By Tom Travis
Upheaval and mayhem described the special city council meeting on Wednesday night.
Within 20 minutes of the special city council meeting. a motion was made to remove Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward). Almost simultaneously, a resident, Wilbert Jarrett, was removed after being called out of order.
Mays was handcuffed and removed out of the council chambers by Flint Police Officer Bill Metcalfe. Jarrett was escorted out by Chief Of Police Phil Hart.
The mayhem began immediately after the City Clerk, Inez Brown, called roll call.
Mays spoke up, complaining he believed Maurice Davis (2nd Ward) was not legitimately elected as the council vice president. Mays claimed that Davis is “illegitimately” the council vice president.
Mays was referring to a January city council meeting when he was stripped of all leadership including Finance Committee Chairperson and Vice President of the Council. After Mays was removed in that meeting the city council elected Davis to serve as council vice president.
In Wednesday night’s meeting, decorum returned for a moment after the first outburst, and the special city council meeting proceeded. But moments later there was another outburst during a public hearing.
The purpose of the special city council meeting was to have a public hearing to consider the revised General Rules of the Board of Review and to allow property owners, tax payers and other city residents an opportunity to be heard relative to the changes.
During the public hearing Flint resident, Wilbert Jarrett, got up to speak. Jarrett began to ask a question to Council President Monica Galloway (7th ward). Jarrett stated that he owns 19 properties in the city and has been involved with The Board of Review since 1966. He asked when the revised rules were published. He asked the council what he was supposed to do with the sheets of revised rules everyone was presented with that evening.
Galloway began to explain to Jarrett the purpose and process of the public hearing and the list of revised rules presented. Jarrett responded, “Don’t shut me down like you did to Eric Mays.” Jarrett began to talk over Galloway and she ruled him out of order. Then Galloway called Chief of Police, Phil Hart, forward and asked him to remove Jarrett from the meeting.
Hart escorted Jarrett out. This is when Mays rushed to his microphone, because he had been walking around the council chambers.
When Mays got to his microphone he began calling, “point of order”, “point of order” until he was recognized.
Once Mays was recognized by Galloway he accused her of being argumentative with a member of the public.
Mays stated that arguing with a member of the public is not allowed per the city charter. Mays then stated that Galloway should be removed because she was argumentative with a member of the public.
Mays stated, “If you were a dignified president and woman you would get yourself up and remove yourself for arguing with a member of the public.”
Mays continued by saying, “This is the day that it comes to a head. I will not be discriminated against.”
Mays was referring back to his earlier complaint that he claims he had been “illegally” removed from leadership positions on council in the January council meeting.
Mays and Galloway began to talk over each other. Finally Galloway called Officer Metcalfe forward to remove Mays.
When Metcalfe arrived at Mays’ council seat Mays put his hands out to be cuffed.
Officer Metcalfe asked Mays to stand and he proceeded to frisk Mays. Officer Metcalfe placed Mays’ arms behind his back to be handcuffed.
Mays asked Officer Metcalfe to place his papers and belongings into his briefcase which the Officer did. Mays was taken to the city lock up and given a court date to appear.
The council then made a motion to censure Mays for his ongoing disruptive behavior. Councilperson Santino Guerra (3rd ward) supported the motion but added in comment to the council that he would refer to the city’s legal department to make sure this censure is legal.
Guerra also noted that he did not want this censure to be a “financial stipend” and that he wanted Mays “to be able to afford his bills.” In response to Guerra’s concern, City Attorney Angela Wheeler said, reading from the city charter, “that it was within the purview of this body to censure Mr. Mays.”
Davis (2nd Ward) spoke in favor of the censure of Mays. Davis clarified to the city attorney and the legal department that Mays requested to be arrested. Mays asked for the handcuffs to be put on his wrists. Davis clarified that “we [the city council] did not do that [have Mays arrested].
Davis said in part, “He must change his habits to come back here if not he need to be censured until he get the message. We’re done playing the game Councilman Mays, we’re done. This city, this body is tired of it.”
Councilperson Herb Winfrey (6th Ward) spoke next, concurring with his fellow council colleagues. Winfrey then stated that Mays is not the only one who has acted inappropriately and the council didn’t do anything about that behavior in the past. Winfrey continued, “Whatever we do, we need to be fair across the board.”
Winfrey said he’d prefer to have the discussion about censuring Mays when Mays is present. He didn’t think that it was fair to talk about Mays’ censure without Mays being present. Councilperson Jerri Winfrey-Carter spoke next, saying, “When we point our finger we must remember we finger pointing back at us.”
Winfrey-Carter challenged all the council to be self-reflective of their own behavior in this discussion. The council voted 7 to 1 to have Mays censured, meaning he will not be allowed to attend city council meetings until April 8.
Council President Galloway clarified that Mays could begin attending council meetings again on the April 8 meeting. Herb Winfrey voted no for the censure of Mays.
The next City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 9 in council chambers on the 3rd floor of City Hall.
EVM assistant editor and city council beat reporter Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.