays, Murphy, and Winfrey-Carter gone, the meeting did not have enough members for a quorum.
A special meeting to get to the remaining agenda items has not yet been called.