City Council Beat: Hurley bond refinancing resolution described, council drama erupts again

By Tom Travis

The Flint City Council, meeting as the Finance Committee Wednesday night, moved a proposed resolution of support for a refinancing and additional $20 million to a Hurley Medical Center bond to the full council for consideration.

Several members of the public, many of the city administration staff, all council members except Allen Griggs (8th Ward) were packed with standing room only into the City Council committee room.

In the second half of the meeting, Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) demanded the police officer covering the meeting remove two participants–Councilperson Kate Fields (4th Ward) and local activist Arthur Woodson. No further business occurred after another council member, Eva Worthing, departed and the group lost quorum.

Eric Mays (1st Ward), Flint city council vice president and finance committee chair, seen from back, presides as City Administrator Clyde Edwards (standing in suit) presents (Photo by Tom Travis)

HMC board of managers representatives describe bond plan

Phil Shaltz, president of Shaltz Automotive and chair of the Hurley Medical Center board of managers; Lisa Hagan of Hawkins, Delafield and Wood LLP (, bond counsel for the Hurley board; and Cass Wisniewski, CPA, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Hurley Medical Center, described the  bond refinancing program, called “The 2020 Project,” for the city’s only public hospital.

Phil Shaltz, Chairperson of the Hurley Board of Managers (r), Lisa Hagan, bond counsel for the Hurley Board, and Cass Wisnewski, Hurley senior vice president and chief financial officer (standing at left). Finance Committee Chair Eric Mays (1st Ward) seated.  (Photo by Tom Travis)

“What Hurley would like to do is to refund their 2010 bonds as well as issue bonds for new money purposes to finance about $20 million worth of improvements to Hurley,” Hagan explained.

She said bond market interest rates are at an all-time low and the board wants to get the bond deal done in time to take advantage of those rates. Hagan said this would equate to about $10 million in total savings or about $600,000 a year. She clarified Hurley is asking for the City’s approval but that the City of Flint is not responsible and not obligated to pay the bonds.

Councilperson Kate Fields (4th Ward) asked why Hurley is in a position to pay the funds. Wisniewski replied Hurley’s financial position has been in “a very positive position for the last five or six years.”

Pediatric psych program, patient info security among proposed improvements

Hagan and Wisniewski explained proposed improvements will include technology and security used in storing patient information. Hagan said Hurley must make these types of improvements to comply with state and federal requirements. Wisniewski added some of the money will be used to develop a pediatric psychology program. Hurley had a pediatric psychology program about 10 or 15 years ago but it has since closed. Additional proposed improvements include replacing a robotic surgical room, and replacing generators and old piping.

Shaltz added the $20 million is not money Hurley can spend on whatever they want. “We have to present a list of improvements and it will be approved in the bond documents that we submit,”  Shaltz said. “The money will have to go only towards those improvements listed.”

The so-called “2020 Project,”  overall,  consists of $32 million in refinancing bonds  at lower interest rates, along with a request to add an additional $20 million to the bond.

After discussion, the Finance Committee unanimously approved moving the Hurley bond resolution to the full council for a vote.

Water fund  “$20 million” fund discussed

The Finance Committee also debated the meaning of a recent press release from the Mayor’s office about $20 million in the City’s water fund appearing to be “found.”  The debate ensued when Mays, echoing a response from former Mayor Karen Weaver, said, “How can something be found if it wasn’t lost?”

Mays questioned both City Administrator Clyde Edwards and Tonya Burns, executive liaison to Mayor Sheldon Neeley, if they knew that the $20 million was there before they came into office. They both responded “no.”

This article was updated Dec. 8 to correct Tonya Burns’ title. She is executive liaison to the mayor.  Jasmine Green is the mayor’s receptionist.  We regret the error–Ed.

The City’s deputy finance director, Tamar Lewis, who is continuing in her post from the Weaver administration,  said she wasn’t sure what $20 million the Neeley administration was talking about.

Council President Galloway said city finance people told her the $20 million is an accurate number and comes from a 2018 audit that ended in November 2018 and was delivered to council in February.  Mays pointed out the city is  in the middle of an annual audit now.  “We just have to wait until this audit is done and we will know,” he said. Lewis said city officials hope the audit is complete as soon as possible.

Mays asked if it would be completed by Dec 31, and she said she couldn’t make any promises. Mays warned the city would be “in violation” if the audit isn’t finished by then, adding he would be in contact with the City finance department to see about the audit being completed on time.

Meeting drama continues:  Mays removes Fields, Woodson

Finally, in what is a common practice in each meeting, council members made referrals to various departments or department heads in the city government for questions they’d like answered or documentation or facts about an issue.

Kate Fields (4th Ward) was in the process of making three referrals when Finance Chairperson Mays (1st Ward) interrupted her several times.

