By Tom Travis
After a contentious five-hour meeting and acting only on two pieces of city business, the Flint City Council voted to recess until Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The meeting did result in an upending of council leadership, with Kate Fields (4th Ward) elected president of the council by a 5-4 vote, replacing Monica Galloway (7th Ward).
Voting for Fields were councilpersons Maurice Davis (2nd Ward), Santino Guerra (3rd Ward), Fields (4th Ward), Allan Griggs (8th Ward) and Eva Worthing (9th Ward). Jerri Winfrey-Carter (5th Ward), Herb Winfrey (6th Ward) and former City Council President Monica Galloway (7th Ward) all voted for Galloway to continue as president. Eric Mays (1st Ward) voted for himself as president.
Maurice Davis was elected vice president with a 5-4 vote. Davis, Guerra, Fields, Griggs and Worthing voted for Davis. Winfrey-Carter, Winfrey and Galloway voted for Galloway. Mays again voted for himself.
“Major changes in the rules….I want to turn the tide [on the council.” says Fields
In a phone interview with EVM on Tuesday morning, newly elected City Council President Kate Fields said, “I want some major changes in the rules. One of the techniques being used is council members using point of orders to get the floor when it’s not a legitimate reason for a point of order.”
Commenting on the phone about Fields hopes to accomplish as council president she said, “I want to try and turn the tide and have city council meetings become more focused on what is actually germane and not focused on personal agendas. To eliminate some of the dysfunction of our meetings so we can really concentrate on those problems that affect our ability to keep the public safe. “
Council’s annual meeting to elect officers begins in chaos and contention
The regular city council meeting began with chaotic arguing, and a contentious mood held sway until 7:30 p.m. when the council moved to have prayer and moment of silence.
It was the annual City Council organization meeting, and as established by protocol, the City Clerk, Inez Brown, chairs the meeting to allow the nine council members to vote for officers. Council officers include president and vice president and chairpersons for the various committees: Finance, Government Operations, Grants, Legislative and Special Affairs.
Residents call in during Public Speaking with scathing criticism of council’s behavior
During the public speaking portion of the meeting members of the public called in to voice their comments. First to speak was 1st Ward Pastor Freelon Threlkeld. “I’ve been listening since 5:15 this evening and I have one thing to say, www.how-dumb-can-we-be. All I can do is pray and cast my vote.
“I admire Brother Mays. I stand behind him even though he’s not right all the time but he’s the man for the job. You all should show some courtesy. The city of Flint is where it’s at because of the leadership. And in that council the spirit of the fabulous five has returned. [Referring to Councilmembers: Davis, Guerra, Fields, Griggs and Worthing].”
Rev Threlkeld’s comments were echoed by several other public speakers. More than ten public speakers called in to address the council. Most of them raised complaints about the behavior of the council.
Barbara Moore and AC Dumas called in, both stating, “I am appalled.” Moore said, “This is a mockery.” Dumas, a 3rd Ward resident. said, “It sounds like a dictatorship with Ms. Fields. I want to caution Mr. Mays because she is just waiting to throw you out of the meeting.”
No chairpersons chosen for council committees…..yet
The council voted in March to cease committee meetings. Not all the council members agreed on that decision. Mays (1st Ward) often suggests that the council should begin having committee meetings again. Fields often argues against reinstating the committee meetings, during the pandemic, due to the extra work and increased coronavirus exposure the City Clerk office staff would endure to prepare for the meetings.
The purpose of committee meetings is for the council to discuss and debate various resolutions and ordinances coming before them. While no legislative action is usually taken during a committee meeting it does give the council opportunity to work through difficult and complex issues in city legislation that will be acted up on in a city council meeting.
Along with Monday’s vote for president and vice president, the council discussed who would lead the various committees, but newly-elected president Fields asked for more time to be given for the council to consider who would chair each committee.
The council recessed until Thursday, Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. The panel will begin the next meeting where they left off in Monday’s agenda. There will be no public speaking on Thursday as it was already conducted during Monday’s meeting.
EVM Managing Editor, Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org