There was more than talk of a “bug” at newly-elected Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s first press conference Saturday, when local media were hauled in at 10:30 a.m. to an otherwise closed City Hall.
The first item was a presentation by Neeley’s Interim Police Chief Phil Hart, who donned a suit on Saturday morning to try to close out coverage of an “electronic surveillance device” found in the mayor’s chambers at City Hall. That story has been covered elsewhere, including here and finally, here.
Urgent agenda: getting 1,000 lead lines checked and replaced
Neeley’s top agenda item was urging all residents to opt-in to the city’s ongoing lead pipe replacement program.
“Right now in the City of Flint it is very vital, very important that we get every lead line replaced in the homes,” he said. About a thousand residents have not responded to three or more requests from the city to get to their homes, Neeley estimated.
Neeley requested the media to help to try to make sure residents respond.
Residents who have not had lead lines replaced should immediately call 810-410-1133 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to consent to having their lines checked. Residents can also email email@example.com or opt-in to the program online at www.cityofflint.com/fast-start-online-opt-in-form/
Importance of counting everybody in the 2020 census
Neeley’s second priority discussion item was the need for Flint to count every resident in the 2020 Census count.
“On my estimation, we’re about seven months behind on the 2020 Census count,” he said, adding he’s working to bring resources in-house to make sure Flint can count every citizen.
“It’s very important to the resources that we have, to make sure that we have appropriate representation in Washington, D.C.,” Neeley said. “This is a plea to residents. We need your help.”
“Aging in dog years,” Neeley jokes
As Neeley began the press conference and greeted the media, he said, “You guys like this new kind of set up? I thought I would help you guys with slow moving news days. You get the good stuff on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Going into his third week on the job, Neeley emphasized he is “aging in dog years” and “lost my hair here.”
As he closed the event, Neeley said, “You see? Even on the sixth day of the week, we’re maximizing all of our time and all of our space on the calendar to make sure that we got the work done. And we’ll make sure to communicate with you.”
News teams present included East Village Magazine, MLive, FlintBeat, WJRT, WNEM, WEYI, and Tom Sumner, a local radio talk show host.
A full video of questions and answers from the press conference is available at FlintBeat’s Facebook page.
EVM Contributing Writer Melodee Mabbitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.