She asked him to stop interrupting her and stated she legitimately had the floor to speak about her referrals. At one point Fields pointed her finger at him and told him to stop. Fields and Mays accused each other of being out of order,  to which Mays responded to Fields, “if you keep calling me out of order you can get your butt out.” Moments later, as Mays interrupted her again, Fields flipped off Mays and said, “Fuck you!”

Immediately Mays stood up and motioned to Flint Police Sgt. Tyrone Booth standing just outside the council committee room to have Fields removed. In the meantime Fields had already begun collecting her papers and stuffing them in her bag. Fields and Mays mumbled to each other as Fields walked past Mays, leaving the room.

Fields: “I lost my temper…He is abusing his authority as chair”

EVM spoke to Fields in the hallway, asking for a response. Fields in part stated, “I absolutely lost my temper, which with the amount of the stuff Mr. Mays has done to me in the past three years, I guess once isn’t too bad. I made a very rude gesture to Mr. Mays. In the next committee meeting I’m going to apologize to everyone except Mr. Mays. The reason I did that is because he is abusing his authority as a chair. If you will notice, every time someone else has the floor he interrupts them constantly.”

“I had been given the floor, He interrupted me five to six times in the space of two minutes. He can’t do that. He’s abusing his authority as a chair. And I’ve just had enough and I don’t know how to get him to stop. He can’t do that. I guess tonight it just hit the boiling point for me. I was trying to do something very simple, make some referrals. He wouldn’t let me talk yet again.”

Fields’ referrals did not get made. She said she was waiting until the next committee meeting to enter the room again. When a council member is kicked out of one meeting they may enter once that meeting adjourns and another meeting begins. On Wednesday nights when council meets in committees, often four or five different committees meet in succession, with varying chairs for each.

By the end of the Finance Committee, Eva Worthing left the meeting causing the council to lose quorum, however, and the meeting could not continue so the council adjourned for the evening. There were no other committee meetings Wednesday night.

Asked if she was actually kicked out of the meeting Fields said, “Yes I was kicked out but I did make the decision to get up and leave because I was too angry. I have never been known to not act professionally but I guess everybody has their moment and tonight was mine.”

If Fields does apologize, her next opportunity in a council meeting will be Monday, Dec. 9.  The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 3rd Floor of City Hall.

Galloway: “Apology without a change in behavior is manipulation”

EVM contacted Council President Monica Galloway through email.

About the incident between Mays and Fields, she said,

“I certainly understand frustration as I myself have experienced frustration on this council. We must however, keep in mind that as Council members we are accountable to the community we serve, therefore the constituents deserve an apology for any and all inappropriate or unprofessional behavior taking place on this council.

“An apology from anyone is sufficient as long as it results in a change of behavior. An apology without a change in behavior is manipulation. Regret is a waste of time and energy. In Leadership you will at times give people the opportunity to prove they will rise. With that said, I am learning from this experience in continual development of my leadership approach going forward.”

Mays also removed local activist Art Woodson. Mays warned Woodson once at the beginning of the meeting when Mays alleged that Woodson and Department of Public Works Director Rob Binscik were speaking to each other while Woodson had the floor during public speaking. Mays said they can’t talk back and forth while he’s speaking in public speaking time.

Mays warned Woodson a second time when Woodson claimed he was just reading out loud from a paper he was holding, but Mays erupted, saying he thought Woodson was speaking out in the meeting when he did not have the floor and it was not during the time for public address.

Woodson:  “I was kicked out wrongfully” 

Speaking with EVM on the sidewalk outside City Hall, Woodson said, “Galloway really messed up by putting Councilman Mays chairman of Finance Committee and voting him in as vice president. He’s abusive. He looks to be vindictive of people he does not like.”

Mays was voted in 5-4 as council vice president Nov. 11 after a series of votes in which Galloway eventually was chosen as president.  She then appointed Mays chair of the finance committee, a post from which he had been ousted in January following a series of disruptions.

When EVM specifically asked about being removed from the meeting, Woodson said he felt he was kicked out wrongfully. He said he was only asking Bincsik the size of the water meters used in the city.

Sgt. Booth, since the election of Mayor Sheldon Neeley assigned to cover the council meetings,  escorted Woodson out. Woodson reluctantly left but re-entered the room moments later and whispered something to Councilperson Herb Winfrey (6th Ward). Mays erupted again and asked Booth to get him out.

The next City Council meeting is 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 in council chambers, 3rd floor of City Hall.

EVM Staff Writer Tom Travis can be reached at

This article was updated Dec. 8 to correct Tonya Burns’ title. She is executive liaison to the mayor.  Jasmine Green is the mayor’s receptionist.  We regret the error–Ed.

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

Share This Post On