By Tom Travis
Facing a June 1 deadline for adopting a city budget, Flint City Council attempted to convene an electronic special meeting Thursday, but ran aground when not enough councilpersons signed in.
The meeting was scheduled for 1 p.m. By 1:15 p.m. only four council members were present, so Council President Monica Galloway (7th Ward) adjourned the meeting due to a lack of quorum.
Nonetheless, the panel stayed online for three more hours, discussing the budget with a group from city administration.
Tbough the meeting was not official, Galloway made a statement about critical comments she had made about City Clerk Inez Brown Tuesday and said she had apologized.
Present in Thursday’s meeting were Councilpersons Eric Mays (1st Ward), Jerri Winfrey-Carter (5th Ward), Herb Winfrey (6th Ward) and Galloway (7th Ward).
According to the City’s Charter the city council must adopt a budget by the first Monday in June.
Another electronic special city council meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 29 at 4 p.m. And a regular city council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 1.
Council Budget “session” allows city council to ask City Administration budget questions
The budget session had been scheduled to began “immediately following” the special city council meeting.
Galloway began that session after adjourning the previous meeting due to a lack of quorum, stating it would be a “question/answer period” for the four council members present to engage in dialogue with city administrators with their budget questions.
That session lasted nearly three hours with mostly Mays and Galloway in dialogue back and forth with City Administration. Their dialog focused on budget questions concerning the Office of the Ombudsperson, The Ethics and Accountability Board (EAB) and Blight.
City administration present were City Administrator, Clyde Edwards; Economic Advisor to the City, Eric Scorsone; City Treasurer, Amanda Trujillo; City Attorney, Angela Wheeler; DPW Director, Rob Bincsik; and Chief of Police, Phil Hart.
Before adjourning due to a lack of quorum, Galloway allowed members of the public, who had gathered by phone, to speak for three minutes each. There were seven public speakers.
Galloway also commented on Tuesday’s meeting in which she had a heated exchange with City Clerk Inez Brown, which prompted a scolding email from Mayor Sheldon Neeley.
“I am disappointed about the dialog between Ms. Brown and I,” Galloway said. “I respect her. She is highly regarded by me and the community. I did apologize to her,” Galloway said.
In Tuesday’s meeting other council members had attempting to get Galloway to “calm down” as Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) put it in the way she was speaking to Brown.
EVM reached out to some of the council persons not present at Thursday’s meeting.
At the time of this writing, Councilpersons Santino Guerra (3rd Ward), Council Finance Committee Chair Kate Fields (4th Ward), Allan Griggs (8th Ward) and Eva Worthing (9th Ward) had responded.
Guerra stated he was not present at the electronic meeting because he had a previously scheduled meeting to attend.
Fields stated that five council members not showing up for Thursday’s meeting is “indicative of the lack of confidence in her [Galloway’s] leadership.”
Griggs responded by saying, “I’m satisfied that our budget will be finalized on the scheduled meeting on Monday. After it’s approved, we can make adjustments later.”
“I listened to most of today’s meeting, understood the unnecessary games, and saw no reason to participate into tomorrow’s meeting.”
Worthing stated, “I will not be in attendance for the special city council meeting tomorrow. There is absolutely no good reason for one and that is why there wasn’t a quorum. All of my questions were answered at the official budget session held by our finance chair, Kate Fields. Everyone else in attendance at that meeting also seemed satisfied and we got done a half an hour early.”
Worthing continued, “I am not pleased that our council President is usurping the finance chair and holding a budget session on her own. Also, her budget session was worded the exact same way as Ms. Fields session which she called “illegal” and harassed our city clerk about publicly.
I will be in attendance at our scheduled council meeting on Monday. I am sure there will be a change to fully fund the Ombudsperson’s office that I would fully support. Other than that, I am happy with the budget.”
EVM Assistant Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.