By Meghan Christian
The Flint City Council approved 10 appointments to the Ethics and Accountability Board and approved the Mayor’s biennial budget for the city of $55.8 million for 2018-19 and $56.6 million for 2019-20 at their June 25 meeting.
Formation of an Ethics and Accountability Board was one of the requirements outlined in the new city charter adopted by 2-1 by voters in August, 2017, and which was to have taken effect Jan. 1.
The council’s late June actions leave one more appointment – awaiting a nomination from First Ward Councilman Eric Mays – to complete the composition of the ethics board.
The board’s main functions include appointing an ombudsman and hearing resident concerns. The board is empowered to hold public servants accountable per the ethical standards outlined in the charter. This power manifests in various ways, outlined in the charter, from calling hearings to subpoena powers, should it be necessary.
What the charter requires
The charter calls for 11 members, comprised of one member from each ward and two members appointed by the mayor. Mays had not submitted a name from the First Ward by the time of publication.
Mays said he was still choosing between two candidates at the time of the June 25 meeting and would submit his selection later.
Terms on the board are staggered, meaning each of the 11 members serve a different number of years. According to Sixth Ward Councilman and Council President Herb Winfrey, this is to ensure that not all of the members leave at the same time. “You need to have some folks that still have some…history with the Ethics and Accountability Board,” he said.
The ten appointments were approved by the council with no objection; however, Mays abstained from voting on all of them. According to him, “(The Board) ain’t been well-thought out,” due to his interpretation that the board is funded separately from the $250,000 that was allocated for the Office of the Ombudsman in the 2018-2019 budget.
He further stated he abstained from voting for two of the appointments – Linda Boose and Andrietta Dicks — due to family connections.
All appointees were initially present and invited to speak, but not all were still available by the time it was their turn to be introduced two and a half hours into the meeting.
Second Ward: Joseph King was recommended by Councilman Maurice Davis to serve his ward on the Ethics and Accountability Board for a four-year term. According to Davis, King does a lot for the community, including organizing a clean up in Civic Park. “He tries to be ethical in everything he’s doing,” Davis said.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a community advocate. I believe in helping people and do whatever I can to make sure things are done properly,” King said.
Third Ward: Linda Boose was recommended by Councilman Santino Guerra for a six-year term. Boose works for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. According to Guerra, she “represents the ideals of all residents in the third ward community and throughout the city of Flint.”
Fourth Ward: Defense Attorney Nicholas D’Aigle was recommended by Coucilwoman Kate Fields for a two-year term. D’Aigle has served as a defense attorney for parents in neglect and abuse cases locally for four years. Outside of his experience dealing with members of the community, D’Aigle also has experience sitting on boards, including a board he currently sits on in Genesee County dealing with the juvenile court system.
Fifth Ward: Andrietta Dicks was recommended by Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter for a two-year term. According to Winfrey-Carter, Dicks is qualified to sit on the Ethics and Accountability Board because “she has high levels of integrity” and because of her experience on the board for the Flint Children’s Museum.
Sixth Ward: Dr. Delores Langston was recommended by Winfrey for a four-year term. “She has been over various departments, she’s an advocate for children and for families, she is what we call a ‘decent human being’…,” Herbert Winfrey said in praise of Langston. “I thought that she would be an excellent person for this Ethics and Accountability Board,” he added.
Langston touched on her definition of ethics for the council, stating, “I try to get all the facts before I come to a judgment, so I try not to go in with preconceived notions.”
Seventh Ward: Pastor Allen Gilbert was recommended by Councilwoman Monica Galloway for a two-year term. According to Galloway, Gilbert is a suitable fit for the board due to his previous experiences on other boards, his relationships with the Council as a whole, and his support of the Administration.
“I want to serve to try to do my best the few years that I got left,” Gilbert said. “That’s why I try to help and we don’t always agree, but that’s all right,” he added.
Eighth Ward: John Daly was recommended by Councilman Allan Griggs for a four-year term. Daly, who previously taught two Master’s level courses in Ethics, has a decade of experience working on honors systems and ethical codes for academic institutions and other organizations
“I thought this would be a great opportunity to serve the city of Flint,” Daly said.
Ninth Ward: Eric Roebuck was recommended by Councilwoman Eva Worthing for a six-year term. Roebuck, a student at the University of Michigan-Flint, ran against Worthing during the primaries. According to Worthing, he is ethical and has knowledge of the City’s charter. “I would put my trust in him to do the right thing,” Worthing said.
Mayoral Appointments: Mayor Karen Weaver recommended Loyce Driskell for a two-year term and Art Evans for a six-year term. Both were approved without discussion outside of Mays stating his reasons for abstaining.
FCC adopted the Mayor’s biennial city budget, $55.8 million for 2018-2019 and $56,7 million for 2019-2020, by a vote of six in favor and zero opposed, on the interpretation of the charter that after the council failed to get enough votes to overturn the Mayor’s veto June 13, her proposed budget goes into effect.
Those in favor were Mays, Davis, Guerra, Winfrey-Carter, Winfrey, and Galloway. Fields, Griggs, and Worthing had left meeting by the time of the vote, so the motion passed without opposition.
While the Mayor’s proposed budget passed without opposition, Mays, the council’s financial chair, addressed agreed-upon amendments that he said would be negotiated after July 1, when the budget actually goes into effect.
Discussions would be based on a previous meeting held between Winfrey, Mays, the Mayor, and Chief Financial Officer Hughey Newsome (Read about it here.) The amendments under discussion include $10,000 each for the FCC department secretaries, $30,000 for an additional part-time employee in the office, and $10,000 each for the two senior centers, Brennan and Hasselbring.
As for the other amendments proposed by the council and which were part of a budget vetoed by the Mayor, including $500 for each ward accounts, the council does not have a steadfast agreement from the Mayor, but more of an agreement to discuss them later, according to Mays and Winfrey.
Guerra voiced optimism that FCC would be able to work with the Administration to make adjustments to the budget in July. “I think this is a process of working together, eventually when we hit July and can add those amendments in,” he said.
EVM Managing Editor Meghan Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.