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Flint, MI — Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley has called a special city council meeting for Feb. 17, 2020, at 5:15 p.m. to focus on outstanding city business.
Neeley, along with some Flint residents, has said they were concerned that business was not being handled as city council members dealt with ongoing conflicts making meetings drag on for five or more hours. The long meetings as caused council to push city business from one agenda to the next and even landed some items under outstanding business never to be revisited.
According to a Feb. 14, 2020 media release issued by Neeley’s office, 11 items that were visited on the Feb. 10, 2020, City Council agenda, but no action was taken. That meeting lasted about six hours.
“It is critically important that city business be completed in a timely manner,” Neeley said in the Feb. 14 release. “This meeting is an opportunity for City Council to catch up and finish the work of the previous meeting, so that city business does not fall further behind.”
The Flint City Charter allows for the mayor to call a special meeting with a 24-hour notice to each city councilmember and the public.
Neeley’s meeting is focused on the Bray Road Project asking for environmental assessments of groundwater at the Bray Road Dump site where elevated levels of cyanide and mercury were found and for City Council to consider the recreational marijuana ordinance. If they do not make a decision on the recreational marijuana ordinance, Neeley says, “marijuana facilities will be able to locate near schools, parks, neighborhoods, or places of worship at the end of February.”
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The ongoing issue of the council’s dysfunction has left items in limbo. A Dec. 17, 2019 Finance Committee agenda showed 70 outstanding items and a Jan. 8, 2020 Governmental Operations agenda had 54. Some outstanding city business even dated more than two years. The Bray Road issue has been on the council’s Jan. 13, 27, and Feb. 10 agendas.
Flint City Councilwoman Eva Worthing said some of the outstanding items have been discussed and/or answered but haven’t been removed from the agenda.
“Some of them can be dropped,” said Worthing during a Jan. 24 interview. “I’m sure. They’ve been answered. Others, we don’t get to any discussion items hardly ever. We are lucky if we get through the agenda for that day. Most of the times, we never get through it.”
Council members, including Worthing, initially pointed to Flint Councilman Eric Mays as the issue for long meetings and the council’s neglect to finish city business. Their concerns moved them to remove Mays from his leadership roles as vice president and finance chair during a Jan. 27, 2020 meeting. The council voted to strip of his roles after he was removed from the meeting. Flint City Councilman Maurice Davis has now filled the vice president’s post and Councilwoman Kate Fields serves as finance chair.
Even though leadership has changed, meetings have still been five to six hours leaving residents as Mark Baldwin frustrated.
“We need some action from you folks,” said Flint resident Mark Baldwin to council members during a meeting. “Each one of you come together as a mastermind. We expect you to all come together and represent your ward in such a way that you end up representing the city.”
Mays said they are using him as an excuse. He also cited other roadblocks including council members not following rules, attendance issues, and the current administration.
“They can’t use me as a scapegoat,” said Mays during a phone interview. “I’m not going to let [anybody] say we haven’t taken care of the city business. I always have found a way to get five votes, to take care of the city business, and have been doing it for six years under all of the obstacles of the politics of a variety of individual councilmen. I will continue to try to provide that leadership and one way or another, take care of the business of the city of Flint regardless of what it looks like on the surface.”
The special meeting will be held in Flint City Council Chambers on the third floor of city hall located at 1101 Saginaw Street.