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Flint, MI—Several Genesee County residents are calling for the removal of the managing director of the road commission, alleging racist and discriminatory practices.
“I’m deeply concerned about the discrimination that has taken place at the road commission,” said Flint Attorney Cha’Ris Lee during public comment at the County Board of Commissioners meeting on Oct. 13. “And I have been following this since 2019. There have been several complaints of racism, gender discrimination … please take action or we will take legal action.”
Lee was one of about 10 speakers calling for the removal of Managing Director Fred Peivandi, for giving what they believe were racially discriminatory raises to the Genesee County Road Commission board of directors.
There are five directors on the board. Three of them are white and two of them are Black.
According to the public speakers, Director of Maintenance Anthony Branch and Director of Human Resources Donna Poplar, the two Black directors, received much lower raises than their white counterparts.
“How do we call this equitable and not racially discriminated?” asked Mary Hughes, a Swartz Creek resident.
Pastor Alfred Harris attended the meeting representing the Concerned Pastors for Social Action.
“I’m here because of the racially disproportionate raises that were proposed and accepted at the county road commission…it’s hard for me to understand how someone can get a 14% raise, while others, people of color, see 2% raises and 1% raises,” Harris said.
Mount Morris Township Supervisor Jolena Simms asked the commissioners to reconsider Peivandi’s role at the road commission.
“He is not an asset to you all. Mr. Peivandi is a racist, and you guys need to open your eyes and you all need to know that,” Simms said.
Carlyn Adams-Afriyie said it was important to call out a racist act or behavior.
“Each of you are seated in positions of authority and positions of justice, and fair treatment on behalf of those individuals,” she said. “And I speak on behalf of Donna Poplar, who have been treated unfairly and judged not by their character or work performance in a fair and equitable manner, but could it possibly be because of the color of their skin?”
But one speaker said these accusations of discrimination were innacurate.
Shirley Kautman-Jones, the Atlas Township supervisor, attributed the difference in raises to “salary ceilings.”
“The GCRC, when compared to other road commissions, and the positions of the maintenance director and the HR director that were mentioned, are in the top tier of salaries for these positions in the state of Michigan,” she said. “And as a result, several people have reached salary ceilings in their positions. The salary increases related in percentages are a result of salary ceilings, not discrimination.”
Peivandi told Flint Beat that the raises were due to additional responsibilities and promotions that some of the directors received. He also said the finance director’s raise was meant to bring her salary up to par with other directors’ salaries.